ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
DASH Diet Has Extra Benefits for Women's Health
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
What you need to know about swine flu.
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
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Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts

Some recovering heart patients are getting a new "leash" on life as they gain strength by walking dogs housed at a local shelter.

The innovative program, called Cardiac Friends, is a partnership between ProHealth Care (PHC) and Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) of Waukesha County, in Wisconsin.

"It's a great way to help the dogs and also help our patients too," said Jennifer Ehrhardt, a clinical exercise physiologist at PHC's Waukesha Memorial Hospital.

Motivating patients to get active and stay active can be challenging, she noted. But the year-old Cardiac Friends program gives animal aficionados recovering from open heart surgery, stent implantation or angioplasty a compelling reason to work out.

"We want to get people up and exercising as quickly as they can after they have some sort of heart procedure, if it's OK'd by their doctor," said Ehrhardt.

Exercise not only reduces the risk of another cardiac event but lowers cholesterol levels, decreases blood pressure and wards off depression -- a funk many people fall into when recovering from heart surgery, she said.

Any kind of aerobic activity a patient does is beneficial to their health, Ehrhardt added. "If people have treadmills or bikes in their house we encourage them to use that," she said. "But walking is a great way for people to get that activity in, and it doesn't cost them anything."

A handful of cardiac patients -- so far, all men in their 70s -- visit HAWS three times a week for an hour or more, taking dogs outside for some fresh air and fun.

Fenced-in areas on the property allow volunteers to play fetch with their canine charges, or they can take a stroll on a dirt walking path that zigzags through an open meadow adjacent to the shelter.

"We all enjoy the dogs and I think the dogs enjoy us," said Charles Christenson, a retired corporate pilot who had open heart surgery three years ago.

Christenson said he has a treadmill at home but never uses it. Instead he prefers working out at the hospital's gym and spending time at the shelter interacting with its canine residents.

"When you [first] take these little rascals out, they're scared," he said. "But if you talk nice to them, and treat them nice, pretty soon they're your best buddies."

Christenson and the other men in the program are some of shelter coordinator Sara Falk's favorite volunteers because they spend so much time with the dogs.

"The Cardiac Friends have been a huge bonus to [our dog-walking] program in that most of them have been so consistent and they are taking longer walks than a lot of the other walkers because they have fitness in mind," said Falk.

The patients aren't the only ones benefiting. Getting dogs out of their kennels daily helps keep them physically and mentally sound while waiting for new homes, she said.

Interest in Cardiac Friends is beginning to create a buzz. Susan Kidder, an animal rescue advocate and founder of the program, has received inquiries from shelters in Arizona and California. And this fall, PHC's Ehrhardt will give a presentation about the program at a national health care conference in hopes that other hospitals will start similar efforts.

"It's a great fit for people who can't have a pet because of their living situation," explained Kidder, adding that the program is about much more than just helping cardiac patients stay active. "It's about helping. It's about being needed. It's about making a difference."

SOURCES: Jennifer Ehrhardt, clinical exercise physiologist, ProHealth Care Waukesha Memorial Hospital, Waukesha, Wisc.; Susan Kidder, founder, Cardiac Friends; Sara Falk, volunteer coordinator, Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County, Wisc.; Charles Christenson, Waukesha, Wisc. Published on: March 30, 2010