Stories We're Following This Week

News + Insights from Around the Web + The Patient's Playbook Bottom Line. 

How to Increase Your Odds of Surviving a Heart Attack

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"Getting regular exercise not only reduces a person's risk of heart disease, it can increase the chance of survival if a heart attack does happen."

—A new study shows that people who work out have better odds of
surviving a heart attack than those who do not. (CBS News)

Bottom Line: Heart disease kills 1 in 4 people in the U.S. For most healthy adults, 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic exercise plus strength training twice a week is recommended. A recent Cleveland Clinic survey found that we have a lot of excuses for not meeting those guidelines: 41% said work gets in the way of workout time; 37% said they were just too tired; and 28% were derailed by commitments with family and friends. But all it takes to keep your heart in better shape is a vigorous 30-minute walk every day. And, as the article notes, it's important to exercise after a heart attack, too. See the American Heart Association for more tips on safe workouts post–heart attack.

Should C-Section Babies Be Swabbed with Their Mother's Microbes at Birth?

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"An infant’s first exposure to microbes may educate the early immune system to recognize friend from foe."

—A small proof-of-principle study suggests that cesarean babies do benefit from being swabbed with their mother's vaginal fluids. (New York Times)

Bottom Line: Scientists have theorized that children born by C-section may be missing important bacteria that play a role in shaping their immune systems from the moment of birth. Though further study is needed, a procedure called "vaginal microbial transfer" may provide C-section babies the same immunity boost that vaginally delivered newborns acquire at birth. Though some physicians are hesitant to provide this novel procedure, as the article notes, patients are asking for it and, in some cases, doing it themselves. 

They Told Her: Operate or Radiate Now
She Said 'No.' Here's Why She Was Right.

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"While this tumor wouldn’t metastasize, its growth could impair my facial nerves, balance and hearing, or even threaten crucial brain function...I decided on a course of action known as 'watch and wait.'...This strategy does not mean doing nothing."

—Carol Krucoff had no symptoms and her brain tumor, the size of a sesame seed, had been discovered accidentally. She watched it grow for 10 years before starting treatment. (Washington Post)

Bottom Line: Though she rejected treatment, Krucoff still had regular blood tests, biopsies, and imaging scans. She learned to live with her own uncertainty about, "something that could be a ticking time bomb or a harmless growth." So often, as patients, we want to get our problem in the rear-view mirror, so we rush to operate, radiate, or start powerful treatments that may do more harm than good. But it's imperative to take a beat, partner with experts on your disease, get multiple viewpoints about your diagnosis, and explore the best treatment options for your specific presentation. In Krucoff's case, a decade of waiting brought significant medical advances, and when the time came to treat, she had a new and better option. 

12 Nutritionists Reveal What They Eat When They're Too TireD to Cook 

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Surprise! Frozen pizza and cereal made the list. (Huffington Post)

Bottom Line: Nutritionists don't really have a "secret weapon" as this story suggests, because we all can keep healthy staples in our pantry for nights when a prepared-from-scratch meal isn't in the cards. Even frozen pizza can be made better with fresh, nutrient-rich toppings. We're inspired by the savory suggestions in this story and hope you will be too. 

Got a great story we should be following? Let us know in the comments below.