Pneumonia deaths are increasing. Protect yourself and your family.

shutterstock_561346174.jpg1500 adults die from pneumonia in Canada every year. We are in the midst of a rough flu season similar to 2014-2015, where many outbreaks occurred and are likely to continue throughout the winter.   So I would like to remind you of the importance of immunization and flu shots and adult pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Common signs of pneumonia can include a cough, fever, and trouble breathing.

We are in the midst of a rough flu season and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get a flu shot.  I also want to talk about immunization and pneumonia.  In Canada, only 16.7% adults with chronic medical conditions are immunized against Streptococcus pneumonia. That’s right –only a small percentage of Canadians are immunized. As a result, there is a dramatic increase in the number of people who get the disease and about 1500 Canadian adults die from it every year.

Who Is At Risk for Pneumonia?

People who are more likely to become ill with pneumonia:

  • Adults 65 years or older
  • Children younger than 5 years old
  • Those  who have underlying medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart disease)
  • People who smoke cigarettes
  • People with immune suppression diseases, such as HIV, leukemia, and other cancers

However, Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Many of these deaths——could be prevented with vaccines and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals).

Vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease or lower your risk while reducing the risk of the general population coming down with pneumonia.

Pneumococcal Recommendations for Older Adults
There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines for adults and guidelines are NOT the same in the US and Canada.

  • US Guidelines: One dose of PCV13 is recommended for all adults 65 years of age or older who have not previously received the vaccine. A dose of PPSV23 should be given at a later date (anytime after 8 weeks from the initial vaccine)
  • Canadian Guidelines: Currently differ for those of us that are 65 and healthy, or those with significant underlying disease. Healthy 65 year old adults are advised to simply take PPSV23. Those with higher risk would follow the guidelines of both vaccines
  • Recently the Canadian government included vaccinations for individuals that required medical attention for asthma in the past 12 months.

Pneumococcal Recommendations for Children

  • Children with asthma younger than 18 years should receive both vaccines

What you can do

  • Encourage friends and loved ones with certain health conditions, like diabetes and asthma, to get vaccinated.
  • Make sure children get vaccinated
  • Practice good hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use alcohol based hand sanitizers
  • Don’t some
  • Keep your immune system strong-get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and health a healthy diet

 

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

Is Life Expectancy Heading Downward?


shutterstock_309649415 (1)Have we reached the tipping point?

An interesting article recently appeared in the prestigious Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) about life expectancy and death rates in the US. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US (CDC) noted that death rates for the first nine months of 2015 increased significantly most notably due to obesity. Leading some to predict that life expectancy would decline in the United States by the middle of the 21st century.
The CDC report suggests that a “tipping point may have been reached beyond which technological advances may no longer compensate.” The article goes on to point out that between l961 and l983, life expectancy increased in a relatively consistent fashion throughout the United States. However, between 1983 and 1991 life expectancy decreased significantly for men in 11 US counties and 180 counties for women. The counties were those most severely affected by the obesity epidemic.
Some experts like David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Centre in Boston predict that the downward trend will almost certainly accelerate as the current generation of children- with high body weights earlier in life than ever before—reaches adulthood.

You might be aware that death rates have been dropping. This is largely due to modern medical care that may be able to prevent premature deaths among adults who develop obesity at a young age, by prescribing blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications, heart bypass surgery, and various other medical interventions.

But over time, some experts are predicting that obesity-related chronic diseases might outstrip the ability for technology to counteract the rise in obesity and its consequences.

As a physician, I can tell you that the most important step you can do for yourself and your family is to choose to live a healthy lifestyle and make healthy choices.That means getting regular exercise of at least thirty minutes a day, five days a week,eating fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes and nuts while eliminating high fat, processed foods and added sugars in your diet.

Read labels on packaged food and educate yourself and your family on the value of eating nutritional foods and not to be swayed by advertising.

A few actions today may forestall the predictions that children of today and tomorrow will lead a shorter less healthy life than their parents.

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Aging: Why genes from our mothers are not enough

shutterstock_593434751.jpgFor Mother’s Day

It’s that time of year when we think of our mothers and reflect upon the gift of life we’ve been given. Indeed, it is the very reason we are on this earth. What makes us unique and one of a kind is in our genes or genetic make up.

It is why family members look alike. It is also why some diseases such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease run in certain families.  These genes are the ones we are born with and cannot change. As a physician, when we assess an individual’s risk for chronic diseases, we take that genetic makeup, that family history into account.

Our genetic make up is a gift from our mothers (and dad’s too), it is not modifiable. There is a no return policy! However, it is often the modifiable risks, the ones we can change, that will make the biggest difference in our lives. For we all want not only to live longer, but also, to live those years in an active and healthy lifestyle, independent and with all our cognitive abilities.

While you may feel those years are some time down the road, it is never too late or too early to start thinking about healthy aging and what that means. It is time to make adjustments in your lifestyle so that you can live a longer and healthier life and act as a role model to your family.

Here are a few healthy aging strategies I counsel my patients to practice

  1. Eat a healthy diet of calcium rich foods such as leafy greens and dairy products or soy-based products if you are averse to dairy. Calcium from food products is ideal and we aim for 1200 mg per day from all sources. If you are eating well, you may be getting enough calcium in your diet and supplements are not needed.  Generally speaking, we all need Vitamin D supplements as we get little direct sunlight in North America and that is the common source of Vitamin D. Take Vitamin D daily–400-1000 IU’s for adults under 50 and 800-2000 IU for adults over 50.  That is a must!
  2. Eat Healthy. Follow the Mediterranean Diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits legumes and lean meats.   Women who eat more vegetables experience less risk of cognitive decline than their peers who eat fewer vegetables. The rate of cognitive declines the lowest in women who eat the most cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens. And there is a positive correlation between BMI (body mass index) and the rate of cognitive decline
  3. Exercise.  Use weight-bearing exercises that use your body weight such as walking, running, weight lifting to help to strengthen both bones and muscles, as well as improving your balance. Exercise with purpose. Running up and down the stairs doing laundry is not the same. You need to exercise to raise your heart rate a minimum of three to five times a week for at least thirty minutes to get the most benefit.
  4. Stay Socially Connected. It is important to stay socially active and connected with your friends and family. Doing Sudoku at home alone might be a good brain exercise, but it is not the same as being with people. Research shows that individuals who are socially connected live longer have stimulation to protect brain aging and overall have a better quality of life.
  5. Reduce Stress—Practice Mindful Meditation. While some stress can be a good thing and helps the brain cope with life- threatening situations, too much stress is harmful. If the stress is long term, it can raise the levels of cortisol, leading to weight gain. Chronic unrelenting stress, ages our telomeres, those caps that protect our cells. Mindful meditation and other activities that reduce stress has shown benefits such as an increase in the flow of oxygen rich blood to your brain. It is not only helpful to reduce stress for your emotional well being, it actually has a measurable physical impact.

So on this Mother’s Day and throughout the year, make a promise to yourself and your loved ones to stay healthy and follow the strategies I’ve outlined above. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is selfless as you will be there to take care of the ones you love…..and that’s the best gift of all.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

 

Is it the end of red meat?

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When weighing the cancer risk of some meats to colorectal cancer moderation is the new normal.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) a subsidiary of the World Health Organization, (WHO) ruled that processed meat causes colorectal cancer and red meat e.g. pork, lamb, beef probably does.

The finding was reached by a group of 22 international scientists who scrutinized existing research in more than 800 studies- and concluded there is enough evidence to say that processed meats such as hot dogs and ham increase the risk colorectal cancer. They found that eating as little as 50 grams (almost a pound) of processed meat a day drives up that risk by 18 per cent.

This is not really new; health experts have long recommended limiting the amount of processed meat and red meat from our diet.
Is this latest warning enough to stop people from eating processed meats or red meats? Likely not. But you can moderate your diet—have that occasional hot dog and limit your intake of red meat.
According to Registered Dietician and columnist Leslie Beck, processed meats should be eaten sparingly, if at all. Processed meats refer to meats preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. Ham, bacon, corned beef; pastrami, salami, bologna, sausages, hot dogs, bratwursts, frankfurters and beef jerky are processed meats. So are turkey (and chicken) sausages, smoked turkey and turkey bacon. However, most studies have looked only at processed red meats.

Diets high in red and processed meats are linked to a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. A steady intake of fat- and sodium-laden processed meats can also increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, being overweight and cardiovascular disease.
But she says that you don’t have to stop eating red meat, its good a good source of high quality protein It is a good source of high-quality protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. That said if you eat red meat frequently and in large portions, you should cut back. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends a limit of three servings – three ounces each – per week.
Leslie also recommends varying your protein source by adding fish and chicken to your menu, replacing ground beef for ground turkey or chicken in burgers, chili and pasta sauce recipes. Replace deli meats in sandwiches and salads with tuna, salmon, egg or cooked fresh chicken or turkey. Eat at least four meatless meals each week, such as lentil soup, bean salad, chickpea curry, black bean tacos, pasta e fagioli, tofu stir-fry and vegetarian chili.
As always eating a diet that includes a variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. So does limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise. It is simplistic to blame one food or one habit as being the “cause”, rather increasing risk relates to lots of health choices.
Staying healthy requires much more than eating less meat. For healthy recipes visit Medisys Nutrition Tips and Recipes

#healthyliving

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

So You’ve Bought a Fitness Tracker— Now What?

shutterstock_593935241You’ve finally decided to get into shape, need more motivation or just want another ‘toy’ to add to your growing list of fitness gizmos. So you begin to check out fitness devices. I started on-line and then decided to go to one of the big box stores to take a closer look. There are now so many of them on the market it can be daunting.
I was amazed at the variety of fitness trackers or ‘wearable technology ‘ as they’ re called on display. There are even trackers for pets and ones that will critique your tennis swing! I was totally lost. But quick relief, my daughter went online and bought me one!!! Whew, decision made.

So the first step is to decide what you want to track?
Steps, calories, heart rate, fitness activities besides walking or running or a combination of some or all, you can even measure the amount of sleep and awake time. Do you want one to wear on your wrist or discreetly on your person—in your pocket or attached to your bra?
Once you’ve made the choice the next step is to wear it for the first week—if you don’t regularly exercise then just wear it for a week to decide what you normally do –that would be your baseline.
Now that you know your starting point, it’s time to get moving.
Set a reasonable goal. Your fitness device might have a default goal — often 10,000 steps a day. From your baseline add 200-300 steps a day to increase your weekly total by 2,000. That’s an increase of about a mile a day. Keep building up until you get to 10,000.
When you look at calories burned, a reasonable goal is to increase by 250 calories a day. You can get that from 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise. Or you could burn that amount doing some extra moving during the day. Grocery shopping for instance burns about 100 calories an hour for a 175-pound person.
Remember, to lose 1 pound a week, you need to create a 500-calorie deficit each day. The best way to do this is by eating a little less and moving a little more.
Pay attention to how you feel. On a day when you walk 1,000 more steps than usual, you may notice you feel great and want to do it again the next day.
Transform wasted time into steps. Once you’re aware of your steps, the most boring parts of your day become opportunities. On hold with customer service? Pace your house. Waiting to pick up your kids from school, arrive a bit early and go for a walk. Take the stairs when you can instead of the elevator.
Healthy aging can begin with baby steps! And as always, it is one step at a time!

#run #fitness #active #healthy

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Why A Company Health and Wellness Plan is Good for Employees and Your Bottom Line

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In today’s times, it’s astonishing to learn that a whopping 5 million Canadians do not have a family physician. It’s even more alarming when you learn that nine out of ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke (smoking, high alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and or diabetes).
More Alarming Statistics:

  • Only 16% have it treated and under control
  • An estimated 2.4 million Canadians have diabetes
  • Almost 40% of Canadian adults are classified as having high blood cholesterol levels
  • 19% of Canadians (4.6 million) age 20-79 are hypotensive
  • Another 20% (4.8 million) are pre-hypertensive

For more alarming stats click here: The ROI of an Employee Wellness Program

Will things get better?
With the population of baby boomers aging and people experiencing hard economic times, more workers are delaying retirement and working well into their 60s—this means that better benefits are required to retain talent. Meanwhile, governments are actively looking to pass on healthcare costs to private sectors. That means fewer services and higher employer costs. However, the bottom line is that over 70% of all healthcare costs in Canada are related to chronic diseases, many of which can be prevented or better managed through more appropriate lifestyle choices.
How health and wellness initiatives add value to companies
By implementing these types of programs, the benefits to companies are indisputable. The programs help contain cost since an aging population means higher employer spending; they help the company compete for talent, especially considering that 61% of 30-year-old Canadians believe their employer has an obligation to assist them in maintain a healthy lifestyle; and they help to target health spending by measuring its returns on investment.
Why should companies care?
Our research shows that companies are more interested in the benefits of creating a culture of corporate wellness rather than the hard dollar costs. The following benefits may not be as measurable as reducing drug and disability costs, but employers rate them higher than cost:

  • Issues around productivity
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Loyalty, employee engagement, recruitment
  • Corporate reputation
  • Attracting talent

Initiatives don’t have to be costly. It could be something as simple as bringing in Weight Watchers, creating a joint program with a local gym, or offering healthy options in the company cafeteria.

#wellness #fitness #healthy #happy

 

Disclaimer: The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.