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Health News Round-Up: Exercise Benefits Parkinson’s Patients

Physical Activity Can Counteract the Effects of Parkinson’s

Dynamic Parkinson’s therapy, more reasons than ever to quit smoking, end of life and bereavement, and more.Activities ranging from drumming to dance can help patients with Parkinson’s disease to regain range and smoothness of motion and reduce the need for medication. Recent studies have shown substantial gains in patients who engaged in regular cycling, treadmill walking, or tai chi practice. The National Parkinson Foundation notes that the benefits of regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of falls and other complications, which can in turn slow disease progression.

Residential Home Health also recognizes the benefits of physical activity in Parkinson’s treatment. Our patients can take part in proven LSVT therapy, exercises that emphasize BIG movements and LOUD speech and have long-lasting effects.

(Fight Parkinson’s: Exercise May Be The Best Therapy; NPR)

For Smokers, Bad News and Good News

The bad news: It’s no surprise that smoking poses major health risks; it’s been known for decades that smoking can lead to numerous types of cancer, chronic heart and lung diseases, and stroke. But now, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine has linked another five disease states to the effects of smoking — and added tens of thousands of deaths to the annual total credited to smoking. Among the newly discovered ailments whose risk is increased by smoking are diseases of the kidneys, intestines, heart, and lungs.

(Smoking’s Toll on Health Is Even Worse Than Previously Thought, a Study Finds; New York Times)

The good news: A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that prescription drugs to stop smoking can also be effective in patients who aren’t quite ready to quit; currently, physicians generally prescribe drugs such as Chantix only for patients who have set a firm quit date in the near future. This finding could pave the way for a more gradual path to becoming a former smoker. As quitting is achievable and beneficial at any age, there’s never been a better time to take those first steps toward giving up the habit.

(Medicine Given Even Before Smokers Are Ready to Quit Is Found to Help Them; New York Times)

For End-of-life Wishes, Clarity and Communication Are Key

Beginning the conversation about health care decision-making in extreme circumstances or at the end of life can be unnerving for patients and loved ones alike. But prolonging this discussion can lead to undesired interventions or outcomes; even a legal document such as an ‘advance directive’ may not make more personal preferences clear. Experts recommend:

  • Talking about end-of-life care before it’s needed.
  • Learning and asking questions about lifesaving medical interventions such as ventilators, feeding tubes, or CPR.
  • Telling not only your designated health care agent about your wishes, but also your physician and loved ones, to help ensure they will be honored.

One conversation starter is the short booklet Five Wishes, a simple, clear, and legally binding document that covers a wide range of topics surrounding medical interventions and end of life.

(Seeking a ‘Beautiful Death’; NYT Personal Health blog)

Other News

  • When something is broken or injured, the natural instinct is to treat the site of injury; in the case of stroke, which can damage either the left or right side of the brain, the tendency is to treat the impaired side. However, researchers are finding that treatments for the uninjured areas of the brain can minimize damage and lead to better outcomes. (Treating the uninjured side of the brain appears to aid stroke recovery; MNT)
  • When we talk about ‘grief,’ it often goes hand-in-hand with ‘process’; in most cases, a loved one can begin to emerge from deepest grief within about six months of death. However, there are cases when a bereaved individual can get stuck in what’s called ‘complicated grief,’ which can have serious health repercussions and warrant its own treatment. (When Grief Won’t Relent; NYT Personal Health blog)
  • A large-scale review of the medical literature has suggested that efforts to lower blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes can have positive effects on mortality and cardiovascular risk. (For patients with type 2 diabetes, blood pressure-lowering treatment linked to longer survival, lower risk of CVD events; MNT)
  • Sleeplessness can have undesirable effects on disease management, general health, and quality of life. It can also contribute to type 2 diabetes risk; now, 15 years after that discovery, researchers are beginning to understand why. (New study helps explain links between sleep loss and diabetes; MNT)
  • A new study also suggests that ‘structured mindfulness’ meditation can help resolve moderate sleep problems. (Meditation for a Good Night’s Sleep; NYT Sleep blog)
  • Test your carcinogens and cancer history trivia. This short, informative quiz is part of the collaborative Living Cancer series by New York Public Radio. (Know Your Exposure: A Cancer Quiz; WNYC)