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One of the Reiki Principles - For Today, Do Not Be Angry. Now, research proves the validity of that important precept.

Fivefold increased risk for heart attack after angry outburst

The study results showed that the risk of heart attack or acute coronary syndrome – the symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or sweating related to a blocked artery – was 4.7 times higher in the two hours following an angry outburst than at any other time. And the risk for stroke caused by a blocked artery in the brain was 3.6 times higher than at other times. One of the studies included in the review indicated a 6.3 fold increased risk for brain aneurysm in the hour following an outburst of anger compared with other times. BIDMC. European Heart Journal. 032014

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In the news ...

The healing powers of music - The music of Mozart and Strauss is able to lower blood lipid concentrations and the heart rate. This is the result of a study of the effect of different musical genres on the cardiovascular system. Classical music by Mozart and Strauss notably lowered blood pressure and heart rate, whereas no substantial effect was seen for the songs of ABBA. In the control group, resting in a supine position also resulted in blood pressure lowering, but the effect was far less pronounced than for exposure to the music of Mozart or Strauss. All musical genres resulted in notably lower cortisol concentrations. As far as cortisol concentrations were concerned, the sex of the participants must have played a part, because the drop in cortisol levels was more pronounced in men than in women, especially after exposure to the music of Mozart and Strauss. Comparison with the control group showed that the effect of music was far greater than that of silence. Hans-Joachim Trappe und Gabriele Volt of Ruhr University Bochum. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International

Stress management and long-term health - Reacting positively to stressful situations may play a key role in long-term health. researchers found that adults who fail to maintain positive moods such as cheerfulness or calm when faced with the minor stressors of everyday life appear to have elevated levels of inflammation. Furthermore, women can be at heightened risk. Inflammatory responses are part of the body's ability to protect itself via the immune system. However, chronic -- long-term -- inflammation can undermine health, and appears to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer. These findings add to growing body of evidence regarding the health implications of affective reactivity - emotional response - to daily stressors. Penn State, Cornell University. Health Psychology

Reducing stress "We wanted to develop a treatment intervention that taps into cultural beliefs and values that we hypothesized would make the treatment more engaging and relatable to many ethnic minorities that do not necessarily embrace the current mental health care system, said Amy Weisman de Mamani, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the study. "We hoped to develop a treatment that was not only aimed at benefiting patients, but explicitly focused on reducing caregiver distress as well." In the spirituality module, the study aimed at helping families' access beliefs and practices that could help cope with the illness, such as prayer, meditation, volunteerism, and attending religious services. Family members that did not subscribe to any particular religious practice or belief participated in parallel exercises that didn't specifically reference "God" or "religion." University of Miami. Psychotherapy

Low back pain risk factors - New research identifies nicotine dependence, obesity, alcohol abuse and depressive disorders as risk factors for low back pain, a common condition causing disability, missed work, high medical costs and diminished life quality. For many adults, low back pain is debilitating and chronic. Determining modifiable risk factors for low back pain could help avoid or diminish the financial and emotional costs of this condition. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Stress and obesity - Adolescent obesity is a national public health concern and, unchecked, places young people on a trajectory for a variety of health issues as they grow older. A study suggests there is a relationship between long-term exposure to three specific types of family stressors and children becoming obese by the time they turn 18 years old. "Experiencing family stress - specifically family disruption and financial stress - repeatedly throughout childhood was associated with overweight or obesity by the time adolescent girls turned 18," Assistant Professor Daphne Hernandez said. Interestingly, only one chronic family stress point -maternal poor health -was related to boys becoming overweight or obese by the time they turned 18. "These programs need to take a broader approach to combatting obesity by helping families experiencing these kinds of stressors find access to mental health programs, financial assistance or family counseling," she said. "Developing strategies to help with family stressors during childhood may help children maintain healthy weight into adulthood." University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) and Texas Obesity Research Center (TORC). Preventive Medicine

A grateful heart is a healthier heart - Recognizing and giving thanks for the positive aspects of life can result in improved mental, and ultimately physical, health in patients with asymptomatic heart failure. "We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health," said lead author Paul J. Mills, PhD, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego.

Gratitude is part of a wider outlook on life that involves noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life. It can be attributed to an external source (e.g., a pet), another person or a non-human (e.g., God). It is also commonly an aspect of spirituality, said Mills. Because previous research has shown that people who considered themselves more spiritual had greater overall well-being, including physical health, Mills and his colleagues examined the role of both spirituality and gratitude on potential health markers in patients.

Using standard psychological tests, the researchers obtained scores for gratitude and spiritual well-being. They then compared those scores with the patients' scores for depressive symptom severity, sleep quality, fatigue, self-efficacy (belief in one's ability to deal with a situation) and inflammatory markers. They found higher gratitude scores were associated with better mood, higher quality sleep, more self-efficacy and less inflammation. Inflammation can often worsen heart failure.

"The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-Being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients," by Paul J. Mills, PhD, and Deepak Chopra, MD, University of California, San Diego, and Chopra Center for Wellbeing, Carlsbad, California; Laura Redwine, PhD, Kathleen Wilson, MS, Meredith A. Pung, PhD, Kelly Chin, BS, Barry H. Greenberg, MD, Ottar Lunde, MD, Alan Maisel, MD, and Ajit Raisinghani, MD, University of California, San Diego; and Alex Wood, PhD, University of Stirling. Spirituality in Clinical Practice. American Psychological Association

Listen to your heart - Dr Tristan Bekinschtein, a Wellcome Trust Fellow and lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, says: "'Follow your heart' has become something of a cliché, but we know that, consciously or unconsciously, there is a relationship between our heartrate and our decisions and emotions. There may well be benefits to becoming more attuned to our heartbeat, but there's very little in scientific literature about whether this is even technically possible." Changing heartrate is part of our automatic and unconscious 'fight or flight' response - being aware of the heart's rhythm could give people more control over their behaviour, believe the researchers. Volunteers took part in an experiment during which scientists measured their brain activity using an electroencephalograph (EEG). Dr Bekinschtein adds, "There are techniques such as mindfulness that teach us to be more aware of our bodies, but it will be interesting to see whether people are able to control their emotions better or to make better decisions if they are aware of how their heart is beating." University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge. Cerebral Cortex

Meditation might slow the age-related loss of gray matter in the brain - A study found that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain's gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons. "We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating," said Dr. Florian Kurth. "Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain." University of California - Los Angeles. Frontiers in Psychology

Hiding your true colors? Research suggests that our drive for authenticity - living in accordance with our sense of self, emotions, and values - may be so fundamental that we actually feel immoral and impure when we violate our true sense of self. This sense of impurity, in turn, may lead us to engage in cleansing or charitable behaviors as a way of clearing our conscience. "Our work shows that feeling inauthentic is not a fleeting or cursory phenomenon -- it cuts to the very essence of what it means to be a moral person," explains psychological scientist Maryam Kouchaki of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Psychological Science

Links between sleep loss and diabetes - Lack of sleep can elevate levels of free fatty acids in the blood, accompanied by temporary pre-diabetic conditions in healthy young men. "At the population level, multiple studies have reported connections between restricted sleep, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes," said Esra Tasali, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. Diabetologia

Stress management techniques improve long-term mood and quality of life - A study shows that providing women with skills to manage stress early in their breast cancer treatment can improve their mood and quality of life many years later. Researchers found that the women who received the stress management intervention had persistently less depressive symptoms and better quality of life up to 15 years later. "Because depressive symptoms have been associated with neuroendocrine and inflammatory processes that may influence cancer progression, our ongoing work is examining the effects of stress management on depression and inflammatory biomarkers on the one hand, and disease recurrence and survival on the other," said Dr. Michael Antoni. University of Miami (UM) College of Arts & Sciences. American Cancer Society, Cancer

Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertainty - Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life's uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lovers' tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat. University of California - Berkeley and University of Oxford. Nature Neuroscience

Pain affects sleep - Pain is a key factor in the gap between the amount of sleep people say they need and the amount they're getting - an average 42 minute sleep debt for those with chronic pain and 14 minutes for those who've suffered from acute pain in the past week. About one in three of those with no pain don't always or often get a good night's sleep or the sleep they need to feel their best, or have had trouble falling or staying asleep in the past week. Those problems rise even higher among individuals who do have chronic or acute pain. Pain joins two related concerns - stress and poor health - as key correlates of shorter sleep durations and worse sleep quality. "Clinicians and pain sufferers know that pain and sleep problems present together and aggravate each other. This poll confirms the relationship between pain and sleep. Fortunately, it also shows that simple steps to improving sleep can be beneficial," said Dr. Timothy Roehrs, PhD, Henry Ford Hospital. National Sleep Foundation

Stress - "It's clear that treating mental illness is generally ineffective and, as with other branches of medicine, that the best strategy is to prevent illness in the first place," says cognitive neuroscientist and senior author Dr. Ahmad Hariri. "Our findings contribute to ongoing efforts to develop strategies for preventing mental illness by identifying a measure of brain function that distinguishes those at greatest risk before they become ill." Duke University. Neuron

Stress  - Feeling stressed may prompt you to go to great lengths to satisfy an urge for a drink or sweets, but you're not likely to enjoy the indulgence any more than someone who is not stressed and has the same treat just for pleasure. "Stress plays a critical role in many psychological disorders and is one of the most important factors determining relapses in addiction, gambling and binge eating," said Tobias Brosch, PhD. "Stress seems to flip a switch in our functioning ..." University of Geneva. American Psychological Association. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition.

Longer work hours for moms - The majority of preschoolers may not be getting the amount of sleep they need each night, placing them at higher risk of being overweight or obese within a year. "We think that it might be the more hours that mothers are working, the less time they have, and there may be some sort of tradeoff going on, 'Do I spend quality time with my child or do we get to bed early?'" Speirs said. "And then in the morning, when mothers leave for work, their children also wake up early to get to day care." University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sleep Medicine

Wild blueberries (bilberries) can help - Eating bilberries diminishes the adverse effects of a high-fat diet. Low-grade inflammation and elevated blood pressure are often associated with obesity-related diseases. Bilberries constitute an integral part of the Nordic diet and they could be better utilized also elsewhere in the world. Bilberries are associated with several beneficial health effects and their use involves plenty of traditional wisdom. The beneficial health effects of bilberries are thought to be explained by polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, the levels of which are significantly higher in bilberries than in commercially cultivated blueberries. University of Eastern Finland.

Clinicians make more money by ordering more procedures per patient - Higher-earning clinicians make more money by ordering more procedures and services per patient rather than by seeing more patients, which may not be in patients' best interest. "Our findings suggest a weakness in fee-for-service medicine," said Dr. Jonathan Bergman, an assistant professor of urology and family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and an urologist and bioethicist. "Perhaps it would make more sense to reimburse clinicians for providing high quality care, or for treating more patients. There probably shouldn't be such wide variation in services for patients being treated for the same conditions."  University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences. JAMA Internal Medicine.

Mental disorders due to permanent stress - The team focused mainly on a certain type of phagocytes, namely microglia. Under normal circumstances, they repair synapses between nerves cells in the brain and stimulate their growth. Once activated, however, microglia may damage nerve cells and trigger inflammation processes. The studies carried out in Bochum have shown that the more frequently microglia get triggered due to stress, the more they are inclined to remain in the destructive mode - a risk factor for mental diseases. Not every individual who is under permanent stress will develop a mental disorder. Ruhr-University Bochum.

Integrative medicine relieves pain and anxiety for cancer inpatients - Pain is a common symptom of cancer and side effect of cancer treatment, and treating cancer-related pain is often a challenge for health care providers.
"Following Integrative medicine interventions, such as medical massage, acupuncture, guided imagery or relaxation response intervention, cancer patients experienced a reduction in pain by an average of 47 percent and anxiety by 56 percent," said Jill Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author and Senior Scientific Advisor at the Penny George Institute. "The size of these reductions is clinically important, because theoretically, these therapies can be as effective as medications, which is the next step of our research," said Jeffery Dusek, Ph.D., senior author and Research Director for the Penny George Institute. The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs.

Telephone support (distant support) program beneficial - A support program administered entirely by telephone can significantly reduce depression and other symptoms in informal caregivers, such as family or friends, of individuals with dementia.

"Those caring for people with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia are often under a great deal of pressure," said principal investigator Geoffrey Tremont, Ph.D, of the division of neuropsychology in the department of psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital. "This pressure and stress can lead to depression in the caregiver, or to negative reactions, or even to behavior problems exhibited by the individual with dementia." He continued, "Many of these caregivers have trouble finding time to take care of themselves, allowing their own physical and mental health issues to fester. By providing these caregivers with the option of a telephone-based support program, we are able to bring the help right to them, rather than requiring the caregivers to take time away from their loved one to attend a support group or other appointment."

While previous studies have shown that caregivers benefit from programs such as in-person support/group therapy sessions, this is the first such study to present data supporting a program that is delivered only by telephone. Rhode Island Hospital. Alzheimer's & Dementia.

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