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Health Tips: Antioxidants Linked to Lower Asthma Rates

Posted - Feb. 5, 2004 at 9:20 a.m.



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Feb 05, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- NEW WOMEN'S HEART CARE TIPS

The American Heart Association has issued guidelines to help women prevent heart disease and correct misconceptions about prevention strategies. The AHA said women whose risk is higher than 20 percent in the next 10 years should avoid the use of hormone replacement therapy and high-dose vitamins and supplements for prevention until more research is done. Instead, women should stop smoking, maintain lower weight, and control their blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol levels, the guidelines said. The guidelines are based on the best scientific evidence about heart disease and stroke prevention, said Dr. Lori Mosca of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who led the AHA committee that made the recommendations.

ANTIOXIDANTS LINKED TO LOWER ASTHMA RATES

Increases in three antioxidants were linked to lower asthma risk in U.S. youth, especially those exposed to passive smoke, a study finds. Cornell University researchers analyzed results of a survey conducted from 1988 to 1994 that measured vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium, a trace element, in 6,153 youth, ages 4 to 16. Beta-carotene was associated with a 10 percent reduction in asthma prevalence in young people not exposed to smoke and a 40 percent reduction in those exposed to passive smoke. Vitamin C yielded similar results. An increase in selenium was associated with a 10 percent to 20 percent decrease in asthma prevalence, but this reduction was 50 percent in youth exposed to smoke. The study could not establish a cause for the associations, however.

EASY FIXES FOUND TO NOISY HOSPITAL NIGHTS

Mayo Clinic researchers say a few simple changes lowered high hospital noise levels that kept post-surgery patients awake, possibly slowing recovery. Noise level readings peaked as high as 113 decibels, about as loud as a jackhammer, around 7 a.m. when shifts were changing, but the start of the night shift at 11 p.m. was loud as well. The researchers' suggestions included moving the shift reports to an enclosed room, using foam pads to absorb sound, closing doors to patient rooms and lowering volume levels of patient monitors. Once these and other tips were put into place, noise levels were reduced by as much as 80 percent. Sleep is an important part of healing, and the researchers said they hope the findings can help other hospitals.

CYSTIC FIBROSIS LINKED TO FATTY ACID IMBALANCE

The discovery by Harvard researchers that cystic fibrosis patients have an imbalance of fatty acids in their tissue could lead to a new treatment. About 30,000 people nationwide are affected by the genetic disease, which leads to the development of life-threatening lung infections. Researchers confirmed that, as in mice studied before, 38 human patients with CF had high levels of arachidonic acid and abnormally low levels of docosahexaenoic acid, both fatty acids associated with inflammatory functions. Fatty acids, building blocks of the cell membrane, act as gateways for what enters, exits and reacts with cells. High amounts of DHA helped correct the imbalance in mice, but giving humans clinically effective doses would be unsafe, researchers said. Antibiotic therapy is now the main treatment for CF.

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(EDITORS: For more information about HEART, go to americanheart.org. For ANTIOXIDANTS, contact Patricia A. Cassano at (607) 255-7551 or pac6@cornell.edu. For NOISY, Lee Aase at (507) 284-5005 or newsbureau@mayo.edu. For CYSTIC, Bonnie Prescott at (617) 667-7306 or bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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