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Tension headache? Sinus headache? Hangover headache? They're all migraine. For laymen, if not the medical community as a whole, it's a revolutionary notion.







Heady Reading
Two Hopkins M.D.'s have written books having to do with the head: one to ease the pain, the other to improve memory.

David Buchholz
Heal Your Headache
David Buchholz

There's big news on the headache front: Migraine is not a specific type of headache, but the mechanism that underlies nearly all the headaches we experience. Tension headache? Sinus headache? Hangover headache? They're all migraine. For laymen, if not the medical community as a whole, it's a revolutionary notion, one that's at the heart of Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain by neurologist David Buchholz.

Emphasizing the importance of correct diagnosis and proper treatment, Buchholz urges readers to wrest control of their headaches with his three-step program. First and foremost: Avoid overusing pain killers, particularly over-the-counter caffeine-containing drugs and sinus medicine with decongestants. Yes, these drugs do constrict the blood vessels around the head, face and neck that swell with migraine. But when they wear off, the vessels swell up with a vengeance. It's a complication known as rebound, and it creates a vicious cycle of headaches. Prescription drugs such as Fioricet, Imitrex and others also cause rebound.

Next come the triggers. Migraine is caused by a variety of factors, including diet, weather, hormones and stress. Of them all, diet is most controllable. Cutting out triggers like caffeine, chocolate and citrus fruits can do the trick. And finally, when all else fails, prevention medications, such as certain antidepressants, blood pressure and antiseizure medications, can elevate the pain threshold.

A Hopkins-trained neurologist who for 14 years directed the Neurological Consultation Clinic, Buchholz, now an associate professor with a practice at Green Spring, never intended to be a "headache doctor." "But over the years, I realized I was getting better and better at understanding migraine. I developed a program to control it, and it kept working better and better."

What he had always wanted to do was write a book; all of a sudden, he realized he had something to say. Surveying the market, finding no good headache books lining the shelves, he pitched the idea to agents and publishers. Complete with short case studies based on actual patients he's seen in 20 years of practice, his 250-page, how-to health book debuted last summer. Since then, he's hit the talk-show circuit and eagerly fielded calls from viewers and listeners. Best have been the e-mails expressing thanks that have poured in from headache sufferers around the world. That, he says, "has been enormously gratifying."

Majid Fotuhi
The Memory Cure
Majid Fotuhi

A couple of days after going to a movie, you entirely forget the name of the film as well as the star. Does that mean you're developing Alzheimer's? Not according to Majid Fotuhi, a neurology consultant at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and author of The Memory Cure: How to Protect Your Brain Against Memory Loss and Alzheimer's Disease.

Such lapses in memory simply go with the territory as we grow older, Fotuhi explains reassuringly. A sign of Alzheimer's, he notes, might be forgetting altogether that you even went to the movie.

Fotuhi elucidates the differences between Alzheimer's and age-related memory loss, but his chief point is that the brain doesn't always have to act its age. "I feel strongly that there are things you can do to prevent memory loss." His 10-step memory protection plan begins with the usual-controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and staying physically active-and ends with the most overlooked: an awareness of depression and stress, often the prime causes of forgetfulness. Interspersed are real-life case studies and the latest research.

Fotuhi wrote his first book when he was a teenager. He called it The Secret of Success. Successful it wasn't, but Fotuhi pressed on. A Canadian citizen, he attended college in Montreal, earned his Ph.D. in neurosciences here in 1992, enrolled at Harvard Medical School and graduated in 1997. He is also on the neurology faculty at Harvard. And, he's back to books.

Despite its fair share of complex technical material, this one doesn't bog down. Fotuhi says he has a knack for teaching. "I love to make complicated concepts simple." He manages to do just that in The Memory Cure.



Defribrillators Everywhere


Hopkins, take heart. The University is now the first in the country to have a comprehensive program designed to save the lives of cardiac arrest victims.

Placed in more than 60 non-hospital locations across the East Baltimore and Homewood campuses-such as laboratories, auditoriums, residence halls, gyms, parking garages and cafeterias-portable, automated external defibrillators (AED) will allow specially trained staff to deliver a life-saving electric shock to the heart, without having to wait for hospital STAT teams. (The AEDs are not placed within Hopkins Hospital where STAT teams are close by to rescue those in distress.)

"Generally, response time by teams averages eight to 15 minutes, but after five minutes a person's survival rate is only 40 percent. After 10 minutes, the person has only a 5 percent chance of survival," says Edward Bernacki, head of Health, Safety and Environment. "The AEDs, which are easy to use, particularly by someone who is not a professional rescuer, may help reduce these times and can save many lives."

On the East Baltimore campus, more than 100 security and parking staff members have completed the three-hour training program since November. Graduates come away knowing how to administer CPR and use the AED device on adults.

-Lindsay Roylance




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