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WONDER DRUG Aspirin packs a protective punch against cardiovascular disease, but surgeons have long been worried that it could trigger bleeding after a bypass operation. A study of more than 5,000 patients, however, found aspirin to be well worth the risk if given within 48 hours of the surgery, since it greatly lowered chances of death or nonfatal circulatory complications — regardless of gender, race, age or the disease's severity.

RELEASE VALVE A 50-year-old therapy for hydrocephalus — water on the brain — is showing new promise as a treatment for Alzheimer's. Surgeons implanted a catheter behind the ear of a dozen patients to drain fluid from the brain. The goal was to improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and reduce the buildup of neurotoxic proteins. Over a year, patients with shunts maintained mental function better than those in an untreated control group. Larger studies are under way.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? Sorting out the exercise debate can seem like a workout in itself. Anew study of 40,000 men finds that while "moderate" is good, "intense" is better. Men who ran an hour or more weekly were 42% less likely to develop heart disease — more than twice the benefit of walking 30 min. a day. Men who lifted weights cut their cardiac risk 23%. It may be best to pick up the pace and pump iron, but doing anything is always better than doing nothing.

Sources: N.E.J.M.; Neurology; J.A.M.A.