What happens during a heart attack?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband recently had a heart attack. Fortunately, he's doing well. But I'd like to understand better what happens to the heart during a heart attack.

DEAR READER: The heart is a special kind of muscle that keeps blood circulating throughout your body. Your husband's heart doesn't just pump blood to the rest of his body; it also pumps blood to itself -- it needs that blood to survive. Your husband's heart attack occurred when a blood clot blocked a coronary artery -- an artery that provides blood to his heart muscle. This prevented the artery from delivering oxygen-rich blood to a specific part of his heart's muscular wall.

Can I exercise without getting off my couch?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm a couch potato. Can I exercise without getting off my couch?

DEAR READER: Every month the evidence grows stronger: The more time you spend sitting, the greater your risk of developing various serious illnesses. Most of our ancestors -- going back thousands of years -- were a lot more physically active than most of us are today. They had to be: Their survival depended on it.

How can I prevent my bad morning breath?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My breath is OK during the day, but when I wake up in the morning, it's terrible. What causes bad morning breath? And what can I do to prevent it?

DEAR READER: Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem -- especially "morning breath." (Some people call it "dragon breath.") Certain foods can cause bad breath. Garlic and onions are classic examples. Reflux of stomach contents can do the same. So can serious diseases of the liver or kidneys. Infections of the tonsils, sinuses or respiratory tract can also be responsible for bad breath.

How do I make time-outs effective when disciplining my child?

DEAR DOCTOR K: You've mentioned time-outs as an appropriate way to discipline young children. But they don't work for my son, at least the way I'm doing them. What can I do differently?

DEAR READER: When children are young, discipline means teaching them self-control and the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. One way to do this is with a time-out.

How do I help bathe my aging and ailing parent?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I would appreciate suggestions for how to help an aging and ailing parent to bathe.

DEAR READER: Until you step in to help, you may not even be aware of all the obstacles that can make bathing difficult for someone who is older or ailing. Arthritis, mental confusion or curtailed physical abilities can all contribute. Your first step is to determine what is causing the problem.

What can I do about a drooping eyelid?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My right eyelid droops and interferes with my vision. What can I do about this?

DEAR READER: The medical term for a drooping eyelid is "ptosis" (pronounced TOE-sis). In severe cases like yours, the drooping eyelid can cover all or part of the pupil and interfere with vision. Every part of our body is constantly tugged on by gravity. And something that is constantly being pulled downward (at least when we are standing or sitting) tends to sag. The eyelid is no exception. The effects of gravity can be exaggerated by any injury that weakens the strength of the eyelid.

How can I protect my middle schooler from cyberbullying?

DEAR DOCTOR K:My daughter will be starting middle school this year. How can I protect her from cyberbullying?

DEAR READER: Bullying can be particularly difficult during middle and high school, when popularity and peer acceptance feel like the most important parts of life. Adding technology to the mix makes it worse still. Cyberbullying is not simply bullying that takes place through electronic means.

Why would a doctor order an ultrasound of the carotid artery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My father's doctor wants him to have an ultrasound of his carotid artery. What is the carotid artery? What will the doctor be looking for?

DEAR READER: The carotid arteries carry oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from the heart to the brain. These crucial arteries can become narrowed by the cholesterol-filled plaques of atherosclerosis. Blood clots can form from the plaques, then break off and travel to the brain. There, they can lodge in small arteries, interrupting the vital flow of blood to brain cells.

What should I know before I start strength training?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'd like to start strength training, but I have lots of questions. What should I know before I begin?

DEAR READER: Strength-training exercises are those that force your muscles to strain against an opposing force, like a dumbbell or elasticized band. There's a lot you need to know before you begin. I'll answer several common questions to help get you on your way. Below you'll find several more strength-training tips: