Posted in food, Health, news

5 Ways to Add Years to Your Life

A study out of Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health finds 5 simple lifestyle changes that can add 1-2 decades onto one’s life.

Researchers looked at lifestyle and diet of over 100,000 men and women apart of the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.  They found sticking to these lifestyle changes at the age of 50 could give the average woman 14 extra years of life and the average man, 12.

Since cancer and heart disease contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths a year, study authors suggest the following:

 

Avoiding Smoking

Since smoking has been long linked to early death, due to increase risk of arteriosclerosis and multiple types of cancer, avoiding tobacco products have been found to increase life expectancy.

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Keeping Weight Down

Researchers encourage a healthy body weight, more specifically a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2.

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Obesity has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and multiple cancers, so a healthy diet is paramount.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Diets rich in vegetables, low sugar fruits, whole grains, fish and healthy fish oils have been found to decrease risk of diabetes, obesity, heart issues and various cancers.

Tips-to-Effectively-Follow-the-Mediterranean-Diet

Avoiding excess salt, sugar, and saturated fats are key.

Regular Exercise

30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity daily has been recommended by multiple medical associations.  I would encourage making sure one’s medical provider evaluates heart health before engaging in vigorous activity.  But walking, swimming, household chores, dancing, and many other activities fall under “moderate activity” that can be safe and provide multiple health benefits.

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“Moderate” Drinking

Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men.

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Image above from CDC

However, alcohol consumption has been controversial as many studies have linked to small amounts of alcohol to cancer.  Moreover the sugar levels in alcohol can contribute to diabetes and obesity.

 

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

Amy Schumer Hospitalized with Kidney Infection

The 36 year-old I Feel Pretty star was hospitalized for 5 days battling pyelonephritis.

As a result she’ll be missing the premiere of her new movie in London.

On Instagram, Schumer wrote:

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week. I was hospitalized for 5 days with a horrible kidney infection. I want to give a big thank you to the doctors, the bad ass nurses also my husband who’s name is, i want to say, Chris? and my sisters Kimby and mol who have been by my side the whole time. I wanted to share this with you because this is sexy as hell but mostly because I was meant to go to London for the opening of I Feel Pretty and my doctors have told me that’s a no go. I’m really disappointed selfishly to miss this trip because I love London and Europe in general and all the great people (food) there. But I need to put my health first. I am so grateful for all the support the movie is getting. I hope people check it out in England and everywhere else in the world. It’s sweet and fun and you will walk out feeling better. Which is something I hope to feel soon too.

 

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Amy Schumer is a cousin of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

What is pyelonephritis?

Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney. The infection may start in the bladder as a urinary tract infection and then travel up the ureter to the kidney.  An infection of the kidney may cause swelling, preventing it from performing its duties of slowing the buildup of wastes and fluids in the body.

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Signs of pyelonephritis include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Burning with urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Fever
  • Back/flank pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • and more

Those more prone to bladder infections and possibly pyelonephritis include people with:

  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Poor bathroom hygiene (wiping stool into the urethra/vaginal area
  • HIV
  • Transplants/immunocomprimised
  • Catheters
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • and others

Treatment of pyelonephritis may include oral antibiotics and fluids.  However some infections are so severe that we admit to the hospital for IV antibiotics and fluids.

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

Posted in Health, news

Smartphone, Street Lamp Blue Light May Increase Risk of Cancer

A study from the University of Exeter and Barcelona Institute for Global Health finds blue light exposure at night-time to increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

Blue light is emitted from artificial lighting, such as LED’s and smart devices, and has been linked in the past to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Why?  Scientists believe the blue wavelengths in the light disrupt our circadian rhythm, or our body’s biological clock, by suppressing the secretion of melatonin. Poor sleep, and unpredictable body cycles, can affect our metabolism, hence our weight, diabetes risk and cancer risk.

In this study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers reviewed data of more than 4000 patients, between the ages of 20 and 85, from 11 different geographical regions.  They found exposure to blue light at night doubled the risk of prostate cancer in men, and increased breast cancer risk in women by 1.5.

The Sun reports study author Dr. Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel is urging to reduce exposure to outside street lights and use orange wavelength light rather than blue.

“The take-home message is: Use warm orange lights where possible, and shutters and blinds to block street light.

“Also, our findings suggest reducing your night-time exposure to smartphones and tablets could help cut cancer risk.

How to minimize blue light exposure

Screen time should therefore be limited in the evenings.  Avoid computer/phone screens at least 2-3 hours before bed.

Although LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient, bedroom lighting may need to be swapped for softer bulbs.

If the weather permits, getting some night air and watching the stars may help stimulate one’s melatonin, allowing him/her to get sleepy.

Blue-blocking glasses may help limit exposure if night computer work cannot be avoided.

Additionally there are apps that allow a blue light filter on one’s phone screen.

 

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

Posted in Health, news

4 Year Old Recovering From “Secondary Drowning”

A 4-year-old girl from Sarasota, Florida is recovering from “secondary drowning” after “inhaling” pool water while playing around with a pool noodle in her grandmother’s pool.  Eliana, was blowing into one end, while another swimmer blew into the other end, forcing pool water to go into her throat.  She immediately threw up, but 2 days later, Eliana developed a fever.  The urgent care physician suspected aspiration pneumonia, or an infection of the lungs due to something being deeply inhaled, and recommended transfer to the emergency room.  The child subsequently was hospitalized, placed on immediate antibiotics and oxygen therapy.   According to FOX News, Eliana has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

Last year, another child was a victim of “secondary drowning”.  Unfortunately, he passed away.  Frankie, 4 years old, went swimming at Texas City Dike over Memorial Day Weekend and was fine until a few days later, his father, Francisco Delgado, Jr., said he appeared to be suffering from a minor, stomach ailment.  Then one morning the boy woke up with shoulder pain, and “Out of nowhere, he just woke up. He said ahhh.”  His father told KTRK, “He took his last breath and I didn’t know what to do no more.”

What is “Dry Drowning” and “Secondary Drowning”?

Dry Drowning occurs when water touches the first pass of the respiratory tree, one’s vocal cords, larynx.  When water touches this area a reflex is triggered, causing a spasm (laryngospasm) such that the vocal cords constrict and close up the airway.  It’s a defense mechanism designed to prevent water from falling into the lungs. However, laryngospasm causes immediate hypoxia, lack of oxygen, and if not reversed, the victim will die.  In dry drowning, water never officially reaches the lungs.

 

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IMAGE FROM SEER TRAINING

 

In Secondary Drowning, water gets inhaled and sits in the respiratory tree and if uncleared through coughing, will sit and prevent proper oxygenation.  Moreover the water will irritate the lung linings causing more fluid and inflammation, resulting in pulmonary edema.  This could occur hours to days after the water activity.

According to Florida Hospital Tampa pediatrician, Dr. James Orlowski, these events are very rare, comprising only 1-2% of drowning incidents.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms for both “Dry” and “Secondary Drowning” are similar in which the victim could have any of the following:

Cough

Chest Pain

Difficulty Breathing

Shoulder Pain

Neck Pain

Confusion

Irritability

Behavior Changes

Fatigue

Difficulty speaking

to name a few…

Prevention

Horse play in water should be avoided. This includes bathtubs, plastic pools, hot tubs, pools, lakes, ocean, etc.

Never swim alone.

Swim in areas staffed with lifeguards and/or appropriate supervision.

If water does get inhaled watch the child or adult to look for any of the above symptoms. If concerned seek medical help immediately.

 

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

Can Diet Soda CAUSE Diabetes?

Another study suggests artificial sweeteners can increase one’s susceptibility to getting diabetes.

Research led by Dr. Brian Hoffman from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University, looked at rats who were fed artificial sweeteners and found they had changes in their fat and energy metabolism such that fat levels increased and protein was instead broken down to provide much-needed fuel.  Diabetes occurs when people cannot break down and utilize sugar correctly (more discussed below).

This isn’t the first time artificial sweeteners have been linked to a glucose metabolism disorder.  In October 2016, researchers at Karolinska Institute found two diet drinks a day DOUBLES one’s risk of diabetes.

These studies are concerning as many people prone to high blood sugar opt for the “sugar-free” beverages, thinking they are protecting their health, when in fact they could be hurting it.

Why would artificial sweeteners have such an effect?  One theory is our mouths and hence minds think something very sugary is coming down the pike.  Artificial sweeteners can be anywhere from 150-500 times sweeter than actual sugar. So the pancreas and other organs may ready the body for this huge anticipated “sugar load”.  When no sugar actually comes down the gullet and into the intestine to be absorbed, the body may eventually take a “boy who cried wolf” stance and not mount appropriate responses later.  Diet soda has been associated with weight gain, maybe due to the body’s metabolism slowing down as a result it feels it is “starving” when real food is not coming down the gut.

Another theory suggests sweeteners may alter the gut microbiome which has been discovered to be instrumental in a variety of physiological processes, including metabolism.  Another suggestion has been that sweeteners may interfere with the pancreas doing its optimal job by enhancing resistance to its main hormone in glucose metabolism, insulin.

A review of diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t utilize and metabolize sugar properly.  When we consume food, its broken down into proteins, nutrients, fats, water, and sugar. These components are necessary for cell growth and function.  They get absorbed in the small intestine and make it to the blood stream.   In order for a cell to utilize sugar, it needs the hormone insulin to help guide it in.  It’s similar to a key that fits in the keyhole of the “door” of the cell, opening it up so sugar can enter.  Insulin is produced in the pancreas, an organ that receives signals when one eats to release insulin in preparation of the sugar load coming down the pike.

Diabetes explained

So I imagine our mouth like a waiting room, the blood stream like a hallway, and the cells of the body the rooms along the hallway.  Insulin is the key to open the cells’ “doors” allowing sugar to enter.  If the sugar does not get in, it stays in the bloodstream “hallway” and doesn’t feed the cell.  Weight loss occurs, and individuals may become more thirsty as the sugar in the blood makes it fairly osmotic, something the body wants to neutralize, reduce.  The kidneys are going to want dump the excess sugar, so to do so, one would urinate more, again causing thirst.  So when a diabetic loses weight, urinates more frequently and becomes thirsty, you now understand why.

Type I vs. Type II vs. Type IIIc Diabetes

Type I Diabetes, previously called insulin dependent or Juvenile diabetes, occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, possibly from the immune system destroying the cells that produce the hormone. When this occurs there is rapid weight loss and death could occur if the cells don’t get the sugar they need.  Insulin has to be administered regularly.

Type II Diabetes, previously called non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes,  occurs in those who began with a fully functioning pancreas but as they age the pancreas produces less insulin, called insulin deficiency, or the insulin produced meets resistance.  This is the fastest growing type of diabetes in both children and adults.

Type IIIc diabetes may occur in individuals who suffered damage to their pancreas.  Inflammation/infection of the pancreas (pancreatitis), a pancreatic tumor, or surgery affecting the pancreas may destroy the beta cells that produce insulin.

Complications of Diabetes

Cardiovascular disease – Sugar is sticky, so it can easily add to atherosclerotic plaques.

Blindness – high sugar content draws in water to neutralize and small blood vessels in the eye can only take so much fluid before they burst.  Moreover, high blood sugar weakens blood vessels.

Kidney disease – the kidneys work overtime to eliminate the excess sugar. Moreover, sugar laden blood isn’t the healthiest when they themselves need nourishment.

Infections – pathogens love sugar. Its food for them.  Moreover blood laden with sugar doesn’t allow immune cells to work in the most opportune environment.

Neuropathy – nerves don’t receive adequate blood supply due to the diabetes-damaged blood flow and vessels, hence they become dull or hypersensitive causing diabetics to have numbness or pain.

Dementia – as with the heart and other organs, the brain needs healthy blood and flow.  Diabetes has been found to increase risk of Alzheimer’s as well.

 

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance, if using our hallway and door analogy, is as if someone is pushing against the door the insulin is trying to unlock. As we know, those with obesity are at higher risk for diabetes, hence fat can increase insulin resistance.  It’s also been associated with an increase in heart disease.

Blood sugar numbers

If your fasting blood sugar (glucose) is greater than 126 mg/dl, or your non fasting blood sugar is greater than 200 mg/dl, you may be considered diabetic.  Pre-diabetes occurs when the fasting blood sugar is between 100 and 125 mg/dl.  If ignored, and the sugar rises, pre-diabetics may go on to develop diabetes.

 

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SOURCE DIABETESMEALPLANS.COM

Preventing/Controlling Diabetes

1/3 of American adults are currently pre-diabetic.  Experts predict 1/3 of US Adults will be diabetic by the year 2050.  Although genetics plays a big role, decreasing ones sugar intake and maintaining an active lifestyle can help ward of diabetes.

Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates increase one’s risk, so a diet rich in vegetables and lean meats is preferred.

 

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

Verne Troyer, “Mini-Me”, Dies at Age 49

The 49-year-old iconic actor, known as “Mini-Me” in the Austin Power movies, has died at the age of 49.

Its been reported that he battled depression and alcoholism for years and was recently  admitted to a Los Angeles Hospital when he attempted suicide.

No immediate cause of death has been released but his Instagram page had the following message posted:

 

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The 2 foot 8 inch actor was a hit in multiple films and originally was working in the film industry as a stunt double.  Troyer had achondroplasia, in which cartilage cannot form into large bones resulting in dwarfism.  CNN reports his specific achondroplasia was cartilage-hair hypoplasia, which results in one having little to no hair.

A study in 2015 by Rodriguez-Gomez et al, when studying the medical and psychosocial conditions accompanying achondroplasia, found “31.8% of the sample reported at least one comorbid condition such as, hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, scoliosis, thyroid problems, neuropathy, psoriasis, gastritis and/or sleep apnea; 32% reported mild to severe depressive symptoms; 55% reported mild to severe symptoms associated to anxiety and 18% reported mild to severe symptoms associated with hopelessness.”

Last month Troyer had publically announced he was returning to rehab to fight his battle with alcohol.

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

Posted in Health, news

“White Coat Hypertension” Should Not Be Ignored

Years ago I explained how a spike in blood pressure at the sight of a doctor’s “white coat” could be sign of poorly controlled blood pressure, putting one at risk of stroke, retinopathy, heart disease and kidney damage, but the medical consensus, at the time, felt it was “benign.”  My argument was if a white coat makes one’s blood pressure spike, so could a G-string, bank hold up, or call from a mother-in-law, suggesting one’s blood pressure may be spiking throughout the day. Catching this spike during a routine doctor’s visit could be lifesaving. Now a study agrees that “White Coat Hypertension”, which affects at least 30% of Americans, could signify significant disease.

“White Coat Hypertension” is believed to be a temporary spike in which blood pressure will rise either systolically (the pumping pressure) or diastolically (the filling pressure) or both.  Damage to brain tissue, heart, eyes, kidneys and other organs can occur during these spikes.

Study author, Dr. Raymond Townsend, director of the hypertension program at Penn Medicine, states, “We encourage our patients to do blood pressure readings at home. That is a good way to not only monitor blood pressure where you actually “live”, but it also provides a lot of insight for patients to understand how life’s little indiscretions, like take-out Chinese with extra soy sauce, can truly affect your blood pressure the next day,” reported in a piece by NBC News.

24 hour monitoring can be done at home or at work where one monitors their blood pressure throughout the day and night, allowing the medical provider to identify spikes that may be missed during a 15 minute office visit.

New Blood Pressure Guidelines Introduced Last Fall

High blood pressure has now been redefined as being greater than 130/80 mmHg, down from 140/90 mmHg.  This will mean close to 103 million more Americans will fall under the “hypertensive” category.

Multiple agencies, including the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, redefined the guidelines, in practice for the last 14 years, to lower the threshold for high blood pressure from 140/90 to 130/80.

Under the old guidelines, 1/3 of US Americans were considered to have high blood pressure.  Now 42% of Americans will be “hypertensive”.

In lowering the guidelines, task force members hope to reduce complications associated with high blood pressure and start treatment earlier in those who have not been treated.

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What do the blood pressure numbers mean?

The top number, or systolic pressure, is the pressure the heart exudes during a beat or pumping of the blood.

Diastolic pressure is the pressure in your arteries between beats while the heart is “filling”.

Both numbers are equally important as elevation of either can increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

What can long term high blood pressure do?

Chronic high blood pressure can be dangerous.  It may cause:

Heart attacks

Heart failure

Stroke

Kidney disease

Dementia

Eye damage – vision loss

Erectile dysfunction…to name a few.

How do we treat high blood pressure?

The stages of blood pressure are defined in the chart above.  At the elevated or early stages of high blood pressure the following lifestyle changes will be recommended:

Weight loss

Low salt diet

Low fat diet

Good sleep habits

Regular exercise

Avoiding tobacco products

Limiting alcohol consumption

As a family physician I would also screen for diabetes, high cholesterol, low thyroid, kidney disease and sleep apnea.

If blood pressure cannot be controlled and continues to rise, medications may be prescribed to decrease blood volume, or lower the heart rate, or relax the blood vessels.

 

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