Aspirin

‘Take 2 and call me in the morning.’

Dr. John Whyte Chief Medical Officer at WebMD states that for more than a century aspirin has been considered a wonder drug; treating conditions from heart disease to easing pain.

However, medical providers and scientists are gaining a greater understanding of this ‘wonder drug.’  Even though you can purchase this item over the counter (OTC) without a prescription it may not always be safe.

Aspirin works by inhibiting the blood from clotting which can also increase bleeding.  Through recently well-designed large investigations we now know that if you have already have had a heart attack, the benefits of aspirin to ward future heart attacks and some types of strokes are likely greater than the risk of major bleeding.

However, if you’ve never had a heart attack or stroke age and risk are important factors.

  • Younger than 50 yo, most studies don’t support daily aspirins
  •  If you’re between 50 – 69, calculate your 10-yr. cardiovascular disease risk which increases if you have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • If you are 70 or older and have never suffered a heart attack or stroke, the benefit of daily aspirin is unclear

Consulting your health care professional always is the best call.  If you have chest pain or any of the known symptoms of a heart attack always call 9-1-1.  According to the European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, heart attacks are just as common for women as men, and fast treatment makes all the difference.  Yet women wait 37 minutes longer to call for help. Even though a pain in the chest and left arm are the most common signs, these symptoms are more common in men.  Women, on the other hand, often feel back, shoulder or stomach pain during a heart attack.

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Spotlight

You’re in the spotlight every day.

A bright light may not be blinding your eyes or beads of sweat forming on your forehead but a glaring spotlight may be shining right in your direction just the same.

That heat is the glare of potential illness.  Cancer, diabetes, eczema, multiple sclerosis, depression, asthma, psoriasis, deep vein thrombosis, leukemia, lymphoma, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, meningitis, myocardial infarction are just a few of the potential illnesses that are interrogated under the extreme glow of your potential.

At any moment you can be diagnosed with one or more of these medical conditions. So the key here is to maintain health and wellness in your everyday life so that if or when one of these conditions, unfortunately, is spotlighted on you you’ll be in a position to adequately deal with your diagnosis.

Even though we intrinsically know the basic rules and guidelines of health and wellness adhering to the ‘straight and narrow’ can be a challenge.  Good nutrition, adequate rest, daily exercise, social interactions, and mental stimulation seem to be the nationally accepted requirements.

Your bodies are simultaneously fragile and tough. Therefore, maintaining a delicate balance between the intricate chemical and physical interaction takes conscious attention and devoted effort.  Eating fruits and vegetables, adequate-proteins, complex carbohydrates, and decaffeinated-hydration in your daily diet gives your body the defense it needs to prepare for the potential spotlight glare.

Exercising on a regular basis strengthens and firms your muscles preparing them to withstand any potential hospital stay or unexpected accident.  Your recovery time will be shortened if you’re healthier before you’re injured.  Remember though it’s easier to stay well that to recover after being sick.

Pay attention to your daily diet.  It’s ‘easy’ to eat a couple of extra Oreo’s especially if they are ‘calling your name’ but doing this on a daily basis and adding in some french fries may not be a wise decision – but it’s your decision to make.

If the spotlight shines on you make sure you’re fortified because you have made a good decision about your health.

 

Cellphone Gunk

Dirty cellphones.  That seems to be a popular subject these days.

Initial I think about germs that live on the exterior of cellphones that cause disease.  We use our cellphones in every facet of our lives including in health care settings both as family members and health medical providers which increase the incidence of the alarming trend of cellphone contamination – according to a recent editorial in American Nurse Today (Vol. 14, No.3) it may be up to 74.4.%.

Are we making ourselves sick?

Do we, both the general public and medical providers, use our cellphones in the restroom wash our hands and neglect to clean our cellphones?  If so we could be setting ourselves up to increased contamination.

Just think about all those little microscopic green, slimy bugs and crawly microbes squirmy around on your cellphone.  Do you want them up close to your mouth every time to talk on the phone? Or picking at your food when you eat?

There’s other potential gunk floating around on the inside of your cellphone – personal information.  Potential because unless you want everyone knowing intimate details about the innermost secrets of your life it’s best not to share.

Keep your social life and your work life separate and only post to social media what you’d want the whole world to see.  There are legal issues connected to posting and re-posting private information.  The Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996 which was enacted in 2002 protects patients’ personal information while maintaining the flow for care.  It’s in place to protect both the patient and the caregiver.

Remember that social media is the opposite of private.

Cellphones carry information but they can be gunked-up both inside and outside.

 

Customize

Each likes to design their personal space – a comfy chair, pretty flowers, favorite foods.

Often we customize our exercise routine too much and end up with ‘tunnel vision’ when it comes to an expanded viewpoint on alternatives.  Some swear by free weights.  Others use aerobics.  Still, others profess that it’s only truly pure if yoga tops the list.  Possibly, the answer lies in a combination of all.

The key is to get up and move!

Your body has multiple joints – head joints, neck joints, shoulder joints, arm joints, hand joints, finger joints, back joints, hip joints, knee joints, ankle joints, feet joints, and even your tiny toe has joints.

Customize your joints by keeping them healthy and you can show them off just like a shiny red sports car.

Celebrating 100 Years

Reaching centenarian status is a real possibility.

A study in PLOS One indicates that adults who perceive aging in a positive light have a nearly 44% lower risk of developing dementia (WebMD.com, Sept./2018).

Extensive studies by WebMD provide interesting statistics:

  • 14 million, # of adults 65 and older with chronic health problems
  • 67%, adults older than 65 with high blood pressure
  • 88%, drop in dementia risk for women who are physically fit in middle age
  • 1 in 4, adults 65 and older who will fall each year

Statistical life expectancy in the U.S. is about 80 years, however living into one’s 90s is a perfectly realistic expectation for many since by 2015 there were approximately 72,000 centenarian Americans.

Sofiya Milman, MD, director of Human Longevity Studies at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York indicates that several genes have been identified that foster “long-lived” people.  Many studies are also looking for centenarians who not only live long lives but who also age well.

Emily Rogalski, Ph.D., who leads the SuperAging Study at Northwestern University compares ‘super-agers‘ brains to the brains of ‘average-agers.’  Super-ager brains, look more like the brains of 50-year-olds than like the brains of 80-year-old average-agers.

Living healthier while living longer may be the key to becoming a content centenarian.

Genes play a relatively small part – 25% to 33% in how long you live but you get to play a big part in the rest of the story.  Keeping a sharp mind and a healthy body keeps your positive light burning.

Additional ‘super-ager’ suggestions may be beneficial:

  • a diet high in fruits and vegetables – low in saturated fat – with complex carbs.
  • 30 min. of exercise 3-4 times a week (per tolerance) can reduce the risk of falls
  • Socializing, reading and developing a hobby may delay or starve-off dementia

More than 50% of babies born in the U.S. since 2000 could live to be centenarians.

 

 

Make It Real, Write It

Storing critical information in your brain takes a three-prong strategy: saying the words, reading the words and most importantly writing the words.  There’s power in the simple act of writing words.

Writing locks into your memory the information that you need to remember and it’s more likely to stick in your long-term memory (WebMD June 2019).

You will remember the items on your shopping list.

Technology provides modern-day options such as cell phone apps and pictures sent to us on our cell phone from our loving partners about requests for milk and cheese and bread when we’re grocery shopping but there’s still something “magical” about the act of physically writing the words on paper that triggers our brain to store the information for later use.

You’ll remember to bring home the milk and cheese and the bread.

College students far and wide furiously type on their laptops taking lecture notes during “101” level classes to make sure that they don’t miss the “pearls of wisdom” offered by their learned professors and then glean information for upcoming tests or final exams.  Imagine if the students wrote the notes by hand that way the initial information would lock into their brain.

After a great job interview send a hand-written ‘thank you’ note.

When children are taught the alphabet they repeatedly write the letters on paper or a chalkboard since this process “locks in” the alphabet process: it imprints the letters on a young child’s brain.

Police officers issuing tickets often set pen to paper.

When it’s important to remember you may want to write it down.

Health Questions

The doctor’s office is a logical place to be barraged with health questions.

“Have you signed in? Do you have your insurance card?  Has your health changed?”

We freely give out personal information in a public setting to a stranger who may or may not be a trusted confidant assuming that our health will be improved by their interventions.

Imagine how effective it is to ask those same intimate questions of someone who really cares about you, someone who you know will give you an honest answer and will truly know the deep-down, gut-wrenching, soul-searching, bottom-of-the-barrel answers. Just imagine!

You are that person.

When was the last time you ask yourself health-related questions about your eating habits, exercise routine, how much water your drink every day, bowel habits and personal cleanliness cycles (i.e. handwashing, washing your bedclothes, picking your nose, sucking on your dirty fingers, scratching your groin, etc.)?

All the personal things that we do when no one is watching.

Each of us judges how our personal hygiene habits interact with our established health routines and medical diagnoses.  Maybe it’s beneficial to maintain healthy practices that enhance the medical guidelines our practitioners recommend.

Next time when asked you can answer “My health is better.”

Are You A Team Player?

A variety of talents and abilities are needed to maintain a healthy body.

Systems working together maintain homeostasis ensuring a disease-free body.  Your lungs breathe, your blood flows, your heart pumps, your veins and arteries integrate fluid throughout your muscles which in turn deliver movement energy to all parts of your body.

You move, you think, you breathe, you digest, you interact – you’re an integral part of the world.

Integrating these individual talents into a cohesive team is also effective in the business world. Each member has specific talents and abilities that enhance the team.  One is an attention getter, one is skilled at attaching parts, one is detail oriented, one is skilled at working on difficult problems, one insists on being the secretary for all events, one is the master promoter.

Both situations of personal body health and team-building health require that important information be transmitted from the ‘central nervous system’ to the functioning body. Communication must be effectively transmitted and put into practice.

When you’re in a team-building situation, whether it’s maintaining your own healthy body or working within a team-building situation in your workplace. It may be interesting to remember that each individual part has a different job to do.  However, when you value ‘that’ job and add it to the suggestions that have already been proposed the outcome may be even better than you imagined.

For instance, you may be relatively healthy but if you decide to exercise in the morning before you go to work your cholesterol level may improve and your energy level at work may be better.  It’s just a suggestion.

Or if you are part of a brainstorming group and stuck figuring out that last issue on a finance project you may want to ask the ‘geeky’ accountant who sits in the dark, corner cubicle – again just a suggestion.

It’s Not Just You

Doctors and medical providers are talking to all of their patients about autoimmune diseases.

bright cardiac cardiology care

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According to a recent September 2018 Redbook article, the immune system is like the body’s army – it spends the earliest years of your life distinguishing friends from enemies so it can protect you from invaders.  An autoimmune attack can come seemingly out of nowhere, possibly due to a combination of genetics and the environment according to Anca Askanase, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center and director of the Columbia Lupus Center.

Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are autoantibodies that attack self-proteins within cell nucleus structures; their presence in serum may indicate an autoimmune disease.  Also, positive ANA test results have been obtained in chronic infectious diseases, cancers, medication-related adverse events or in even rare events a healthy individual according to a Medscape article by Lucia M. Sur, Ph.D.; et al 2018.

Antibodies are proteins produced by lymphocytes B of the immune system that recognizes foreign antigens such as viruses, bacteria or other germs.  After recognizing the antigens, antibodies, antibodies start to recruit specialized cells and proteins, which lead to activation of the inflammation cascade – the response of the organism to defend itself.

Recent statistics gives us a glimpse into the massive issue confronting society.  Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant was needed due to a complication of lupus.  50 million Americans are affected by autoimmune diseases.  100 million is a combination of all the autoimmune diseases.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Sjogren Syndrome (SJS), Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD), Polymyositis (PM) are just a few of the medical conditions indicating a systemic autoimmune disease.

Eye Contact

We’ve all been there, albeit for just a brief moment, as we unexpectedly catch the fleeting eye glance of a truly beautiful woman.  It occurs as we’re bustling through a busy airport terminal or while hurriedly buying that last-minute item in a congested shopping mall.

woman scathing her head in front of a graffiti wall

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Whatever the situation, we are intrigued by eye contact.  Eye contact increases our pulse rate, decreases our dishonesty factor (we lie less often), increases our adherence to rules and norms and helps us to attend to subtle social cues.

The world around us contains a vast array of often rapidly changing information.  If we attend to relevant information that affects us we are better able to figure out our environment and make appropriate decisions that affect us personally.

In my first novel Lines of Listening, I talk about the memories that we as children develop when we make eye contact with adults in our lives and how these non-verbal conversations don’t always match the verbal conversations that we encounter.  However, these verbal and non-verbal conversations join to form a life-long conversation.

photo of person holding iphone

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Recent EEG work has suggested that there are fundamental differences in our brain activity response to viewing another person in the same room compared to viewing that person on a computer screen. Viewing a live face with direct gaze results in more pronounced brain processing than viewing a photograph of that same face.

Recent social psychology research suggests that we may often avoid looking at other people in real life and this effect has been recently confirmed using an eye-tracking device.  In contrast, people, and in particular their faces and eyes, strongly capture and direct attention when participants view photographs.

person holding camera lens in the middle of street under blue sky

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It, therefore, seems likely that people may not attend to other individuals in the same way when interacting in real life as when presented with a video.  This may be something that we as public consumers want to study on a long-term basis since we constantly use a cell phone to communicate with each other in our daily lives.

In social situations, eye contact is highly informative. Looking directly at the speaker while also listening to the speaker can aid us in being part of the conversation.  Instead of two people engaging in idle chatter or buzzing, annoying unrelated words, listening and responding to the spoken words that are in synchrony with direct eye contact makes for – wait for it, wait for it – conversation.

person wearing eyeglasses

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I’m not being facetious just making a point.  Using a cell phone every day, all day may decrease our ability to maintain eye contact with the general public.  If we aren’t looking into the eyes of the people next to us how can we understand the lives and challenges of the community in which we live?