Tis the season!! Unfortunately not for our hearts.  A study back in 2004 found a 5% increase in heart attacks during the Christmas season.  Then this month, a study published in the British Medical Journal found Christmas Eve to be especially risky for those who are prone to heart disease.  Let’s dissect why….

Baby it's cold outside ...

The cold has long been associated with heart stress.  Cold weather causes blood vessel constriction and this adds extra work for the heart. Moreover, it causes less oxygen to reach vital organs, including the heart.

Snow shoveling has been infamous for inciting heart attacks for this same reason.  The heart demands extra blood due to the increase in activity and the cold restricts blood flow.

Let’s toast ...

Alcohol, especially in excessive amounts, can put stress on the heart by increasing blood pressure, worsening diabetes, and causing abnormal heart rhythms.    Moreover, it interferes with the metabolisms of medications, hence many of these may not work at their best.   Which brings us to…..

Is there a doctor in the house?

Medical providers take vacation too.  And if a patient forgets to refill his medication he may go without during the two weeks of holiday season.  Moreover many forget to pack everything they need for a Holiday trip and without anticipating delays, one could be without crucial medication dosing.  The heart does not like this.

Stress …

Holiday travel is never easy.  Delays, long lines, the cold, traffic and then…..family.  We may love our family but prefer seeing them in small doses.  All the family at once can be a little overwhelming for some.  As for coping with the in-laws…..well a guide is available for you all here.

Preventing Heart Disease …

Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Personal history of heart disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Males over 40
  • Females who are postmenopausal
  • High stress
  • and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.

As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease.  Therefore secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.

Thirdly, reduce your risk by the following:

  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Maintain normal blood sugar
  • Maintain normal cholesterol and lipid levels
  • Reduce stress
  • Maintain a balanced diet, rich in potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay active
  • Maintain a healthy weight

So how to prevent to the “Christmas Coronary?”

Plan ahead by doing the following:

  • If you are running low on your prescriptions contact your medical provider early on.
  • Pack prescriptions in two different bottles, so you can take some medication on your carry on in case the flight gets delayed or a suitcase gets lost.
  • Avoid getting sick, by getting your flu shot, washing your hands, avoiding sick contacts.
  • For tips on how to avoid getting sick on a plane visit here.

Holiday time should be a happy time. Let’s make it a healthy one!!!

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in Health
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The holidays offer us a second chance

Most of us have been swept up in the momentum of the holiday season. We have passed Thanksgiving, reached the Christmas milestone and are approaching New Year’s Day, the third in the trilogy of holidays.

Sure, there is a lot of our attention on holiday shopping, football, and social events. But it is also a time to reflect of what the three holidays can mean to all of us. A second chance, and maybe even a new beginning.

On Thanksgiving Day, we recognized and celebrated the new start of the Pilgrims who made the two-month journey from England to America back in 1620. They too wanted a second chance.  They were searching for a better life with the freedom to live and worship in their own way, free from the intolerance they faced under King James I and the Church of England. Their leaders created the Mayflower Compact, which established a new set of laws so that they could be treated equally and fairly as part of their new way of life. A rebirth.  A new beginning for all of them.

The second link in the trilogy, and to Christians the most important, is the Christmas season. The Bible teaches that Christ died on the cross to give believers a second chance.

There is one book that I try to read over the holidays every year — “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. In the early 1960s, I had a golden opportunity to study English Literature at Cambridge University in England, where the writings of Dickens were my focus.

Dickens was a major literary personality in his day, and newspapers serialized many of his stories.  He initially published under the pen name of “Boz,” and he used this pseudonym for many of his early novels.  He entertained his wide London audience with humor in books like, “The Pickwick Papers” and “The Life and Times of Nicholas Nickleby.”  Dickens pulled at the heartstrings of his readers with the drama of “Oliver Twist” and “A Tale of Two Cities.”  But as the Christmas season approached in 1843, Dickens began using his own name, and took on the role of a crusader with the publication of “A Christmas Carol.”

Most of us have seen this poignant Christmas story filled with an array of colorful characters like Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. But the real lessons of the spirit that emanate from this special time of year come, not from miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, but from his dead partner, Jacob Marley. While alive, Marley failed to help others, and in death he is damned to the agony of recognizing the pain and suffering of others, and being unable to help in anyway, and this is his special hell.

My attorney friend, Eric Duplantis, who practices law and writes in the small town of Franklin, Louisiana, puts it this way: “In life, Marley’s worst sin was not his venality, but his indifference.  After death he realizes this. But it’s too late. Death gave him compassion, but his sentence for a lifetime of indifference is an inability to act on the compassion he feels.”

Marley is given a single opportunity to do a good act, after which he must return to his Hell.  The ghost gives Scrooge the greatest gift of all. Marley gives Scrooge the chance of redemption. The message here from Dickens is that even someone as lost as Ebenezer Scrooge can be saved if he seizes this one-time gift of a second chance.

Here’s hoping that the coming year brings you the opportunity of a second chance if you feel you need one. We all generally do. But whether you do or you don’t, may you and your family have a blessed and healthy holiday season and a very happy New Year. As Tiny Tim said in “The Christmas Carol,” God bless us every one.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

 

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Jim Brown is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. His column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.

Published in Opinion

So, apparently package theft is even MORE of a problem than I expected. I mean, I know it happens. It’s never happened to me yet, thankfully. But I only order online a couple times a year. It sounds like, for those that order online a lot, you can expect that your packages will just - occasionally, vanish.

According to a 2017 holiday survey by Shorr.com (a packaging company) of more than 1,000 people, if you receive 1-2 packages a month - almost 40% of responders said they had things stolen off their porch. As Mark Rober explains in the video, the police don’t really have the resources to look into a package theft so such crimes largely go unsolved, and in most cases, unreported. Because if it’s happened to you before, and you’ve called the police and they say, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do,” then you will probably not even bother reporting it if it happens to you again.

Well, crazy madman genius NASA engineer Mark Rober has something to say about this. In fact, he has a fart-bomb-glitter-spewing-over-engineered-fake-package-masterpiece to say about this. I’ll let the video speak for itself (it’s the same one on our front page).  

My first thought, because I’m a cynic is - “Yeah, this is fun - but are the “thieves” in the video just actor friends of Mark’s?” After some minor Google sleuthing it turns out the answer is - probably not.

It doesn’t matter which source you look into, it sounds as if about one third of Americans report package theft. In the US alone, it appears as if both UPS and FedEx deliver approx. 7 million packages a day and the Post Office handles approx. 1.5 million packages a day (not counting mail). That sum adds up to billions of packages a year.  In the US alone! And about one third of Americans report package theft of some kind.

That, my friend, is big package business for thieves. So, I do believe that Mark built his package glitter bomb and when it came time to test it out, sadly, it just wasn’t hard to find actual thieves to came up and steal his fake box. His video does not say one way or another if these people were caught and / or the information used from Mark’s fake package will be used to prosecute the thieves. So if you are looking for some justice, well - we can only hope.

So, who is this guy making said video? Well, Mark Rober is a former NASA engineer who has become an internet sensation because of this (and many other videos). His YouTube channel can be found here. His, attached video, Glitter Bomb vs. Package Thieves has garnered the most attention with more than 25 million views and counting.

Mark’s video certainly will not end package theft but it’s a nice reminder, as many have said, that “Not all superheroes wear capes.” The video is as great as you’d expect it to be.

Finally, here are five things you can do to help keep your package safe:

  1. Install security cameras. If you can afford it, a camera is the best tool you can get to assist in catching the actual thief. Of course, cameras can be expensive. If cameras are not in the budget ...
  2. Require a signature for all packages.
  3. Have the package delivered to you at work, where there are usually tons of people to help get it to you.
  4. If you are out of town - make sure you have a mail hold.
  5. Ask a trusted neighbor to look out for the package and take it inside their home for safekeeping until they can get it to you upon your return from … wherever.
Published in Entertainment

Labor Day is a holiday that appeals to a majority of Americans. Most Americans work for a living, and most laborers get Labor Day off from work. The recent holiday made me think of which holidays are recognized and celebrated by the most Americans.

Independence Day is likely the holiday celebrated by the most Americans. Each American recognizes and celebrates the Fourth of July in their own way, even if fireworks aren’t available. Memorial Day is also recognized and celebrated by many Americans because most Americans know someone who’s served in the military, and again, many people get the day off.

Upon a recent visit to the dollar store, though, I was excited to see Thanksgiving decorations being put on display. While Halloween is still nearly two months away, I feel Thanksgiving, like Independence Day, is one of those holidays that’s most recognized and celebrated due to its mass appeal -- something Christmas and Easter can’t offer.

Thanksgiving doesn’t get the respect Christmas and Easter get, but you too can make your family members rethink the relative importance of the holiday. While Christmas and Easter only appeal to Christians, Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, regardless of religious preference. Even atheists can enjoy Thanksgiving, and I think it’s more important to recognize how thankful we are for the sacrifices of the locals who made America possible than to recognize the birth, murder and rebirth of a man perceived to be the son of God.

As an atheist, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter. While the holidays are unavoidably happening around me, I don’t allow myself (or sometimes anyone else) enjoy them. Don’t get me wrong, I give Christmas presents to my immediate family and closest friends, but I give my family and friends gifts regardless of season or reason. There need not be an occasion to give, and as a socialist, I believe that wholeheartedly.

Thanksgiving is a celebration of socialism. It’s the celebration of a bunch of helpless, lost explorers being saved by locals willing to share. Since Thanksgiving is a socialist holiday, every attendee of my Thanksgiving Extravaganza (A.T.E. for Anthony’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza) is encouraged to bring something -- anything -- to share. Whether you have something old you don’t need that someone else might, or a book you’ve read that you think someone would find helpful or entertaining, you can share it with someone at A.T.E. who needs it more than you. You can also bring food for the traditional Thanksgiving meal, of course.

It’s not just the sharing that I love about Thanksgiving. It’s the days spent cooking. I find cooking and baking very rewarding. Your time in the kitchen is an opportunity to be artistic and improvisational. You try new things and learn a trade that will come in handy the rest of your life. It’s even therapeutic. I spend most of my days off from work in the kitchen, and with football on in the background all day, I can spend 12 hours in a kitchen on Thanksgiving and hardly notice.

Losing football on Thanksgiving would be as detrimental to the holiday as losing Easter eggs on Easter or Christmas trees on Christmas. I’ve never experienced a Thanksgiving without football and never want to. Football will be forever linked with my celebration of Thanksgiving because during A.T.E.’s Thanksgiving Tailgate, the kids open Thanksgiving stockings stuffed with stocking stuffers. The stockings are football socks filled with candy and small gifts.

We do Thanksgiving baskets at A.T.E., too. They’re like Easter baskets but, again, themed Thanksgiving. You might find an Easter biscuit shaped like a turkey or a plastic Easter egg filled with coupons for services to be rendered. There is no exchange of cash at A.T.E., but there is a gift exchange. Each attendee is asked to bring a gift or gifts valued at no more than $16.21 (the year of the first Thanksgiving) to be given to the person or persons in attendance for whom they’re most thankful.

There is no Black Friday shopping that occurs at my celebration of Thanksgiving, either. The only money spent during A.T.E. goes to the locals who saved white lives only to be forced from their homes in return. A.T.E. concludes with a journey to the nearest Indian casino, so attendees can show how thankful they are for the locals saving their ancestors’ lives by losing some of what their ancestors stole back to the locals.

Here’s my itinerary for A.T.E. You can use it as a model for your own Thanksgiving celebration. Next year, I hope to have a fireworks display to make my Thanksgiving rival any American holiday.

Inaugural A.T.E. Itinerary

November 23, 2017

9:30 AM to 11 AM: Thanksgiving Tailgate/Thanksgiving Stockings and Baskets

A traditional football tailgate with a traditional tailgate breakfast -- burgers, brats, beers and a Bloody Mary bar. This will also be when we open Thanksgiving stockings and Thanksgiving baskets.

11 AM to 3 PM: Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

We’ll watch the Vikings destroy the Lions on the big screen.

3 PM to 6 PM: Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys

We’ll watch the Cowboys destroy the Chargers, which shouldn’t take long.

6 PM to 7 PM: Thanksgiving Dinner

Your typical Thanksgiving dinner, with vegetarian options as well, and enough pumpkin pie to feed us for weeks.

7 PM to 7:30 PM: Thanksgiving Gift Exchange

We’ll give our gifts to those for whom we’re most thankful.

7:30 PM to 9:30 PM: New York Giants @ Washington Racial Slurs

We’ll watch the Giants destroy the Racial Slurs while rooting for the Racial Slurs, because it’s Thanksgiving. This will also be the time designated for tryptophan naps and games.

9:30 PM - ???: Voyage to the Native(’s) Land

We’ll go to the casino, where we have rooms reserved. If you’d like to reserve a room for yourself and your party, you can do so by letting your host know.

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If you like this you might like these GCN Live radio talk shows: Free Talk Live, The Debbie Nigro Show, The Karel Show

Published in News & Information