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Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(9):1870

As long as a workout feels strenuous, it will provide some protection against heart disease, even if the workout falls short of recommended guidelines. In a study published in Circulation, more than 7,000 men with an average age of 66 years were surveyed on how much they exercised and how strenuous they thought their workout was. The men who perceived that their exertion was at least moderate in intensity were less likely to develop heart disease than men who described their exercise intensity as weak or less intense. The investigators noted that physicians prescribing physical activity may need to consider individual levels of fitness, rather than rely on the global prescription of at least 3 METs (metabolic equivalents) for 30 minutes or more almost daily.

College students who live away from home often do not receive follow-up care after they have an allergic reaction to food, according to survey findings presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and reported in Family Practice News. Of 130 students who responded to the survey, 32 reported an allergic reaction to food. However, 59 percent of those with a food reaction did not see a physician after the event. An epinephrine autoinjector was prescribed to only three of the 12 students who had a life-threatening reaction and subsequently were evaluated by a physician.

Fight chronic disease with a healthy diet and more exercise! The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have issued new recommendations on diet and exercise in response to the increasing number of deaths from chronic diseases. The WHO/FAO report recommends reducing intake of high-fat and sugary foods, as well as salt, and increasing intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to at least 400 g (14 oz) per day. Moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, for at least one hour a day on most days of the week also is recommended.

A genetic “signature” has been discovered in some patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who develop life-threatening complications. According to information from the National Institutes of Health, researchers have identified 14 genes linked to a subset of patients with severe SLE. Collectively referred to as the “IFN (interferon) expression signature,” these genes are turned on by the activity of interferons, a complex family of proteins with a role in regulating immune responses. The findings of this study could lead to early diagnosis and treatment of SLE and its complications.

Here's a news flash: most couples kiss the “right” way. Studies have shown that fetuses in the final weeks of gestation and newborns in the first six months after birth have a preference for turning their heads to the right. A study published in Nature found that this bias may persist into adulthood—specifically, when people kiss. A researcher observed 124 kissing pairs in three countries and found that twice as many of them turned their heads to the right than to the left. This finding may be related to a similar preference for using the right foot, eye, or ear.

Women who care for a sick or disabled spouse for nine or more hours per week may be at increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a study based on analysis of questionnaires completed by 54,412 women in the Nurses' Health Study and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The researchers speculate that the stress of caring for a spouse may cause elevated blood pressure wear down the cardiovascular system, which eventually may lead to CHD events.

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