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Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

You May Be At Risk for a Stroke or Heart Attack

Blood pressure, cholesterol level among key factors

Study clarifies four top  risks for heart attack, strokes. Having just one risk factor such as high cholesterol or smoking–can significantly increase the odds of suffering a stroke or heart attack in your lifetime according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research tracked more than 250,000 participants from 18 different studies over a period of 50 years. It is the first study to look at the risks for white and black men and women across the generations. Previously clinicians would calculate a patient’s risk by projecting into the next decade. Now, with such a broad data pool, doctors can predict the likelihood of a major cardiovascular event well into the future.

This information comes from a story in the Chicago Tribune reported by Bonnie Miller Rubin. Dr. Donald Lloyd- Jones, chair and associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the study’s lead investigator shared his findings with the Tribune.

Q. What does the study tell us now that we didn’t know before?

  • A. We have known for decades that four risk factors–blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking and diabetes–are related to cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer for men and women in the U.S. What we hadn’t appreciated is the long-term risks. We now know that whether male, female, black or white, the effect of the risk factors remained consistent in determining lifetime risk, regardless of when you were born.

Q. What do these findings mean?

  • A.  That regardless of your age, sex or race, if you have optimal risk factors, your chance of having a heart attack or stroke is really low. And if a peer of the same age, sex and race has even one of these factors, he or she has a dramatically higher chance of developing a cardiovascular event during their life span.

Q. How do you define opimal cholesterol and blood pressure levels?

  • A. Total cholesterol level of less  than 180, blood pressure is less than 120 on top and 80 on the bottom.

Q. Can you give me an example of how having even one risk factor increases your likelihood of stroke or heart attack?

  • A. Men who are 45 years old and have all four factors at optimal levels–in other words, optimal blood pressure,cholesterol and no smoking or diabetes–have only a 1.4 percent risk of a heart attack event in their lifetime. In contrast, adding just one risk factor raises the chances to 40 percent for men and 20 percent for women. With two it increases to 50 and 41 percent respectively.

Q. How much do genes play in all this?

  • A. At a certain point, genes do influence factors like cholesterol levels. You can’t completely change everything but you can trump a lot of that. By keeping these other things healthy, you can delay  the day when, say, you might need medication to take care of the part that you can’t accomplish solely through lifestyle changes.

Q. Are there other factors  that play a part in cardiovascular disease?

  • A. Sleep and stress clearly play into the incremental risk. We also know that shift work can mess up a person’s metabolic profile. There is some important research going on in these areas, but at the end of the day, it’s by maintaining the four big factors that you can dramatically reduce your risk.

Q. If you have less than ideal levels of  the Big Four, can you undo the damage?

  • A. Once placques start forming in the artery walls you can slow them down and stabilize them with lifestyle changes and medication, but you can’t make them go away completely. They’re still there, taking up space and potentially obstructing blood flow. So you can be a 35-year-old and have the arteries of a 55-year-old. That’s why it’s so important that young people understand the importance of their choices. That we really need to get our foot in the door now–while they’re in their 20s and 30s, even though heart disease might not get them until their 50s or 60s.

Q. Do you ever eat a hot dog or cheeseburger?

  • A. Unfair question! Of course I do. But that has to be done in moderation and it means I have to make a trade-off to reduce calories, fat and sodium elsewhere, and that I should go burn it off with a good brisk walk.

There are few things I can do to help you with most risk factors, but one I can do and that is to help remove stress from your life. How? If you need more money, a steady income flow either part or full-time. then you should look to taking me up on my exclusive offer to buy a copy of my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE and save $10. It’s available at all times from Amazon at the published price of $39.95 plus s&h, but to readers of my blog you can order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95 plus $3.50 s&h. Total $33.45. Just send a check or money order to SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601. Sold on a risk free money back guarantee of satisfaction.

When the Weather Outside is Frightful – Winter’s many Hidden Hazards

Home for me is Chicago and we are having one of the mildest winters I can recall. Very little snow (by Chicago standards) and not even all that cold (again by Chicago standards) but if you are reading this and your winter weather is frightful, here are some helpful tips courtesy of THE INK WELL who publish a monthly printed newsletter sent to their customers.

Depending on where you live, a covering of fluffy snow and the glisten of icicles can be beautiful signs of the season. However, winter can also come with many hidden hazards.

Here are a few must-know tips to keep you safe and healthy.

Did you know indoor radon gas is one of the leading causes of lung cancer? Radon levels can increase at a deadly rate during cool months when windows are closed, so it’s important to test your home for radon. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/radon.

If your furnace or other heat source stops working, avoid frozen water pipes by turning your faucets to a steady drip. If the pipes do freeze, open a faucet near the frozen area to release vapor from melting ice, then direct a heat lamp, space heater, or hair dryer at the frozen section. Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame, which can cause a fire or steam explosion.

Hypothermia can happen to anyone when their body temperature reaches 95 degrees or lower. Even mild indoor temps of 60-65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in infants and the elderly.

Signs of Hypothermia include

  • Drowsiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Slow Breathing

Beware of frostbitten skin, which appears whitish and feels numb. Treat frostbite by wrapping the area with blankets, or use body heat to warm it gradually. Do not rub frostbitten areas — friction can damage the skin tissue.

If you are standing on a frozen lake, pond, or outdoor skating rink and hear the ice cracking, lie down immediately to distribute your weight. If you fall in, don’t panic. Focus your energy on getting out as quickly as possible. Once out, use powdery snow to sop up excess water. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, or run in place to get your blood pumping and warm up your body.

For more winter tips, check out: www.epa.gov/region3winter

Wise words:

“Health is like money–we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”

Speaking of money. If you are contemplating going into business for yourself, take advantage of my special offer for HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. It’s available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h, but as a reader of my blog, you can obtain a copy by ordering direct from the publisher. Send a check or money order for $29.95 plus $3.50 (Total $33.45) to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601 Sold on complete money back guarantee of satisfaction.

If You Could Choose Would You Die Like A Doctor?

It’s Not Like the Rest of Us, But It should Be.

                                  By Ken Murray, MD Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at USC

The following is excerpted from ZOCALO PUBLIC SQUARE

“Years ago Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. He had a surgeon explore the area, and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. This surgeon was one of the best in the country. He had even invented a new procedure for this exact cancer that could triple a patient’s five year survival odds—from 5 percent to 15 percent—albeit with a poor quality of life. Charlie was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice, and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with his family and feeling as good as possible. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him. It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little.  For all the time they spend fending off the death of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

                         Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits. And they know enough about death to know what all people fear most: dying in pain, and dying alone. They’ve talked about this with their families. They want to be sure when the time comes, that no heroic measures will happen—that they will never experience, during their last moments on earth, someone breaking their ribs in an attempt to resuscitate them with CPR (that’s what happens if CPR is done right). Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call “futile care” being performed on people. That’s when doctors bring the cutting edge of technology to bear on a grievously ill person near the end of life. The patient will get cut open, perforated with tubes, hooked up to machines, and assaulted with drugs. All of this occurs in the Intensive Care Unit at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a day. What it buys is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist. I cannot count the number of times fellow physicians have told me, in words that vary only slightly, “Promise me if you find me like this that you’ll kill me”. They mean it. Some medical personnel  wear medallions stamped “NO CODE” to tell a physician not  to perform CPR on them. I have even seen it as a tattoo.

                              To administer medical care that makes people suffer is anguishing. Physicians are trained to gather information without revealing any of their own feelings, but in private, among fellow doctors, they’ll vent. “How can anyone do that to their family members?” they’ll ask. I suspect it’s one reason physicians have higher rates of alcohol abuse and depression than professionals in most other fields. I know it ‘s one reason I stopped participating in hospital care for the last 10 years of my practice How has it come to this—that doctors administer so much care they wouldn’t want for themselves? The simple, or not-so-simple, answer is this: patients, doctors, and the system. Imagine a scenario in which someone has lost consciousness and been admitted to an emergency room. As is so often the case, no one has made a plan for this situation, and shocked and scared family members find themselves caught up in maze of choices. They’re overwhelmed. When doctors ask if they want “everything” done, they answer yes. Then the nightmare begins. Sometimes a family really means ”do everything, “ but often just mean “do everything that’s reasonable.” The problem is that they may not know what’s reasonable, nor, in their confusion and sorrow, will they ask about it or hear what a physician may be telling them. For the most part doctors told to do “everything” will do it, whether it is reasonable or not. The above scenario is a common one. Feeding into the problem are unrealistic expectations of what doctors can accomplish. Many people think of CPR as a reliable lifesaver when, in fact, the results are usually poor. I’ve had hundreds of people brought to me in the emergency room after getting CPR. Exactly one, a healthy man who’d had no heart troubles, walked out of the hospital. If a patient suffers from severe illness, old age, or a terminal disease, the odds of a good outcome from CPR are infinitesimal, while the odds of suffering are overwhelming. Poor knowledge and misguided expectations lead to a lot of bad decisions. But of course it’s not just patients making these things happen. Doctors play an enabling role, too. The trouble is that even doctors who hate to administer futile care must find a way to address the wishes of patients and families. Some doctors are stronger communicators than others and some doctors are more adamant, but the pressures they all face are similar.

                            When I faced circumstances involving end-of-life choices, I adopted the approach of laying out only the options that I thought were reasonable (as I would in any situation) as early in the process as possible .When patients or families brought up unreasonable choices, I would discuss the issue in layman’s terms that portrayed the downsides clearly. If patient s or families still insisted on treatments I considered pointless or harmful, I would offer to transfer their care to another doctor or hospital. Should I have been more forceful at times? I know that some of those transfers still haunt me..

                        It’s easy to find fault with both doctors and patients, but in many ways the parties are simply victims of a larger system that encourages excessive treatment. Several years ago my older cousin had a seizure that turned out to be the result of lung cancer that had gone to his brain. I arranged for him to see various specialists, and we learned that with aggressive treatment of his condition, including three to five hospital visits a week for chemotherapy, he would live perhaps four months. Ultimately, he decided against any treatment and simply took pills for brain swelling. He moved in with me. We spent the next eight months doing a bunch of things that he enjoyed, having fun together like we hadn’t in decades. He even gained a bit of weight  eating his favorite foods. He had no serious pain, and he remained high-spirited. One day he didn’t wake up. He spent the next three days in a coma-like sleep and then died. The cost of his medical care for those eight months, for the one drug he was taking, was about $20. My cousin knew he  wanted a life of quality, not just quantity. Don’t most of us?

                        If there is a state of the art of end-of-life care, it is this: death with dignity; As for me, my physician has my choices. They were easy to make, as they are for most physicians. There will be no heroics, and I will go gentle into that good night. Like my cousin. Like my fellow doctors”.

Please share with me your comments about this subject we will all have to eventually address. However in the meantime while still in good health, if you’d like to consider starting your own business and even becoming one of the MAIL ORDER MILLIIONAIRES featured in the newest revised edition of my book, here’s my special offer to you.

A special offer only available to you.
You can buy my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE directly from me for the special price of $29.95. Regular price is $39.95… plus $3.50 for first class postage and handling. Send a check or money order in the amount of $33.45 payable to SUPERIOR PRESS along with your name and address to: Superior Press 333 N. Michigan Ave STE 1032 Chicago IL 60601 and I will promptly ship the book. Or you can purchase the book at the regular retail price from Amazon.

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