Health Highlights: Jan. 6, 2009

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

56 Substances That Interact With E.D. Drugs Listed

Certain anti-angina drugs, blood pressure medicines, grapefruit juice and the herbal supplement St. John's wort are among the substances that could negatively interact with popular erectile dysfunction (E.D.) drugs, the consumer group Public Citizen said Monday in releasing a list of 56 such substances.

The substances were analyzed when taken with the E.D. drugs Viagra, Cialis or Levitra, Public Citizen said in a news release. The substances are capable of causing either:

  • A life-threatening drop in blood pressure,
  • An overdose of the E.D. drugs because the other substances prevent the body from ridding itself of the E.D. drugs,
  • Or reducing the effectiveness of the E.D. drugs by speeding up the body's metabolism.

E.D. drugs cause the blood vessels to dilate, and this process can be magnified when taken with blood pressure medicines such as Flomax or Cardura. Men who take hypertension medicines should avoid the E.D. drugs, the consumer group said.

The complete list of substances is available at Public Citizen's worstpills.org Web site.

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Health Clubs Roll Out Welcome Mats

Gym memberships in the United States were down 3 percent in 2007, due to the sagging economy, according to the Los Angeles Times. But the good news -- it's getting cheaper to keep New Year's resolutions to get into shape.

The economic downturn has would-be exercisers cutting back on extra costs, fitness centers, health clubs and gyms across the country. So the facilities are offering an array of reduced-price deals for new, current and former members looking to tone up, the newspaper reported.

Bally Total Fitness, for example, is offering a free guest pass for two weeks, while Gold's Gym is offering free enrollment. The Times said that even specialty outfit L.A. Boxing is trying to punch-in new members with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Joe Moore, chief executive of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a fitness trade group that represents more than 9,100 for-profit health and fitness facilities in 78 countries, told the newspaper that consumers should ask managers at independent gyms about cost-cutting promotions and savings.

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MRI Appears to Verify Everlasting Love

Cynics have long disputed the notion of everlasting love. But medical technology may prove them wrong, Britain's Sunday Times reported.

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York state scanned the brains of couples who had been together for 20 years. About one in 10 of these couples, when shown pictures of their loved ones, had the same chemical reactions in the brain as newlyweds.

Prior studies had shown that the intense "limerence" felt by new couples was virtually gone after a decade, the newspaper said.

The new study found that true love is born in the brain's "reward-seeking circuitry," not in the heart, as lore would have it. The scientists found that so-called "swans" who maintained an intensive love after two decades together tended to avoid anxiety and stress, shared most experiences, and had other common traits, including being generous, calm and deeply attached.

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Red Cross Says It Needs Blood Donors

With the start of the new year comes the America Red Cross' annual appeal for blood donations nationwide, to offset the drop-off in donations that typically occurs during the holiday season.

The lack of donations occurs each year because people are busier than usual during the holidays, and colder weather arrives. This is especially true this year in the northern United States, which has been plagued with an unusually high number of storms, All Headline News reported.

Less than 5 percent of eligible donors have given blood this year. This lack of blood donors has forced the Red Cross to cancel many blood drives throughout the country, the news service said.

Posted: January 2009


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