Harvard Health Special Reports

 

Harvard Health Special Reports

These special health reports deliver practical information on diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of major health concerns. Each special report is written in clear, easy-to-understand language and provides a depth of information on a specific health topic.

These special reports are available in print and as downloadable PDF documents.

For a more extensive collection of Harvard Health Special Reports, visit the Harvard Health web site.

diagnosis coronary artery disease special report from harvard health Diagnosis: Coronary Artery Disease

53 page special report from Harvard Health for people who have or want to prevent heart disease. Click on the title above for more information.

This publication is available in print, as a download (PDF) file, or both. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

Exercise - a program you can live with Exercise: A program you can live with

What can improve your mood, help relieve insomnia, and lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer? The answer is regular exercise. It may seem too good to be true, but it's not. Hundreds of studies conducted over the past 50 years demonstrate that exercise helps you feel better and live longer. This report answers many important questions about physical activity, from how your body changes through exercise to what diseases it helps prevent. It will also help guide you through starting and maintaining an exercise program that suits your abilities and lifestyle. Throughout, you'll find advice on being a savvy consumer when it comes to fitness products, as well as useful tools and tips designed to help make exercise work for you.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with L. Howard Hartley, M.D., Staff Cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and I-Min Lee, M.B., B.S., Sc.D., Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Associate Epidemiologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital. 45 pages. (2010)

This publication is available in print or as a download (PDF) file. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

health_care_110.jpg The Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will

Many people shy away from preparing a health care power of attorney or living will, perhaps because it's difficult to ponder death, or they aren't sure what their end-of-life wishes are, or don't know how to go about doing it. But taking some time to think about what kinds of medical treatment you would or wouldn't want if you were unable to speak for yourself is can be a blessing for your loved ones.

Living wills and health care proxies -- documents known as advance care directives -- give you a voice in decisions about your medical care. Yet only a quarter or less of Americans have filled out advance directives. Without these documents, choices may be left up to a doctor or someone appointed by a judge -- a person who may not know your values, beliefs, or preferences (your health care philosophy). Not only is it possible that the care you receive isn't in keeping with your wishes, but this also may be a great burden on a loved one, who is forced to make difficult decisions without knowing what you would want.

So take the time to learn about and complete the necessary forms -- the sooner the better. This report walks you through the process, explains the medical terms and procedures you'll need to know, helps you determine what kind of end-of-life care you would want, and even provides the forms you'll need.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Anne Fabiny, MD, Chief of Geriatrics at the Cambridge Health Alliance, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Charles Sabatino, JD, Director, American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging. 37 pages. (2009)

This publication is available in print or as a download (PDF) file. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

healthy_eating_110.jpg Healthy Eating

Eat real food. That's the essence of today's nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle: from a time when most people grew and prepared their own food to an era when processed, factory-made foods were celebrated (think Tang and TV dinners). Now, the nutrition pendulum has swung decisively back toward eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard's Special Health Report Healthy Eating: A Guide to the New Nutrition describes how to eat for optimum health.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications with nutrition editor Teresa Fung, Sc.D., R.D., L.D.N., Nutrition Department, Harvard School of Public Health. 48 pages. (2011)

hypertension_110.jpg Hypertension: Controlling the silent killer

An alarming one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Known medically as hypertension, many people don't even know they have it, because high blood pressure has no symptoms or warning signs. But when elevated blood pressure is accompanied by abnormal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to your arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially. Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and treat. Sometimes people can keep blood pressure in a healthy range simply by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing activity, and eating more healthfully. This report details those changes, including a Special Section that features numerous ways to cut excess salt from your diet -- a policy strongly recommended by new federal guidelines. This report also includes tips on how to use a home blood pressure monitor, as well as advice on choosing a drug treatment strategy based your age and any other existing medical issues you may have.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Randall M. Zusman, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Director, Division of Hypertension, Massachusetts General Hospital. 48 pages. (2011)

This publication is available in print or as a download (PDF) file. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

memory_110.jpg Improving Memory: Understanding age-related memory loss
Feeling forgetful lately? You're in good company. As many as two-thirds of people age 50 and older notice greater difficulty remembering names, appointments, and other details. Fortunately, the small memory lapses that occur with age are not usually signs of a neurological disorder, such as Alzheimer's disease, but rather the result of normal changes in the structure and function of the brain. This report describes age-related changes and other causes of memory impairment -- and how to distinguish between them. It also explains how and why certain health conditions (such as cardiovascular disease) that become more common with age can impair memory. Side effects from some medications, such as sleep aids, antihistamines, and various pain relievers, may also contribute to memory woes. In such cases, controlling health problems and switching medications often can sustain or improve memory function.

This publication is available in print or as a download (PDF) file. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

Improving Sleep - A Guide to a Good Night

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Trouble staying asleep? Remember when you could fall asleep as soon as your head hit the pillow and not wake up until the alarm went off?

As we get older, it becomes a little harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. But although our sleep patterns change, our need for sleep doesn't. Just like diet and exercise, a good night's sleep is essential for your good health, for keeping you alert and energetic, and for building your body's defenses against infection, chronic illness, and even heart disease.

Improving Sleep is an instructive and fact-filled report from Harvard Medical School that explains why sleep often eludes us as adults. You'll get practical, hands-on advice to improve your sleep ... and your health.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Lawrence Epstein, M.D., Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital; and Medical Director, Sleep Health Centers, Brighton, MA. 52 pages. (2013)

The report is available in print, as a PDF download, or both -- print plus download. Please choose your preferred format in the drop-down box below, then click "add to cart."

Joint Pain Relief The Joint Pain Relief Workout

The Joint Pain Relief Workout includes four complete, illustrated workouts targeting your ankles, hips, knees, and shoulders. You'll find detailed instructions for each exercise, as well as information on how to adapt each exercise to make it either harder or easier, so you can tailor it to your ability. In addition, the report includes mini-workouts to address wrist and elbow problems, a planning worksheet to help you get started and stay motivated, and answers to common exercise questions.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Edward M. Phillips, M.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, and Director and Founder, Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, as well as Master Trainers and Fitness Consultants Josie Gardiner and Joy Prouty. 45 Pages. (2012)

This publication is available in print, as a downloadable (PDF) file, or both. Please choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

knees_hips_110.jpg Knees and Hips

Your knees and hips are your largest joints. They support your body's weight and must work in close coordination to provide the mobility most people take for granted, until injury, arthritis, or other problems interfere. This Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School will walk you through the most common knee and hip ailments, discuss the symptoms you're likely to experience with each, and describe how your doctor might diagnose your condition. You'll discover:

  •  Why joints hurt
•  How to deal with overuse injuries
•  Solutions to common problems
•  Exercises for pain relief and prevention
  •  Indications for surgery
•  Knee and hip replacement options
•  Alternative approaches
 

This report also includes a Special Bonus Section: Knee and hip replacement which can help you determine if a joint replacement is right for you. It outlines the procedures, describes the different types of implants, and details the various surgical options available to you.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with, Scott David Martin M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, Harvard Medical School and Attending Orthopedic Surgeon, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass. 49 pages. (2011)

lose_weight_110.jpg Lose Weight and Keep if Off

It's no wonder so many Americans are overweight or obese. We have easy access to all sorts of tempting food day and night but fewer opportunities to build physical activity into our daily routines, not to mention soaring stress levels -- all of which contribute to our growing girth.

Many people blame themselves or feel ashamed about their weight. Don't despair, because it is possible to lose weight and keep it off over time. This report offers a range of solutions that have worked for many people and can be tailored to your specific needs. Take this challenge seriously, though, because overweight and obesity can lead to serious medical problems.

Successful weight loss depends largely on becoming more aware of your behaviors and starting to change them. Rather than willpower, this process demands skill power, which is good news because you can learn new skills. The special section of this report, "10 habits to help you lose weight," details these skills. Other chapters explore the health hazards of excess weight, as well as the latest information about diets, exercise plans, structured programs, medications, and surgery to foster weight loss. This report also includes a week's worth of healthy, calorie-controlled menus (including a handful of recipes) to get you started.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Miquel Alonso-Alonso, M.D., Instructor in Neurology, Harvard Medical School Division of Cognitive Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; and Kathy McManus, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., Director of Nutrition, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. 49 pages. (2011)

backpain_110.jpg Low Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common, non-life-threatening, painful conditions, affecting four in five Americans at some point in their lives. And many have to be wary of return bouts. But low back pain treatment has undergone a sea change since the 1990s. Experts now appreciate the central role of exercise in treating back problems and maintaining a healthy back. They also better understand which conditions surgery will help and which patients are good surgical candidates.

This report describes the different types of back problems and the tailored treatments that are more likely to help specific conditions. A special section is dedicated to the self-care steps you can take to mend your back, and features information on different types of exercise and complementary therapies such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage, as well as healthy back habits and tips on choosing a mattress.

This report was prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Jeffrey N. Katz, M.D., M.S., Professor of Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School. 48 pages. (2010)

This publication is available in print or as a download (PDF) file. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

Neck Pain special report from Harvard Health Neck Pain: A troubleshooting guide to help you find relief

This 48 page special report from Harvard Health can help you manage your discomfort, increase your mobility and prevent future flare-ups.

This publication is available in print, as a download (PDF) file, or both. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

Sexuality in midlife and beyond a special report from Harvard Health Sexuality in Midlife and Beyond

This 48-page special report from Harvard Health will help you enjoy a healthy sex life despite the changes that come with age.

This publication is available in print, as a download (PDF) file, or both. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

Stress Management report from Harvard Health Strength and Power Training: A guide for adults of all ages

This 49-page report from Harvard Health will introduce you to workouts that you can easily fit into your schedule. With just two sessions per week, you'll fortify your muscles and bones, add tone to your body, and confidence to your life.

This publication is available in print, as a download (PDF) file, or both. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

stress_110.jpg Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress

This 57-page special report from Harvard Health will help you rein in the runaway changes unleashed by stress. These proven techniques can help you repel the consuming effects of stress and reclaim and restore inner peace.

This publication is available in print, as a download (PDF) file, or both. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.

erectile_110.jpg What to do About Erectile Dysfunction

The advent of safe, easy-to-use pills to treat erectile dysfunction (formerly known as male impotence) heralded a trend that's been dubbed a second sexual revolution, the first being the advent of birth control pills. Both medications fostered major changes in sexual behavior and the ways in which people think and talk about sexuality. But oral medications to treat erectile dysfunction are just part of the story. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and stopping smoking, can also help. Medications aren't effective for everyone. Luckily, several non-drug treatments are available as well. This report offers a comprehensive review of the many causes of erectile dysfunction and the most effective male impotence treatment options. It also includes information on sex therapy and involving your partner in treatment, as well as a special section on "Creating a better sex life."

Prepared by the editors of the Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Michael Philip O'Leary, M.D., Senior Surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. 38 pages. (2009)

This publication is available in print or as a download (PDF) file. Choose the format you prefer in the drop-down box below.