Living in a world with conditions as they are, hearing of wars and natural disasters. The question of how this effects our health is forefront in many of your minds. Some of us may feel helpless as to what to do. Perhaps the only control we have is that one of personal responsibility: to ourselves, our loved ones, our co-workers and friends to take care of ourselves especially during this time. The impact of stress is measurable. It is measurable in elevated blood pressures, heart rates, cholesterol, weight; abnormal blood sugars, worsening allergy symptoms and other chronic diseases for example fibromyalgia, arthritis, irritable bowel, insomnia, panic attacks, abnormal menstrual cycles, feelings of depression, decreased libido, increased frequency of colds and flus and many other symptoms. Many patients ask what can they do for themselves and their families. Here are my top 7 recommendations:
- Schedule regular checkups for each family member with a trusted healthcare professional. Many diseases, for example, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart diseases, diabetes, occur over time. Yearly checkups, pap and breast exams, with appropriate labs, xrays, and other tests are not only diagnostic, but can also be preventative. Yes, high cholesterol does appear in children, twenty and thirty year olds!
- Under the supervision of a qualified physician, take your medications, and supplements. Every year, more people come to this office with their “bag(s)” of self-prescribed and over-the-counter supplements and medications. There is a lot of confusion about what to take and for what. Self-prescribing can be dangerous. The body changes, it is not static. Conditions do resolve, and heal, or worsen.
- Sleep. Yes, sleep. Statistics show that most adults do not get enough sleep. And what about your children? Are they too busy with school, school activities, and social engagements to get the 9-10 hours sleep they may need? Consistent quality, and quantity of sleep is vitally important.
- Relax, and take a breath! These are really two separate things, yet they are related. It is a fact that when we are relaxed we breathe deeper. Also, in order to relax, we can start with deep breathing. Relaxation also includes vacations, massages, hobbies. Make time to enjoy life.
- Don’t use tobacco.
- Exercise. Regularly. Do anything that gets your body to MOVE! Start with 30 minutes 3-5 times a week.
- Food Focus. It is so easy to start with the DON’T list. And truly the power is in the following: prioritize fresh vegetables, and fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organic free range poultry, eggs, fish and meat. It then becomes easier to avoid processed foods, hydrogenated fats, minimize alcohol, and caffeine.
“No one can live without experiencing some degree of stress all the time. You may think that only serious disease or intensive physical or mental injury can cause stress. This is false. Crossing a busy intersection, exposure to draft, or even sheer joy are enough to activate the body’s stress mechanisms to some extent. Stress is not even necessarily bad for you; it is the spice of life, for any emotion, any activity causes stress. But OF COURSE YOUR SYSTEM MUST BE PREPARED TO TAKE IT. “The same stress which makes one person sick, can be invigorating experience for another.” From The Stress of Life (Book) Hans Seyle MD
As many of you know, my father passed away in November of 2002. One of my uncles passed just a few weeks ago. They lived very different lives. My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer metastasized to the liver. He was given 1-4 weeks after the initial diagnosis. He lived 7 more months. He had acupuncture treatments, took supplements, and had an excellent quality of life. He chose no intervention, and did not suffer. He died in his own bed surrounded by his family. My uncle had diabetes, and heart disease, was on a lot of medications, and died following a triple heart bypass surgery, from which he never woke up. Money was not an issue, and at the end, his money couldn’t buy my uncle new body parts. His medical care was excellent.
OUR LIFE IS A JOURNEY. And most of us truly believe the journey is a more enjoyable one when we have health. Most often health is listed in the top 5 priorities, and yet most of us do not live a life that reflects this priority. When we are young, we take our health for granted. And as we age we do not put our resources, our time, and money, towards protecting and nurturing our health. And then in the twilight of our lives, we wonder as we are taking handfuls of medication, that keep us alive, where is the joy, the ability to enjoy life to the fullest, the inability to drive a car anymore, to travel to other countries, to sleep, to have sexual intimacy, to eat the foods we love?
There is a lot of talk about our retirement plans, our 401ks. As you save and invest for your retirement, I leave you with these questions: What have you done for your health IRA? Are you investing in your health as well? Are you protecting and nurturing yourself? Are you as healthy as you choose to be?
Call today for a tune-up appointment for yourself. Schedule a check-up, lab review, medication review, acupuncture treatment and/or annual breast and pap exam. We evaluate each patient individually, with respect to each symptom and risk factor and prescribe accordingly. Come in and see us. And we always make room for your referrals of family and friends. We look forward to serving your health care needs.
What is heart Disease?
Heart disease is a preventable and often reversible disease for most people. It is a term most often given to a condition known as ATHEROSCLEROSIS, a hardening of the artery walls due to a build up of plaque. This plaque is made up of cholesterol, fatty material, calcium and cellular debris from the inflammation of the blood vessels that supply the heart. This plaque is now measurable with a new device called an EBT (Electron Beam Tomography), that provides x-rays of the blood vessels of the heart.
Heart disease can also refer to congestive heart failure, arrhythmia’s, mitral valve prolapse, and cardiomyopathies. Some of these heart conditions are diagnosed by an electrocardiogram (EKG), usually done during a stress test. Although these diseases differ from each other physiologically, the treatment goals from a natural medicine prospective may be very similar as they support heart function.
What are the first signs of Heart disease?
You may FEEL perfectly fine and have no perceived symptoms, and yet have an elevated risk of heart disease that can be discovered by your doctor through blood tests, EBT, stress tests, etc. That’s why it’s important to have regular checkups (annually when over age 50.)
There are also factors that raise the risk of heart disease and are easy to identify, including overweight, smoking, poor nutrition, family history of heart disease and diabetes.
Preventative Medicine Clinic can help you identify and manage both the easy signs and the hard. Some signs include elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath upon exertion, elevated fasting cholesterol, elevated fasting blood sugar and/or increase in weight. Because some of these signs may be very subtle and change slowly over time, it is very important to have regular checkups.
What is a normal Blood pressure?
For adults: normal is 120/80 (systolic over diastolic.) The health of the arteries in the body and especially in the heart are extremely important in maintaining normal blood pressure. When arteries become hardened due to the build up of plaque, blood pressures increase. Lifestyle and dietary factors may include coffee and alcohol intake, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, obesity, sodium to potassium ratios, and amounts of meat, fiber, sugar, hydrogenated and saturated fats. Furthermore, nutritional supplements and natural medicines also play a role in the maintenance of normal artery wall structure and function.
Keeping blood pressures in normal ranges will lengthen and improve the quality of your life.
What is a normal fasting cholesterol?
The total cholesterol should be kept under 200. However, as important are the values of the LDL or unhealthy cholesterol, under 130, and HDL or healthy cholesterol, over 45. At a minimum, these values should be tested yearly, and in the case of active heart disease, even more often. When cholesterol levels are high in a case of heart disease, there is an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. In most cases, elevations of cholesterol are due to a lifestyle and dietary factors. In some cases, low thyroid function, and/or genetic factors may also cause elevations in cholesterol.
Recently, a number of cholesterol lowering drugs known as “statins” have been promoted in the media. However, many of them are toxic to the liver. It is important to note that the liver is a vital organ; i.e. one cannot live without the liver. It is therefore extremely important to make informed and educated choices when deciding on a treatment plan for the treatment of lowering cholesterol with drugs.
What does Preventative Medicine Clinic have to offer me if I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or am over weight?
We have much to offer patients with heart disease, or patients with signs and symptoms that point to an increase risk of getting heart disease. Firstly, we can order the appropriate blood tests to determine cholesterol, blood sugar and other important information about your health status. We can measure and monitor blood pressure. Natural medicine, acupuncture, lifestyle and nutritional counseling, stress management and prescription medication may all play a role in the management of your health care needs. Individualized health care with the focus on natural medicine is our specialty. We also work with specialists in co-treating cases. Call today for a consultation to determine the best direction
for your specific situation.
“Life is not merely living, but living in health.”