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Health Letter+

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Conversations with the experts: When is forgetfulness a problem? Explaining early-onset dementia

Richard J. Caselli, M.D.
You told your husband you had to work late tonight, but he says you never did. It’s not the first time he didn’t seem to hear something you said, and you feel a twinge of concern. He used to be a better listener. He’s only 50, but is it possible…
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Think you’ve tried every migraine medication? Think again.

Amaal Starling, M.D.
Migraine is an all-too-common and potentially disabling disorder. Migraine attacks can cause severe throbbing head pain or pulsing sensations, as well as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Some treatments stop symptoms of a migraine attack (acute, or as-needed treatment) and other long-term treatments decrease the frequency and…
Podcast |

Why some patients need a second heart surgery

People who’ve had an aortic dissection, which is emergency, lifesaving surgery, may need additional surgeries later to repair the aorta. Also, people who’ve had heart valve surgery and received replacement tissue valves will need the valves replaced after 10 years. In addition, adults with congenital heart disease often have surgery…
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Good bacteria for your gut

Amanda Gingrasso, D.N.P.
The lining of your digestive tract — like every surface of your body — is covered in microorganisms, mostly bacteria. This microecosystem, called a microbiome, plays a large role in your health. Your mood and behavior also may be impacted by the microorganisms living in your microbiome. You may be…
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Olfactory retraining after COVID-19

The loss or change in a person’s sense of taste and smell is something that can happen to people who have had COVID-19.  It’s a common symptom with other viruses, including influenza, but it’s happening at a much larger magnitude due to the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current estimates indicate that…
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Not all low back pain is the same

Kendall Snyder, M.D.
Your back is made up of 30 bones stacked in a column surrounded by muscles and ligaments. It allows you to stand, walk, bend, sit and twist. It connects other parts of your skeleton and supports your spinal cord and nerve roots. Nearly every movement you make involves your back…
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Recognizing and responding to delirium

Heidi Lindroth, Ph.D., R.N.,
Margaret Paulson, D.O.
Delirium is a type of confusion that occurs suddenly and without warning. When people have delirium, they may have trouble focusing or paying attention. They also may feel groggy and drowsy, or act or say things out of character. Delirium can be a warning signal that someone is not feeling…
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Preparing for surgery?

Liz Cumberland, C.N.P.
It’s official. You need surgery. You may have many thoughts and questions running through your head, whether it’s a minor, same-day procedure or a complex operation that requires you to stay in the hospital overnight. You may even feel anxious, confused or scared. While these emotions are normal and expected,…
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The best diet to help prevent kidney stones

It’s estimated that 1 in 10 people will get a kidney stone in his or her lifetime. Kidney stones are not only painful, but they can lead to serious complications that may require hospitalization and even surgery. The good news is kidney stones are preventable, and prevention can be as simple as…
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Relief for dry eyes

Robert Friese, O.D.
Since the beginning of winter, my eyes feel dry and scratchy. I can no longer wear contacts because my eyes burn and sting, and are watery. How can my eyes be dry and watery at the same time, and what can be done to fix this? It’s common to have…
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Your heart can break from stress

Niti Aggarwal, M.D.,
Nkechinyere Ijioma, M.B.B.S.
Emotional stress — which can be brought on by grief, anger, loss or death of a loved one, domestic abuse, heated arguments, physical illness, or surgery — can be so bad that it feels like your heart is breaking. And in a way, it is. Broken heart syndrome is also…
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Integrative oncology uses lifestyle medicine approach

Stacy D. D’Andre, M.D.
Integrative medicine uses an approach to health care that includes practices not traditionally part of conventional medicine, such as herbs, acupuncture, massage, yoga and meditation. Integrative oncology incorporates these therapies into conventional cancer care. Integrative oncology helps people with cancer feel better by reducing the fatigue, nausea, pain and anxiety and other…
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Cancer myths vs. facts

In many cases, what is known about cancer prevention is still evolving. However, it’s well-accepted that your lifestyle affects your chances of developing cancer. From your diet and exercise routines to protecting yourself from the sun and avoiding risky behaviors, a few simple lifestyle changes can make a difference in your risk of developing…
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Mayo Clinic Minute: The relationship between food and disease

Stephen L. Kopecky, M.D.
The phrase “you are what you eat” is commonly used in conversations about health and the connection between food and the body. Eating an unhealthy diet can have serious consequences and can increase someone’s risk of dying from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a preventive…
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Seizure forecasting device with epilepsy: anticipate seizures, take action

Benjamin H. Brinkmann, PH.D.
Despite treatments that include medications, surgery and neurostimulation devices, many people with epilepsy continue to have seizures. And the uncertainty of when a seizure could occur affects their quality of life. But what if these people could anticipate a seizure and take action? A recent Mayo Clinic study tested a technology to do…
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Constipation in women, explained

Adil Bharucha, M.B.B.S, M.D.
Chronic constipation is a reality for many people ― more often women than men. Fortunately, these symptoms generally respond to dietary fiber supplements or over-the-counter laxatives. But when these symptoms do not respond, tests can determine the cause. Sometimes contents move slowly through the colon, or patients have a rectal…
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Memory lapses: Normal aging or something more?

Kari Mongeon-Wahlen, APRN, CNS, M.S., M.S.N.
Have you ever walked into a room and forgot why you entered? Lost the name of an acquaintance you met a few years ago? Forgot the name of a tool in your shop? Memory lapses and modest decline in thinking skills are common as you age. There’s a difference, however,…
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Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: Living as a prostate cancer survivor

Matthew K. Tollefson, M.D.
Thanks to early detection and treatment, most people with prostate cancer survive, and many may live for decades, according to Matthew Tollefson, M.D., a Mayo Clinic urologist. But many who survive prostate cancer may have concerns about life post-cancer. Side effects of treatment might include problems with urinary control and…
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Podcast: Breaking down the difference between eczema and psoriasis

Dawn Marie Davis, M.D.
Eczema and psoriasis are both long-term skin conditions that don’t have a cure. In eczema, the immune system comes to the skin and releases chemical inflammatory markers that cause the skin to become red, weepy and itchy, according to Dawn Davis, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist. In psoriasis, the immune…
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Fibromyalgia: changing the pain experience

Barbara K. Bruce, Ph.D., L.P.
Science is just beginning to understand this long-term, widespread form of chronic pain and how nerves can be “re-mapped” to make pain signals grow quitter, while allowing more pleasant signals to come through. Fibromyalgia is a term many people know, but it’s much less common for people to truly understand…
Podcast |

Podcast: Advanced care at home

January’s Mayo Clinic Health Letter included an interview with Michael Maniaci, M.D., physician leader of Advanced Care at Home at Mayo Clinic. He explained that some people in the hospital can be treated in their own homes, as long as they don’t require surgery, invasive procedures or advanced imaging. Receiving…
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Podcast: Small steps to increase longevity

Stephen L. Kopecky, M.D.
The average American goes on a couple of diets a year that last only a few months at most, according to Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic preventive cardiologist. But rather than trying to overhaul your lifestyle all at once, Dr. Kopecky recommends focusing on small steps that add up…
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Understanding heart tests

Christopher DeSimone, M.D., Ph.D.
Every year, World Heart Day is celebrated on Sept. 29 to increase awareness of cardiovascular diseases and how to control them. Having a healthy heart is always the goal, but sometimes you need some help to make sure everything is working just right. And that’s where heart tests come in.
Podcast |

What’s on the horizon for cardiac regenerative therapies?

Stable angina shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re feeling chest discomfort, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, it’s helpful to know how your heart works and the regenerative potential of the cardiovascular system. In this Mayo Clinic Talks podcast, Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Atta Behfar explains what types of regenerative…
Podcast |

Podcast: How high-intensity intervals impact cardiovascular health

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) — doing short bursts of higher intensity exercise followed by lower intensity exercise for a number of cycles — brings big benefits when it comes to your cardiovascular health. A HIIT workout increases your peak oxygen consumption (peak VO2), says Dr. Amanda Bonikowske, an exercise physiologist…
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Add citrus colors, flavors to meals

Paula Przywojski, R.D.N., C.D.
Citrus fruits are not only juicy and refreshing, they’re extremely healthy. Lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit, tangerines and pomelos are just a few of the juicy fruits classified as citrus. Like tangerines, clementines are a type of mandarin. They look like tangerine fruit, but they’re not quite the same. Tangerines and…
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Benefits of sedation-free colonoscopy

Jaime Zighelboim, M.D.
Few people look forward to having a screening colonoscopy. Some people even put off having the procedure done because they hear horror stories that are unfounded. Millions of people each year have a colonoscopy and do well, even without sedation. A colonoscopy is the gold standard for colon cancer screening. During…
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How to exercise safely during the winter

Dr. Kelechi Okoroha
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am an active 43-year-old female who enjoys exercising and staying in shape. I usually try to work out at least three days per week at the gym, but I also like to exercise and run outside. Recently, I moved to a colder climate. As winter begins, should…
Podcast |

Who should be screened for lung cancer?

One of the challenges of treating lung cancer is that it’s often diagnosed at an advanced stage, but screening can help catch it at an early stage. In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Aaron Mansfield, a Mayo Clinic medical oncologist, describes the types of lung cancer and talks about…
As Mayo Clinic Connect celebrates its 10th anniversary, Rosemary Huckleberry, better known as @rosemarya, reflects on the evolution of the past 10 years—Mayo Clinic Connect’s and her own from member to mentor. Here I am, in the photo above, just one year after my transplant, sitting with the Mayo brothers on…
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Shoulder injuries and winter weather safety tips

Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, M.D., Ph.D.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Our family recently moved to a state that has plenty of cold, ice and snow during the winter. While my children are excited, I have heard stories about how common shoulder injuries are during the winter due to shoveling snow and other activities. I have arthritis in one…
Podcast |

Exercise is first-line treatment for Parkinson’s

There’s voluminous evidence that supports exercise as a first-line treatment for Parkinson’s disease, according to Dr. Edward Laskowski, a Mayo Clinic specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Experts think exercise has neuroprotective effects. Listen to this Mayo Clinic Talks podcast to hear Dr. Laskowski explain why people who are…
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Why the risk of frostbite is greater than you think

It’s almost a worst-case scenario when you’re out in extreme cold, and it’s more common than you might think. Dr. Sanj Kakar, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic hand and wrist surgeon, says frostbite is more common and often more serious than many people think. The good news is it’s fairly easy to avoid. As…
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Dangers of mixing antidepressants and alcohol

Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin
Can you drink alcohol while taking antidepressants? Answer From Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. It’s recommended to avoid combining antidepressants and alcohol. Drinking while taking antidepressants may worsen your symptoms, and in some cases can be dangerous. Combining the two may cause the following: An increase in depression and anxiety. Drinking alcohol…
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Try these nutrient-packed recipes

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against taking vitamin E and beta carotene supplements for prevention of cancer or heart disease. The task force said the supplements don’t help prevent the disease and have the potential to be harmful. It’s best to get vitamin E and beta carotene…
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How Mayo Clinic doctors are discussing the new Alzheimer’s drug with patients

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug aducanumab to treat Alzheimer’s disease. In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Mayo Clinic neurologists Dr. Ronald Petersen and Dr. David Knopman discuss the ongoing research into the drug and how they’re talking about aducanumab’s risks and benefits with patients.
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Genetic variants influence migraine treatment response, according to new Mayo study

Fred Cutrer, M.D.
Migraines affect nearly 40 million people in the U.S. Yet pinpointing an effective prophylactic medication ― the most commonly prescribed drugs for people diagnosed with migraines ― remains a long and complex process. Patients often cycle through medications for weeks or months until achieving a therapeutic response. Now after years…
Podcast |

Parkinson’s disease: It’s more than a tremor

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, with symptoms that progress over the years. In this Mayo Clinic Talks podcast, Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Jeremy Cutsforth-Gregory describes what happens in the brain when people have Parkinson’s and explains the signs and symptoms, including the telltale resting…
Podcast |

Advancing colorectal cancer screening with artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is playing a role in colonoscopies. AI has the ability to recognize polyps the same way it can spot faces in facial recognition, which can lead to increases in polyp detection. And it’s coming to clinical care, Dr. James East, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London,…
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With esophageal cancer, every decision is life or death

Esophageal cancer is treatable but rarely curable, so early diagnosis and treatment are vital, Dr. Shanda Blackmon explains in this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast. Learn what causes esophageal cancer, who’s at risk, the signs of symptoms, and why it’s so important to get checked early if you’re concerned you…
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Heart Palpitations: the cause may be elusive

The August issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter discussed various types of heart sensations or palpitations, which are the most common reason people seek medical care for heart issues. In most cases, palpitations don’t signal a larger problem. But sometimes they do, and medical professionals can help you sort…
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Change your mind to grow

Can you change the way you think about yourself and your mindset? Or improve how you feel just by altering your thoughts? Turns out… yes. Your brain is malleable and constantly adjusting. This (thankfully) gives you the ability to learn and adapt throughout life. But, sometimes, your thought patterns get…
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What women need to know about migraines

What’s the connection between hormones and migraine headaches? As those with migraines know all too well, the throbbing pain associated with these headaches can be severe and debilitating. And all is not equal between the sexes when it comes to these crippling attacks. Research shows that migraines are three times…
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Cultural shift underway in addressing Alzheimer’s disease

Angela M. Lunde, M.A.
An estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s estimated that by 2050 the number will reach 12.7 million. The fight for prevention and a cure endures. While that fight is a necessary one, it isn’t the only fight. The battle I’m speaking…
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5 ways slimming screentime is good for your health

Mysoon Ayuob, M.D.
Screens have been a help during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve allowed friends and family members to stay connected and for workers to do their jobs at home. But now that COVID-19 vaccines are allowing people to gather in person and go back to the office, stepping away from screens when…
Antifungal preventive medications reduce mortality risk by half in the first year following lung transplantation, according to Mayo Clinic research involving 667 patients who received lung transplants from 2005 to 2018. The retrospective study, published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, is the largest ever…
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Delicious dishes: 3 easy recipes with healthy oils

In the July 2021 issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter, the article titled “Healthy Cooking Oils” provided an overview of various cooking oil qualities. The recipes below help bring that advice into action. If you have peanut, sesame, grapeseed or olive oil on hand, you can create these delicious…
Podcast |

A safety plan can help you get out of an abusive environment

With incident reports of domestic violence increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to put together a safety plan if you’re at risk of experiencing domestic violence. In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Amanda Kubista Owen, a Mayo Clinic social worker, explains what to do if you’re…