Understanding Medical Research
It seems to happen almost every day - you hear about the results of a new medical research study. Sometimes the results of one study seem to disagree with the results of another study.
It's important to be critical when reading or listening to reports of new medical findings. Some questions that can help you evaluate health information include:
- Was the study in animals or people?
- Does the study include people like you?
- How big was the study?
- Was it a randomized controlled clinical trial?
- Where was the research done?
- If a new treatment was being tested, were there side effects?
- Who paid for the research?
- Who is reporting the results?
NIH: National Institutes of Health
Every day, around the clock, people who work in the health care industry provide care for millions of people, from newborns to the very ill. In fact, the health care industry is one of largest providers of jobs in the United States. Many health jobs are in hospitals. Others are in nursing homes, doctors' offices, dentists' offices, outpatient clinics and laboratories.
To work in a health occupation, you often must have special training. Some, like doctors, must have more than 4 years of college.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones. Your bones become fragile and fracture (break) easily, especially the bones in the hip, spine, and wrist. In the United States, millions of people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.
Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is more common in older women. Risk factors include
- Getting older
- Being small and thin
- Having a family history of osteoporosis
- Taking certain medicines
- Being a white or Asian woman
- Having low bone density
Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You might not know you have it until you break a bone. A bone mineral density test is the best way to check your bone health.
To keep bones strong, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and do not smoke. If needed, medicines can also help. It is also important to try to avoid falling down. Falls are the number one cause of fractures in older adults.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
Members of the LGBTQ+ community include people who are
- Queer or Questioning
- Elsewhere on the gender and sexuality spectrum or allies to the community
On this page you'll find information about health issues that are specific to the LGBTQ+ community.
How to Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States. It is also a major cause of disability. There are many things that can raise your risk for heart disease. They are called risk factors. Some of them you cannot control, but there are many that you can control. Learning about them can lower your risk of heart disease.
What are the heart disease risk factors that I cannot change?
- Age. Your risk of heart disease increases as you get older. Men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older have a greater risk.
- Sex. Some risk factors may affect heart disease risk differently in women than in men. For example, estrogen provides women some protection against heart disease, but diabetes raises the risk of heart disease more in women than in men.
- Race or ethnicity. Certain groups have higher risks than others. African Americans are more likely than whites to have heart disease, while Hispanic Americans are less likely to have it. Some Asian groups, such as East Asians, have lower rates, but South Asians have higher rates.
- Family history. You have a greater risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.
What can I do to lower my risk of heart disease?
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of getting heart disease:
- Control your blood pressure.High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly - at least once a year for most adults, and more often if you have high blood pressure. Take steps, including lifestyle changes, to prevent or control high blood pressure.
- Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Lifestyle changes and medicines (if needed) can lower your cholesterol. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides may also raise the risk of coronary artery disease, especially in women.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or having obesity can increase your risk for heart disease. This is mostly because they are linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Controlling your weight can lower these risks.
- Eat a healthy diet. Try to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. The DASH diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can lower your risk of heart disease.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise has many benefits, including strengthening your heart and improving your circulation. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can lower your risk of heart disease.
- Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both of those raise your risk of heart disease. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should not have more than one.
- Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. You can talk with your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
- Manage stress.Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. It can raise your blood pressure. Extreme stress can be a "trigger" for a heart attack. Also, some common ways of coping with stress, such as overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking, are bad for your heart. Some ways to help manage your stress include exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.
- Manage diabetes. Having diabetes doubles your risk of diabetic heart disease. That is because over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. So, it is important to get tested for diabetes, and if you have it, to keep it under control.
- Make sure that you get enough sleep. If you don't get enough sleep, you raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Those three things can raise your risk for heart disease. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure that you have good sleep habits. If you have frequent sleep problems, contact your health care provider. One problem, sleep apnea, causes people to briefly stop breathing many times during sleep. This interferes with your ability to get a good rest and can raise your risk of heart disease. If you think you might have it, ask your doctor about having a sleep study. And if you do have sleep apnea, make sure that you get treatment for it.