American Heart Association

  1. Sex is safe for heart patients

    Just because you're a heart patient doesn't mean you have to miss out on some Valentine's Day romance.

    Sure, you might need to skip the bonbons -- not that you should be eating candy anyway, even if you're not a heart patient -- and your doctor might have a long list of other "don'ts" you need to follow.

    But there's still one "do" you can do: If you can climb a flight of stairs without suffering chest pain or a bout of gasping, you can have sex -- even if you had a heart attack just last week, according to the latest advice from the American Heart Association.

    AHA doctors say sex is only a very tiny risk factor for a heart attack -- and that risk is the same regardless of whether or not you've already suffered one.

    That being the case, I can't think of a better way to help yourself recover from a heart attack -- because sex itself is actually one of the best ways to boost your ticker in the first place.

    One recent study found that men who have sex at least twice a week are 50 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than men who do it less than once a month.

    Regular sex can also cut the risk of prostate cancer -- and sex in general, for men and women alike, can lower levels of stress, boost general well-being and may even help you to live longer.

    Of course, the AHA gets a lot wrong -- carb-heavy, low-fat diet, anyone? -- so naturally, they've managed to botch this one too.

    Instead of just telling men it's OK to have sex after a heart attack and leaving it at that, they had to add that it's safe for them to try penis pills like Viagra, too (unless they take nitrates) -- despite the fact that there's nothing safe about sex meds.

    Along with links to heart problems, especially in heart patients, sex meds can rob you of both your vision and your hearing. They can also cause headaches, stomach problems and painful erections that won't go away without the help of an ER doc with a sharp instrument.

    If you're having problems down there, forget meds. Try losing weight first.

    Obesity causes testosterone to plunge and estrogen to rise -- a one-two punch right where it hurts most. In most cases, dropping those pounds will put you right back on your game, no meds necessary.

    More importantly, losing weight will also help boost your stamina -- so you'll actually have the energy you need to get moving in the bedroom again, too.

  2. Why you should never trust 'doctor's orders'

    Sometimes, it might seem like your doctor is relying on years of education and experience.

    Other times, you might be convinced he's making it up as he goes.

    In reality, most doctors follow the guidelines issued by the major medical associations -- and that means some of the biggest decisions he makes about you and your health are based on badly biased information.

    Treatment guidelines are routinely written by "experts" with a direct financial stake in the outcome -- and now, a new study finds a massive chain of conflicts in the guidelines written for diabetes treatments and cholesterol control.

    Since these just so happen to be two of the most medicated (not to mention over-medicated) conditions in the country, is anyone really surprised?

    There have been 288 "experts" on the 14 cholesterol and diabetes panels that have met in the United States and Canada over the past decade, and researchers say 52 percent of them had conflicts of interest such as financial ties to the drug industry.

    Even worse, they found those conflicts among 11 percent of the panelists who claimed they were free and clear.

    Whoops. Busted!

    And of course, you can't really stack a deck without putting some of your best cards on top -- so half of all chairs of the guideline-writing committees had conflicts.

    The panels were convened by organizations including private ones like the American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association as well as government groups such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

    But when you break it down, only 16 percent of the members of government-sponsored panels had conflicts, versus 69 percent of those convened by nongovernmental groups.

    What's more, five of the groups in the study didn't even require conflict disclosures -- and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force won't reveal its own without a Freedom of Information Act request.

    That's one of those things that make it look like you're hiding something... even if you're not.

    This isn't limited to cholesterol and diabetes panels -- not by a longshot.

    Earlier this year, researchers examined 17 critical guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology that were issued between 2003 and 2008, and found that 56 percent of the 498 people who helped write them had conflicts of interest... including 81 percent of those who led the groups.

    Put it all together, and it's pretty clear why you can't leave your doctor's office without yet another prescription: The deck was stacked against you long before you even walked through the door.

  3. A nation of sugar addicts

    No wonder we're fatter and sicker than ever and getting worse every day: New numbers from the CDC show that half of all Americans over the age of TWO YEARS OLD drink at least one soda a day.
  4. How Big Pharma writes the rules

    If it seems like our major medical guidelines were written by the drug industry, it's because they practically were.
  5. Heart groups get an "F" when it comes to guidelines

    An alarming new study finds that in many cases, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issue guidelines based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence or the say-so of some expert.

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