Weekly Health Watch with how to start a cardio workout plan, the supply of flu vaccines, the risks of slightly high blood pressure and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 times as many women die of heart disease as breast cancer each year, but only 20 percent of women consider heart disease their greatest health risk.


Follow these tips from the exercise experts at Life Fitness to take steps toward reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.


Adults should get at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate cardiovascular activity a week, and working to meet this weekly goal will be a great start to reducing your risk of fatal heart disease.


Starting a Cardio Program


- To qualify as cardio exercise, the activity should be continuous and require use of large muscle groups like arms, legs, thighs and abs.


- Aim for at least 25 minutes of cardio exercise three to five days a week; devoting 60 minutes is ideal, but if your schedule doesn't allow for hour-long workouts, concentrate on the intensity of your efforts during the time you do have.


- For low-to-moderate intensity, exercise at 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Adding in high-intensity intervals as you progress will burn more calories and increase your aerobic capacity. For high-intensity exercise, increase your efforts to reach 80 to 90 percent of your MHR.


- If you ever experience dizziness, chest pain or lightheadedness while exercising, stop immediately. If you're unsure whether high-intensity cardio exercises are appropriate for you, talk to your physician before starting a routine.


New Research: Progress with sickle cell disease


National Institutes of Health-funded scientists have corrected sickle cell disease in adult laboratory mice by activating production of a special blood component normally produced before but not after birth.


"This discovery provides an important new target for future therapies in people with sickle cell disease," said Dr. Susan B. Shurin, director of the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which co-funded the study. "More work is needed before it will be possible to test such therapies in people, but this study demonstrates that the approach works in principle."


Sickle cell disease results from an abnormality in hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body.


Did You Know?


Although flu activity is low for the time being, the supply of flu vaccine for the 2011-2012 flu season is projected to set a U.S. record. -- CDC


Health Tip: Balancing act


One aspect of functional fitness is teaching your body to balance its own weight. This can be achieved with simple movements like stability-ball crunches or single-leg squats. Remember to switch sides when practicing these moves to create equal balance on both sides of the body.


-- Life Fitness


Number to Know


2 percent: In many countries, only 2 percent of all health sector resources are invested in mental health services, but 1 in 4 people will require mental health care at some point in their lives. Average global spending on mental health is still less than $3 per capita per year. In low-income countries, expenditure can be as little as 25 cents per person per year.


-- World Health Organization


Children’s Health: Anesthesia dangers


Every year, millions of children are exposed to anesthesia medications that have been shown to cause neurodegeneration in young animals. A recent study examined the effect of these medications on the learning and behavior of young children who underwent surgery before age 2. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed a cohort of children born between 1976 and 1982 to mothers living in a single school district in Rochester, Minn. Despite controlling for co-morbidity, a learning disability developed in 36.6 percent of those with multiple exposures to general anesthesia and 23.6 percent of those with a single exposure. Among the unexposed controls, 21.3 percent developed a learning disability. 


-- American Academy of Pediatrics


Boomer Health: Slightly high blood pressure?


If you are under 65 and your blood pressure is a little above normal, that is reason enough to see your doctor. A new study reveals that those with blood pressure readings in the high-normal range, known as prehypertension, were 80 percent more likely to have a stroke than those with normal readings.  


Prehypertension is defined by the National Institutes of Health as a systolic pressure (the top number) of 120 to 139, and a diastolic pressure (the bottom number) of 80 to 89. Readings of 140/90 or above are considered hypertension, or high blood pressure.


-- AARP


GateHouse News Service