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BOOSTER SHOTS

Caffeine Addicts, Take Note

June 22, 1998|MARTIN MILLER

Here's something to think about over your next cup of java. Drinking a few extra cups of the bean juice (or other caffeine drinks) each day can boost blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels enough to increase the risk of heart disease, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Drinking five cups of coffee can raise a person's blood pressure by five points, researchers said. While five points isn't excessive, the increase over time could mean a 34% greater chance of stroke and a 21% greater chance of heart disease, researchers said.

"ER" Meets "The Love Boat"

Even in the middle of the ocean, you can still have access to some of the best medical care in the world thanks to a new computer development called the "SeaMed." Used aboard the Princess line cruise ship Grand Princess, the system serves as a virtual emergency room connecting on-board physicians with emergency room doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The live two-way video and audio link allows physicians to consult in the event of such emergencies as heart attacks or strokes, but not icebergs.

An Athlete's Heart

California has the dubious distinction of being one of eight states that inadequately screens high school athletes for cardiac abnormalities, according to the Journal of the American Medical Assn. California examiners of high school athletes do not obtain proper medical histories before letting athletes participate in sports, according to the JAMA article. Cardiovascular deaths among high school athletes are rare but have been estimated to occur in one in 200,000 students.

Cocaine Blues

There's yet another compelling reason not to use cocaine. Researchers at Cornell University Medical College discovered that the incidence of fatal cocaine overdoses rose 33% on days when it was over 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers culled through records from the New York City medical examiner's office from 1990 to 1995 to reach their findings. Although it's not certain why higher temperatures may result in more cocaine deaths, doctors believe the hot weather may further tax cardiovascular capacity, thereby increasing the risk of death.

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