Women: Care for your heart, know your risks

Dr. Rafic Berbarie

Dr. Rafic Berbarie

“I’m worried about my risk of having a heart attack.”

Whenever I start my office notes in seeing patients, the first line I fill out is the patient’s chief complaint. The above statement is a common complaint in my general cardiology practice. But often the patients have no symptoms; rather, a friend or loved one just had a heart attack and so they are worried and want a heart “checkup.”

February is heart disease awareness in women month, and as a physician, I want you to know what can be done to help prevent heart attacks.

While awareness is growing, people are often shocked to hear that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. In fact, if you added up how many women died of cancer, the number still would not equal the number of women dying from heart disease.

And while there are established screening guidelines for several cancers, there are no unifying screening guidelines for heart disease in women.

My first recommendation is to have a good primary care doctor who is reviewing your risk factors for heart disease. Continue reading

Testosterone plays role in obesity for men

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Men, there is now a simple medical biomarker at-home test for you called CYCYP.

Look straight down and see if you can see your … mmm, anatomy. If not, likely you are suffering from visceral or belly fat, or maybe you have a vision problem.

For many years, we guys have thought of the obesity issue as something that mainly troubled the fairer sex.

It seems it has always been culturally appropriate for the ladies to be concerned about their shapely figures and how to stay attractive for us guys.

We men rarely, if ever, seem to be concerned or even discuss such matters outside of the gym.

However, the surprising news is that obesity or overweight rates for men are at 72 percent and rising, and for women it is 64 percent and stable.

Men also have a higher risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease with a life expectancy of 76 years compared to 81 for women. Continue reading

Do We Smell the Same Thing?

Medical Discovery News

Have you ever wondered if we all sense the world in the same way? Evidence suggests that the sense of smell is highly individualized, based on genetic differences. This could revolutionize scents and food flavors into custom-designed creations for individuals.

Humans have specialized neuronal cells within the lining the nasal cavities, part of what’s called the olfactory epithelium. The surface of these cells, like much of the nasal cavity, is covered with mucus. Odor molecules dissolve into this layer and are detected when they bind to receptors on the neurons. This sets off a string of biochemical events that produces a signal, which travels along the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb of the brain. Then that signal is transferred to different regions of the brain’s cerebrum. Here odors can be distinguished and characterized. These signals are stored in long-term memory, which is linked to emotional memory. That’s why particular smells can evoke memories. This process is quite complex due to the highly evolved sense of smell in humans. Continue reading

Serve healthier drinking alternatives over sweetened soft drinks

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

All of us need to think about ways to encourage healthy lifestyles for your family.

Almost 25 percent of children in the U.S. are overweight.

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about soft drinks in schools and how they contribute to the increasing obesity problem in the U.S. Some legislators have even suggested a “sin” tax on high-fructose foods and drinks.

In an effort to control the growing number of children becoming overweight, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging school officials to remove soft drinks from vending machines in schools and replace them with healthier drinks, such as milk, 100 percent fruit juice or water.

Other suggestions for limiting access to sodas while children are in school include turning off vending machines during regular school hours and placing the machines in out-of-the-way places, so they are not as noticeable. Continue reading

Statewide event to help get you moving

Drs. Victor & Michelle Sierpina

Drs. Victor & Michelle Sierpina

Where in the heck did January go? Were you one of the 83 percent of Americans who made New Year’s resolutions that have already fallen by the wayside before this month is out?

Did you vow to improve your health, to live a more healthful lifestyle, to eat more nutritiously, lose weight and get more exercise?

Maybe a gym membership seems beyond your budget, the chilly weather prevented those outdoor activities you planned, and you haven’t found a way to jump-start your exercise regime.

Here is a foolproof, no excuses opportunity to get back on track for your own good health.

It is free. It is accessible to everyone. It is independent of weather. It … is walking.

Luckily in Galveston you can walk indoors regardless of weather conditions at places like the Galveston Island Community Center, 4700 Broadway, and a few other locations as well. Continue reading

The relationship between sweat and sleep

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

If only getting to sleep were really as easy as counting sheep. More than half of Americans admit to struggling with insomnia a few nights a week.

And the loss of sleep doesn’t just make a person tired, it can affect how long they live. People who average six or fewer hours of sleep each night had higher mortality rates than those who slept seven or more. New research has provided more insight into how people can overcome or prevent insomnia.

Problems falling asleep initially, waking up during the night and then having problems getting back to sleep, feeling tired upon waking in the morning, and waking up before the alarm all count as insomnia — it’s both the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

There are two different types: primary (a direct issue with sleep) and secondary (sleep issues caused by an underlying medical condition such as depression, asthma and overuse of alcohol).

Insomnia can lead to other serious medical issues including memory problems, depression and heart disease as well as car accidents. Continue reading

Keeping Kids Healthy – Parents should urge children to not use e-cigarettes

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

E-cigarettes are easy to buy — but can hook children on nicotine. Parents may try electronic cigarettes to help them quit smoking. Teens may try them because they think they are safer than regular cigarettes.

One electronic cigarette can have as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has found cancer-causing chemicals in electronic cigarettes. Continue reading

School-age children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Many parents don’t realize that their child may not be getting enough sleep every night.

Most people feel that eight hours a night is plenty of sleep for a school-age child.

However, children between 5 and 12 years old need about 9 to 12 hours of sleep every night.

Sleep is important for children because it has an effect on their mental and physical well-being, and the hormone that stimulates growth is released while a child sleeps.

Symptoms of sleep deprivation in children include:

• Moodiness and irritability

• Tendency to ‘explode’ or have tantrums

• Over-activity or hyperactive behavior

• Reluctance to get out of bed or overly groggy in the morning

Continue reading

Krockodil finds its way to United States

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

As if designer drugs and bath salts were not enough, now drug users have another substance to abuse.

It’s called Krokodil, because it causes skin to turn green, bumpy and scaly at the injection site, like a crocodile’s skin. And what it does inside the body is just as bad.

Use of this drug began in Russia in 2002, and by some estimates, there at least 1 million users.

The chemical in Krokodil, desomorphine, was created in the U.S. in the 1930s as a less-addictive substitute for the painkiller morphine.

However, the new drug also proved to be highly addictive and even more potent.

Krokodil and heroin are both opiates, but Krokodil is much cheaper, about one-tenth of the cost of heroin, and less than one can of beer in Russia.

It is becoming the drug of choice among heroin addicts, but withdrawal from Krokodil addiction is far worse and takes much longer. Continue reading

Improve eating habits, increase physical activity as a family

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

In the last two to three decades, the number of overweight children has doubled. Almost one child in five is considered overweight.

Obesity can lead to risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, liver disease, asthma, as well as low self-esteem and depression.

The likely cause of the increase in the amount of overweight children is more than likely the same reason that adult obesity is on the rise — overeating and lack of physical activity.

Because of these findings, new guidelines have been developed by the Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents appointed by the National Health, Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The recommendations is regardless of family history: All children between the age of 9 and 11 years undergo lipid screening for nonfasting non-HDH-cholesterol levels or a fasting lipid panel. Continue reading