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Carpal tunnel surgery changes

A recently introduced surgical procedure for carpal tunnel syndrome, a hand and wrist disorder that causes pain and numbness in the hand and fingers, offers new hope for CTS sufferers. CTS affects nearly one in 10 Americans and accounts for a significant percentage of all work injuries. CTS is caused by highly repetitive bending of the wrist and hand, which puts pressure on the median nerve. Traditional surgery calls for the physician to make an incision in the palm of the hand. Numerous stitches are required to close the incision, and healing and recovery time usually takes six to eight weeks. The new procedure calls for a smaller incision at the base of the wrist. A 3mm video endoscope (narrow instrument) connected to a video camera is inserted at the wrist, allowing the surgeon to view the inside of the hand on a television monitor. Using a built-in retractable blade that is positioned at the tip of the endoscope, the surgeon cuts the underside of the carpal ligament to open the carpal tunnel and relieve pressure. Only a few stitches are required, and healing takes days rather than weeks.New bike product is refreshing idea

A new bicycle drink sack allows you to sip compressed liquids from a tube while riding. The device, designed to replace the conventional water bottle, releases beverages from an expandable sack through a one-way valve. The sack, the Bikestream, is designed in two different versions: a cylinder that attaches underneath the bike seat, and a triangular pouch that hugs the bike frame under the seat post. Both retail for about $40 at bike shops. To order directly, telephone Bikestream at (800) 677-4426.

A clean cat keeps sneezes at bay

Cat owners who sneeze at the sight of their pets may find help in the bathtub. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that a cat who is bathed once a month is less likely to provoke allergy attacks in humans, according to Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Dr. H. James Wedner, an allergist, and his co-workers started testing the ability of several drugs to reduce Fel D1 in cats. Fel D1 is the major cause of allergic reactions to cats. Giving the cats the medications didn't work, but monthly 10-minute soaks of the cats in lukewarm distilled water did. It takes several washings for the effect to take hold, so relief isn't instantaneous, say the researchers. Wedner recommends talking to a vet about washing procedures. A vet can also explain ways to get the cat used to a dip in the tub, a difficult trick with older cats, but a fairly simple process with kittens.

Sedentary living causes problems

Sedentary living, not cholesterol, is the nation's leading culprit in fatal heart attacks. With all the fuss that is being made these days about cholesterol, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that this fatty substance is far from the only cause of heart attacks. In fact, according to a recently published survey and analysis by the Federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, an elevated level of cholesterol in the blood is not even the most important factor in deaths from heart attacks in this country. Sedentary living is. Happily, it is also the coronary risk factor that is easiest for people to do something about. No drugs or dietary overhauls are needed, and little or no special equipment or added expense are required for regular heart-protecting exercise. And, unless you are addicted to the couch, there are no withdrawal pangs either, as there might be from doing without favorite foods, cigarettes or the six-pack. Since exercise is often an afterthought (if it is any kind of thought at all) when doctors advise patients about changing habits to protect their hearts, it may be a surprise to learn that lack of exercise is the leading modifiable hazard leading to death from coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease, or heart attack, accounts for about 27 percent of the 2.1- million deaths each year among Americans.

_ Compiled from wire reports