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 last year, 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….
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.
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 metabolism of medications, hence many of these may not work at their best. Which brings us to…..
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.
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.
Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:
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:
Plan ahead by doing the following:
Holiday time should be a happy time. Let’s make it a healthy one!!!
This week the CDC reports a 5th pediatric flu death as we face a season, many have predicted, to be “severe.”
And in previous years, once healthy children and young adults fell victim to severe circulating flu strains prompting parents this year to fear the worse when it comes to theirs or their child’s flu symptoms.
Who can blame them. Flu symptoms can last up to 2 weeks, and most patients are told to go home and rest as antibiotics do not help fight the flu and symptoms will usually “resolve on their own.” This is true, but then why are some people..healthy people…dying?
To understand why people are often misdiagnosed for flu-related illness when something even more serious is occurring, let’s first list the common symptoms of the flu.
As opposed to a cold, in which symptoms are less severe and come on more slowly, the flu seems to hit you within hours. The fatigue may be the first symptom, followed by body aches, scratchy throat, cough, runny nose and fever. The fever could range anywhere from 100 – 106 F. The fever usually lasts 2 days and the majority of those affected by the flu will average symptoms from 3-5 days.
There are multiple ways to die from the flu. The most common cause is pneumonia. A secondary viral or bacterial infection can affect the already weakened lungs. Pneumonia can be deadly, especially if untreated. Symptoms of pneumonia are very similar to the flu: shortness of breath, cough, fever, fatigue, body aches, etc.
Respiratory failure from inflammation can be fatal as well. The flu virus affects the respiratory tree causing acute inflammation and distress of the tissues whose job is to bring oxygen to the blood. Additionally, other organs including the heart may become inflamed, impeding their duties.
Flu can increase one’s risk of heart attack and stroke. A study in 2007 found coming down with the flu doubled one’s risk of heart attack and stroke.
Moreover, having the flu could worsen any disease states already being battled. Hence a diabetic, if suffering from the flu, may struggle to control his blood sugar numbers.
Rarely, some may go into multi-organ failure as a result of septic shock initiated by the flu. This is what killed 21-year-old bodybuilder Kyler Baughman.
But one risk that doesn’t get discussed as much as it should is coming down with an illness during flu season and being mis-diagnosed, a “guilty by association” picture.
Four days before her death, 12-year-old Alyssa Alcaraz was sent home by an urgent care with a flu diagnosis when in fact she had a strep infection in her blood that put her into septic shock.
How will I know when the flu is turning deadly?
Since symptoms of the flu start to resolve in a couple of days, any symptoms beyond those few days should spark suspicions. These can include:
Understanding what the flu virus can affect and not underestimating its severity is paramount in preventing flu fatalities. If symptoms start improving after 2 days it’s a great sign!! However, any symptoms that either do not resolve, lag on for days, evolve into something worse, or recur are red flags that something more than the flu could be going on.
Most importantly, if one has not been vaccinated yet against the flu, they should still consider getting the flu vaccine.
Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to encourage generosity and altruism. The holidays are an ideal time to share our blessings and fortunes with others who may be less fortunate. Many charities find this time the busiest of the year and funds are needed to help the great work they do, hence #GivingTuesday couldn’t come at a more opportune time. Donations of any size can be life saving.
However, some of us may be on very tight budgets and unable to donate money. No worries …. Giving Tuesday is not just about monetary donations. There are TONS of meaningful ways one can give to help others.
The winter season is a challenging time for many of our blood banks and every 3 seconds, someone needs blood. When one donates a pint of blood it can help save up to 3 lives. And it doesn’t cost a cent.
The American Red Cross is accepting blood donations. Local blood drives can be found at redcross.org.
Vitalant has locations throughout the country that can accept your blood donation as well. Contact Vitalant here.
Collecting non perishable food items from your pantry, neighbors or coworkers can be done quickly, easily and when taken to a shelter or organization can feed hungry and malnourished people in your community.
How many of us have saved our clothes from high school hoping we’ll fit into them again? Well we won't ...so why hold on to a lost dream. Tons of clothes in your closet can clothe those in need of the community…and an extra benefit is now you’ll create extra space in your closet.
Many shelters and charities need all hands on deck during this time of year. Churches and temples organize community events as well and could use the extra manpower. Donating your time is worth hundreds of dollars for charities who sometimes need to hire people to help them accomplish the great work they do.
This is easy and fun where the neighborhood comes together to donate items they wish to sell, and all the money raised goes to a charity of choice.
Some families could use a service or product that your company provides. Offering a family in need of some surplus or an hour of your time could go a long way.
The fastest growing addiction in the US is online shopping. Ads pop up on our social media, news feeds and email. Boxes pile up in your closet of unopened packages. And then one day you notice you purchased the same item twice! Are you addicted to online shopping or any shopping for that matter? Let’s break down this latest epidemic.
A “Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD)” was first described in the early 20th century as a compulsive disorder that left the patient with debt. Later in the century its classification was debated and eventually included with the personality disorders.
Compulsive buying is known as “oniomania” where one buys impulsively and excessively to the point that it leaves them in financial hardship. And despite their financial issues they continue to make purchases. We’ve used the term “shopaholics” to describe those addicted to shopping but compulsive buying connotes the lack sense of financial ruin that can ensue. The spending is an attempt to satisfy a need that never gets fulfilled.
Compulsive buying disorder may be seen in those who suffer from mania and bipolar disorder. During manic episodes excessive spending may occur. Additionally we may see CBD co-morbidly in those who suffer from eating, gambling, substance use, and mood disorders.
Compulsive online shopping occurs when purchases are made online, without much thought or planning, and at a frequency where it may interfere with one’s life. People who might have never become a compulsive shopper in a traditional store may become easily addicted to online shopping. Those who are compulsive online shoppers may exhibit any of the following:
So compulsive online shopping, as well as compulsive buying disorder, can affect relationships, employment, finances and health.
Various sources have put the range at 5-8% of the US population.
When one is able to shop from the comfort of one’s desk or work station, the “ease” factor drives more shopping. Avoiding the need to leave work or home to battle traffic and weather and long lines, is one of the biggest draws. Moreover, those who hate going into a store or dressing room, concerned others will see the sizes of clothes they are trying on, can now shop in the privacy in their own home. Additionally shopping allows one to fight the boredom they have at work or home and give one a sense of accomplishment. And once one has a successful and satisfying purchase, the reward centers of the brain are activated making one want to shop more.
Hence, shrewd marketing will appeal to the human psyche by any of the following:
Don’t give in to the ads. People must realize they are being bombarded with some of the most creative marketing manipulation known to mankind. We can’t fall for it. Why are we letting our smart devices dictate to us what we need in our closets, pantries or garages?
But to fight the urge to shop online excessively, we must:
If needed, compulsive shopping can be treated with therapy as well as medications including SSRI’s, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are efficacious in those with impulsive personalities or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Multiple states have mobilized their #LocktheClock forces to put an end to biannual time changes. Last year California passed Proposition 7, making Daylight Saving Time year-round and permanent. Other states who have proposed legislation include the following:
Some states had put forth legislation to be on Atlantic Standard Time, a time zone one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time that essentially puts them on year-round Daylight Saving Time. These include Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Multiple health risks have been cited in scientific literature during the “Spring Forward” and are cited below, including car accidents, heart attacks and workplace injuries.
Dr. Paul Kalekas, an Internal Medicine and Attending Physician at Valley Hospital Medical Center who has practiced in Nevada for years, states, “It’s time this gets done.”
Nevada’s original bill failed to pass in Congress a few years back so he and other physicians are working to resubmit legislation.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to make daylight savings time the new, permanent standard time. States with areas exempt from daylight savings time may choose the standard time for those areas.
However, critics worry that states choosing their own time may disrupt the time zone uniformity.
So how did we end up here in the first place?
This ritual began in ancient civilizations, when daily schedules would be adjusted to the change in daylight. Later Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay for Parisians entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” in 1784 explaining how less candles could be used if people woke up earlier, making more use of natures early light.
Two new cases of “smartphone blindness” has been described in the last month. One case was a gentleman in China who was playing games on his phone at night and suffered a retinal artery occlusion or “eye stroke.” Another case was a woman in China, who was also playing on her phone at night but she sustained a bleed in her left eye. Just as those who suffer from cerebral strokes, a “lack of blood flow” to the retina, or layer of the eye that helps create visual images, can be caused by a clot or hemorrhage. Apparently these can be induced with excessive focusing and eye strain. This may result in temporary or permanent blindness.
Some people are being evaluated for stroke or transient ischemic attacks when they come to the ER complaining of recurrent “temporary blindness” after checking their smartphone in the dark. This phenomenon, known as ‘smartphone blindness’, has been experienced by many of us when we have the sensation of dimmed vision or poor visual acuity, feeling punished for peeking at our email when we should be sleeping.
In 2016, doctors reviewed the cases of two women who experienced episodes of “temporary blindness”; as the ladies put their cell phones down, one eye could not see the cell phone for 15 minutes. Their vision restored after this length of time.Doctors investigated the cases thoroughly with a variety of medical tests including MRI’s and couldn’t find the cause.
Finally they conclude these transient episodes of “vision loss” were harmless, in that one eye was being used to look at the phone and the other eye needed time to “catch up”. When the women, as many of us do, check our phones, one eye is snugly closed and resting on a pillow while the other is available to look at the phone. When the ladies would turn over, the closed eye didn’t have a chance to catch up to the increased brightness of the phone screen, hence having a dimmed view.
If one uses both eyes to look at the screen, this phenomenon does not happen.
Studies surfaced a few years ago where great lengths of smartphone use can cause retinal detachment. In these cases the layer of the retina which focuses images, detaches from the back of the eye, causing serious vision loss. Though there are treatments, if not treated early can cause permanent blindness in the affected eye since the retina loses its blood and oxygen supply when detached. A woman from China had been using her smartphone for 2-3 hours in the dark each night when this occurs.
Smartphones have also been linked to myopia, nearsightedness and sleeping disorders as the blue light emitted from the screen can disrupt melatonin production.
A recent study found that 30% of adults spend more than 9 hours a day using their smartphone. Physicians recommend avoiding extended use, adjust settings to black text on white background, and with this recent case study, use both eyes to look at the screen when using the phone at night.
Increasing the size of the font helps your eyes since they don’t need to strain as much to read. Try to look at your smartphone with a distance of 1 1/2 feet. Blinking often helps rest the eyes as well and keeps them lubricated and moist.
Additionally, avoid using the phone in the dark, but in a lit room.
Finally its good to use the 20,20,20 rule. After every 20 minutes of use, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This may help avoid eye strain from excessive smartphone use.
Some of you are trying to get a head start before the family makes you come up with a New Year’s resolution to quit vaping and smoking. So you’ve cut back on tobacco and nicotine and have decided to quit. Awesome! Within the first half hour of quitting, studies have found your blood pressure and heart rate improve, so your health starts to improve immediately!
So, way to go!!!! But now what? It’s not that easy. You’ve got cravings.
Not being able to manage these cravings can put you at risk of relapsing back into nicotine dependence.
Withdrawal from nicotine can manifest in any of the following:
Firstly don’t be afraid to get help if you need to. Nicotine is a powerful, addictive drug and retraining your body to not ask for it is a challenging process. Smokefree.gov offers multiple resources to help one quit smoking/vaping.
Your medical provider can offer you nicotine replacement therapy to help you wean slowly, or medications such as (brand names) Chantix and Wellbutrin that can help you with your cravings as you cut back or quit.
Therapy and counselling can also be very beneficial while you are weaning off nicotine.
But some of you will want to quit cold turkey. How do you manage the cravings then?
So we break this down into biological and psychological factors.
Biologically, we can hit this a few ways. One, is the food choices you make can help with your cravings.
Vegetables like celery and carrots are great quick-to-grab veggies when you’re in a bind. Citrus fruits like oranges work well. Bananas with their vitamin B and potassium melt in your mouth and don’t leave room for a cigarette. Potatoes have potassium and when not loaded up with butter and cheese are….well… not as yummy.
Peppermint is good at curbing cravings, so when you’re walking out of a restaurant don’t forget to grab some of those free candies sitting there. Ginseng and ginger help with cravings as well, and don’t forget fiber. Stuffing your mouth with oats, bran and fibrous foods keep you so busy trying to pick them out of your teeth that you are too exhausted to smoke. Top all of this with lots and lots of water, and you’ll find yourself off the nicotine in no time.
Let’s celebrate. Some one grab me a beer….no wait! No alcohol! Alcohol fuels your cravings as does meat and caffeine. Sorry, I never said it would be easy.
Exercise also helps because it will help you keep busy, increase your endorphins and works on the weight gain that might accompany smoking cessation. Take a nice stroll every time you feel the need to grab a cigarette.
Which transitions nicely into psychological ways to quit.
Distraction is huge. As the cravings come on, distract yourself by exercise, reading, dancing, or writing about your journey towards a smoke-free life to help others.
Have index cards written out with reasons to quit.
Have a disgusting picture of tobacco-destroyed lung in the kitchen or wherever you get the urge to smoke.
And get your friends and coworkers on board to help. If they vape/smoke in front of you, it will make it that much harder. Have a friend, family member designated as your support guide who texts you encouraging messages throughout the day as you try to quit. Remind them that the content cannot include chores or reminders to pick things up on the way home. There……if these tricks don’t help you quit vaping/smoking, at least you can use them to get out of chores…..
A form of diabetes, having features that overlap with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, has been given the name, Type 1.5 Diabetes. Researchers suggest that Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), may comprise 10% of the diabetic population, and require insulin treatment be instituted earlier than in those previously diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, because they may have an autoimmune etiology (seen in Type 1 diabetics)…… hence a Diabetes Type 1.5.
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.
So Type 1.5 Diabetes may develop after childhood, as a working pancreas may, during adulthood, become damaged by the body’s immune system or, suggested by some, a virus. Those with Type 1.5 diabetes therefore may not be obese, may have had difficulty managing their blood sugar by diet and exercise alone, and may need assistance with insulin supplementation. If medical providers don’t recognize this early, and appropriate treatment is delayed, a patient may suffer multiple health issues and risks the longer their blood glucose levels are uncontrolled.
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 bloodstream. 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.
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 to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information, visit http://www.diabetes.org/.
The FDA has disclosed a new E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak, that has supposedly ended.
23 people from 12 states have become ill due to this recent outbreak of E. coli.
No deaths have been reported.
The Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 sickened 23 people and hospitalized 11 between the dates July 12 and September 8th, with cases occurring in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, with the majority of cases in California.
The FDA emphasizes that they believe the outbreak is over. However many wonder why they this wasn’t disclosed earlier.
The CDC did appear to begin its investigation earlier this Fall, and forward their concerns to the FDA, but jointly the disclosure didn’t come until now.
Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can occur anywhere from 1-10 days after ingestion.
And if progresses, can cause
Exposure to E. coli may occur from exposure to contaminated foods (from human or animal waste) or undercooked meats.
The CDC reported this week that teen suicide rose 58% over the years 2007-2017 in the age group 10-24. Although many experts blame social media and teen drug use, one theory may need to be considered: nicotine withdrawal from vaping.
Millions of middle school and high school students admit to vaping…and many more are assumed who don’t admit to it when surveyed. So we have an underestimation of how many adolescents take regular hits of their electronic cigarette, exposing them to the powerful, addictive nicotine. One pod, placed in an electronic cigarette to be vaped, contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Hence if a pod is smoked at school, and when the child is home goes hours without, they may “come down” off the nicotine high that they had hours earlier.
In 2002 Picciotto et al discussed how nicotine can affect mood swings, anxiety and depression, where in some cases it can act as an antidepressant but when one withdrawals from it can have increased and anxiety and depression.
The teenage mind and psyche is still developing during this time and a chemical dependency could muddy the mental health waters.
There’s no doubt social media and the misconception teens have that their lives are not as glorious as those who they view online is contributing to lack of confidence, poor self-esteem and depression. But the decision to commit suicide may also be chemically induced, or a withdrawal of one and should be investigated.
A study from New York University found the nicotine in electronic cigarettes to cause DNA damage similar to cigarette smoking.
Dr. Moon-shong Tang and his colleagues exposed mice to e-cig smoke during a three-month period, 5 days a week for three hours a day. They found these mice, compared to those breathing filtered air, to have DNA damage to cells in their bladders, lungs and hearts. The amount of nicotine inhaled was approximately 10mg/ml. That dose would be commonly consumed by many humans who vape.
They then looked at human bladder and lung cells and found tumor cells were able to grow more easily once exposed to nicotine and vaping chemicals.
Last May, researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville found e-cig smoke to increase one’s risk of bladder cancer.
In 2015, the University of Minnesota identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:
Although electronic cigarette “juice” may appear safe, it could produce harmful chemicals once heated to become a vapor.
A lethal dose of nicotine for an adult ranges from 30-60 mg and varied for children (0.5-1.0 mg/kg can be a lethal dosage for adults, and 0.1 mg/kg for children). E-cigs, depending on their strengths (0 – 5.4%) could contain up to 54 mg of nicotine per cartridge (a 1.8% e -cig would contain 18mg/ml).
The topic of nicotine increasing one’s vulnerability to cancer is nothing new as decades ago researchers found nicotine to affect the cilia (brush border) along the respiratory tree, preventing mucus production and a sweeping out of carcinogens trying to make their way down to the lungs.
More research needs to be performed but this recent report reminds us that exposing our delicate lung tissue and immune system to vaping chemicals may not be as safe as we think.
For more on the study read here.
Last week, experts warned that many chemicals in vaping liquid may change to toxic substances (once heated) that can irritate the lungs.
Last year one study reported that toxic levels of lead and other metals may leak from the heating coil element into the vapor inhaled during e-cig use.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found these metals to include:
We’ve known for some time that vaping fluid could contain chemicals that turn toxic once heated, but this study shed light on e-cig metal components causing metal leakage to the vapor making contact with delicate respiratory epithelium (lining).
Reported by Forbes, Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, stated the following, “the FDA does not currently test any of the most popular vaping and e-cigarette instruments being manufactured at unregulated factories in Asia that source low-grade parts, batteries, and materials for the production of these devices,” suggesting that “the metal and parts composition of these devices must be stringently tested for toxic analytes and corrosive compounds.”
These chemicals may act as neurotoxins, affecting our nervous system, cause tissue necrosis (cell death) and even multi-organ failure. Moreover, they can affect how our immune system reacts to other chemicals as well as foreign pathogens, affecting our ability to fight other diseases.
Although studies have suggested e-cig vapor to be safer than tobacco smoke, not enough research has been done, in the relatively few years vaping has been around, looking at how heat-transformed chemicals and leaked metals affect our breathing, lungs and other organs once absorbed into the body.