ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
CANCER
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
Iced Teas Pose High Risk of Kidney Stones
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
EYE CARE, VISION
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
FITNESS
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
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
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
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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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