Monday, January 16, 2012

Strokes, retina damage and trapped nerves: Is yoga doing us more harm than good?

It may be the secret to some of the most lithe and bendy bodies around, but yoga, as loved by celebrities from Matthew McConaughey to Natalie Portman, may also be the cause of a host of severe injuries.

A new book, published next month, lifts the lid on some of the darker sides of the physical and mental stretching techniques - and from back traumas to strokes, the discipline is not without its dangers, writes author William J Broad.

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, out next month, pulls together medical studies and case studies from those who have met with disastrous ends rather than the feel-good flexibility the practice normally affords.
Ancient technique: Yoga is said to calm and heal, but a new book opens the lid on some of the physical and mental stretching practices' darker sides
Ancient technique: Yoga is said to calm and heal, but a new book opens the lid on some of the physical and mental stretching practices' darker sides
In an adaptation of the book in the New York Times, Mr Broad recalls meeting Glenn Black, a yogi with classic Indian Iyengar training.

Mr Black, a yoga teacher of nearly 40 years, made the admission that he believes that 'the vast majority of people' should give up yoga. He recently underwent back surgery to correct decades of damage from the discipline. 

The yoga guru told Mr Broad that he has seen people's Achilles tendons tear from overdoing a downward-facing dog, men's ribs breaking with 'pops' from spine-twisting moves and teachers who no longer have any movement in their hips or who are forced to teach lying down because of back problems.

But the most severe cases include a 28-year-old woman who suffered a massive stroke while attempting the 'wheel' position. Her story was documented by Willibald Nagler, of Cornell University Medical College, and published in 1973.
Bendy: Matthew McConaughey enjoys a spot of yoga on the beach - but could he be doing his body more harm than good?
Bendy: Matthew McConaughey enjoys a spot of yoga on the beach - but could he be doing his body more harm than good?
Neurological damage had occurred because of hyperextension of the neck, but the woman - who took two years to learn to walk again and was left with permanent arm and eye and problems - is not alone in succumbing to brain injuries brought on by wounding arteries from head, neck and back movements.

Mr Nagler's report was an early and salu

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

‘Mini strokes’ linked to lower life expectancy

“Mini strokes,” with symptoms that last just a few minutes or hours, are well-recognized warning signs for potentially deadly larger strokes. Now new research confirms that they are associated with a lower life expectancy.

Survival rates after mini strokes, known medically as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), were 20% lower than expected among study participants nine years later compared to the general population. The findings highlight the fact that TIAs are serious events that should not be ignored, says stroke specialist and American Heart Association spokesman Philip Gorelick, MD. He directs the Center for Stroke Research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine....Next

12 to watch in 2012: Alexander Levy

App inventor Alex Levy is one of the Star's 12 people to watch in 2012.
App inventor Alex Levy is one of the Star's 12 people to watch in 2012.
Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star
Vanessa Lu Business Reporter
Alexander Levy never imagined he’d be running a mobile app company.
In 2009 he was finishing up his political science degree at the University of Toronto and was planning to go to law school when he took a part-time research assistant job at the Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab.
That led him to a chance encounter with Bill Scott, a stroke survivor who suffered from aphasia, where words are on the tip of his tongue, but the person just can’t get them out.
Scott wandered into the lab with a huge binder of photos with words that he used to communicate, along with a bulky machine, wanting to find a better way.
That prompted Levy, with the help of others including his company’s co-founder, Aakash Sahnei, to develop their MyVoice app, which readies a list of specific words based on the GPS location of a smartphone.....Next



Jim Gloster / USA / English / 40 min / Official Website
Aphasia tells the true story of actor Carl McIntyre about the effects of a massive stroke he suffered at the age of 44 - he lost his ability to read, write and speak. Starring as himself, McIntyre portrays his life story with an incredibly nuanced performance. Through humor and pathos Aphasia speaks to anyone who has struggled to meet life’s challenges. Click for Tickets
Date Time Venue Tickets
Sunday 02/12/2012 2:00pm The JCC in Manhattan Buy Tickets
Monday 02/13/2012 7:00pm Staten Island JCC Call for tickets - 718.475.5291
Saturday 02/11/2012 1:00pm St. Agnes Library Free.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Red meat linked to high stroke risk - study

By David Liu, PHD

Saturday Jan 7, 2012 ( -- A new study in the journal Stroke suggests that eating too much red meat may drastically increase risk of stroke.

The study led by Adam M. Bernstein, MD, ScD of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and colleagues found high intake of red meat was associated with an elevated risk of stroke while eating poultry was correlated with a reduced risk.

For the study, researchers followed 84, 010 women aged 30 to 55 years at baseline and 43,150 men aged 40 to 75 years who at baseline had no diagnosed cancer, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, for 26 and 22 years respectively.  During the follow-up, 2633 and 1397 strokes occurred in women and men respectively.

The researchers found that compared to consumption of one serving per day of red meat, one serving per day of poultry, nuts, fish, low-fat dairy and whole fat dairy cut the risk of stroke by 27, 17, 17, 11, and 10 percent, respectively.

However, when legumes and eggs replaced red meat, the risk remained the same.  Caution needs to be exercised when interpreting this finding.  Legumes were consumed in small quantity and it may not play any significant role in the risk for stroke, a health observer suggested.

The findings indicate that red meat eaters may cut their risk for stroke if they opt to eat poultry, fish, but and dairy products instead of red meat.

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the U.S.  More than 800,000 Americans die each year from cardiovascular disease and strokes. In the U.S., about 800,000 people have a stroke.

Symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, sudden trouble seeing in on or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, losing balance or coordination and sudden severe headache without known causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.