Your Health: Ten Things That Really Matter (Part 2)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 26, 2013

Inadequate sleep can lead to anxiety, overeating, high blood pressure, difficulty concentrating, and other problems.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.


Patients with diabetes take longer to heal from injuries than those without. Diabetes can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, impaired vision, and neuropathy. Although diabetes can come from a genetic predisposition, a high-sugar diet and lack of exercise are modifiable risk factors. Exercise, even without associated weight loss, can improve the body’s glucose control. Studies show that physical activity decreases your risk of diabetes. One hundred and fifty minutes per week (or just 30 minutes per day on weekdays) can reduce your risk of getting diabetes or reduce dependence on medications if you already have diabetes.

It’s never too late. If you have diabetes, you can still exercise. Just make sure you check your blood sugars regularly and be honest with your doctor about your exercise level. Together, you can come up with a plan to balance your exercise level and medications to help with blood sugar control.

TIP:  Use a pedometer!  It is much more fun to count steps than carbohydrates.  If you like the sweet stuff, try to avoid snacks with high sugar content, as they don’t make you feel full.

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Can Anxiety Age You?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 26, 2012

Women with phobias may experience accelerated aging.

Someone who is afraid to be in crowds or to go outside might tell you that their persistent fear seems to have the diabolical power to age them. Now science is suggesting that this feeling might not be just a state of mind for people suffering from phobic anxiety (phobias).

New Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) research, featuring a subset of over 5,000 participants from the landmark Nurses’ Health Study, shows that middle-aged and older women with phobic anxiety tend to have shortened telomeres (DNA proteins), a condition that is considered to be a sign of accelerated aging and has been linked to an increased risk of cancers, heart disease, and dementia. The study found that highly phobic women tend to have telomere lengths similar to non-phobic women who are six years older.

Phobic anxiety, a constant irrational fear of an object, situation, or activity, affects up to 10 percent of our population. Aside from its potential impact on aging, it can have significant psychological and physical health effects, including depression and heart disease.

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