ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
CANCER
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Health Tip: After Liposuction
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Maximize Your Run
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'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
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
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
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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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