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New video from NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) offers a unique look at the increasingly popular practice of yoga.

New Video Explores the Science of Yoga

A new video from the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) offers a unique look at the increasingly popular practice of yoga. It highlights research that examines how yoga works, its safety, and whether it can help treat certain health conditions, such as chronic low-back pain.

"The research suggests that yoga may help people manage certain symptoms, but not others," says Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., NCCAM director. "We're also learning more about the safety of yoga, especially for people at increased risk for injury."

In addition, the video also contains valuable "dos and don'ts" for consumers who are thinking about practicing yoga. This educational tool is designed to be used by a broad audience, including researchers, yoga instructors, and the general public. The video is available at This is the second installment in NCCAM's The Science of Mind and Body Therapies video series. The first video, Tai Chi and Qi Gong for Health and Well-Being, was released in September 2010.

Two New Topics Added to NIHSeniorHealth

What You Need to Know About Hip Replacement

If you or someone you know is considering hip replacement, there's helpful information on the website. The Hip Replacement topic page explains reasons to have the surgery, how to prepare for and recover from it, and how to avoid complications. People between the ages of 60 and 80 are most likely to have hip replacement surgery. The most common reason is osteoarthritis. It happens when cartilage in joints breaks down. The bones then rub together and cause pain and stiffness that make it hard to function normally.

"Surgery of any type involves risk, and older adults might understandably be hesitant about having hip replacement surgery," says Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). "But if medications and physical therapy have not helped, hip replacement has proven to be an effective way to relieve pain and restore function."

What You Need to Know About Prescription and Illicit Drug Abuse

A new health topic page on provides tips on what to watch for and what to do about drug abuse among older Americans. National surveys find more Baby Boomers are abusing prescription medications—such as painkillers and antidepressants—and illicit drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine.

Drug abuse by older people can be particularly harmful, notes Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "As people get older, it is more difficult for their bodies to absorb and break down medications and drugs. Abusing these substances can worsen age-related health conditions, cause injuries, and lead to addiction."

Common warning signs of abuse, such as depression and sleep problems, can be confused with other health conditions. is a joint effort of NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

What Does Your Chest Pain Mean?

New NIH research may help emergency room (ER) physicians more quickly determine the cause of a patient's chest pain. It shows that adding a cardiac CT scan to standard heart screening procedures can help ER staff more quickly determine who is having acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and who has a less serious problem and can be safely discharged. ACS is a condition that includes heart attacks and unstable angina, a type of chest pain that can lead to a heart attack. Researchers say the findings benefit hospitals and patients. By quickly identifying which patients can go home, hospitals can allocate more resources to the people most in need. Patients who aren't at high risk of having a heart attack can spend the night at home instead of the hospital. NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funded the research.

Dr. Carlos Zarate

As part of new research on depression, Dr. Carlos Zarate of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) looks at a patient's electromagnetic brain activity with a powerful and fast MEG brain imaging scanner.

NIH Research Uncovers New Clue to Treating Depression

Scientists have made a new discovery in their attempt to find a fast-acting drug to treat depression. Standard antidepressants can take weeks to work. So, researchers are studying the drug ketamine as an alternative for people who need help quickly. The research team has uncovered a signal in the brain that may help to identify which patients will respond to the experimental, fast-acting antidepressant. Carlos Zarate, M.D., with NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), says the goal is to find medications that will safely lift depression within hours instead of weeks. "The more precisely we understand how this mechanism works, the more narrowly treatment can be targeted to achieve rapid antidepressant effects and avoid undesirable side effects."

Older Americans: Status Check

Older Americans are living longer, healthier lives compared to previous generations. But for some, the cost of housing could mean a setback. That's according to a new federal report, Older Americans 2012, which examines 37 key indicators of well-being, including economic circumstances, health, and health care. By 2030, an estimated 72 million Americans will be 65 or older. How are folks doing today? The report says:

  • More older women are in the workforce these days. In 1963, 29 percent of women aged 62-64 worked outside the home. In 2011, it's 45 percent.
  • Older Americans are better off financially now than they were in the 1970s. The number of older people living below the poverty line has dropped from 15 percent to 9 percent.
  • Housing is more of a burden. In the 1980s, about 30 percent of households with older Americans spent about 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities. Now it's 40 percent.

The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, which includes the NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA), issued the new report.

Fall 2012 Issue: Volume 7 Number 3 Page 27-28