ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
CANCER
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
CAREGIVING
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution May Cause Appendicitis: Study Reveals
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
EYE CARE, VISION
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Laugh and the World Understands
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
The Unmedicated Mind
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Any Old Cane Won't Do
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
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Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds

RIDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Burning buildings might not be the only risks that firefighters face. They also appear to be more likely than their peers in other professions to have prematurely narrowed arteries, increasing their risk for strokes and heart attacks, according to a new study.

In fact, 22 percent of a group of 77 firefighters studied by researchers at the University of Kansas averaged 39 years old but had the blood vessels of 52-year-olds because of significant plaque buildup in their carotid arteries.

"These men, as young as they are, for some reason have a high rate of early development of vascular disease, asymptomatic as it is," said Dr. Patrick Moriarty, director of the Atherosclerosis and LDL Apheresis Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the study's lead researcher. "What it means is that we have to find a way to make their job have less risk potential in terms of less cardiovascular risk."

The findings were presented March 12 at the American Heart Association's conference on cardiovascular disease in Palm Harbor, Fla.

The demands of firefighters' jobs and their health needs often conflict, Moriarty explained. The stress of being on call for 48 hours, for instance, takes a toll on the body, he said. And, in addition, firefighters need high-calorie meals because, if they have to quickly leave to fight a fire, they might not have another meal for 24 hours, Moriarty said.

Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of medicine and associate chief of the cardiology division at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that exposure to small particulate matter in smoke that occurs at fires also is harmful. Smoke, he said, provokes inflammation, which is associated with heart disease and stroke.

Also, many firefighters sleep during the day and work at night, which might be a problem because "there is some data about night workers having premature atherosclerotic events," Fonarow said. Atherosclerosis occurs when cardiovascular arteries thicken and the space for blood flow narrows.

Moriarty said that his interest in the cardiovascular risks for firefighters stemmed from having treated a number of them at clinic. Background information in his study noted that cardiovascular disease has been associated with 45 percent of the on-duty deaths of firefighters in the United States, compared with 36 percent for other lines of work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has reported that sudden cardiac deaths are the leading cause of death in the line of duty for firefighters.

For the study, Moriarty's research team used sonography to measure lipid levels in the firefighters' carotid arteries. The study described the 77 firefighters as young, with a low prevalence of cardiovascular disease and the risk factors associated with it. But, they had "more advanced atherosclerosis than a non-firefighting population of similar age gender and race," the researchers wrote.

Fonarow said that he would like to see the study replicated by another lab with a similar group of firefighters. The 13-year difference between the average chronological age of the group and the average age of the carotid arteries is large, he said, and could have important consequences for cardiovascular health.

When there is only a 10-year difference, there is a substantial risk of cardiovascular events, Fonarow said, and "the risk of heart attack and stroke rises substantially with each additional 10 years of life."

-Carolyn Colwel

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on atherosclerosis.



SOURCES: Gregg Fonarow, M.D., professor of medicine, and associate chief, division of cardiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; Patrick M. Moriarty, M.D., director, Atherosclerosis and LDL Apheresis Center, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan.; presentation, American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference, March 12, 2009, Palm Harbor, Fla.

Last Updated: March 16, 2009

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