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Asthma is tough on women

After seeking medical treatment in the emergency room for an asthma attack, women are much more likely than men to need hospitalization, researchers report.

Scientists analyzed the likelihood that 2,000 patients treated in the ER for asthma would need to be admitted to the hospital. Although the men and women had similar risk factors for a flare-up of their condition, women were still 60 percent more likely to be hospitalized, according to the study, published May 5 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

"It's long been known that after puberty, asthma is more common in women than men," Dr. James Sublett, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, said in a journal news release.

"Only 10 percent of the women in this study had been seen by an allergist in the last year," Sublett added. "Those who see an allergist and use controller medications find themselves in the ED [emergency department] much less often, and experience fewer hospitalizations related to their asthma."

The researchers found that many of the ER patients had poorly controlled chronic asthma. Of the women, 13 percent had been intubated (a breathing tube was placed in their airway) at some point, 36 percent had been hospitalized before for asthma and 16 percent had been admitted within the past year. In comparison, 12 percent of men had been intubated in the past, 32 percent had been hospitalized for asthma and 13 percent had been admitted in the past year.

"It's important to note the men and women whose charts we studied had certain things in common," study author Dr. Rose Chasm, a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in the news release.

"Many were overweight and some were active smokers," she said. "A fairly high percentage did not have health insurance, although women had it more often than men. After adjusting for all those factors, we found that women were still 60 percent more likely to be hospitalized after being seen in an ED for acute asthma than men."

There are several possible explanations for why women with asthma attacks may end up being admitted to the hospital more often than men, the researchers said. Women may perceive their trouble breathing differently than men. And female sex hormones and differences in airway hyperactivity and health behaviours may also play a role. The researchers noted that more studies are needed to investigate the exact cause of these gender differences.

HealthDay


Blood pressure drugs are a kidney failure

In the quest to control blood pressure, doctors around the world write more than 120 million prescriptions a year for what are called thiazide drugs, medication that takes salt out of the body. But in many cases, these drugs don't do their intended job.

The reason these drugs can fail:

They are supposed to move salt through the kidney to relieve the pressure that salt and fluid exert on the heart and blood vessels. But the kidneys, sensing that the body is losing salt that is needed for other functions, can resist the induced elimination process.

Until now, the ways in which the kidneys resisted thiazides was unknown, but now researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine along with scientists at Vanderbilt University and Emory University have uncovered what occurs.

"This is the first time we really understand how this process works," says researcher Paul Welling, an expert on electrolytes, kidney disease and hypertension. "It's as if the kidney knows that it's losing too much salt and activates mechanisms to retain salt in other ways."

They should have known ... the process is called homeostasis. Your body wants to remain stable, and will try to overcome what you're doing or ingesting by compensating for it. Thiazides are just one example of why using drugs that upset the body's balance so often go wrong.

In general, to stay healthy, you are much better working with the body than against it. Methods to lower blood pressure that work together with the body's processes are almost always preferable to drugs.

Three natural ways to lower blood pressure include:

1.Cook with sesame oil or rice bran oil. Research in India shows that eating foods with these oils often works to improve blood pressure just as effectively as pharmaceuticals.

2.Drink beetroot juice. Tests at Penn State show that beetroot juice contain nitrates, natural chemicals that widen blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

3.Cut back on sugary foods. Studies show that over-consumption of sugar raises blood pressure. Particularly dangerous: high fructose corn syrup.

- Easy Health Options


Walking - the super food of fitness

It's the latest research to show how important simply walking can be for your health. Earlier this year British researchers also found that just one, energetic, 20-minute daily stroll can slash your risk of early death. They tracked more than 330,000 European men and women over a 12-year span. Their definition of brisk: 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Walking is considered the 'superfood of fitness', according to experts. A small study of non-obese men at Indiana University suggests that three 5-minute walks done throughout three hours of prolonged sitting (which many of us have to do during the day at work) can reverse the harmful effects of prolonged sitting on arteries in the legs. And walking is really just as good for you as running, in terms of calories burned, according to an earlier report. That is, if you walk for a mile, you get the same benefits as running for a mile.

The recommended number of steps each day: 7,500 to 10,000.

So, get moving!

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