Posted in Health, news, Politics

US Diplomats in Cuba Suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries

Last week we learned a group of US diplomats stationed in Cuba had suffered “hearing loss” and investigators believed they were affected by a “sonic weapon” of which they weren’t aware.

In addition to hearing loss, other symptoms incurred included dizziness, loss of balance, 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.

This week we learn that ten US and five Canadian diplomats suffered mild traumatic brain injury by alleged sonic attacks that may have damaged their nervous system.

The attack may have been a device emitting high-powered sound waves (but inaudible to the human ear) that damage delicate auditory nerve cells as well as those in other organs. Studies have found exposure to such frequencies to not only cause deafness but nausea, headaches, and even lung and liver injuries in mice.

The Cuban government had 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 after pressured by Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State.

This is a developing story.

 

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

Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Jerry Lewis, Comedian and Actor, Dies at age 91

Clark County Coroner, John Fudenberg, revealed Jerry Lewis’ cause of death was “end- stage cardiac disease and peripheral vascular disease”.

It was reported previously that the actor had “ischemic cardiomyopathy”.  Ischemic cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle begins to lose function due ischemia, or lack of sufficient blood flow.  Ischemia can be caused by narrowing of blood vessels during hypertension and/or atherosclerosis.

The slapstick legend passed away, according to his publicist, on Sunday.

Mark Rozzano, his manager, stated the actor “passed peacefully at home this morning of natural causes at the age of 91 with his loving family by his side.”  He was living in Las Vegas.

In addition to blockbusters such as “The Nutty Professor”, “The Bellboy” and “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, he was world renowned for his philanthropic golden touch as he hosted the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Marathon over a span of 5 decades.  These telethons helped raise over $2 billion dollars and awareness for muscular dystrophy.

Jerry Lewis had dealt with multiple health problems over the years including multiple heart attacks, back injuries, viral meningitis, diabetes, and prostate cancer.

He is survived by his wife, SanDee Pitnick, and his 6 children.  Lewis lost a son in 2009 to “acute morphine intoxication”.

This is a developing story.

 

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

 

Posted in Health, news, Politics

2/3 of US Governors Proclaim State Blood Donation Days to Fight Blood Shortage

Multiple governors are proclaiming state blood donation days in response to blood bank shortages throughout the country.

Moreover blood donations are desperately needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  Not only do natural disasters require ample blood supply on hand, but the storm and flooding have interrupted the blood donations previously done routinely by thousands of people, thereby drastically cutting supply.

Last year 33 Governors declared state blood donation days to unite during National Blood Donation Week.

This year more are uniting to help bring in more blood supply.

According to the American Red Cross, 36,000 units of blood are needed in the U.S. every day.

Emergency rooms treating trauma victims, hospitals treating anemic patients, and medical clinics replenishing low blood levels in cancer patients require a steady supply of blood products.

38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but less than 10% actually do.

Inconsistent donation patterns during the year result in unpredictable and reliable blood supply numbers, hence donation is requested year round.

United Blood Services suggests donating three times a year.

The summer and holiday season appear to be the “dryest” in terms of donations.  States and regions frequently need to ship blood to areas who are in need.

National Blood Donation Week is September 4-10th and this year National Blood Donation Day falls on September 8th, with many states declaring September 8th their State Blood Donation Day.

States who have already proclaimed September 8th their Blood Donation Day this year include:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Arizona proclaimed September 4-10th Arizona Blood Donation Week.

More will follow in the coming days.

 

To donate blood or host a blood drive, please visit here.

 

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

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:

Fatigue

Lethargy

Vomiting

Respiratory issues

Seizures

Behavior issues

Gait abnormalities

Cognitive issues

Headaches

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

underwear.jpg

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…..

 

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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.jpg

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.

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