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The Dalai Lama Tweets About Health

I follow a lot of intriguing people on Twitter. Each of them sends me noogets (a favorite slang word of mine) of information that either inspires, uplifts, informs or even amuses me.

But there’s one twitter-er that stands out. He really helps me–along with 2.6 million others.

The Dalai Lama tweets most mornings about the time I hit the deck. “What did he say this morning,” I ask myself frequently. Sometimes I pause for just a moment, but other times his words come back to me later in the day.

Now folks, I’m not going soft on you. I can’t even touch my toes, never mind do yoga. I realize that as a serious medical blogger, it’s not really accepted to let religion or politics seep into my posts.

But this very well-known quote seems to hint at the essence of our modern-day heart problems–atrial fibrillation in particular. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Research Provides Further Justification For Women To Avoid Smoking

Women who smoke begin menopause a year earlier than nonsmokers, researchers concluded, adding that earlier menopause is associated with osteoporosis and heart disease.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of the available data about smoking and menopause, finding 11 studies comprising about 50,000 women, using age 50 as a threshold for early or late age at natural menopause (ANM). Results appeared in Menopause.

In five studies, participants were classified as Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Is The Prescription Of Real Exercise Underused?

I recently wrote about the incredible sensations that come with vigorous exercise. Perhaps it was the post ride cannabinoid flurry, but it’s possible that I went too far in suggesting that ‘we’ (doctors, patients, the whole of Western Society) default first to pills before healthy living.

Two commentors called me out on this snark. They wrote about valid points.

One comment focused on the fact that her AF medicines were causing side effects that made vigorous exercise difficult. The second objected to my inference that exercise alone could substitute for the many benefits of modern medicine.

To the idea that medicine Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Research Shows A Higher Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease In Childless Men

Photo by Tracy DuBosar

Married men who have no children have a 17% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease after the age of 50 than men with two or more children. But whether that’s because of a physical cause, a sociological effect or self-selection (sick people may choose not to have kids) isn’t known.

To determine if the number of kids predicts cardiovascular death, researchers used data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study of nearly 135,000 men ages 50 to 71 without prior cardiovascular disease who were followed-up for an average of 10 years. That study mailed 3.5 million questionnaires from 1995 through 1996 to AARP members living in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Louisiana or in Atlanta or Detroit. Nearly 586,000 people returned the questionnaire, which underwent follow-up surveys in 1996-1997 and 2004-2006. Results appeared online Sept. 26 in the journal Human reproduction.

Almost all (92%) men had Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Would You Be Able To Recognize Chest Pain As Heart Disease?

Most people are pretty good judges of what’s going on with their own bodies. But telling a heart attack from other causes of chest pain is tough stuff—even, it turns out, for highly trained doctors. That’s why I thought this personal story, written by a Harvard doctor who has heart disease, would make an interesting read. It’s an excerpt—the full version can be found in Heart Disease: A guide to preventing and treating coronary artery disease, an updated Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Early one spring, I noticed a burning sensation high in my abdomen whenever I walked up a hill or worked out on the treadmill. I felt perfectly healthy otherwise. I had lots of energy and could do high-level exercise on the treadmill—once the burning sensation went away—without becoming short of breath. I thought it was just heartburn, so I started taking powerful acid-suppressing pills. They didn’t help.

Sometimes when I would feel the burning in my chest, I would remember an old saying to the effect that “A doctor who takes care of himself has a fool for a patient.” Still, I hesitated; I didn’t want to waste the time of a cardiologist if all I had was heartburn.

But one morning as I walked across the street from the garage to my office in the hospital, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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