Diet, exercise may lower women’s risk of cardiac death
Most people who suffer a sudden cardiac death never know they are at risk. That’s especially true of women. A study led by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that a healthy lifestyle could help women avoid sudden cardiac death, even if they are never diagnosed with the associated coronary heart disease.
In a 26-year study of more than 81,000 US nurses, who were surveyed every two to four years, women who maintained a body mass index of less than 25, did not smoke, exercised at least 30 minutes per day, and ate a Mediterranean-style diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish were 92 percent less likely to die of sudden cardiac death than those who met none of those lifestyle factors.
The authors suggest that 81 percent of the 321 sudden cardiac deaths identified in the group could have been avoided if the women had adhered to a low-risk lifestyle.
BOTTOM LINE: A healthy lifestyle significantly reduces a woman’s risk of sudden cardiac death.
CAUTIONS: The study was not randomized, so the results are not proof of a cause-and-effect relationship between the lifestyle factors and a reduced risk of death.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, July 6
Massage therapy can reduce chronic low back painBoth relaxation and structural massage therapy can reduce low back pain, a new study found. Researchers recruited 402 members of the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative, ages 20 to 65, who had chronic pain. Patients were randomly assigned to receive relaxation massage or structural massage meant to address musculoskeletal problems. A third group received a $50 check and no services, though the researchers later reviewed their medical records to determine what kind of care they had. For some in that group, their usual care included some massage that they sought themselves.
Those in the two massage groups saw similar results, and experienced less pain than those in the third group. Among those who received massage, at least 36 percent reported that their pain was lessened or gone after 10 weeks, compared with 4 percent who received their usual care. The clinical benefits became less clear 52 weeks out. The authors noted that it is unclear exactly how massage works to alleviate back pain.
BOTTOM LINE: Massage therapy may be effective treatment for chronic low back pain.
CAUTIONS: The study group was not diverse. It included mostly women enrolled in a health plan that serves mostly white, employed people.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Annals of Internal Medicine, July 5
Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.