"The Heart of the Matter"

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Week: 533.5 Topic: News and Notes on...Alzheimer's Disease, Beta-Carotene, Eating breakfast, blood pressure heart attack predictor. Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: Today, we'll take a look around at some of the latest stories in health and medicine you may not have seen....

Many people dealing with the problems of Alzheimer's disease are further frustrated by the lack of a source with concrete information on the condition. The National Institute on Aging has produced a booklet called, Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery. The free publication is 48 pages long, and offers information on the science of the disease, including some of the latest research, in easy to understand terminology. You can find out how Alzheimer's affects the brain, what the risk factors are as currently defined...how its diagnosed and treated. The book has good illustrations, a glossary of terms, and a list of other materials available on Alzheimer's disease. To get a copy, call the ADEAR Center of the National Institute on Aging at 800-438-4380....the booklet is designated Z-123.

For the last several years, researchers and nutritionists touted beta-carotene...a pigment found in fruits and vegetables... as a possible ward against cancer and heart disease. Then came a Finnish study that showed beta-carotene may have actually increased the chances that male smokers would get lung cancer. In the pages of Health magazine recently, it was reported that follow-up studies seem to confirm the Finnish results. Health says a National Cancer Institute study of 18 thousand men and women smokers, ex-smokers or people who had been exposed to asbestos...shows those who were given a combination of beta-carotene and vitamin A were 28% more likely to develop lung cancer. The Institute reportedly felt the numbers were low enough that the results aren't totally clear...but they believe the vitamins offered no clear benefit, so they stopped giving them to all the subjects. Coming out in tandem, according to the Health report, was a Harvard-affiliated study on beta carotene, the longest ever done, which showed no benefits and no ill effects in the 22 thousand doctors who participated for twelve years. So, it appears that though we know eating fruits and vegetables helps in preventing cancer and heart disease...trying to lift just one ingredient and use it to fight these maladies may not be the best way to do the job. Keep eating those fruits and veggies.

Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day, but it seems fewer adults are taking the advice to fuel up before they head out. An analysis of breakfast habits was published recently in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Colleen Pierre writes in The Baltimore Sun that the study showed the numbers of adults eating breakfast has gone from 86 percent thirty years ago, to just 75% now. But she also writes there's good news....Consumption of whole milk, bacon, eggs, white bread, butter and margarine is down...and people are eating more low fat milk, high fiber cereal, and whole grain bread. One concern is that kids will learn to ignore breakfast because their parents are walking off without filling up first.

Doctors have another indicator of potential heart attack....Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, talks about a recent study of hypertension...which shows that a steep rise in blood pressure during exercise is a pretty good indicator of risk. The report says the researchers found that in middle aged men, a rise in blood pressure to more than 200 mm of mercury while they were doing moderate exercise, was twice as dependable in predicting heart attacks and death as using the resting blood pressure of 140 or greater. If you're in that group, and your blood pressure gets up over 200 while exercising moderately, you should get checked out by your doctor. Thanks for being with us, I'm Steve Girard.

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Last modified: November 01, 2021