Posted in food, Health, news

Death by Protein Supplements: What is Urea Cycle Disorder?

A 25-year-old mother of two died after over consuming protein supplements in preparation for a body building competition.

Meegan Hefford was found unconscious in her West Australia apartment and was declared brain-dead, passing two days later.

Unbeknownst to her, she suffered from Urea Cycle Disorder (UCD), such that when she consumed protein shakes and supplements she overproduced a toxic byproduct.


What is Urea Cycle Disorder?

People with Urea Cycle Disorder (UCD) have a mutation that causes them to lack an enzyme that helps break down ammonia.  The urea cycle is responsible for removing ammonia from the blood stream. Ammonia is made by cells, when they breakdown the nitrogen in proteins.  Ammonia needs to be eliminated, and through this cycle turns in to urea which can be excreted in the urine.  If a step is missing, ammonia and nitrogen products build up causing hyperammonemia.  This can cause liver and brain damage and eventually death.

What are symptoms of Urea Cycle Disorder?

If one suffers from hyperammonemia, a result of UCD, the following symptoms may manifest:




Respiratory issues


Behavior issues

Gait abnormalities

Cognitive issues


UCD cases are rare with 1 UCD patient per 35,000 births.

According to the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation, “Because many cases of urea cycle disorders remain undiagnosed and/or infants born with the disorders die without a definitive diagnosis, the exact incidence of these cases is unknown and underestimated. It is believed that up to 20% of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) cases may be attributed to an undiagnosed inborn error of metabolism such a urea cycle disorder. Some children with autism spectrum and behavioral disorders may have undiagnosed urea cycle disorders.”

Treatment includes stopping the excess protein/nitrogen intake, fluids, medications, dialysis and at times, liver transplantation.


So do we need to fear protein supplements?

No.  But what we need to remember is if we are increasing our protein, and many times accurately, for body building we need to realize that our bodies, including our kidneys, may not be on the same page.  When this happens, protein supplements can be dangerous so competitive athletes, or others using protein supplements, should be supervised by their health provider.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in Entertainment, Health, news, Sports

Tiger Woods DUI Tox Report Positive for Benzodiazepines, Narcotics and Sleep Meds

Tiger Woods’ toxicology report in regards to his May arrest suggests his DUI was caused by a mixture of pain, sleep, and anxiety medications.

The report released Monday revealed the 41 year old pro-golfer had the following in his system when he was found asleep in his car on the side of the road while the lights were on and turning signal was flashing:  Ambien, Xanax, Dilaudid, Vicodin and Delta-9 carboxy THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

Woods had undergone spinal fusion surgery weeks prior.

Vicodin is a narcotic made of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.  It is used for pain and most commonly prescribed post-operatively.

Dilaudid is hydromorphone, a stronger narcotic.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine used for sedation, relaxation and to lower anxiety.

Ambien is a hypnotic type of sedative used for sleep and works within 15 minutes of ingestion.

Delta-9 carboxy THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

None of these medications are to be used while driving.  Additionally none should ever be used in combination.  The respiratory depression of one narcotic combined with the sedative effect of the benzodiazepine or hypnotic could cause death.

Woods entered a plea of not guilty to DUI, as alcohol was not involved and a mixture of medications was to blame, but its been reported a deal was made among prosecutors including a lesser charge of reckless driving and a stint in a “diversion program”.

Last month Woods stated he completed a private intensive program on his own.

On Monday he stated, “Recently, I had been trying on my own to treat my back pain and a sleep disorder, including insomnia, but I realize now it was a mistake to do this without medical assistance.”

Polypharmacy, or taking multiple medications at the same time, can increase the risk of serious adverse events if the drugs act synergystically or mask side effects of one another.

Many overdoses occuring with pain pills may not always be a quantity issue with the narcotic but rather a mixture of the narcotic with another medication such as those taken by Tiger Woods.  He was lucky to still be alive when found as were those pedestrians or drivers on the street that evening.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician



Posted in Health, news

“Smart Underwear” Helps Prevent Back Pain

“Smart Underwear” has been designed by Vanderbilt University Engineers to help ease stress on the user’s low back.

The undergarment is made of nylon, polyester and Lycra and feels like normal clothing.  It contains straps along the chest and rubber along the lower back and buttocks.



Vanderbuilt University

The device can be activated by the user directly or by a mobile phone app.  When needed, the elastic bands take over some of the work done by spinal muscles and ligaments.

Lead researcher, Karl Zelik, states, “As a person leans forward or lifts an object, his or her trunk and hips flex, and buttocks naturally protrudes backwards. When wearing the smart undergarment, these motions stretch the embedded elastic bands which run in parallel to the spine.”

Testing on subjects revealed a decrease on lower muscle activity by 15-45 percent when they bent 30, 60 and 90 degrees.

Half of all Americans at some point suffer from low back pain.  Many times medications are not needed but modalities such as manipulation, massage, acupuncture, muscle stimulation and ultrasound.

Now if the underwear can help us with constipation and gas…..



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in Health, news

Ex-Fox Producer Dies of “Broken Heart” after Son was Killed

In the Bronx, 54-year old Okera Ras died hours after his 34-year-old son, Duro Akil died when a stray bullet hit his chest.

Its believed Akil’s neighbor was involved in a fight, and a stray bullet entered his apartment and punctured his lung.  Another report states Akil was in the hallway investigating the commotion when he was shot.  Akil was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center where he died of his injuries.

When family members sought to share the sad news with his father, Ras, a former Fox News web video producer, was dead in his apartment.  Family members believe he sustained a heart attack and died of a “broken heart”.

Adio Akil, Akil’s mother, said the two were very close, “They loved each other so much, and they had each other’s back.”

Friends established a  GoFundMe Page to help the family cover expenses and funeral costs.


Duro Akil and his father, Okera Ras: GoFundMe


Is Broken Heart Syndrome Real?

Much research has surrounded stress cardiomyopathy, or Broken Heart Syndrome.    When couples who have lived together for years, loses his/her partner, we often hear of their death within months, if not weeks later.  The official name of Broken Heart Syndrome (BHS) is Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, where cases have been seen in Japan, the US and many other countries.  The stress of the loss of a loved one puts such a strain on their heart that they are too vulnerable to withstand the injury. The heart tries to compensate by enlarging and we see a bulging apex of the heart in these patients.

Actress Debbie Reynold’s lost her daughter Carrie Fisher one day prior and then herself became ill with possible “stroke”.  She passed later that day, with one report citing her last words were “I want to be with Carrie”.

What makes Broken Heart Syndrome so unique is it’s a rare and possibly fatal disease initially induced by stress.    Mind over matter plays a key part here.

What occurs in Broken Heart Syndrome?

Unlike heart attacks which are usually caused by clogged arteries, BHS appears to be induced by a rush of stress hormones.  These include cortisol and adrenaline.  Paramount stressors such as losing a child or spouse would be enough to start the cascade.  Then come chest pain, shortness of breath, blood pressure changes, the heart enlarges to compensate for low output, arrhythmia can occur and this list goes on.  Heart failure or cardiogenic shock can occur when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body.


How does Broken Heart Syndrome differ from a heart attack?

BHS if identified early can be treated promptly.  If arteriosclerosis is absent, then surgery wouldn’t be needed to bypass the blood vessels or clear out the arteries.  Treatment of BHS would include medications most typically used in heart failure patients (diuretics, ACE inhibitors, betablockers) to reduce the work load on the heart.  If a heart attack did occur during the BHS period, or inducing BHS, protocols for heart attack treatment would execute immediately. BHS patients without coronary artery disease are more likely to recover quicker than heart attack victims.

How do we prevent Broken Heart Syndrome?

When living in stressful times, its imperative to be around friends and families, support groups, etc.  The stress is the inducing component and although it will not be eliminated entirely, could be managed constructively.  Avoiding alcohol and tobacco and poor diet habits are also key.  Asking for help is life saving, and those who see a loved one suffering offer your support immediately.

In addition, make sure you are taking care of yourself.  A medically unstable family member may not be strong enough to go on after losing their closest loved one.  The grieving process is a healthy process however, and should not be avoided. Distraction may help, focusing the love for the lost family member into a cause/scholarship/foundation can also be helpful in the grieving process.

The last thing we haven’t discussed is guilt.  When a loved one dies, we feel guilty over how we treated, spoke to, and spent time with them.  This guilt will consume you.  While you have your loved ones with you, remember that any day could be their last and let them know you love them.


                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician


Posted in Health, news

Five People Die from Balloon Obesity Treatment

The FDA has reported 5 people who underwent gastric balloon placement for weight control have died within days to weeks of the procedure.

Four people used the Orbera Intragastric Balloon System and one used ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System.

Although the direct causes have not been established, the FDA stated the following, “All five reports indicate that patient deaths occurred within a month or less of balloon placement. In three reports, death occurred as soon as one to three days after balloon placement. At this time, we do not know the root cause or incidence rate of patient death, nor have we been able to definitively attribute the deaths to the devices or the insertion procedures for these devices (e.g., gastric and esophageal perforation, or intestinal obstruction). The Agency has also received two additional reports of deaths in the same time period related to potential complications associated with balloon treatment (one gastric perforation with the Orbera Intragastric Balloon System and one esophageal perforation with the ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System).”

The balloons work by filling up the stomach volume, increasing signals of satiety to the brain.  Balloons are delivered through the mouth by endoscope into the stomach where they are inflated with saline solution.  The balloon remains in place for 6 months and Bariatic Surgery Source reports a 30% “excess” weight loss.  The cost of the procedure is approx. $8100 and the procedure takes less than 30 minutes.

Some risks can include overinflation of the balloon, perforation, blockages and pancreatitis.

This is a developing story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

Epilepsy Cases Surge: Could Cell Phones be to Blame?

The CDC reports 3.4 million Americans suffer from epilepsy based on their 2015 data.  This number rose from 2.3 million in 2010.  470,000 of these cases are children.

According to their website, the CDC reports 1.2% of the population suffers from “active epilepsy”.  Active epilepsy is defined in adults as those having one or more seizures in the past year and requiring medication daily to control them. In children it means they currently have a seizure disorder.

The exact explanation for the rise in cases is unclear, however population growth and improved testing as been cited.


What is a seizure?

A seizure occurs when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain.  If the electricity doesn’t conduct properly, brain function gets disrupted. This could lead to convulsions  (involuntary jerking movements), loss of muscle tone, changes in senses such as vision, hearing and smell, loss of bladder control, loss of consciousness and sometimes stroke, brain damage and death.



Epilepsy and seizures can be caused by a multitude of factors including genetics, brain trauma, tumors, infection, damage during birth, and stroke.

Can cell phones cause seizures?

Data has been limited linking seizure activity to cell phone use. However, some studies have found a modest link.

In 2016, Kouchaki et al tested mobile phone radiation in mice and concluded “continued and prolonged contact with the mobile phone radiation might increase the risk of seizure attacks and should be limited.”

Also in 2016, a study published in Epilepsy and Behavior by Tatum et al found texting to induce a “new type of brain rhythm”.

In 2013, Cinar et al examined the effects of electromagnetic waves (EMWs) on humans and suggested the following, “acute exposure to EMW may facilitate epileptic seizures, which may be independent of EMW exposure time. This information might be important for patients with epilepsy. Further studies are needed.”

In 2006, Ferreri et al found mobile phone “emissions” to increase human brain excitability, implying this could affect those with epilepsy.

More research therefore needs to be done investigating why epilepsy cases are on the rise and if cell phone radiation plays any role.


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news, Politics

US Diplomats in Cuba Mysteriously Go Deaf by Possible Secret Sonic Weapon

A group of US diplomats stationed in Cuba have suffered hearing loss, and investigators believe they were affected by a “sonic weapon” of which they weren’t aware.

In addition to hearing loss, other symptoms have been reported including severe fatigue and headaches.  This was reported in 2016, a year after the embassy in Cuba reopened in 2015. Those who stayed for a short period of time reported symptoms as well.

The Cuban government rejected the allegations saying, “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.” They have launched an investigation as well.

There are four types of hearing loss:  auditory processing disorder, conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.

Auditory processing disorder occurs when the brain cannot process the information or sounds it received.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when something (such as wax, fluid, bony build up such as otosclerosis) impedes the flow of sounds into the inner ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the organs (cochlea) and nerves within the inner ear cannot process or transmit the sounds.

Mixed hearing loss can occur when one has both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of household items such as hair dryers, televisions, ear buds emitting loud sounds, vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers.

Research has been suggested looking into infrasonic frequencies, in which the sound is inaudible to humans (approx. 20 Hz) and its military applications.

This is a developing story.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician