Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Four Factors Increasing the Risk of Heart Failure

A new study published in Circulation: journal of the American Heart Association, shows that smoking, high blood pressure, excess weight, and diabetes are major risk factors for increasing the size of the heart's left ventricle.

The left ventricle is the pumping chamber of the heart. An increase in the size and thickness, or "mass," of the left ventricle is a worrisome condition that can lead to heart failure. For heart failure symptoms, click here.

Boston University researchers said that in a study of more than 4,200 people, those four risk factors were strongly correlated with greater left ventricle mass over the short term, as well as over the long term.

Ramchandran S. Vasan, MD, senior investigator of the study and chief of the section of preventive medicine at Boston University School of Medicine said,

"These factors can be directly targeted for prevention and lowering these risk factors therefore could potentially lower the burden of heart failure."

For the full article visit WebMD.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Trouble Sleeping? Online Therapy Could be the Answer

According to a study in the June 1 issue of the journal Sleep, chronic insomniacs who took part in online cognitive behavioral therapy, reported getting a better night's sleep than those who didn't take part in the therapy. reports the cognitive behavioral therapy included education about sleep hygiene, relaxation techniques and tips for stilling an overactive mind.

Half of the participants were given access to audiovisual clips that provided information about ways to combat insomnia. The others were put on a waiting list and asked not to seek treatment in the meantime.

After five weeks, 81 percent of those being treated reported at least mild improvement in their sleep.

About 30 percent of the participants in the study said they got an additional hour of sleep by the end of the program. Those who'd received treatment also developed healthier attitudes about sleep and were less likely to report having an overactive mind at bedtime.

Colorado State University Gym Construction Frustrates Students

An audio version of this story can be found here.

The CSU gym is undergoing a transformation over the next year that will increase space by 60,000 square feet and as well as many new amenities.

These amenities include things such as, massage rooms, additional fitness rooms, a rock wall and cave, volleyball courts and much more. For a complete list of the expansion visit the CSU recreation center Web site.

Construction on the gym began this summer and should be completed by August of 2010.

Even though students are very excited about the renovations occurring at the gym, it is putting a damper on students working out right now.

All of the gym equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, weight machines, mats, etc are all squeezed on to only two basketball courts. Two basketball courts which used to be used only for playing basketball.

Playing basketball is no longer available at the gym and neither is the indoor track for runners. The fitness room is also closed for the summer.

Exercisers at the gym this summer are finding their work out options to be very limited. Many students are upset with how clustered the gym is.

Anthony Allie, a student at CSU, has been working out at the gym this summer in its new condensed form. "Everything is really smashed together in the gym," he said, "I can't even imagine how crowded it will be in August when school starts and everyone is back in the gym again."

Many students are worried about how crowded it will become when more students begin to use the gym. However, the construction occurring inside and outside of the gym is also distracting exercisers from their workouts.

Natalie Solario, also a CSU student, said that the construction is really loud and seems to be ongoing.

Listen to the audio above to hear more of these student interviews.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cooking Light and Saveur Take Different Looks at Health

Cooking and food magazines are very popular with Americans. Different cooking magazines are targeted at different types of audiences and contain a variety of content.

Cooking Light is a magazine for the health conscious. Especially in a time when more and more Americans are deciding to be health conscious eaters, magazines like this one are becoming increasingly popular.

The magazine Saveur, calls itself "The Real Italy." This magazine is not concerned with healthy eating habits or cutting calories.

In comparison, these two magazines take the health of readers into account in different ways.


Cooking Light magazine strives to get people to "eat smart, be fit and live well," as it says on the cover. June's edition includes, "22 healthy meal makeovers. Chicken, chops & burgers: Less fat, fewer calories, great taste!" and also, "A delicious salad you'll love all summer".

These cover stories are an example of how the magazine entices readers by giving them lower calorie options and tastier health food.

There are lists of common foods including, Chinese, pizza, barbecue, and burgers and then the readers are given Cooking Light versions of the food which cut calories by huge numbers.

One of the main goals of the magazine is to coach its readers on how to make good and healthy decisions. For example, in the June edition, there is a story on how to buy the best produce and also exactly how to measure out one serving of different types of produce.

Because Americans tend to blame their unhealthy eating habits on things such as the cost of food or the lack of preparation time, Cooking Light takes this into account. For example, their is a page that suggests which wines to pair with what types of food and there are "bargain" examples of each type of wine suggested to readers as well.

There is an entire section in the magazine that provides readers with a variety of meals that only take 20 to 40 minutes to prepare. The magazine leaves readers with no room for excuses to not eat healthy.


The cooking magazine Saveur, encourages readers to "Savor a world of authentic cuisine," as it states on the magazine cover.

This magazine encourages readers to indulge a bit more than Cooking Light does. For example, just as there is an article about produce in Cooking Light, where to get it and the right serving sizes, there is an article in Saveur about the sweetest types of fruit. Two different looks at produce.

In Cooking Light, every single recipe in the magazine provides nutrition content of the meal. Saveur does not do this. It gives recipes that go along with articles about the food.

This magazine also provides readers with background information on the food and it's country of origin. So it is a more educational and cultural approach to cooking.

These two magazines take a very different approach to educating their readers. Cooking Light offers advice and helpful tips on how to stay healthy and live a healthier lifestyle.

Saveur on the other hand, provides readers with delectable, rich recipes along with content to provide background to the recipe and it's origins.

If someone is trying to stay healthy or maybe has weight loss goals, Cooking Light is a great magazine that can easily aid in these goals. Saveur is a good way to learn about food and receive some cultural education along with it. This magazine hardly emphasizes healthy eating habits in any way.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cell Phone Rings May Interrupt Thinking

Researchers now report that just 30 seconds of a stranger's nearby ringtone can impair thinking, at least briefly as found on

Students unknowingly involved in a classroom experiment saw their test scores sink after a fellow "student's" phone went off.

Study leader author Jill Shelton said, "there are real-world implications for these sounds in our environment and they are distracting. They significantly disrupt performance in a classroom setting."

Shelton said the data shows that it's not just annoying when other people's cell phones ring. It is actually leading to impairment in learning, whether in a business meeting or in a classroom or some other setting.

She found that cell phone rings may also harm recall. More on recall.

Prior research has also indicated that the human brain can only attend to a finite amount of stimuli at a time.

Get the full story here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mood Affects our Vision

WebMD reports on new research that suggests that our mood literally affects how we see the world.

The research shows that people in a better mood take in more information while they look at something. People in a bad mood are more likely to see with tunnel vision.

Researchers also said that being in a good mood and taking in more information can be a positive or negative thing,

"Good moods enhance the literal size of the window through which we see the world," Taylor Schmitz, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study said, "The upside of this is this is that we can see things from a more global, or integrative perspective. The downside is that this can lead to distraction on critical tasks that require narrow focus, such as operating dangerous machinery or airport screening of passenger baggage." also reports about this study.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is a type of nursing that doesn't get a lot of attention but it is very important. I interviewed Registered Nurse Karli Pelley about the line of work. Here are her e-mail responses.

Q: What types of hospice care are available?

A: There are a couple different levels of hospice care depending on the patient’s current status. There is respite care which aides in giving the family or caregiver a break by arranging for extra services in the home or simple things outside the home like grocery shopping. There is also general hospice care, which include a team consisting of nurses, social worker/counselor, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and volunteers who all aide in providing comfort care for the patient and family.

Q: What are hospice care centers like?

A: Hospice associations differ by where they are located. Some hospice centers have their own units in nursing homes, hospital hospice units or inpatient hospice centers. However, there are some that have a central office but go to see patient’s in their own homes, which is the kind of hospice I work for. Patients’ are able to live the rest of their lives in their own home with our help rather than having to move to a nursing home. However, some patients need so much physical help that they need to be in a nursing home and if that is the case, we go to see our hospice patient in the nursing home as if it was their home.

Q: why would people choose to stay in a hospice center rather than a hospital?

A: Hospitals are more for temporary or acute problems and diseases. With hospice patients, their diseases are more terminal or chronic and therefore need long term care that hospice can provide if the situation calls for it. Hospice focuses on comfort care which is what a person with a terminal illness would need rather than a hospital setting where their focus is not solely on comfort.

Q: Are most of the people elderly?

A: From my experience yes, the majority of patients have been elderly. However, we have had a few older adults in their early 50’s and 60’s. From my experience it seems as though the younger the patients have been, the harder it is for the family to accept their terminal diagnosis in a healthy manner. I see a lot of denial from the younger patients and their families.

Q: What are the requirements to end up in hospice care?

A: The main criteria for most hospice centers, is accepting patients who have a life-expectancy of six months or less and who are referred by their personal physician. However, many of our patients out-live those six months and that is not uncommon. Life expectancy estimations are easier when cancer is diagnosis because physicians can more accurately estimate a time frame. With other diagnosis such as COPD, kidney failure, or failure to thrive, a physician has to consider many factors to determine whether a patient would fit the hospice criteria.

Q: Is it government funded or do people pay for it on their own?

A: This varies depending on what hospice organization is involved. Some hospice organizations are government funded, non-profit organizations and rely heavily on federal grants and fundraisers. Then there are some hospice associations that are paid for independently through Medicare benefits, Medicaid benefits, and most private insurers.

Q: Do you see more of some terminal illnesses than others?

A: Yes, we see different types of cancers a lot more than anything else. Usually cancer has a pretty definitive diagnosis and life expectancy, so that makes hospice a more obvious tool with terminal cancers. We also see a lot of patients with congestive heart failure. These two diagnoses are common, but with heart failure the patients often out-live their six month time frame and with cancers they usually reach the active dying phase a lot sooner.

Q: What is it like working in hospice care?

A: It is surprisingly enjoyable and extremely rewarding. A big misconception about hospice is that it is all death and sadness everyday, but that is not true. There are a lot of happy times with the patients and they usually do very well for a long time until they reach the last stage of the dying process. Working in this area I get a lot of “thank you’s” and hugs from the patient, and their friends and families which makes the job feel less like a job and more like a rewarding journey.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Getting to meet all of the different patients and what they have to say. For being terminally ill and elderly, a lot of our patients have very strong and humorous personalities. Developing strong bonds with the patients and earning their trust is a good feeling even though it makes it harder at the end of their life. I still find the relationships I make to be one of my favorite parts of working in this difficult area of nursing otherwise it could quickly become a very depressing line of work.

Q: Is it hard to build relationships with people who you know are terminally ill?

A: Going into this job I was very nervous about that part and I was very worried that I would get too attached to patients. You learn how to set personal boundaries but it is inevitable that you become very close with some patients and I have learned that’s okay. However, it has made me much more comfortable with the dying process and family grieving. Some families and patients want a strong nurse and some want a nurse that will cry along with them. So, you learn to adjust emotionally with each different family. It can be really emotionally draining at times but really rewarding when it’s all done.

Q: Is there any controversy surrounding assisted suicide or euthanasia?

A: When admitting a new patient, some families have questions about whether or not hospice speeds along the dying process. One of the first things we tell the family is that hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. We don’t take the patient off of any medications that they are currently on. We care for them as we would with any patient. Hospice focuses on comfort care and we treat any symptoms with appropriate medications. The basis of hospice care is to provide emotional, spiritual, and social support to the patient and the family. The goal of hospice is to provide comfort and care, not "cure" the illness or disease, like they do in a hospital setting. If the patient’s condition improves or does not decline after so long, patients can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive therapy if that is what they wish.