Archive for October, 2006

The Benefits of Red Wine

October 31, 2006

1084423113.jpgThe low rate of heart disease in France despite a diet that includes plenty of butter and cheese has come to be known as the French paradox. The same observations have been noted in other wine drinking countries suggesting that the difference in heart disease risk maybe due to the red wine! More and more benefits in red wine consumption include a reduction in the risk to develop various forms of cancer like leukemia, breast and prostate… this I call The Wine Magic!

Now comes a new study presented in The Healthfinder of the US Dept of Health and Human Servicesthat showed drinking more than three glasses of red wine a week reduced the incidence of abnormal growths and cancers of the intestinal tract by two-thirds or approximately 68% reduction compared to non drinkers. Interestingly, drinking white wine did not have the same protective effect.

What is responsible for the benefits? A single product or a combined action of substances? Whatever it is… Wine Drinkers don’t care….

In the future I would suspect that we will have more data to support the recommendation of taking a glass of red wine to prevent heart disease and cancer just like asking people now to drink milk to prevent osteoporosis.  Until that time comes…I strongly discouraged people to start drinking wine for health benefits. For now… don’t substitute healthy activities and healthy food choices with a glass of wine! However… if you drink… then better choose Red wine.

Cheers to Red Wine!

If You Are At Risk For Diabetes: Lessen Your STRESS!

October 30, 2006

1321931401.jpgThat’s True: Stress can increase ones blood sugar through the effect of the so called stress hormones.  You may have friends or parents who when gets stressed have higher sugar values.  But Can Stress cause one to become a diabetic?

One study says YES!….In this study published in October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine showed that individuals with high stress and high hostility levels have a higher likelihood of developing insulin resistance.

Insulin Resistance is the main defect present among diabetic patients.  This is a state where our body’s insulin production is affected because our body does not interact with the insulin being produced.  If this state remains unabated… it will tire out the pancreas which is the organ responsible for producing insulin leading to its failure to produce the product.  Once this happens, your blood sugar then shoots up because there is no more enough insulin that can bring sugar inside the muscle.  Our thrust in the treatment therefore of diabetes in 2006 is to combat this insulin resistance state through increase physical activity or drugs.

 This study found that there is a statistical interaction between hostility and stress level in predicting insulin resistance. Likewise other components associated with hostility like cynicism was found to strongly increase insulin resistance.  And one preventive strategy therefore for those of us at risk of diabetes  aside from increase physical activity should now include stress management.

At Risk for Diabetes?…embrace this saying… This has been and will always be my motto in life:


Don’t Let Stress Take that away from you! Know what stresses You Out…Then

 … Know How to Handle The Stress…

Read My Other Related Posts:

A Way To Stop Memory Loss!

October 28, 2006

923762090.jpgHave you misplaced our keys… or may have forgotten the name of somebody you just met… signs of aging? or just becoming forgetful? Aging is one process we cant avoid but now we have reason to be hopeful that there may actually be a way to prevent the signs of forgetfulness…and the solution is just within our reach!

Have you heard of the “Mediterranean” diet? It is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, cereals and fish. All of which except for olive oil are in abundance in our region. This diet as published in the October issue of Archives of Neurology showed that people on this diet had lower risk of being forgetful. The apparent benefit is “by protection from oxidative stress or by reducing inflammation in the brain.”

The study showed thta if you really closely follow the diet regimen, your risk of developing memory problem later on in life can be reduced by 68 percent.

The plus benefit of following the Mediterranean diet is the other benefits we can get from it as proven in other studies: protective for heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity and a series of cancers.

The question of whether the benefit is due to Omega three fatty acids?  Most likely… but NOT from taking supplements sold in the market!   In one study from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, the researchers found no advantage in taking the omega-3 fatty acids supplements at different doses compared to placebo.

What does this study tell us?Fish Vegetables and Fruits are great for meals… and great for health.  The earlier we intervene in any disease through prevention, the better.

Memory Loss is Better Prevented than Treated!

Read My Other Related Post on Forgetfulness:

Butter or Margarine? What Is Better?

October 27, 2006

9114985031.jpgI myself have been intrigued by this question: which would I recommend to my patient… margarine or butter?  During medical school, it has been taught to us that margarine as a safer heart healthy alternative to butter. Butter apparently is unhealthy because it contains too much fat as well as cholesterol and therefore bad for the heart.  On the other hand we were taught that margarine  is better since it is being made from unsaturated vegetable oils, and as such it is healthier!

But lately  research has shown otherwise especially with the knowledge we have now of trans fat! Margarine – specifically the hard stick margarine – contains large amounts of trans fats and as such WORSE than butter!  In the study published in Journal of American Medical Associationwomen who ate 4 teaspoons of stick margarine a day had a 50 percent greater risk of heart disease than women who ate margarine only rarely.

So, what ‘s my recommendation ? If you can avoid both…much better.  If you want to use margarine… read the label… use those that are trans fat free or non-hydrogenated and if you chose a soft margarine, chose a product that is low in saturated fat.

Butter or Margarine…Neither!

How Much Alcohol Is Acceptable?

October 26, 2006

5484476551.jpgThe debate on the merits and demerits of drinking alcohol has been with us for centuries.  We drink to have fun, or for some… too much fun!  The question always is how much alcohol is safe for me? Or Can I drink?

So far, more than 100 prospective studies show that drinking alcohol in MODERATION can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and sudden cardiac death by as much as 20% to 40%.  These heart benefits we all know are the reasons why we drink!

However the risks associated with alcohol intake begin to exceed benefits until middle age, when cardiovascular disease begins to account for increasingly large share of the burden of disease and death.  The Harvard Health Study Group has given these guidelines as follows:

  • For a person with liver disease, and people taking one or more medications that interact with alcohol, moderate drinking offers little benefit and potential risks.
  • For a 30-year-old man, the increased risk of alcohol-related accidents outweighs the possible heart-related benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
  • For a 60-year-old man, a drink a day may offer protection against heart disease that is likely to outweigh potential harm (assuming he isn’t prone to alcoholism).
  • For a 60-year-old woman, the benefit/risk calculations are trickier. More than ten times as many women die each year from heart disease than breast cancer! However, studies show that women are far more afraid of developing breast cancer than heart disease, something that must be factored into the equation.

So what’s moderate drinking? That’s 1-2 drinks a day. 

and What’s a Drink?  Its….12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey).  Each of the them delivers about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol.

Yes…You can drink… but my recommendation is:

Drink in Moderation! 

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

October 25, 2006

30465829701.jpgWater is probably one of the most essential elements for daily living.  It is important for our body to function properly…it flushes out toxins , moists our mucosal membranes in the throat, and helps deliver important nutrients to the different cells in the body. It is actually free and available but are we taking enough?

We lose water from our perspiration and breathing… we also lose at most 1.5 liters from the urine.  Together with water from our food , it is estimated that at least 8 cups of water per day should suffice to replenish what is lost daily.  Replacement is important because the body will not function properly if water is deprived.

What is an acceptable recommendation as proposed by the Institute of Medicine is the following:

  • Men should consume roughly 3 liters per day or 13 cups  of water daily
  • Women should consume 2.2  liters per day or 9 cups of water daily

So… how many of us are following this guideline? How many think drinking 3 glasses of water a day is enough because anyway one is not thirsty?

Some symptoms that you will feel if you’re not taking enough water include: dizziness, lightheadedness, muscle weakness, dry mouth and headache.

You will also know that you’re taking enough water if you are producing 1-2 liters of colorless or slightly yellowish urine.

My Healthy Practice Tip: drink one glass of water before and after each meal and at bedtime.  Plus a couple more in between!  That should do the trick.

Drinking Enough Water Can Make A Difference!

Read My Other Healthy Practice Tips Posts:

Can Cell Phones Cause Brain Tumors?

October 24, 2006

imagesquio.jpgIve been asked about this question several times.  We are using cellphones everyday for both personal and business use.  Even some kids are starting to use this technology.  But are they SAFE?

 Evidence so far is pretty limited and the best available studies on this subject was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001.  with one follow up case control study done in UK published in the British Medical Journal recently in 2006

Both studies reached similar conclusions…that so far the use of hand held phones poses no threat to the general public in terms of increasing one’s risk to develop tumors especially the brain.  That with the data analyzed…there has been no increase in the incidence of glioma or meningioma up to the year 2004.

That’s great news to all of us who can’t live without our cell phones tucked inside our bag or belt.  However the authors cautioned that… the findings should be seen as an estimate of the risk at an early stage of the use of this technology.  We all are aware that technology advances so rapidly that complications arising from their use may be underestimated based on current findings.

My only advise on this matter  is … more of a concern on the rapid use of cell phones among children less than 10 years old.  I strongly recommend to limit the use of cell phones on the kids. We still have no firm data on cellphones and the developing brains of these kids.  Their impact may not be known until decades after.

 Use The Benefits of Your Cell Phones… With Care!  

The Internet Addiction

October 23, 2006

21592908151.jpgInternet has revolutionized the way we do things whether in business, personal life or in Medicine.  We can now diagnose diseases from areas where there are no doctors based on Internet transmission of images.  I find it useful to browse through medical journals every morning to see what’s the latest and what’s no longer acceptable in terms of treatment or diagnostic tools.   However it is said that approximately 5 to 10% of adult population are now hooked to Internet and are spending more time then they should.  The era of Internet ADDICTION!

In one study done by Stanford University researchers recently published in Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine,it is estimated that” more than one in eight U.S. adults finds it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time and about one in eleven tries to hide his or her on-line habit.”

The implication of the study is that a sizable number of subjects had their marital or social relationships suffering due to Internet use.  So far however no clinical or medical disorder has resulted arising from Internet addiction.  But what we know about the Internet is that it may promote addictive behaviors and pseudo-intimate relationships like “cybersex.”

Some of the signs that a person is suffering from Internet Addiction are:

  1. disregard for health or appearance,
  2. sleep deprivation
  3. decreased physical activity and social interaction with others
  4.  dry eyes
  5. carpal tunnel syndrome and
  6. repetitive motion injuries of hands and fingers. 

Enjoy the benefits of the Internet but as the saying goes…

Too Much of a Good Thing Can be

BAD for Your Health!

For A Better Sex Life…

October 21, 2006

1953191542.jpgThis post is for the guys…and their partners too! A Hope for Premature Ejaculation!

Do you know that premature ejaculation is the most common sexual problem among men?  Even more common that erectile dysfunction or impotence? It affects approximately 35% of male population…whew that large! Seldom however is this topic ever discussed because most men don’t think this as a problem but the partners actually do….But there’s hope …

A new antidepressant drug called dapoxetine designed specifically to treat premature ejaculation has proven to be safe and effective in a study involving 2000 men published in September issue of Lancet.

This drug works specifically to delay ejaculation. But, continued use of this drug has been shown to produce some side effects like nausea, headache among others.  “It worked both in lengthening ejaculation time and in patients’ feeling control over ejaculation and both subjects’ and partners’ feelings of satisfaction with intercourse” 

The results showed that after 12 weeks, men taking dapoxetine increased their time to ejaculation from less than 1 minute to 2.78 minutes on the 30-milligram dose ,  to 3.32 minutes on the 60-milligram dose.  That a great improvement and for sure makes the men less insecure in bed.

This drug is available in Europe but not yet approved in the US.  So for now…the use of depoxitine for premature ejaculation is considered an ” off label” use.

There you go guys…

Better Sex means Better Satisfaction

for a Better Relationship!

The Tale of Too Much Testosterone

October 20, 2006

imagessa1.jpgThe macho image of being fit with bulky bodies has driven a lot of men to self prescribe testosterone… hoping to boost energy and muscle mass.  Indeed too little testosterone can be bad to ones health and well being but too much can have a more lasting ill effect!

A study published in Journal of Biological Chemistry showed that “Too much testosterone can kill brain cells. “ Tests done on brain cells in the lab showed that too much testosterone results in cells to self-destruct… a process similar to what happens with Alzheimer’s Disease.

This finding will definitely have an impact among athletes who tend to abuse steroid and hormones to enhance competitiveness through an increase in endurance and muscle mass.  But at the expense of nerve cell damage… which in the long run can mean dementia.

This is a tale that we want to remain a tale…not a reality!

Be Safe… Be Happy With What You Have!

How To Lower Your Child’s Risk To Allergy!

October 19, 2006

2408478167.jpgMy kids have allergies and I know of a lot more kids of friends with allergies that I equate this problem to diabetes epidemic in adults… such that almost someone in the family is suffering from the disease.

Any study therefore that can help future parents reduce their child’s risk to suffer from allergy will be most welcome. This new study published in the Allergy, August issue  looked at this scenario in detail. This study involved 4000 children from birth to 4 years of age.

What They Found was:

Children who ate fish before 12 months had LOWER odds of developing asthma, allergic skin diseases and nasal allergies by the time they reach age 4!

It is in line with recent evidence that the omega 3 fatty acids present in fish ,which have anti-inflammatory properties help in improving  ones immune system and thereby lower allergy risk.

Clinical Implication of the study is that the result will change the way we view fish.  We are taught to delay fish up to 3 years of age because it may increase a child’s allergy risk… but this new finding will definitely change that view.

Opinions and evidences keep on evolving…this ever changing field of medicine which we call … Science ….

So again…

Let’s Enjoy The Benefits of Fish…This Time…Earlier!

Read My Other Related Posts:

Foods To Avoid If You Have Arthritis

October 18, 2006

3045974510.jpgAs we age … whatever work we do… we eventually succumb to annoying joint pains.  The aches and pains of growing old so they say.  It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million Americans have a form of joint disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis. Our parents may have and you may have it too as we age.

Often times our patients complain that certain foods affect the onset of joint pains.  Almost always we don’t put too much weight on the food triggers except if we are talking about Gouty Arthritis due to excessive uric acid in the blood.  Here, food triggers are very important.  But with this new study published in the Journal GUT our attitude will have to change.

The study showed that the “production of antibodies to certain foods is strikingly increased in the gut of many patients with rheumatoid arthritis  It may be that hypersensitivity to certain foods leads to a flare-up in the joints.” 

The foods known to trigger the joint pains included : milk, eggs, pork and fish.

This study further elucidates an important fact that medical practitioners always fail to understand:

Patients know what they feel…and that instead of relegating the complaints of food triggers to joint pains as mere psychological in nature… there may in fact be a true immunological basis to it!

My recommendation: If you feel a certain food exacerbates your joint pains then avoid it.  You may be right that certain food that you like can trigger the inflammatory process.

Joint Pains?… Check Your Food!

The French Fries Freebie!

October 17, 2006

imagesert.jpgGo to any malls in any country… and you’ll see fast-food stations serving the yummy french fries!  Be it the children or the parents… you can see them eating their hearts out after a hectic day of shopping.  What a fun activity to watch and what a way to bond with your kids.  Not only will you show the kids the wrong way to eat but push them to gain the weight we’ve been wanting them to lose. 

As to the parents… do you want Diabetes with your order of Fries?  A recent study showed that Diabetes is now a freebie for every order of your fries!  yahoooo… we all like freebies! 

In a survey done by the Harvard School of Public Health study involving 84,500 women showed that:

  1. those that “splurged” on french fries just once a week were 21 percent more likely to get diabetes than those who ate none. 
  2. those that eat five servings per week of any white potatoes, whether mashed and baked, raised the risk by 14 percent!

The problem with french fries…aside from the fat… is that… it is a food with high glucose load!  I therefore strongly suggest that if you’re obese, or has a family history of diabetes… eating french fries with bread is loading yourself with free sugar!  So the next time you crave for potatoes…switch to sweet potatoes instead! 

Diabetes?…No Thanks For the Freebie!

Read my Other Related Posts:

No Baby Yet?… Check Your Husband’s Weight

October 16, 2006

imageswer1.jpgInfertility is pretty common nowadays…being blamed includes stress, pollution or just having no luck!  Almost always in general, it is blamed on the woman for not having the right” ground” for conceiving.  However only recently is a study done by a reputable institution, The National Institutes of Health, that looked at the men as being the reason for the infertility.  The study published in the September 2006 issue of Epidemiology,  showed men with increased body mass index (BMI) were significantly more likely to be infertile than normal-weight men.  BMI which is computed based on a person’s weight and height, provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people.

It has been known that women who are obese have a difficult time getting pregnant however no data on infertility are known among obese men. 

This new study showed that:

  • A 20-pound increase in men’s weight can increase the chance of infertility by about 10 percent.
  • Men’s BMI was an independent risk factor for infertility. This after adjusting for other known risk factors like cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, and solvent and pesticide exposure.
  • There was a general increase in infertility with increased BMI: reaching a nearly 2-fold increase among obese men.

The most likely explanations for infertility among obese men included:

  • Overweight men usually have less sexual intercourse than their normal weight counterparts and this could influence fertility.
  • Recent studies showed lower semen quality for overweight and obese men, as well as hormonal differences.

This study further illustrates another impact of obesity on ones health… this time on infertility which can be frustrating to the couples trying to have a baby.  Whether achieving a normal BMI among those participants in the study can result in normal fertility remains to be seen… although medically, once a person who is obese loses weight… the medical problems associated with it returns to baseline average population risk.

So Guys… Careful with Your Weight Or Else…

Read My Other Related Posts:

How To Keep Your Weight Off

October 14, 2006

imagesaq2.jpgYou have seen a lot of your friends who successfully lost weight but then the next time you meet them, they’ve gained back their weight! The so called yo-yo phenomenon is known to the medical field.  It is often said that losing excess weight is often easier than keeping it off.

One new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine October issue is very relevant to those who are trying to keep their lost weight off!  This study shows that “stepping on a scale every day, and adjusting eating and exercise habits accordingly, can go a long way in helping dieters maintain a weight loss.”

Word of Caution: Just because you’re stepping on the weighing scale, you expect not to regain your weight is wrong… you have to use whatever information on the scale to either do extra careful with food intake or increase physical activity.  The author advised that “ Paying attention to weight — and taking quick action if it creeps up — seems to be the secret to success.” 

The techniques that were provided to the participants that  prevented weight regain included:

  1. advice to eat breakfast,
  2. get an hour of physical activity each day and
  3. weigh themselves daily.

It is important to note that the women who stepped on the scale each day were 82 percent less likely to regain lost weight compared to those who did not weigh themselves daily.  But if no information is derived from weighing yourself and no changes were done in the diet or exercise, daily weighing had little impact on the amount of weight regained.

Thus…. use the information from the scale to make constructive changes in your eating and exercise habits to ensure that you prevent weight regain!

Step on That Scale and Learn From It!

Read My Other Related Posts:

Four Short Walks is Better for High Blood Pressure

October 13, 2006

135780823.jpgDay to day, we take the same route in our lives… from the time we wake up , go to work then come home to spend time with our family.  Sometimes… we even complain that we have no time to spend an evening dinner with our kids…how much more to exercise.  However, whatever we do in life… personal health is a matter of committment rather than choice!

Prehypertension is defined as a blood pressure of 120/80 to 130/89 mmHg.  This level is no longer considered normal.  This level is a red flag that if one does not care enough to be healthy… then you’re doomed to suffer later on in life as this can lead to heart attack and strokes.  But just like prediabetes or high cholesterol… we can do something about it as long as we care.

So here’s an exciting study to prove that we definitely have time to do something in our lives that will matter most to our health.  This study published in the Journal of Hypertension this September showed that taking four short walks a day to lower your blood pressure may be more effective than one long walk.

The effect of four 10-minute walks was compared to one 40-minute walk in reducing blood pressure in 20 people with prehypertension.  The result was rather interesting because those that did the short walks decreased their blood pressure by the same amount, the effect of which lasted for 11 hours, compared to only seven hours after the long walk.

This result maybe true to the effect of short bouts of activity in the whole spectrum of other diseases like diabetes and cholesterol problems.  Now you cant say..” I dont exercise because I dont have time to go to a gym”.

My Tip is for one to do your morning ritual of any activity for 10 minutes then do it again by lunch and by the time you take your afternoon snacks and then do the 10 minute walk to home. Once you’ve made this routine…it’s now part of your lifestyle.

Four Short Walks Can Mean A Lot To You and Your Health!

Read My Other Related Posts:

Learning A Lesson From the Movie CLICK!

October 12, 2006

imagesfghj.jpgOnes desire to succeed in career is healthy as long as ones personal health and family life are kept a PRIORITY!

One movie I found surprisingly good was the movie CLICK that I happened to see while on the plane back to the Philippines.  This is a movie that tells about a workaholic advertising executive Michael Newman played by the comedian Adam Sandler who came across an eccentric salesman who offered him a universal remote control that controlled his life.  The remote control eventually overruled his choices that went fast forward to his desires in the future… to the point that he saw his future being overruled by selfish desires to succeed in his career to the point of neglecting his family resulting in divorce and poor family relationships.  The worst things he regretted were not having the time to spend supervising his kids while growing up, no time for his loving wife and not having the time to spend with his father.  He regretted not having the time to even say and express his love to his family!

I definitely recommend everyone to watch this movie… anyone who may have wandered in path and have put more time in career than personal life…to the point of putting ones personal health and family life as nothing more than supporting roles.

My brother in law’s personal motto says it all:

 I maybe a learned scholar, a succesful business man or a good father and husband…but until I am all three…I am not successful”

Tips To Address Childhood Obesity

October 11, 2006

imageslp.jpgAs parents… we work for our future and the future of our kids.  Sometimes though we neglect the fact that spending little time with our children can have a lasting impact on their future.  So I thought of writing this post after a 10 day hiatus while in the US.

I’ve been very busy combining fun with education while attending 2 big conventions on Diabetes- The World Insulin Resistance Conference in Las Vegas and A Postgraduate Clinical Endocrinology Update in San Francisco.  It is only now while waiting for my flight back home in the NW Lounge that I got the time to sit down and write one highlight of the meeting.

It is really sad to note that sleeping is the second activity children most often do after watching TV!  It is likewise amazing to know that one burns more calories sleeping than watching TV! Other facts that bring about childhood obesity basically are in front of us but we neglect to assign importance to them.

  • 7 to 12% of children ages 6 to 8 skip breakfast.  We know that skipping breakfast is tantamount to gaining weight.
  • 56% of 8 year old in one survey drink a soda per day and 1 in 4 drinks soft drinks. A 12 oz soda can result in a 18 to 19 lb weight gain per year!
  • By the time our children reach the higher grade… PE time decreases when in fact this is the age of 10 to 14 that you see a rise in obesity prevalence.
  • There is a strong correlation between fitness and academic performance.

These facts are so true that you start to think about your own kid.  And start doing something to address the issues that will confront you later on.

Here are some tips I got from our meeting:

  1. When we discuss about weight with our child… we discuss about HABITS rather than the HABITUS. Don’t say “you’re gaining weight” but rather “Let’s do this walking and swimming daily”
  2. A New food especially vegetables must be introduced 10x before that food is accepted.  So don’t be frustrated if you’re child refuses to eat the brocolli …just make sure you introduce the food again later.
  3. Children learn by example just like when the child learns a new language! So make sure you do what you preach.
  4. Bribery and Masking are discouraged because they decrease the child’s food preference.  Masking a vegetable to look like meat will still defeat your purpose of trying to let your child learn to like veggies.

It was one lecture that I enjoyed most and I thought of sharing with you the things I learned that we can all practice to help curb childhood obesity. It is not our child’s fault if they gained weight… sometimes we just love them too much that we give them too much freedom to choose what they want to eat!

Again… Your child learns BY EXAMPLE!

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Be Careful…Flu Spreads with Air Travel

October 3, 2006

images.jpgWhether you’re in business or leisure, air travel has been part the way to get things done.  As an educator and clinician, air tavel has always been a way of updating myself in the ever changing medical field. This time, Ill be traveling again to attend the World Insulin Resistance Meeting in Las Vegas and then proceed to San Francisco for the annual Clinical Endocrinology Update.  This will definitely entail a lot of air travel and again the possibility of catching air infection like flu.  .

In a study done by the group from Harvard- and MIT , published in the Public Library of Science- Medicine, the researchers concluded that indeed flu spreads easily during air travel.  When air traffic fell after the Sept. 11 attacks, this resulted in a drop in the number of people flying internationally and fell by around 27 percent.

Looking at data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the years between 1996 and 2005, they noticed that the 2001-2002 flu season was highly aberrant: there was a delay in the peaking of flu season as well as a delay in the apparent spread of the flu season across the US.  The data suggest the impact of the change in the air traffic due to the drop in passengers after the September 11 attacks.  However in regions where there was no flight restrictions like France, there was no delay in flu activity during the 2001-2002 flu season.

“The more domestic travel, the faster the spread of flu, and the more inbound international travel, the earlier the influenza season begins.”

With the rainy season therefore, it is expected that the rate of flu infection will increase.  I therefore advise travelers to be more cautious especially if your seatmate starts sneezing and coughing.   It is also important to note that influenza is caused by a variety of viruses and usually the mix changes slightly from year to year thus flu vaccine is given yearly.  Likewise I recommend that flu vaccine should be given to all after the age of 50 and those with chronic illnesses like Diabetes and Heart Disease.  People whose daily activities require meeting people that entails a lot of hand shaking and document exchanges should also get vaccinated.

The best way however to avoid Flu in our day to day lives is plain and simple: FREQUENT HADWASHING… specifically to avoid spreading and catching the bug!

Enjoy Air Travel… Get Vaccinated!

What Is A Living Will…

October 2, 2006

We seldom discuss about a Living Will because we believe we’re healthy enough that nothing is going to happen to us.  Wikipedia defines a Will as a human trait that produces conscious choices.  But have you ever wonder…what happens if we are sick enough to make those choices…..

116782631.jpgJust heard the news from a friend regarding the sudden passing of her father complaining only of abdominal pain before collapsing.  This sudden death again is almost always heart attack which has been shown not to be sudden but should have manifested signs and symptoms prior to the event.  And this weekend I was in Dumaguete to pay my respect to my uncle who passed away after several months of being bed ridden due to a lung disease secondary to chronic smoking.  Even the movement of eating caused him to be short of breath.  This prompted me to write something about advance directives so our loved ones will know what we want if cases of life decisions come in but we as patients are no longer capable of giving.  Any competent individual 18 years old and above can write these directives.

Part of our training at the Mayo Clinic is talking to patients about this right of the patient.  The following information is sourced from the Mayo Clinic protocol with the sole purpose of public information:

Living will. “This written, legal document spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don’t want, such as mechanical respiration and tube feeding.”

Medical power of attorney (POA).” the medical POA form is a legal document that designates an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you’re unable to do so. The medical POA document is different from the power of attorney form that authorizes someone to make financial transactions for you. If you don’t appoint a medical POA, the decisions about your care default to your spouse. If you aren’t legally married, decisions fall to your adult children or your parents.”

It is also possible to combine these two types of advance directives with a conversation with your loved ones.  Every situation may be different because there are medical conditions where long term prognosis will be good and others not.  

It is therefore best that we talk about what’s in our living will and explain how our values shaped our decisions.

Planning option What does it do? Benefits Limitations
Living will Details your feelings on certain medical treatments and interventions. Gives your doctors and loved ones an idea of the care you’d prefer if you can’t speak for yourself. You can’t possibly plan ahead for all situations. In those instances, your doctor and loved ones would use this as a guide.
Talking with your loved ones Lets you elaborate on your feelings about medical treatment. Helps your family better understand your wishes. Gives a greater understanding of your approach to each situation. A conversation isn’t as legally binding as written instructions.

 If You Love Your Family…

Have A Living Will.

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