ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
CANCER
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Eat Light - Live Longer
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
EYE CARE, VISION
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Football Can Shrink Players
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
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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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