Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of men and women worldwide. The key preventions are smoking cessation; control of cholesterol, blood pressure and weight; and exercise. In fact, exercise helps to control cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly – but you don’t have to do it all at once. You can break that time into 10-minute segments and still benefit. To quote a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, “If you don’t find time for exercise, you will have to find time for disease”.
A study published in JAMA found women are likelier not to have chest pain when they have heart attacks. When data from 1.1 million heart attacks was analyzed, 42% of women didn’t have chest pain when they were admitted to the hospital compared to 31% of men. Also, 15% of women died in the hospital compared to 10% of men. Thus it’s especially important for women to know the other symptoms of heart attack – shortness of breath, nausea and pain in the jaw or back. However, as women age their symptoms are more like men’s – maybe another reason it’s called “menopause”.
Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S. and fourth worldwide. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found those who had precancerous growths removed during colonoscopies had 53% lower risk of colon cancer death than expected in the general public. In another Journal study participants were given colonoscopies or stool blood tests. Colonoscopies found advanced growths in twice as many participants and less serious growths in 10 times as many. Considering 143,000 new cases of colon cancer are expected in the U.S. in 2012, colonoscopies are the “bottom line”.
Thankfully, our pets make us healthier. A study published in 1980 found heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn’t. Another early study showed petting one’s own dog reduced blood pressure. More recently studies done at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine found interacting with animals increased our level of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin helps us feel happy and trusting, but it also has long-term health benefits. Because it affects the body’s readiness to heal and to grow new cells, oxytocin predisposes our bodies to be healthier. So … reach out and pet something.