IN BRIEF (Page 27)

Updated: 2011-09-14 08:02

(China Daily)

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Impotence may point to heart problems

Failing erections may be a harbinger of heart disease in some men, according to a review of a number of studies - but heart-healthy lifestyle changes or cholesterol-lowering drugs could have a positive impact on men's sexual health.

Dong Jiayi of Soochow University in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu province, and colleagues combined 12 earlier studies of impotence and heart disease, covering nearly 37,000 men.

"This meta-analysis ... suggests that erectile dysfunction significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke and all-cause mortality, and the increase is probably independent of conventional cardiovascular risk factors," they write in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

They found that men with erectile problems had a 48 percent increase in their risk of developing heart disease, and also had higher death rates than men who didn't have sexual problems.

But another study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that both lifestyle changes and cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins appeared to improve men's erectile problems - but only a little.

Men who exercise more or were put on a Mediterranean diet rich in whole grain, fruits, vegetables nuts and olive oil, for instance, reported a 2.4 point improvement on a 25-point scale of erectile problems. Those put on statins saw a similar improvement of 3.1 points, says Bhanu Gupta and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The results were based on six trials with 740 participants.

Patients keep depression quiet

Some people with symptoms of depression may not tell their family doctor about their issues, often out of worry they will be placed on an antidepressant, a study said.

In a survey of more than 1,000 California adults, researchers led by Robert Bell at the University of California, Davis, found that 43 percent had at least some misgivings about telling their primary care doctor about any depression symptoms.

Their top concern was the possibility that their doctor would prescribe an antidepressant, a worry voiced by 23 percent of the whole study group.

"Many adults subscribe to beliefs likely to inhibit explicit requests for help from their primary care physician during a depressive episode," write Bell and his colleagues in the Annals of Family Medicine.

"Interventions should be developed to encourage patients to disclose their depression symptoms and physicians to ask about depression."

Another 16 percent thought it was not their doctor's job to "deal with emotional issues". And a similar percentage worried that someone, like an employer, might see a diagnosis of depression on their medical records.

Parental counseling may help kids sleep

Screening children for sleeping problems and discussing sleep strategies with parents could help youngsters settle into school with better nighttime routines, according to a study from Australia.

Study author Jon Quach, from the University of Melbourne, and his team found that when they had sleep-related consultations with parents, children tended to have fewer sleep problems and better bedtime habits than children whose parents didn't get counseled.

The study, published in Pediatrics, was small and didn't show that the sleep improvements led to changes in academic achievements later in the year.

"Sleep problems are common in young school children and are treatable using ... a brief behavior-based intervention," Quach says. "Parents should seek advice for their child's sleep if they are concerned."

In 5- and 6-year-olds, most sleep problems are related to the children's behavior, researchers say.

"They go to bed too late, they don't have a bedtime routine, and many of them still have parents stay with them when they go to sleep at night," says Jodi Mindell, a pediatric sleep specialist at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, who was not involved with the study.

"You also get in this age group some nighttime fears," she added, with anxiety possibly increasing as those children start school.