ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
CANCER
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
CAREGIVING
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Breakfast Eggs Keep Folks on Diet
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
City Kids Find the Breathin' Is Easier Elsewhere
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
EYE CARE, VISION
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Sleep and Do Better
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Less Education May Mean Poorer Health
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
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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