Do brain games lower dementia risk?
Yes and no.
Most brain or cognitive training apps divide their “games” into several categories, such as attention, memory, speed and flexibility.
However, a study recently published in an Alzheimer’s journal reports that only the speed games were associated with a lower dementia risk (29% lower!).
I was really interested in this report. My husband and I enjoy playing these games, even though I’ve posted before that there was no solid evidence supporting their role in lowering dementia risk.
The games are fun, and if you subscribe—as I do—to the “use it or lose … Continue reading
Target BPs are much lower
Last week the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiologists (ACC) published new guidelines in the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure.
What are the new numbers and what do they mean?
Many people will be surprised to find out they now have “elevated” high blood pressure, which could be a reading as low as 120/70, or Stage 1 hypertension at 130/80 rather than 140/90 (the old threshold).
The new blood pressure guidelines are:
- Normal: Under 120 over 80
- Elevated: Top number 120-129 and bottom less than 80
- Stage 1: Top
… Continue reading
Fear-mongering and clickbait
While sipping a glass of wine with dinner last night, my ears perked up when I heard a teaser for NBC Nightly News: “New report links even light alcohol intake with increased risk of cancer.”
Oh, boy, I thought. Here we go again.
I don’t like network news because of this kind of lousy health reporting (I just wanted to see local election returns). Again and again, research is taken out of context or blown out of proportion simply to use as clickbait. Argh.
My favorite health news website, Health News Review, agrees with me, and … Continue reading
Carbs vs fats in the news…again
A few weeks ago, a study was published that resulted in a lot of dramatic headlines, such as “Your Low-Fat Diet Could Kill You!”
The media always make a big deal out of these nutritional studies because they know we need to eat, we like to eat, and we’re already confused about what we should eat. Or not eat.
Headlines that the one above are great clickbait.
Nutrition studies are notoriously unreliable because they are usually observational studies, based on questionnaires and food diaries, rather than the gold standard randomized controlled trials. … Continue reading
Need more info? Check out these vaccination resources
In 1998, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine was FALSELY reported to be associated with autism.
The doctor who published that report has since been disgraced and the report itself debunked. In fact, research has shown again and again that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
However, the fear persists. Worse, the fear extends to ALL vaccines, not just the MMR.
What happens when a significant number of children aren’t vaccinated? We get disease outbreaks, such as the recent outbreaks of whooping cough, measles, and … Continue reading
Choosing Wisely to prevent overtreatment
I’ve been a fan of the healthcare consumer group, Choosing Wisely, for several years.
Collaborating with Consumer Reports, Choosing Wisely brings evidence-based healthcare information to patients. Their goal is to educate patients and physicians, and support informed decision making.
Shared decision making not only prevents patient harm from overtreating, but brings down escalating healthcare costs by eliminating unnecessary diagnostic tests and procedures. (Healthcare waste accounts for billions of dollars every year!)
Now it’s even easier to get access to their information.
The healthcare app, iTriage, has added 160 of Choosing Wisely’s recommendations to … Continue reading
Rethinking LDLs (low-density lipoproteins)
I’ve posted a couple of times about my husband’s high LDL level and his attempts to lower it through diet and exercise.
I’ve also said that because he doesn’t have any other risk factors for heart disease, we aren’t too worried about it. But the engineer in him likes the challenge of seeing how low he can get his LDL.
When I saw this recent YouTube video, however, I had to ask him to watch it. What if everything we think we know about LDL levels is wrong? What if so-called bad cholesterol isn’t really … Continue reading
Unnecessary tests = unnecessary expense
This is a follow up to my last post about the dangers of too much medical care.
One of the biggest doors leading to an overabundance of healthcare and healthcare costs is the annual exam and all the “routine” lab work that is ordered almost without thought.
Doctors’ offices strive to be efficient. They have a lot of patients to see every day, after all.
One way they streamline their practices is to set up routine or “standing” orders for common lab tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis (UA), … Continue reading
Too much testing = too much medicine
I just ran across an old doctor joke: What is a well person? Someone who hasn’t yet been thoroughly examined.
It’s not funny, of course, if you’re the patient and have suffered the harms—and the expense—of too much medical care.
In 2010, my husband was the victim of too much medical care. Because of complications and a string of medical errors he almost died. His care cost our insurance company over $100,000 and we were out of pocket for our $10,000 deductible.
Now he has no thyroid and has to take medication every … Continue reading
Good evidence for using turmeric to treat arthritis pain
I’m generally not a fan of supplements or herbal remedies.
There can be a lot of marketing hype behind these products, but not a lot of good science.
However…about a month ago I finally became so tired of living with chronic arthritis pain, mostly in my hands and neck, that I decided to research turmeric to see if there was any chance it could help me.
I wanted an alternative to ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), which works great to control my pain, but it’s not only hard on my stomach, it’s a … Continue reading