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.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Trends in Preventative Healthcare

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Science and Technology Converge
Part I

As a passionate advocate of preventative healthcare and wellness, I am glad to see that there will be an increased focus on prevention, because many older people continue to have chronic diseases which overwhelm their daily activities and are not enjoying a good quality of life in their later years. It is worth emphasizing that while most of us will face some sort of illness in our later years, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle; get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking, excessive drinking, sugar, salts and unhealthy fats and processed foods. That way we will cope with illness, aging and any disability in a strong and independent manner.

Advances in technology and science are making it easier for people to focus on preventative healthcare. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and for a more health conscious society, let’s look at some of the possibilities and opportunities.

 Wearable Technology will continue to grow! And why do I love it?

It seems we need to quantify every step, every workout, every morsel of food and every waking and sleeping minute of the day and as a result there is an ever-expanding range of technologies to support our need to chronicle our daily lives. Interest in mobile apps such as activity trackers like Fitbit will continue to capture consumer interest. According to a report by international consulting firm, PwC, “Adoption of health-related smartphone apps doubled in two years, from 16 percent in 2013 to 32 percent in 2014 and will continue. There are many fitness and activity trackers on the market today, it can be confusing.   PcMagazine, has an excellent article comparing various trackers and recommends you try them out before you buy. Once you’ve bought a fitness tracker, the next step is to integrate it into your daily routine, which I recently wrote about. “You’ve bought a fitness tracker—Now what!

What has worked for me is the challenge of maintaining my commitment by using my Fitbit, trying really hard to maintain that 10,000.00 steps per day. I appreciate a measurable outcome. And yup, I have learned once again, that “hectic does NOT equal aerobic”.

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.

Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Let a viral cold run its’ course

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It’s that time of year again—when colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throats and many sinus and ear infections start to surface at home, school and our workplaces. The tendency when someone gets sick these days is to presume they will need an antibiotic to get better. The facts are that taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses not only won’t work; it can have dangerous side effects—over time. It could result in the development of resistant bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics that may have worked in the past. Antibiotics that could be vital to recovering from a bacterial infection when you need them the most or are required to take increasingly higher doses of an antibiotic.

Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US call “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become more and more resistant. Among those that are becoming harder to treat are pneumococcal infections such as pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and meningitis.

The Differences Between Bacteria and Viruses
Although bacteria and viruses are both too small to be seen without a microscope, they’re as different as giraffes and goldfish.   Website WebMD says it best: Bacterial and viral infections have many things in common. Both types of infections are caused by microbes — bacteria and viruses, respectively — and spread by things such as coughing and sneezing, contact with infected people, especially through kissing and sex, contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water, contact with infected creatures, including pets, livestock, and insects such as fleas and ticks. But the infections are dissimilar in many other important respects, most of them due to the organisms’ structural differences and the way they respond to medications.

When do you ride out a cold or see a doctor?
While viruses and bacteria can cause similar symptoms, the concerns that suggest your infection is more serious, include fever and chills, muscle aches and pains, decreased appetite and overwhelming fatigue. These symptoms are more generalized and may need an expert opinion to decide how best to proceed. Symptoms such as a sore throat and swollen glands can occur with either bacterial or viral infections. If this infection/sore throat/flu like illness or cough is overwhelming and feels like the worst infection you can recall, go get checked by your health care professional! Or if you are not improving in a couple of days, with an easing up of symptoms, this may need further attention.

Taking Antibiotics Safely

So what should you do? To minimize the risk of bacterial resistance, keep these tips in mind:

  • Take antibiotics only for bacterial infections. It’s a good idea to let milder illnesses (especially those thought to be caused by viruses) run their course. This helps prevent antibiotic-resistant germs from developing. But leave it to your doctor to decide if an illness is “mild” or not.
  • Remember: Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infection if taken for the full amount of time prescribed by the doctor
  • And most important, never use antibiotics that have been lying around your home.
  • Help fight antibiotic resistance by taking simple steps to prevent the spread of infections such as frequent hand washing and immunization such as a flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Ask your healthcare professional about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce symptoms.
  • Drink more fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion.
  • Soothe your throat with crushed ice, sore throat spray, or lozenges. (Do not give lozenges to young children.)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.

#flu #healthy #health

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

 

PAP TESTS HELP ELIMINATE CERVICAL CANCER IN CANADA

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Every year there are 400,000 Canadian women who receive news that their Pap test results are not normal. The voice of women physicians, The Federation of Medical Women of Canada (www.fmwc.ca) wants to change that. This month they are launching an awareness campaign aimed at physicians to urge their female patients to have a PAP test. #endcancer
Cervical cancer is the 4th most common reproductive cancer in Canadian women today.
This year, 1500 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and sadly 380 women will die. Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the cervix. Malignant means that it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body. Cells in the cervix sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. Changes to cells of the cervix can also cause precancerous conditions. This means that these cells are not yet cancer, but there is a chance that these abnormal cells might become cancerous if not treated. Most women with precancerous changes of the cervix are successfully treated and don’t develop cancer. *
Cervical Cancer is Preventable!
Most cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have never been screened or have not been screened regularly. Screening is the only way to detect the early changes that might lead to cervical cancer.  I can’t emphasize enough how important is to have a PAP test. In Ontario PAP tests are recommended at the age of 21, if the individual has ever been sexually active. If the test is normal, then screening should be done every three years.
HPV and Cervical Cancer can be prevented with vaccines.
Another way to protect against cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV, the Human Papillomavirus. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection with more than 40 types of HPV contracted through sexual intercourse, genital skin-to-skin contact and oral sex. They can infect the genital areas of men and women, including the penis, vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum and anus.
There are millions of women in Canada who still do not get regular PAP tests and/or a HPV vaccination.We are fortunate in Canada to have access to government-funded healthcare. Prevention is the best way to reduce your chances of facing a serious illness.

TO FIND A CLINIC NEAR YOU GO TO:
Find a Medisys Clinic

 

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.

New Intrauterine System (IUS) – Advances the IUD Concept

shutterstock_174197693.jpgMore Choices Available for Long Acting Birth Control
Perhaps you may remember the IUD or the Copper T that was first introduced in the 1980’s. Now there’s a new birth control device called IUS or Intrauterine System. Like the IUD (Intrauterine Device) it’s placed in the uterus and made of soft flexible plastic in the shape of a T, only its smaller than the IUD’s of the past and releases a small daily amount of progestin hormone. The hormone thins out the lining of the uterus making implantation of a fertilized egg more difficult. The T shape makes it difficult for sperm to move through the womb to reach an egg.
For those that don’t want to think of birth control on a daily basis, the IUS could be an ideal solution. The hormonal IUS is a long-acting contraceptive method. It works for five years or three years, depending on the type and is approximately 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. It is also a non-permanent form of birth control, meaning you can have it removed at any time by your healthcare provider and try to become pregnant right away. It may also provide for lighter periods

The CHOICE Project Research Findings –IUS Lowers rate of unwanted pregnancies
In a recent research project, the IUS was provided at no cost to teens as part of The CHOICE Project in the United States. The teen pregnancy and abortion rates were reduced dramatically; the teen pregnancy rate was 34.0 per 1,000 teens compared to the national average of 158.5 per 1,000 teens. Additionally, the abortion rate for teens in the CHOICE project was 9.7 per 1,000 teens compared to the national average of 41.5 per 1,000 teens.
Birth control is a personal choice. It is important to choose a method that fits your life. What is right for one woman may not be right for another. Sometimes that can be overwhelming and as always I would suggest you consult a health care professional to discuss your options.

#birthcontrol #choice #women #health

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

How to stay healthy and vital over 65

shutterstock_146561927.jpgResearch shows that people are living longer. Today a man who is currently 65 can expect to live another 17.4 years, a woman, 20.8 years*. Whether you are edging towards sixty-five or beyond or have parents that are aging, modifying risks will increase your chances of staying healthy and vital as you age. We know that physiological changes occur as we age, but there are areas of health that can be modified and will improve your health and reduce your risks for physical and mental disabilities.
There are both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors that affect healthy aging. The non-modifiable risks includes aging, gender and genetics. The major modifiable risks that we can change include an unhealthy diet, inactivity and tobacco.


The most recent research on diet, points to an increase in diagnosed diabetes to almost 2. 4 million Canadians by 2016. While almost 40% of Canadian adults are classified as having high blood cholesterol levels. You can help reduce your risk by eating a balanced diet that reduces total fat intake, controls weight, with limits to alcohol and caffeine. Studies show that there is no best diet among the most popular high profile diets, but that the best diet is the one you adhere to.   I would suggest using the Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating as your roadmap.
Obviously much has been said about tobacco and its proven links to cancer. Quitting smoking is non-negotiable. It will make a big difference in your long term health and ability to engage in an active lifestyle.
Diet and exercise go hand in hand. Being active most days and exercising with purpose is essential. This means, focusing on exercise as an activity itself, walking to do an errand is always good, but exercising with the single purpose of Increasing aerobic capacity is more effective.   Exercise can be categorized as Light activity – 1 hour a day, moderate activity – 30-60 min a day, and vigorous activity – 20-30 min a day.
You may wish to mix and match your activities, varying your level depending on your time, your energy and your circumstances. As always consult a healthcare professional before starting an exercise program. Exercise is an important ingredient to staying active and healthy. Exercise is also the single most important activity people can do to reduce the risk of age-related brain decline.
Here are a few other suggestions.   Check your vaccination records to ensure they are up to date for vaccinations such as tetanus.   Get a flu shot every year, and over sixty-five, a pneumococcal vaccination. Anyone over fifty? Consider getting the shingles vaccine as shingles, the disease increases with age.
And finally, you need to stay socially connected to remain vibrant, healthy and active. So whether you are working or retired, enjoy your interactions, your commitments, your interests and stay connected, learning new things on a daily basis!!

* Statistics Canada 2005

#healthy #happy #over65 #livelong #

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.

Menopause: Hot tips and a new technology can help keep hot flashes at bay

shutterstock_181675298.jpgAny menopausal woman will tell you that hot flashes seem to come out of nowhere, usually when they are least expected, accompanied by an embarrassing outbreak of  ‘the sweats’ which can leave you drenched in sweat, flushed, and feeling uncomfortable.Hot flashes develop when your brain reacts to changing hormone levels in your body, which happens during menopause. The change in hormone levels causes your temperature regulation mechanism to be slightly impaired. Body temperature rises too easily. Your body then wants to disperse blood flow to cool you down and sends blood to the surface, to your neck, chest and face, causing you to sweat.
While you can’t stop the changes going on in your life, there are a few things you can do to help weather those hot flashes and keep them in check. Let’s look at lifestyle options for treatment of hot flashes. The most common one is dressing in layers. Dressing in layers, with a tank top with and a shirt on top of the tank allows you to open the shirt or take it off when you start getting hot. There are also many new fabrics that will wick away the perspiration from your skin to help you cool down faster. Check travel stores and outdoors stores for products that can take the heat. Turn your thermostat down, open the windows or use an air conditioner to help maintain a lower body temperature, especially at night.
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.   Drinking lots of water helps keep your body’s cooling system from over heating. If you do have a hot flash, drink cool water right away to replace what you’ve lost.   Stay away from hot foods and spicy foods.
One of the most interesting ways of cooling quickly I’ve come across recently is a new technology called a Menopod. It’s a simple electronic cooling device that looks similar to a computer mouse. With one press of the power button, the device drops to 5 degrees Celsius or 41 Degrees Fahrenheit and provides instant relief for hot flashes. It can be used discretely anywhere and anytime.
The Menopod, contains a cooling technology inside the device. There are no fans or moving parts. When you turn the power on, it instantly drops to a cool temperature) so that you can discreetly place it on the back of your neck to stop the hot flash. By applying the Menopod to the base of your neck, you are telling your brain you are not hot and the flash decreases or goes away. This is a Canadian invention which was recently introduced at the International Menopause Society World Congress, and doctors loved it. It’s worth checking out.

In an upcoming blog, I will discuss other prescription options for those women that are having ongoing symptoms, not responding to lifestyle options.

#women #menopause #menopod #mature #healthy

 

 

 

 

 

Probiotics –Healthy or Hype?

shutterstock_462897658.jpgThere’s a growing body of research that shows bacteria in our gut is related to many health problems, from common diarrhea and obesity to urinary infections and stress.

There is also growing evidence that taking some probiotics- live microorganisms that have health benefits is not a fad and has real health benefits.  Several years ago, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, confirmed that probotics prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics by restoring the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract. This is significant as many as 30 percent of people using antibiotics experience diarrhea as a result of medication.

Just taking a look in the diary case, at your local supermarket will attest to the fact that probiotics are used in many foods today, such as yogurt, baby formula and even chewing gum!  But not all yogurts for instance are considered probiotic foods. All yogurt in Canada for instance contain live bacteria—Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus —that typically offer up to 300,000 live bacteria per serving, which most experts say is too low. Look for a yogurt that has 10 billion per serving.

Probiotic supplements in capsule form are also available using specific bacterial strains to combat various conditions –from IBS-irritable bowel syndrome and IBD-inflammatory bowel disease to traveler’s diarrhea and constipation.

There are hundreds of supplements on the shelves today but most have not undergone the necessary research to prove it.   The first step is to look for products backed by scientific research.

A recent study of brand name probiotic supplements available in Canada with clinical evidence to support specific uses was published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2659138/ .  There is also an excellent chart at the end of the article related to probiotics and the clinical data to support specific uses.  It’s is a good starting point to determine which probiotics are right for you and which have scientifically proven health benefits. Another good reference site, www.scienceofprobiotics.ca is also very helpful.

You will also need to choose a probiotic that contains specific strains known to be beneficial for a particular condition.  So read the labels. For instance, for yeast infections choose a probiotic that has specific strains shown to be beneficial for this condition.  In this case, the strains are Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14.If you don’t have a specific ailment but want to improve the overall health of your gut, choose a probiotic that has several kinds of bacteria.    But again, do your research.
Probiotics are not for everyone, so it is best to speak to your doctor before taking a supplement.

Flu Season is here!!!

   Flu HRPA email blast (4)                    

      Ontario has already documented a few cases of flu and the vaccine is HERE

      Influenza vaccines authorized for use in Canada are safe and associated with minimal side effects and can be administered to anyone over 6months of age. *We know that between 10% and 20% of all Canadians will get the flu this winter.  And for some of us it can be severe, life threatening and perhaps even life ending. About 4000 Canadians die every year of flu and related complications. Generally the very young and the very old are most at risk, but we know pregnant women, children under 5, those with asthma, COPD, heart disease and diabetes are also at significant risk compared to the general population.  And even if you personally are not a high risk individual, chances are you will spread this easily to others in your family or community who are at greater risk.  You need to protect yourself and others!
Does the flu shot eliminate every case of flu? NO.  But if you have been immunized, but still get the flu, chances are it will be much less severe than if you were unprotected.  So you are less likely to need the emergency room and in- hospital treatment.  And that’s what it’s all about.  We can’t avoid every case of influenza, but we can decrease our chance of a serious episode!

      I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get a flu shot.  I have taken mine, immunized my family, my staff and my coworkers!  Have you had yours?

      Aside from having flu shot,  here are everyday preventative measure to protect you from colds and flu

Top ways to fight the flu*
Wash your hands with soap and water
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread this way
Sneeze into your arm or sleeve
After or blowing your nose with a tissue, throw away the tissue and wash your hands.
Stay home and avoid crowds if you feel sick

*Health Canada, Flu Watch

HPV- Not just for girls & women. HPV can also cause cancer in boys & men

shutterstock_566860909.jpgThe Human Papillomavirus  (HPV) is among the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the world with some strains leading to various cancers as well as external genital warts

What this  really means is that we now understand what is causing cancer in these regions.   It’s very exciting, because if we understand what causes a cancer, we can begin to prevent it. 

According to Health Canada,  as many as 75% of sexually active men and women will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime, with the highest rate found in people under 25.  What
we don’t fully understand is why some people clear the infection and never get cancer while others have persistent infections, which leads to abnormalities.
  Cervical cancer is the most common HPV- associated cancer worldwide, so the majority of HPV research has
been focused on understanding the role of HPV and cervical disease.
Therefore the first trials involved girls and women. As a result, when the
vaccine was introduced in 2006 in Canada, it was launched as an immunization programme for school aged girls. However, as research continued, much more is now known about the role of HPV in causing cancers and disease in males.  Therefore in 2012, the
National Advisory Committee on Immunization reviewed its’ recommendations and now recommends the HPV vaccine not only for girls and women but also for boys and
men. It is so exciting that we now have a vaccine that will reduce the risk of cancers in
both sexes.  How do we know this? In my next blog, I will take a look at some of the published
research findings, which show how effective vaccination really is!