Archive for March, 2010

The Relationship between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Although the two disorders may seem to be worlds apart, research has shown that men who suffer fro erectile dysfunction (ED) have a much higher risk of developing heart disease. Why is this?

The answer lies in the commonality of the two health conditions. Erectile dysfunction is often a result of damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis, resulting in difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. Long thought to be due mainly to psychological factors, it is now recognized that ED can result from problems with blood flow. Many men seek help from their doctor when they experience ED and are prescribed medications that improve ED by improving blood flow. However, research shows that many men (and doctors) do not take into account that the same issue that results in inability to achieve an erection may be occurring elsewhere in the body, including the heart and its associated blood vessels.

Men who experience ED should be screened for cardiovascular disease. Because the blood vessels of the penis are smaller than those that supply the heart, ED may show up before a problem with the heart is detected. Nevertheless, ED should prompt physicians to actively search for blood vessel disease or cardiovascular disease elsewhere in the body. Examining risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be the first step in this process. Men with ED should be assumed to have heart disease until proven otherwise; actively screening for heart disease in men with ED may prevent deaths from cardiac disease.

Source: Erectile dysfunction is strong predictor of fatal heart ailments, study finds

Exercise for Bone Health

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Anyone entering into middle age and beyond is at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become fragile and are more prone to breaking. People who have osteoporosis may sustain fractures of their spine, hips and wrists with very little provocation. Both men and women can develop osteoporosis, but the condition occurs more commonly in women who are in perimenopause or menopause and beyond, due to declining estrogen levels.

Although some risk factors can’t be changed (i.e. age, sex, heredity, race), there are some risks for developing osteoporosis that can be modified, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Alcohol intake

Exercise can be a powerful tool in the prevention of osteoporosis. Specifically, exercise which involves weight bearing, or impact loading exercises, act on the bones by stressing bones, forcing them to remodel and strengthen themselves. Examples of weight bearing exercises include walking, aerobics, jogging, lifting weights, skiing and even yoga.

Incorporating regular impact loading exercise into your daily routine, as well as ensuring a healthy diet high in calcium, vitamin D and other minerals important to bone health, can help you avoid the development of osteoporosis.

Source: Osteoporosis (MedicineNet)

What Does “Fat” Taste Like?

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

People are aware that certain tastes evoke certain responses: sweet foods are more palatable than some bitter foods; some people crave salty foods while others prefer sweets. The five tastes that humans are able to differentiate are sweet, salt, bitter, sour and foods that are high in protein (also referred to as umami).

Researchers have discovered that humans can differentiate a sixth flavor: namely, fat. Furthermore, people that are hypersensitive to the flavor of fat are less likely to eat foods with high fat content. Conversely, those people less able to differentiate the taste of fat were more likely to eat foods high in fat, and were also more prone to being overweight and to having a higher BMI (body mass index).

This research is interesting because it holds the possibility of developing new ways to help people lose weight, by altering their sensitivity to the taste of fat. In addition, this research could lead to the development of new foods that are low in fat but are still palatable to those trying to lose weight. Manipulating this new knowledge in a way that targets taste perceptions may offer new avenues to weight loss.

Source: Discovery of ‘Fat’ Taste Could Hold the Key to Reducing Obesity

The Value of HgA1c Testing

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Identification of diabetes is accomplished through the use of tests that measure glucose levels after a person has ingested glucose (oral glucose tolerance test) or levels of glucose in the blood after fasting for a number of hours (fasting plasma glucose test). The HgA1c test is a relative newcomer to the diabetes testing arena.

Scientists now believe that the HgA1c test, which is a measure of glucose attached to hemoglobin, the cells that carry oxygen in the blood, may be a more accurate way of both diagnosing diabetes and controlling it. The HgA1c test provides a picture of glucose levels for the preceding 2 or3 months, and varies less that fasting glucose levels. Thus, the HgA1c test can be administered with no preparation by the patient and provides a clearer picture of glucose control over the long term.

Normal levels of HgA1c are less than 5.0 for people who do not have diabetes. Those whose levels are between 5.0 and 6.25 are said to be pre-diabetic, and are at risk of developing diabetes without modification of risk factors (i.e. weight loss). Levels greater than 6.25 indicate diabetes. Researchers believe that measuring HgA1c is a more accurate diagnostic tool and is also of greater value in monitoring those who already have diabetes.

PreCrea is an all-natural botanical formula taken to reduce blood sugar levels and promote weight loss. It can be used by those who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes to help them avoid developing type 2 diabetes.

Source: Glycated Hemoglobin Tests See Increasing Use

Blocked Arteries Not Always Found on Angiograms

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Angiograms are the definitive test for people who may have had a heart attack, or who suffer from chest pain. A normal angiogram virtually rules out the possibility of a heart attack. However, a new study finds that this invasive and expensive test yields far fewer positive results than previously thought.

Researchers studied almost 399,000 patients seen in 663 hospitals over a four-year period. What they found was surprising: only 38% of those undergoing angiograms were found to have blocked arteries. Those patients who had had non-invasive tests prior to angiogram with a positive finding (such as an abnormal stress test) were moderately more likely to have blockage of their arteries discovered on angiogram. Researchers noted that risk factors for finding blockage on angiogram were the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including:

  • Being male
  • Being of older age
  • Being diabetic
  • Having elevated cholesterol levels

Given that angiograms are both expensive and invasive, it would seem that more stringent criteria is needed to determine who requires an angiogram and who does not. It may be that the culture of practicing defensive medicine is responsible for the number of angiograms done on people with normal findings. It is important to keep in mind that angiograms themselves are not without risk, including the risk of bleeding, and should be reserved for those who truly need it.

Source: Obstructive Disease Not Found on Most Angiograms

Fatigue and Menopause

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Fatigue can be one of the more disturbing aspects of perimenopause, affecting women to a significant degree and impacting all areas of life, including physical, emotional, and social aspects. Many women describe the fatigue of menopause as “crushing” and find it difficult to cope with daily life. Fatigue can also worsen other symptoms of perimenopause, or the perception of these symptoms.

Fatigue in perimenopause is thought to be a result of decreasing levels of sex hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, which may cause sleep disturbances. Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep may occur, and hot flashes that strike in the night (night sweats) may add to the problem.

There are some things that may help, including:

  • Keeping your room at a comfortable temperature- staying cool during sleep may help you avoid night sweats. Try using a fan or keeping the window open, as well as avoiding sheets that may increase sweating, such as silk sheets.
  • Stick to a routine- keeping to a regular routine may help you get a better sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night. Try a relaxing activity before sleeping, such as reading or meditating.
  • Avoid stimulants close to bedtime- avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, or exercising right before bed, as these activities may stimulate you, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Nap during the day- a short nap during the day may recharge your batteries and leave you feeling refreshed. Avoid sleeping long periods of time during the day, as this may make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

PreMenora and PreMenora+ are all-natural botanical supplements formulated to decrease unpleasant symptoms of perimenopause, including fatigue.

How to Cope With Vaginal Dryness

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

As we age and enter perimenopause, falling estrogen levels result in thinning of vaginal tissue, causing  familiar symptoms for some women: burning, itching and dryness. Vaginal dryness can be particularly problematic for women in terms of intimacy. Women may notice that, as they enter into perimenopause, their level of moisture during intercourse may dramatically decrease. Some women experience discomfort during vaginal penetration, a reduction in pleasure and even a small amount of bleeding during or after intercourse.

Vaginal dryness need not signal an end to intimacy. There are products available to ease the discomfort of vaginal dryness. Using a water-based lubricant will replace moisture temporarily and increase comfort. Vaginal moisturizers applied regularly can keep the vaginal tissues moist and supple. There are many brands available, and several may need to be tried before finding the right one. Should neither of these remedies ease the symptoms, a visit to the doctor may be in order to rule out any other problems that may be causing the symptoms, such as a urinary tract infection.

Some women prefer to use natural supplements to ease the symptoms of perimenopause, including vaginal dryness. PreMenora is an all-natural twice daily formulation of 10 different ingredients created specifically to target the symptoms of perimenopause. To learn more about how PreMenora and PreMenora+ can relieve menopausal symptoms, visit

Coping with Hot Flashes

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

One minute you are comfortably cool, the next you are sweaty, hot and miserable. Sound familiar? Hot flashes are one of the most common and unpleasant of perimenopause symptoms. What can be done to cope with them? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Wear appropriate clothing- wearing clothes that keep you cool and that easily absorb moisture can help you feel more comfortable when a flash hits. Cotton is your friend: avoid wearing clothes that you may overheat in, such as nylon or polyesters. Adopt the “layered look” so that you can shed unwanted clothing and still be fully dressed!
  • Cool down with water- Staying well-hydrated is important, but water can have different uses here. Try applying cool compresses to your skin when you become overheated. Using key areas, such as the back of the neck, wrists, forehead and even the groin may provide some relief. Running cold water over your wrists or rinsing your face in cool water may stop a flash in its tracks.
  • Don’t smoke- thin women who smoke are more likely to have more frequent and intense hot flashes, according to some studies. Quitting smoking may decrease the frequency of hot flashes.
  • Avoid triggers- triggers may be different for each woman; the key is in determining what your specific triggers are. Common triggers are alcohol, spicy foods, hot tubs, caffeine and stress.
  • Manage your stress- stress may trigger hot flashes, so finding ways to cope with stressful situations may help you to cope more effectively with hot flashes. Controlled breathing, meditation, massage, exercise…all are ways to help you feel calmer and more in control of your body.
  • Remind yourself that menopause won’t last forever- although it may feel like forever, even the symptoms of menopause must come to an end. They will not last forever, thankfully, so remind yourself that “this, too, shall pass”.

PreMenora is a twice-daily natural botanical formula designed to relieve many of the symptoms of perimenopause, such as hot flashes.

Are Biphosphonates Safe?

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Fosamax (alendronate sodium) is one drug in a class of drugs known as biphosponates. Biphosphonates are medications prescribed to prevent or treat osteoporosis. More and more, physicians are also prescribing biphosphonates to patients who have osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis.

There is new information coming to light that suggests that women taking biphosphonates for longer than five years may be at increased risk for bone fracture. This may seem odd, considering that Fosamax and others in this drug class are supposed to make bones stronger, but there have been several reports of women on long-term therapy experiencing fractures with little provocation.

Merck, the company that makes Fosamax, has included a warning on the drug information material stating that bone fractures are a possible effect of the drug, but there are no prescribing instructions as to how long women should take Fosamax. As a result of these reports of bone fractures, many physicians are recommending that their patients only stay on the drug for a maximum of five years.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and are more susceptible to fracture. Fractures commonly occur in the wrist, spine, and hip. Older women are at the highest risk for osteoporosis. Smoking, menopause, a sedentary lifestyle and small size (being thin) can also contribute to the development of the condition. Prevention is aimed at ensuring a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise. Avoiding smoking and excessive use of alcohol can also help in prevention of the disease.

PreMenora+ is a formulation of all-natural botanicals to help reduce the symptoms of perimenopause. In addition, PreMenora+ also contains oyster shell calcium and vitamin D, both of which can help to prevent osteoporosis.

Source: Osteoporosis

Fosamax: Is Long Term Use of Bone Strengthening Drug Linked to Fractures?

Drug-Versus-Drug Comparison Studies are Lacking

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Part of President Obama’s health care reform plan is to increase comparative effectiveness research. This type of research can reduce health care costs by determining the most effective medications to treat certain conditions, as well as comparing drug therapy against other forms of treatment to determine which is best. This type of research is aimed at finding the most cost-effective treatments available.

Generally, pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in funding studies that show that the drug they supply is better than a drug from another rival company. Billions of dollars are spent on researching new drugs that will earn pharmaceutical companies millions in revenues, but drug companies are less interested in funding research that may not show their product in a favorable light.

Non-commercial and government entities support most of these comparative studies; 1.1 billion dollars was earmarked by Congress last year to fund comparative effectiveness studies as part of the government’s stimulus program. It has been suggested that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) should demand these studies from drug companies before granting approval of new drugs. At this point in time, this is not a requirement for gaining approval status for new medications.

Many new medications are not necessarily better but may be more expensive, a fact that is sometimes forgotten in the hype and media blitz that often occurs with the release of a new drug. People are lulled into a sense of security and may be unaware that the expensive new drug that has been hailed as the “wonder drug” of the month may not be any more effective that the “old” one that did virtually the same thing.

Is it any wonder that many cannot afford their medications? Comparative effectiveness research may be one tool in the arsenal of health care reform that can help to reduce the runaway costs of prescription drugs.

Source: Few U.S. studies compare one drug to another: report