Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Body & mind

Taking care of your whole self


        Mood news: Middle-aged men with symptoms of depression and other psychological stresses are more than three times as likely to have a fatal stroke as men who aren't depressed, according to a Welsh study.

        But the study, published in January's issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that psychological distress doesn't significantly increase the risk for nonfatal strokes, and there was no link between mood disorders and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), the so-called “mini strokes.”

        The findings are the latest from the Caerphilly study, an ongoing study of more than 2,000 men ages 49 to 64. The study began in 1979.

        Subjects filled out a general health questionnaire, and 22 percent reported symptoms indicating mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.

        Over the next 14 years, 137 strokes occurred, including 17 fatal strokes. In general, men who had strokes were older and heavier with higher blood pressure than men who didn't. Stroke victims also tended to smoke.

        An analysis of psychological profile data showed the men who had strokes were more likely to report feelings of depression and anxiety. Risk for fatal incidents was more than three times greater among the men who reported higher levels of depression and anxiety.

        Dr. Robert Carney, a professor of medical psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, co-author of the study, says depressed people are less likely to take medication, and depression and anxiety are known to increase factors like heart rate and blood vessel contraction. But he called the findings a “wakeup call” for doctors and patients about the importance of discussing depression and anxiety.


        Eat right: The Jewish Hospital Cholesterol Center will present two free “Guide to Heart-Healthy Eating” seminars.

        Registered dietitian Pat Streicher will present “What, Why and How Much” from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Feb. 12. On Feb. 13, registered dietitian Karen Weber will present “Tips and Techniques to Trim the Fat.”

        Reservations are required. 585-2273.


        Healthy babies: January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, and the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians offers these tips for having healthier babies:

        • Take a multivitamin every day that contains 400 mcg of folic acid, a B vitamin that reduces the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine.

        • Get regular medical checkups.

        • Talk to your doctor about health problems, medication use and substances that could be harmful to a developing baby.

        • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat.

        • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

        • Once pregnant, visit your doctor for early prenatal care, and keep all your prenatal appointments.

Shelf help

        Balance: In What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer (Warner Books; $25.95), Dr. John R. Lee, Dr. David Zava and Virginia Hopkins blame exposure to synthetic estrogens and other hormones and dietary factors for the increase in breast cancer.

        Contact Peggy O'Farrell by phone: 768-8510; fax: 768-8330; e-mail:


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