ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
CANCER
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Eating Free Range
Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
FITNESS
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Run for Your Life
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Swine Flu May Have Infected More Than 100,000 Americans
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
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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