Shovel at Your Own Risk

While New England cities continue to dig out from “the great blizzard of 2015,” shoveling snow may not be the best cardio workout for your heart. According to the American Heart Association, this strenuous activity can significantly increase your chances of having a heart attack.

In a Fox News article, Dr. Marc Gillinov of Cleveland Clinic said those who have coronary artery disease could likely experience a heart attack while shoveling snow. Gillinov also said the cold temperatures themselves can contribute to your risk of a heart attack by causing arteries to tighten and increasing blood pressure.

Heart attack risk factors include but are not limited to high cholesterol, peripheral arterial disease and age.

“The common description of heart-related chest pain is ‘pressure,’” Dr. Gillinov said. “People might even say it feels like an elephant is sitting on their chest.”

This season, when you’re shoveling snow, if you feel pressure on your chest, set the shovel down. Take a break from tending to the snow blanket on your driveway, and go find a warmer blanket inside.

Beat Long Workdays and Skin Cancer

It may be time to take that extra trip to the coffee shop! A new study shows that coffee is associated with a reduced risk for skin cancer.

An article in the New York Times shows that research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute tracked 447,357 non-Hispanic, cancer-free whites aged 51 – 71 for a 10-year span. Throughout the study, 2,904 cases of melanoma were found.

This is where the coffee was introduced. Those who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day showed a 20 percent risk reduction of their melanoma traces, where as those who did not drink coffee showed little to know risk reduction.

Although this is a plus for coffee drinkers, this test did not indicate that coffee drinking preferences should be changed. Coffee may reduce melanoma minimally, but the best way to eliminate risks for skin cancer is to spend less time exposed to the sun and ultraviolet light.

And, as with any coffee-related study – if you don’t like this one, watch for a contradicting report to come out tomorrow.

Aspirin Every Day: Yea or Nay?

While an aspirin regimen has proven to lower your risk of heart attack or stroke, as it turns out, taking this pill every day could in fact worsen your overall health.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, results show that one in 10 people do not have a need for an aspirin regimen. According to this CNN article, researchers looked through nearly 70,000 health records of patients receiving care at nearly 120 cardiology practices in the US. It was determined that many of those participants who took aspirin had too low a risk of heart attack or stroke to justify this over-the-counter drug use.

Dr. Salim Virani, an author of the study, cardiologist and assisting professor of medicine at Baylor College said that some 7,972 patients taking the aspirin regimen had a less than six percent chance of having a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years. Furthermore, taking aspirin when not needed is harmful to a person’s body. Unnecessary use has been proven to cause intestinal bleeding, ulcers and even possible bleeding in the brain.

If anything is to be taken away from this heavy warning, it’s that you should pay attention to the labels on these medicine bottles and consult your doctor before beginning any medicine. And never take anything you don’t need!

Flu season – still?

Be wary around your friends, coworkers and family who’ve been coughing and sniffling the last few days – it’s still flu season!

A recent CNN story says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 43 states are having widespread flu activity, whereas just a week ago the number was seven.

According to the CDC, six children have already died this week, bringing the total number of pediatric deaths during flu season to 21, while the number of adults is unclear because each state is not required to report individual deaths from flu cases.

The CDC has also said the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, even though the 2014 flu shot was announced ineffective against the now mutated virus. The vaccine was given the ineffective status due to the quickly evolving strain, H3N2, which mutated and was not recognized until March, therefore too close to the forthcoming vaccination period. The H3N2 strain has accounted for 95 percent of this year’s flu cases.

According to the CDC spokesperson, Erin Burns, the 2003-2004 season identical to this year’s mutated strains, and the vaccine was still 43 percent effective. Regardless, all are still encouraged to avoid those who may appear to have the flu or its symptoms – and encouraged to wash their hands!

The Snack that Bites Back

The holidays have come and gone, and what better way to ring in a new year than with sugary sweets and infectious diseases?

According to the CDC, more than 20 cases of Listeria monocytogenes in the United States have been liked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. At least four, possibly five cases of this epidemic have been fatal.

The CDC has also revealed that older adults, pregnant women, infants and adults with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to this infection and are being advised to steer clear of prepackaged candy and caramel apples.

Try not to stress too much about that binge you had on Halloween, but some additional scary news: Listeria symptoms could begin up to 70 days after taking your first bite of the contaminated apple.

To fight Listeria, the CDC asks that while you enjoy your savory treats, remember the proper way food should be cooked, stored and prepared with limited germ and bacteria interaction.

2015 may be the year to embrace mainstream candy and pick up a chocolate bar, before falling prey to a poisoned apple.