Recent Articles

Smog Threatens Visitors to U.S. National Parks: Report...

Air pollution afflicts many national parks across the United States, a new study suggests. Air quality in some of the parks is as bad or worse than in some major cities because of pollution from sources such as coal-fired power stations, the National Parks Conservation Association says in a new report. “Our parks remain under threat from air pollution, harming visitors’ health, reducing visibility, and driving the impacts of climate change,” said Ulla Reeves, manager of the association’s Clean Air Campaign. Researchers examined 48 national parks with the greatest Clean Air Act protections. They discovered that 75 percent of them sometimes have “moderate” or worse ozone pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. These levels are dangerous for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. Four parks — Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite — regularly have air that’s considered unhealthy. Some of the parks have unhealthy air for more than a month each year, typically during the summer, the report notes. All 48 parks studied have haze pollution that limits how far people can see. On average, park visitors miss out on 50 miles of scenery, which is equal to the length of Rhode Island, the researchers point out. The study also noted that 90 percent of national parks are experiencing extreme weather linked to climate-changing air pollution. The parks are hotter, wetter or drier than they were over most of the past century....

Add Asthma, Allergy Plans to Your Back-to-School List...

If your child has asthma or allergies, make sure his or her teacher, principal and school nurse know about it as part of your back-to-school planning, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) recommends. “More than 10 million kids under age 18 have asthma, and one in four suffer from respiratory allergies,” ACAAI President Dr. James Sublett said in a news release from the organization. “Many kids with asthma and food allergies don’t have a plan in place at school. An allergy or asthma action plan doesn’t do any good if it’s not shared with the people who can act on it,” he noted. The first step is to have allergy/asthma control measures at home, such as lowering exposure to triggers and taking prescribed medications. At school, it’s important for teachers to know your child’s asthma and allergy triggers so that they can help the youngster avoid them in the classroom. Parents should talk to principals and school nurses about how to handle allergy/asthma emergencies. All 50 states have laws that protect students’ rights to carry and use medicines for asthma and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) at school. Children at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions from certain foods or insect stings should carry epinephrine auto-injectors and have them available for immediate use, the ACAAI said. Children with asthma and allergies should be able to take part in any school sport as long as they follow their doctor’s...

Stand, Don’t Sit, to Get Healthier, Scientists Say...

By Steven Reinberg HealthDay Reporter Sitting too long may be hazardous to your health, even if you exercise regularly, Australian researchers report. A new study found that sitting appears to be linked to increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which can lead to added weight, diabetes and heart ills. But standing more helps improve all these measures and can give you a trimmer waist to boot, the researchers said. “Switching some of your sitting time to standing could have benefits for your heart and metabolism,” said lead author Genevieve Healy, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland in Herston. “More time spent standing rather than sitting could improve your blood sugar, fats in the blood and cholesterol levels, while replacing time spent sitting with time walking could have additional benefits for your waistline and body mass index,” she said. However, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between standing and walking more and better health. The report was published July 31 in the European Heart Journal. For the study, Healy and colleagues gave activity monitors to 782 men and women, aged 36 to 80, who took part in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. The monitors kept track of how long each participant spent sitting/lying down, standing, walking and running. In addition, participants provided blood samples, measurements of their blood pressure, waist circumference, and height and weight (body mass index). The monitors were worn 24...

Sharp Spike Seen in Statin Use in Elderly Without Heart Disease...

There has been a sharp rise in the use of cholesterol-lowering statins among elderly patients who do not have heart disease, a new study finds. But there is little research to guide the use of these medicines in this group of patients, the investigators added. In the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 13,000 people who took part in an annual national survey between 1999 and 2012. “We found high rates of statin use in primary prevention among patients older than 79 years old who didn’t have vascular disease,” lead investigator Dr. Michael Johansen, a family medicine physician at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, said in a university news release. Rates of heart disease among the very elderly people rose from about 28 percent in 1999-2000 to nearly 44 percent in 2011-12, but this increase was believed to be related to survey methods. Over the same period, statin use for primary prevention rose from nearly 9 percent to about 34 percent. “We observed an increasing trend in statin use in both primary and secondary prevention, but didn’t find that high potency statin use was associated with vascular disease,” Johansen said. Secondary prevention refers to treatment in people with vascular (heart) disease. The findings were published online Aug. 24 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The use of statins for primary prevention in the very elderly is popular among U.S. doctors, but caution is needed due to the...

Sharp Spike Seen in Statin Use in Elderly Without Heart Disease...

There has been a sharp rise in the use of cholesterol-lowering statins among elderly patients who do not have heart disease, a new study finds. But there is little research to guide the use of these medicines in this group of patients, the investigators added. In the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 13,000 people who took part in an annual national survey between 1999 and 2012. “We found high rates of statin use in primary prevention among patients older than 79 years old who didn’t have vascular disease,” lead investigator Dr. Michael Johansen, a family medicine physician at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, said in a university news release. Rates of heart disease among the very elderly people rose from about 28 percent in 1999-2000 to nearly 44 percent in 2011-12, but this increase was believed to be related to survey methods. Over the same period, statin use for primary prevention rose from nearly 9 percent to about 34 percent. “We observed an increasing trend in statin use in both primary and secondary prevention, but didn’t find that high potency statin use was associated with vascular disease,” Johansen said. Secondary prevention refers to treatment in people with vascular (heart) disease. The findings were published online Aug. 24 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The use of statins for primary prevention in the very elderly is popular among U.S. doctors, but caution is needed due to the...