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Checkup Medical Column for Sept 2

AAP logoAAP 2/09/2016 By Sarah Wiedersehn

A weekly round-up of news affecting your health.

MODERATE EXERCISE PROLONGS LIFE IN OVER-65s

Moderate physical activity is associated with a greater than 50 per cent reduction in cardiovascular death in over-65s, according to new research.

A 12-year study, presented at the ESC Congress 2016 in Rome, found that moderate physical activity - at least four hours per week of walking or cycling - reduced the risk of an acute cardiovascular event by more than 30 per cent in people aged 65 to 74.

High levels of physical activity - at least three hours of intense exercise per week - reduced the risk even further.

"The role of physical activity in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people of working age is well established," said Professor Riitta Antikainen.

"But relatively little is known about the effect of regular physical activity on CVD risk in older people."

Prof Antikainen says the study provides further evidence that older adults who are physically active have a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease.

And the more physical activity you do the better, even if you have other risk factors.

"Physical exercise may become more challenging with ageing. However, it is important for older people to still get enough safe physical activity to stay healthy after their transition to retirement."

WOMEN WHO REGULARLY BINGE DRINK REDUCE FERTILITY - SLIGHTLY

Women who drink 14 or more servings of alcohol a week are slightly more likely to have reduced fertility, according to a new study.

A large Danish study of more than 6000 women, aged 21-45, found the women who consumed 14 or more servings of alcohol a week were less like to fall pregnant compared to those women who didn't drink.

Overall there were 37 pregnancies in 307 cycles among the big drinkers, compared with 1381 pregnancies in 8054 cycles in women who did not drink.

That equates to a 12 per cent chance of pregnancy compared to a 17 per cent chance.

Low to moderate intake of alcohol, defined as one to seven servings a week, seemed to have no effect on women's fertility, nor did the type of alcohol beverage consumed.

While the study, published in journal The BMJ, was only observational, the author still recommend for couples to abstain from alcohol during their fertile window until a pregnancy is ruled out, because the fetus may be particularly vulnerable to alcohol during the first few weeks after conception.

"It would be wise to avoid binge drinking, both for the potential disruption to menstrual cycles and also for the potential harm to a baby during early pregnancy. If a couple [is] experiencing difficulty in conceiving, it makes sense for both partners to cut down on their alcohol intake," said Annie Britton from University College London

POSTNATAL DEPRESSION IN MEN TACKLED

Postnatal depression and anxiety affects around one in 10 new dads, but there are simple ways to help men stay mentally healthy after the birth of a child, says Perinatal Anxiey and Depression Australia (PANDA)

Stress, sleep deprivation, new responsibilities and changing relationships, as well as feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty all contribute to how dads cope with becoming a parent.

However, by simply asking new dads how they're going is one of the best ways to support them, says PANDA CEO Terri Smith.

She says the key to staying healthy is for men to balance work and home and the changes related to the new arrival.

"Providing the best care for your baby also means remembering your own well-being. You need to eat well, rest and have breaks. There is no need to suffer alone. If you feel scared or overwhelmed as a new parent it is important to know that help is available."

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