MONDAY, March 19, 2018U.S. war veterans who sustained severe combat wounds and have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at increased risk for high blood pressure, a new study says. The study included nearly 3,900 military veterans who had been severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan from February 2002 to February 2011. Their average age when they were wounded was 26. More than 14 percent of the veterans developed high blood pressure at least 90 days after being wounded. The severity of the injuries and how frequently PTSD was noted in their medical records after the wounding separately affected their risk for high blood pressure. “What we found surprised us,” said study senior author Dr. Ian Stewart, a major at the U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in California. For every 5-point increase on a 75-point injury severity score, the risk for high blood pressure rose 5 percent. Veterans with an injury severity score of 25 or lower and no recorded PTSD diagnosis had the lowest risk for high blood pressure, according to the study. Compared with veterans with no PTSD diagnosis, the risk for high blood pressure was 85 percent higher among those who had PTSD noted one to 15 times in their medical records — indicating chronic PTSD. High blood pressure was 114 percent more likely among veterans with…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Eating one serving of green leafy vegetables per day is associated with slower age-related cognitive decline, recent research suggests. Reported in the journal Neurology — the study involved 960 adults with an average age of 81 and no sign of dementia. The difference between those who ate the greens and those who did not was equivalent to being 11 years younger cognitively. The vegetables eaten included kale, spinach and collards, which are rich sources of cognition-supporting folate, phylloquinone, nitrate, α-tocopherol, kaempferol and lutein, said the researchers at Chicago’s Rush University and Boston’s Tufts Human Nutrition Research Center.

(HealthDay News) — While a smoothie can be a nutritious alternative to a regular meal, many smoothies are loaded with sugar and lack sufficient protein. The American Council on Exercise suggests how to make a smoothie that’s more nutritious: Start with a heaping portion of romaine, chard, kale, parsley, mint or any other green leafy vegetable. Add fruit to sweeten the smoothie instead of added sugar. But ensure that the mix of greens is twice as much as fruit to keep calories down. Add protein in the form of protein powder, non-fat milk, Greek yogurt, nuts, nut butter or hemp seeds. Add a liquid to make it easier to blend, such as coconut water, water or unsweetened nut milk.

MONDAY, March 12, 2018A trip to the barbershop could hold the key to not only looking good, but also feeling good. A new study finds that having pharmacists deliver blood pressure care in neighborhood barbershops resulted in lower blood pressure readings for many black men. The study included 319 black men with high blood pressure who frequented 52 barbershops in the Los Angeles area. Barbers encouraged some men to meet once a month with specially trained pharmacists in the barbershop. The pharmacists prescribed blood pressure medication, monitored blood tests and sent progress notes to each man’s primary care provider. Other men in the study did not see a barbershop pharmacist. Instead, barbers encouraged them to see their primary care provider for treatment and to make lifestyle changes, such as using less salt and exercising more. After six months, 64 percent of the men who saw a pharmacist achieved healthy blood pressure, compared with just under 12 percent of those who did not see a pharmacist, the investigators found. The study was published March 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando, Fla. High blood pressure is a top cause of early disability and death among black American men. “When we provide convenient and rigorous medical care to African-American men by coming to them —…  read on >

Fruits and veggies are great ways to get important nutrients, try new tastes, and add low-calorie sides to your meals. When fresh isn’t available or affordable, frozen is a healthy option. Look for fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables that have been properly stored, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends. Packages should feel firm. They shouldn’t be limp, wet or sweating, which are signs of thawing. However, when choosing vegetables and fruits sold in bags, you should be able to feel individual pieces, not large solid blocks of food, which could signal that the contents thawed and re-froze. Avoid stained packages or any with visible ice crystals, other signs of defrosting and re-freezing. Choose plain frozen vegetables without any butter, sauce or added salt. Choose plain frozen fruit without any added sugar. These are also the best options when adding the food to a recipe. Look for U.S. grade standards that measure quality. These are optional, so they’re not always printed on the package. But when they are, Grade A fancy vegetables have the most color and tenderness. Grade B aren’t quite as perfect and have a more mature, slightly different taste. Grade C are less uniform in color and flavor but are fine for soups and stews. Grade A fruits are near picture-perfect. Grade B, the most common fruit grade, signals very good quality. Grade C…  read on >

If you think your battle against obesity ends on the operating table, you’re mistaken. “Exercise and eating smaller portions have to be part of your lifestyle change in order to be successful” after weight-loss surgery, said Dr. Ann Rogers, director of Surgical Weight Loss at Penn State Medical Center, in Hershey, Pa. It’s also important to keep a detailed food journal, she added. “It’s unbelievably helpful at getting people back on track because it forces them to be accountable,” Rogers said in a Penn State news release. Patients must also keep all follow-up appointments with their doctor. “There’s a lot of evidence that people who see their doctor regularly after surgery do better,” Rogers said. Some people are afraid of potential complications from weight-loss surgery, but for most, Rogers said, “it’s safer than choosing to live their lives as obese.” Doctors usually recommend patients try different types of diet and exercise for at least five years before considering weight-loss surgery. They should also have at least one serious weight-related health problem, such as diabetes, or a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater. BMI is a rough estimate of a person’s body fat based on height and weight. “Most of our patients have tried diet and exercise for their whole lives,” Rogers said. “Yet a lot of them have still been overweight or obese…  read on >