Sticking to Your Diet While on the Road

News Picture: Sticking to Your Diet While on the RoadBy Julie Davis
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Diet & Weight Management News

TUESDAY, Dec. 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, resist taking a vacation from the smart eating strategies you follow at home.

Start off on the right foot at the airport by bringing a small baggie of your own homemade trail mix with a few different kinds of nuts and dried fruits. Buy a salad or sandwich to eat on the plane so you’re not tempted by treats sold in flight. Both in route and at your destination, stay hydrated to feel fuller, prevent overeating and fight off fatigue. Overindulging in alcoholic beverages does just the opposite.

For a road trip, pack a cooler with protein-rich sandwiches, cut-up vegetables, non-fat yogurt, whole-grain chips and fruit. That way, you won’t need to load up on the high-fat, salt and sugar options typical of rest-stop convenience stores.

When you arrive at your destination, buy these same smart choices at a local market so you can stock your hotel’s minibar for quick, healthy breakfasts and mid-afternoon snacks.

At restaurants, look for healthier choices on the menu and don’t be shy about making special requests, such as having a protein selection grilled or asking the chef to leave off a heavy sauce. When you want to try new cuisines with unaltered preparations, limit your portion size to avoid overindulging.

Exercise to offset unavoidable calories. If traveling for pleasure, get out of the tour bus and walk when sightseeing and, if your hotel has one, schedule daily 20-minute workouts at the gym. If you’re on business, squeeze in a walk before your first business meeting of the day.

Of course you want to relax some of your everyday rules when you’re on an adventure, but don’t throw all caution to the wind or else the souvenir you take home could be an extra 5 pounds.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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    MRIs Safe With Older Pacemakers, Study Finds

    News Picture: MRIs Safe With Older Pacemakers, Study FindsBy Steven Reinberg
    HealthDay Reporter

    WEDNESDAY, Dec. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Powerful magnetic fields created during an MRI scan were thought to play havoc with some pacemakers, but a new study says these scans are safe for people with the heart devices.

    Researchers tested the safety of MRIs on more than 1,500 people who had older pacemakers or implantable defibrillators — called legacy devices — that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not consider safe for MRIs. The result: No long-term adverse effects were found.

    “Many patients have implanted pacemakers or defibrillators that were not designed to be used with MRI scans,” said senior study author Dr. Henry Halperin. He’s a professor of medicine and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Imaging Institute of Excellence in Baltimore.

    A majority of people who have these devices will need an MRI at some point, he noted. The study results show that “it’s really safe to do MRIs in these patients,” he added.

    When MRIs were first introduced, problems with scanning those patients with implanted devices did exist, according to Halperin.

    “There were some real issues, like the devices would stop working, and there were 13 to 15 deaths reported,” he said. Based on those reports, the FDA said that people with these devices should not have MRIs.

    Since 2000, devices have been modified to make them safe during an MRI. But many people still have legacy devices that the FDA does not consider MRI-safe.

    MRIs are also safe for people who have wires that connect the devices to the heart — called leads — left in place after new leads were implanted, Halperin added.

    According to Dr. Byron Lee, a professor of medicine and director of electrophysiology laboratories and clinics at the University of California, San Francisco, “This is important research that affects patient care immediately.” Lee was not involved with the new study but was familiar with the findings.

    “Contrary to the official word from the device manufacturers and many doctors, almost all patients with pacemakers and defibrillators, and even those with older-generation devices, can get MRIs,” Lee said.

    To do the scan safely, however, special equipment and extra personnel are required, he explained.

    “Currently, many facilities cannot or choose not to provide this service,” Lee said. “Therefore, patients sometimes need to advocate for themselves and push for referral to capable centers.”

    For the study, Halperin and his colleagues tested the safety of MRIs in just over 1,500 people who needed an MRI to diagnose various conditions. However, they had either a pacemaker or an implantable defibrillator not considered to be safe for MRIs.

    Before the scans, the investigators changed the pace setting on pacemakers or the defibrillating mode on implanted defibrillators so they would not react to the electromagnetic field created by the MRI.

    Halperin’s team found no long-term significant problems when the devices were reset after the scan.

    In one patient, the battery in the pacemaker was near its expiration date and could not be reset. This patient had a new pacemaker implanted, the study authors noted.

    Although some patients experienced changes in the pacemakers’ function, these changes were not life-threatening or significant and did not require the device to be reset, the researchers said.

    Dr. Saman Nazarian, the study’s first author, said, “Given the results of our study and others, it is hard to understand the position of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to restrict access to MRIs in patients with implanted pacemakers and defibrillator systems.”

    Limiting people with legacy pacemakers and defibrillators from access to the potentially lifesaving diagnostic data attainable from an MRI is outdated, said Nazarian, who is associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

    “If you are one of the millions of patients with a pacemaker or defibrillator system in place and have been told you need an MRI, contact a center with the expertise to enable the imaging,” he said.

    The study was published in the Dec. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

    SOURCES: Henry Halperin, M.D., professor, medicine, and co-director, Johns Hopkins Imaging Institute of Excellence, Baltimore; Saman Nazarian, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia; Byron Lee, M.D., professor, medicine, director, electrophysiology laboratories and clinics, University of California, San Francisco; Dec. 28, 2017, New England Journal of Medicine

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      Vitamin D Supplements May Make Arteries Healthier

      News Picture: Vitamin D Supplements May Make Arteries HealthierBy Dennis Thompson
      HealthDay Reporter

      TUESDAY, Jan. 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) — High doses of vitamin D seem to keep arteries more flexible and pliable, potentially warding off future heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, preliminary research suggests.

      In just four months, vitamin D supplements reduced arterial stiffness in a group of 70 young black men and women, according to results from a small-scale clinical trial.

      The flexibility of participants’ arteries improved even more with higher doses of vitamin D, said senior researcher Dr. Yanbin Dong, a professor with the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, in Augusta.

      “Their arterial stiffness decreased, and the more vitamin D, the better,” Dong said.

      Vitamin D is known to be essential for bone health, but for the past couple of decades scientists have suspected it might be important in other ways, he said.

      “The vitamin D receptor is expressed everywhere in your body, in almost every single type of cell,” Dong said. “That’s why people think vitamin D might have something more to offer.”

      To see if the vitamin might improve the health of blood vessels, Dong and his colleagues recruited a group of overweight or obese black Americans who were deficient in vitamin D.

      Human skin naturally synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to bright sunshine. However, darker skin absorbs less sunlight, making black people more susceptible to vitamin deficiency, the researchers said.

      In addition, body fat tends to capture and hold vitamin D, also contributing to deficiency.

      The study participants were placed into four groups. Three groups took oral doses of vitamin D amounting to 600 international units (IU), 2,000 IU or 4,000 IU daily. The fourth group took inactive placebos.

      The National Academy of Medicine currently recommends that people get 600 IU of vitamin D daily, Dong said. The researchers chose 2,000 IU because they suspected that might be the best dose, and 4,000 IU because that’s the highest level before people start experiencing toxic effects.

      Also, previous studies have shown that, taken daily, 2,000 IU and 4,000 IU doses of vitamin D can bring a vitamin-deficient person’s levels of vitamin D back within a normal range, the study authors noted.

      Those in the study who took 4,000 IU daily — more than six times the currently recommended amount — experienced a 10.4 percent reduction in arterial stiffness within four months, the findings showed.

      Those who took 2,000 IU a day experienced a 2 percent decrease in arterial stiffness during the same timeframe. People who took the currently recommended dose of 600 IU had a slight increase in arterial stiffness — about 0.1 percent. Those who took the placebos had a 2.3 percent increase, according to the report.

      No toxic effects were observed among people who took the larger doses of the vitamin, Dong said.

      Vitamin D might help arterial health by blocking a hormone system that increases constriction of blood vessels, the researchers said. It also helps reduce inflammation, which has been linked to hardened arteries.

      Dong expects that some whites also would benefit from vitamin D supplementation.

      “We expect we would see similar effects in white people who have similar vitamin D deficiency and are overweight,” he said.

      However, taking handfuls of vitamin D will not excuse a person from eating right or exercising for their heart health, Dong added.

      “I don’t think vitamin D should be an alternative for any other lifestyle modifications,” Dong said. “We need to exercise, we need to eat sensibly. Vitamin D is just like anything else. It could be helpful on top of those things. It cannot replace.”

      These findings, however, present an opportunity to ward off heart disease in younger people at high risk, said Dr. Robert Eckel, director of the University of Colorado Hospital’s Lipid Clinic.

      Hardening of the arteries tends to be irreversible in older people who already have large amounts of arterial plaque as well as health problems such as diabetes and high cholesterol, Eckel said. This study, though, focused mainly on people in their 20s, he noted.

      “Looking at vitamin D earlier in life — before there’s a lot of cardiovascular disease on board — could be an encouraging improvement,” said Eckel, who was not involved with the new study. “We’re talking about primary prevention here.”

      The study participants should be tracked to see if their more flexible arteries translate to lower rates of heart disease and stroke later in life, Eckel said. Future trials should also examine the effects of vitamin D on other races and ethnic groups, he said.

      The study was published online recently in the journal PLOS One.

      Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

      SOURCES: Yanbin Dong, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, Augusta, Ga.; Robert Eckel, M.D., professor of medicine, University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, and Lipid Clinic director, University of Colorado Hospital, Denver; Dec. 7, 2017, PLOS One, online

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