The To Your Health column covers health advice topics on new medical discoveries including stopping heart attacks as they happen, learning how old your dog is in dog years and the age to start getting your cholesterol tested.
Health Advice: Halting Heart Attacks, Dog Years and Cholesterol Testing
When it concerns the fitness of body, mind or spirit, the editors of American Health are there, staying on top of up-to-date medical research, providing health advice, separating fad from fact and helping you preserve and improve life's most precious gift—your good health. Here are just a few items culled from recent and upcoming issues.
Halting Heart Attacks
New techniques and drugs are enabling doctors to literally
halt a heart attack in progress, thereby limiting cardiac
damage and improving chances for recovery. Most heart
attack victims, however, wait three hours before seeking
help. By that time, as much as 40% of the affected heart
muscle may be lost.
Classic symptoms of a heart attack include crushing chest
pain that radiates to the jaw or left arm (and isn't
relieved by rest). It's often accompanied by nausea,
apprehension or dizziness. Sometimes there may be only a
heavy pressure or constriction across the chest. There may
be real pain of varying degree, which may or may not
radiate to the shoulder, neck, jaw, teeth, belly or arm.
Six Going on 40
The old one-dog-year-equals-seven-people-years formula is
"total nonsense," according to Dr. Alan Beck at the
University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
More accurate guidelines were developed in 1953 by French
veterinarian A. LeBeau, but keep in mind that large breeds
of dogs have much shorter life spans than smaller breeds: 3
mos. = 5 yrs.; 6 mos. = 10 yrs.; 12 mos. = 15 yrs.; 2 yrs.
= 24 yrs.; 4 yrs. = 32 yrs.; 6 yrs. = 40 yrs.; 8 yrs. = 48
yrs.; 10 yrs. = 56 yrs.; 14 yrs. = 72 yrs.; 18 yrs. = 91
yrs.; 21 yrs. = 106 yrs.
You can equate a cat's age to human age by this same
Victory Over Viruses?
A Harris poll of 227 medical scientists reveals that nearly
90% expect there'll be effective drugs to stimulate the
immune system, and 95% believe antiviral drugs will be used
effectively by the year 2000.
Is a Winter Tan Worth It?
Last year, the FDA reports, tanning salons sent some 2,500
to 5,000 people to emergency rooms with radiation injuries.
Though much of the public thinks UVA (ultraviolet A rays)
artificial tanning is safe, some of the machines give out
five times as much energy per unit of time as the sun, and
animal studies suggest you're more likely to develop skin
cancer if you use lamps plus sun than if you tan in the sun
Thin and Happy
If you're down about being overweight, taking an
antidepressant may compound the problem, because
antidepressants seem to stimulate weight-gain in some
people. Some drugs used to treat allergies, arthritis, skin
diseases and collagen disorders have similar effects, but
antidepressants are the worst offenders.
Now, however, there's an experimental antidepressant drug,
fluoxetine, that actually decreases cravings for sweets and
may prove to be an effective weight-loss agent as well, but
researchers are cautious. Bupropion, another drug that
seemed to lift depression without causing fatigue or weight
gain, was later found to induce seizures. In the meantime,
regular aerobic exercise has been shown to be as effective
in the treatment of mild depression as drugs, and will also
help take off unwanted pounds.
Everyone over the age of 20 should have a cholesterol test,
but, remember, like blood pressure, a person's cholesterol
level fluctuates—up or down—with stress, weight
change, menstrual cycle, illness and medications.
While lovastatin, the first of a new class of
cholesterol-lowering drugs, can reduce heart-unhealthy
cholesterol levels by 40%, its effect on coronary heart
disease and its long-term safety have not yet been
established. This and other drugs should be used only after
a stringent diet that cuts down on fatty foods has failed.
Getting the level down is vital, though, since every 1%
drop in serum cholesterol can lead to a 2% reduction in
heart attack risk.
Kids, Diet and Heart Disease
A 15-year study in Bogalusa, Louisiana, is trying to
determine to what extent childhood lifestyle can contribute
to eventual heart problems. "We have found that heart
disease risk factors track quite well as a child grows
older," says Larry Weber, chief statistician for the study.
"This causes us to believe that things like obesity and
high blood pressure are not harmless in youth, but in fact
can contribute to heart disease later in life."
Unfortunately, the number of obese children in this country
has almost doubled between 1963 and 1980.