ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
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
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
CANCER
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
CAREGIVING
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Iced Teas Pose High Risk of Kidney Stones
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
EYE CARE, VISION
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
FITNESS
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
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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