Lunch Bunch: An ounce of prevention — check-ups and health screenings

On May 14, 2013, UTMB’s “Lunch Bunch” health information series presented Drs. Catherine Hansen and Pamela Havlen with “An Ounce of Prevention: Check-Ups and Health Screening.” A video of the talk is online.

 

 The Lunch Bunch series offers great speakers, new insights and a free light lunch. For additional details, links to other videos and upcoming sessions, visit utmbhealth.com/LunchBunch, call 832.505.1600 or email VictoryLakes@utmb.edu

Kale: Can you really eat it?

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

At a recent fundraiser for Meals on Wheels, the wonderful chef at the Galveston Country Club served a lovely salad made with kale.

A friend sitting with us who runs one of Galveston’s finest healthy eating establishments expressed an opinion that many of us may hold about kale: it is a nice ornamental in your garden or a garnish on the plate, but who would eat that bitter stuff?

So why, when a friend of my wife’s gave us a couple big bunches of organically homegrown kale was I as happy as a 10-year-old with a new pony? Because kale is a really healthy, nutrient-dense addition to the menu plan and offers many ways to enjoy it. Americans are falling in love with kale like never before, even raw kale. Continue reading

Make room for some down time

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

It seems to be a mark of status in our society to be forever busy. Ask someone how they are and a likely response is, “Busy.”

Now there is nothing wrong with attending to business, family and other responsibilities. However, it seems to me that the slavish value we give to always being busy often goes too far.

What about down time? What about taking time when we just stop our endless busyness to rest, reflect, recuperate, and recharge? Isn’t this just as great a value to our health and happiness as constant motion?

My favorite Chinese philosopher, Lao Tsu had much wisdom to offer us on this topic. More than 2,500 years ago, Lao Tsu said “Always be busy, and life is beyond hope.” And on the benefit of quietude: “Who can wait quietly while the mud settles? Who can remain still until the moment of action?” Here’s another: “A truly good man does nothing, yet leaves nothing undone. A foolish man is always doing, yet much remains to be done.” Continue reading

Women’s hearts, women’s health

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

In case you missed it, February was Women’s Heart Health Month, perfectly fitting with Valentine’s Day in the middle of the month. It isn’t too late to wear a red dress to support awareness of heart disease in women.

The pink ribbon of breast cancer awareness is easily recognized and well known, but the red dress of heart disease is not. Yet, roughly 10 times more women die from heart disease annually as do from breast cancer. Since the mid 1980s, more women have been dying annually of heart disease than men.

Part of the problem here is focus and part is history. Breast cancer is enormously emotional, frightening, and potentially disfiguring. The good news is that it is more and more curable with good screening, early detection, treatment and follow-up. Also, many of the same lifestyle choices to reduce breast cancer risk also reduce heart disease risk.

An important issue is that heart disease symptoms in women are often subtle and less obvious than in men. The common triad of chest pain brought on by exercise and relieved by rest, which is a common, presenting sign of heart problems is not always so clear-cut in women. Because women’s heart disease tends to occur in smaller vessels and is more diffuse symptoms can present more generically. These include fatigue, shortness of breath, indigestion, nausea, faintness, upper back, neck or shoulder pain.

Let me give you the example of Lila, a lovely woman in my practice now in her mid 60s, who is now on the transplant list for a new heart. She seemed to be at low risk for heart disease. She was a nonsmoker, thin, active, with well-controlled blood pressure, blood sugars and cholesterol. She had also breast-fed her several children lowering her risk of breast cancer. Continue reading