33MD for April 17, 2009

POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2009 - 4:08pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:58pm

A so-called “silent” heart attack may be more common and more deadly than first thought. Doctors at Duke University used new MRI technology to look for blockages in patients with no record of heart attacks. Turns out, 35% showed evidence of a prior heart attack and they didn’t even know it! Two years later, doctors also found those who suffered from silent attacks were 17 times more likely to die from heart problems.

For years, our average life expectancy has surpassed that of our parents. But the skyrocketing childhood obesity rate has experts concerned. A commission of doctors says if the behaviors of children do not change the average life expectancy will drop for the next generation by five years. The commission says it’s time to stop relying on the healthcare system to make us healthy and it’s time for parents and schools to demand better eating habits and more physical activity.

Alice Rivlin with Robert Wood Johnson Commission says, “We have learned from many studies that if children get a good start in development at an early age they will be healthier later on.” The commission gave three recommendations to reverse this impending change. First, all school meals must be healthy meals. Second, fresh and healthy foods must be made available in low income neighborhoods. Third, all students in K-12 schools must be physically active every single day.

You know the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, it’s not just an old wives’ tale anymore. Scientific research from California finds laughter may actually help ward off cardiovascular disease. The study involved 20 diabetic patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The group that was prescribed laughter had significantly higher levels of good cholesterol. Researchers say this indicates laughter can lower stress and the risk for cardiovascular disease.