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HEART Insight:
doi: 10.1097/01.HEARTI.0000334392.11976.cc
Departments: HeartBeat

New Research Findings You Can Put To Use — Now

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Kids + ADHD

Before starting medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), children need a thorough physical exam, as well as a patient and family history to help detect undiagnosed heart rhythm problems, according to American Heart Association recommendations. The doctor may also choose to do an electrocardiogram (ECG) as part of the evaluation, but shouldn't withhold ADHD drugs because an ECG was not done. ADHD medications have not been shown to cause heart conditions, but they can increase or decrease heart rate and blood pressure. These side effects aren't usually considered dangerous, but they should be monitored periodically in children with heart conditions as the doctor feels necessary.

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Diet

Women whose eating habits are similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet have a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke, according to the most recent findings from the NURSES' HEALTH STUDY of 88,517 female nurses between the ages of 34 to 59 who did not have heart disease or diabetes when they agreed to participate in the long-term study in 1980. The DASH diet largely substitutes plant proteins for animal protein and includes fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. When researchers compared the 20 percent of the study participants whose diets were most similar to the DASH recommendations to the 20 percent whose diets were the least similar, they found that those with healthier eating habits were 24 percent less likely to develop fatal or nonfatal coronary heart disease and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke.

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Dementia

A Swedish study that followed the health status of 2,269 men up to 35 years found those with impaired glucose response at age 50 were likelier to develop Alzheimer's disease. Over the course of the study, which was published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, 102 participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, 57 with vascular dementia and 394 with other dementia or cognitive impairment. The Uppsala University researchers who conducted the study theorize that abnormal insulin levels may damage blood vessels in the brain. In another study that highlights importance of healthy lifestyle choices, researchers in Seattle found that cumulative brain damage from small vessel disease caused by successive tiny strokes from high blood pressure or diabetes can account for a third of dementia risk after age 65.

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Heart Failure

A study of 3,269 men age 65 and older (average age 72.7) published in Archives of Internal Medicine, finds that loop diuretics — such as furosemide and bumetanide — which are often prescribed to treat heart failure and high blood pressure, may accelerate age-related bone loss in the hip. Bone mineral density measurements were taken when the men were first enrolled in the study and again an average of 4.6 years later. In between the two examinations, 84 men used loop diuretics continuously, 181 used them intermittently and 3,004 did not use them. Compared to men not on this type of diuretic, the rate of bone loss at the hip among intermittent users was roughly double, while continuous users had about 2.5 times more bone loss. If you're concerned about your medications, talk to your doctor before making any changes.

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© 2008 American Heart Association, Inc.

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