Archive for the ‘high blood pressure’ Category

Preventive Health For All Men

January 18, 2016

Do you know that most men spend more time taking care of their cars or planning a vacation than they do taking care of their health?  In the U.S., women live 5-7 years longer than men.  I believe one of the reasons is that women seek out regular medical care throughout their entire lives.  They see a obstetrician during child bearing years; they get regular mammograms; they obtain routine PAP smears and other preventive health measures for their entire lives.  Men, on the other hand, stop seeing a doctor around age 18 and never see the inside of a medical office until middle age.  During that time they can have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, and prostate diseases.

But there are some things men, in particular, should keep in mind when it comes to maintaining their health:

Heart disease and cholesterol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 200,000 people die each year from preventable heart disease and strokes, with men being significantly more at risk than women.

Men should begin screenings for these issues in their mid-30s.

Annual health examinations should begin at around age 50.  This should include a test for anemia, a cholesterol level, a chest x-ray if the man is a smoker, a PSA test for prostate cancer, and a blood pressure determination.

For those men with an elevated cholesterol level, they can lower the level by adhereing to  a healthy diet consisting less heavy in red meats and carbohydrates, and limiting alcohol consumption, i.e., 2 drinks\day. Men of all ages should also continue to stay physically active by incorporating aerobic activities, i.e., any activity that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week, into their lifestyle, as well as strength training.

Prostate health

There is some debate among health care professionals about when men should begin screening for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the CDC recommend against screening unless men begin experiencing the symptoms associated with prostate cancer. These include frequent urination, especially at night, pain during urination and difficulty fully emptying the bladder.

Prostate screening can begin earlier in life, around age 40, if there is a high risk for prostate cancer, such as family history, or bothersome lower urinary tract symptoms.

Testosterone

As men age, lowering testosterone levels can become another area men should monitor.  Significantly low testosterone levels can predispose a man to low bone mineral density with subsequent bone fractures, erectile dysfunction (impotence) and low energy levels.

Testing for testosterone levels is done through a blood test.

Bottom Line: these are the minimal preventive care that all men should consider around age 30-40.  Remember if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, may apply to your car, but not to your body.  You need to take preventive measures with your body just as you do with your automobile.

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Blood Pressure Up? Lower It Without Medication

September 24, 2015

Millions of Americans have hypertension. Millions are taking medication to lower their blood pressure. Now the new guidelines indicate that blood pressure should be less than 120 systolic or the highest number and less than 80 diastolic or the lowest number. Here are a few ways to lower the blood pressure that do not require medication.

Exercise more

By following current guidelines on exercise—30 minutes a day, most days a week—you can bring down your blood pressure significantly. If you’ve been sedentary, try aerobic exercise to reduce your systolic blood pressure—the top number—by three to five points, and the bottom by two to three,.

People who get moving are often able to reduce the number of hypertension medications they’re on, he adds. Pick something you like—walking, running, swimming, cycling—and stick with it.

Eat bananas

You probably know that eating too much salt can raise blood pressure, but most people aren’t aware of the benefits of potassium, which counters sodium’s ill effects. Most don’t get enough of this mineral.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people with hypertension may especially benefit from upping the amount of potassium in their diet. Adults should get at least 4,700 milligrams a day. A few good sources: bananas (422 milligrams each), a baked potato with skin (738 milligrams), orange juice (496 milligrams per cup), and nonfat or low-fat yogurt (531–579 milligrams per 8 ounces).

Cut salt

People with normal blood pressure, moderately high blood pressure, and full-fledged hypertension can substantially reduce their blood pressure by cutting salt intake. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that people with hypertension limit their intake of salt to less than 1,500 milligrams (600 milligrams of sodium) a day.

We get most of our sodium from processed foods, so stick with whole foods. When you do eat foods with nutrition labels, be sure to check their sodium content.

Don’t smoke

Smokers are at higher risk of hypertension. But even though tobacco and nicotine in cigarettes can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure, smoking itself is not thought to cause chronic hypertension.(Instead, factors associated with smoking, like heavy alcohol consumption and lack of exercise, might be responsible.)

Nevertheless, quitting smoking may help you lower your blood pressure a bit, the other health benefits are countless.

Lose weight

Research has consistently shown that dropping just a few pounds can have a substantial impact on your blood pressure. Excess weight makes your heart work harder. This extra strain can lead to hypertension, while losing weight lightens your cardiovascular workload.

If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight may be enough to get your blood pressure under control.

Cut back on alcohol

Even though moderate drinking—no more than one drink a day for women, and two a day for men—has heart-health benefits, drinking too much can elevate blood pressure in some people.

Research has found that consuming more than two drinks a day increases the risk of hypertension for both men and women. If you do drink, enjoy your alcoholic beverage with a meal, which may blunt its effects on blood pressure.

Reduce stress

Managing the stress in your life effectively may help reduce your blood pressure, but there’s not enough research to offer a step-by-step stress-reduction plan for everyone.

There are a number of things that people have developed as practices to induce a state of relaxation and … which one is better, which is the right one, these are questions that remain to be answered in clinical trials. Nevertheless, Burg recommends that people with high blood pressure look into stress management and find an approach they will be able to practice consistently.

Yoga

Yoga is a great de-stressor. A recent study from India recently found that yogic breathing exercises reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension, possibly through their effects on the autonomic nervous system, which governs heart rate, digestion, and other largely unconscious functions.

But people should not think of yoga as providing the same benefit as aerobic exercise. Each potentially produces benefit in different ways.

Skip caffeine

Coffee has some health benefits, but lowering blood pressure isn’t one of them. Caffeine can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, even in people without hypertension.

If you have high blood pressure, it’s a good idea to moderate your caffeine intake to about two cups of coffee per day. You can check whether you’re sensitive to caffeine’s blood-pressure-boosting effects by checking your blood pressure before and within a half hour after consuming your caffeinated beverage. If it increases by 5 or 10 points, you could be caffeine sensitive.

Meditate

Meditation—whether it involves chanting, breathing, visualization, or all the above—can be an effective stress-management tool for many people, Burg says. Again, the important thing is that it makes you feel good, and that you can commit to doing it consistently.

Bottom Line: High blood pressure should be controlled in order to avoid heart disease or a stroke. Many people can decrease their dependence on medication if they use a few of these ideas to lower their blood pressure. Of course, if the blood pressure does not decrease, you should speak to your doctor about one of the many blood pressure lowering medications.

Non Medical Solutions for Erectile Dysfunction

February 10, 2015

Men suffering from sexual dysfunction can be successful at reversing their problem, by focusing on lifestyle factors and not just relying on medication.

In a new paper published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers highlight the incidence of erectile dysfunction and lack of sexual desire among men aged 35-80 years.
Over a five-year period, 31% of the 810 men involved in the study developed some form of erectile dysfunction.

Sexual relations are not only an important part of people’s well-being. From a clinical point of view, the inability of some men to perform sexually can also be linked to a range of other health problems, many of which can be debilitating or potentially fatal.

The major risk factors for this are typically physical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and side effects from commonly used medications. Other risk factors include being overweight or obese, a higher level of alcohol intake, having sleeping difficulties or obstructive sleep apnea, and age.

Many of these risk factors affecting men are modifiable thus offering men an opportunity to do something about their condition. Even when medication to help with erectile function is required, it is likely to be considerably more effective if lifestyle factors are also addressed.

Erectile dysfunction can be a very serious issue because it’s a marker of underlying cardiovascular disease, and it often occurs before heart conditions become apparent. Therefore, men should consider improving their weight and overall nutrition, exercise more, drink less alcohol and have a better night’s sleep, as well as address risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
This is not only likely to improve their sexual ability, but will be improve their cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of developing diabetes if they don’t already have it.

Bottom Line: Lifestyle changes can significantly improve a man’s overall health as well as his erections. So get moving, watch your diet, and make every effort to control your blood glucose and blood pressure.

Can’t Get It Up? Your ED (Erectile Dysfunction) May Be Telling You That Your Health Is Headed Down

September 22, 2014

Nearly every man has an occasional problem with his erection. However, if it is a persistent problem, it may be an indication of a more serious health problem. This blog will discuss some of the common conditions that may not have any symptoms that are associated with ED and what you need to do if you do have ED.

High blood pressure

An estimated one in three men with high blood pressure has no idea they have it, and impotence could be a vital warning sign. As we get older, our arteries become narrower and less elastic, which forces our blood pressure to rise gradually as the heart beats ever harder to get blood around the body. This damages the arteries, reducing blood flow to the penis.

What you can do: Ask your GP to check your blood pressure. Lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise and lowering salt intake may improve erectile dysfunction.

If you are already taking blood pressure medication and suffer from impotence, mention it to your doctor as some pills, such as Thiazide diuretics and beta blockers, can trigger or worsen it and your GP may be able to prescribe an alternative.

Heart disease

The many stresses of modern life, compounded with poor diet, lack of exercise, drinking and smoking, can put you at risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, both of which cause narrowing of the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart — and to the penis. Weak erections can be an early sign of heart trouble.

‘The blood vessels in your penis are 1mm to 2mm wide, much smaller than those in the arteries to your heart (3mm to 4mm wide), so they show up signs of narrowing more quickly.

Impotence occurs, on average, about three years before a heart problem appears, especially in men in their 40s or 50s. Men with erectile dysfunction are 50 times more likely to have heart problems than men with normal heart function.

What you can do: Get your heart and cholesterol levels checked. Improving your diet and boosting exercise levels can reduce your cholesterol levels. Your doctor might also recommend a cholesterol-lowering statin drug. There is some evidence that statins can help with erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes

More than a million people in the U.S. are believed to have undiagnosed diabetes — a condition where your body cannot process the sugar in your blood effectively. Left untreated, this can lead to damage to the blood vessels and the nerves, and can cause poor blood flow to the penis, too.

What you can do: Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to irreversible ED. If you are diagnosed with, or already have, diabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels stable (through diet and possibly medication) may help prevent impotence.

More than 50 per cent of diabetics will have ED at some point, and it becomes more common as they grow older.

Enlarged prostate

The prostate is a small, doughnut-shaped gland that sits under the bladder, around the urethra.

Prostate problems are common with age — typically these are prostatitis, a bacterial infection which causes the gland to become swollen, and an enlarged prostate, which is linked to testosterone.

Both can trigger pain, difficulty passing urine and temporary problems with erectile dysfunction.

Prostatitis can be treated with antibiotics (it usually clears within four weeks) and an enlarged prostate may shrink after treatment with an alpha blocker such as Flomax or Rapaflo or the use of drugs that block the effects of testosterone, reducing the gland’s size.

Treatments for prostate cancer — surgery, radiotherapy, ultrasound, cryotherapy and hormone therapy — can trigger erection problems.

Early prostate cancer can be treated surgically with a nerve- sparing technique, which gives a better chance of erections afterwards.

Erectile dysfunction can be an indicator of other medical problems. If you are experiencing a regular loss of erections or are unable to obtain an erection most of the times you engage in sexual intimacy, you should check with your physician.

Preventive Healthcare For Women – What You Need To Know

January 21, 2013

Women have had an interaction with the healthcare profession from birth to old age. They have achieved good health as a result of frequent visits to their doctors and practiced good health habits. This blog is written for the purpose of providing women with suggestions for continuing the process of maintaining good health.

Why Screening Tests Are Important
Remember that old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Getting checked early can help you stop diseases like cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis in the very beginning, when they’re easier to treat. Screening tests can spot illnesses even before you have symptoms. Which screening tests you need depends on your age, family history, your own health history, and other risk factors.

Breast Cancer
The earlier you find breast cancer, the better your chance of a cure. Small breast-cancers are less likely to spread to lymph nodes and vital organs like the lungs and brain. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, your health care provider should perform a breast exam as part of your regular check-up every one to three years. You may need more frequent screenings if you have any extra risk factors.

Screening With Mammography
Mammograms are low-dose X-rays that can often find a lump before you ever feel it, though normal results don’t completely rule out cancer. While you’re in your 40s, you should have a mammogram every year. Then between ages 50 and 74, switch to every other year. Of course, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings if you’re at higher risk.
Cervical Cancer
With regular Pap smears, cervical cancer (pictured) is easy to prevent. The cervix is a narrow passageway between the uterus (where a baby grows) and the vagina (the birth canal). Pap smears find abnormal cells on the cervix, which can be removed before they ever turn into cancer. The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a type of STD.
Screening for Cervical Cancer
During a Pap smear, your doctor scrapes some cells off your cervix and sends them to a lab for analysis. A common recommendation is that you should get your first Pap smear by age 21, and every two years after that. If you’re 30 or older, you can get HPV tests, too, and wait a little longer between Pap smears. Both screenings are very effective in finding cervical cancer early enough to cure it.
Vaccines for Cervical Cancer
Two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, can protect women under 26 from several strains of HPV. The vaccines don’t protect against all the cancer-causing strains of HPV, however. So routine Pap smears are still important. What’s more, not all cervical cancers start with HPV.
Osteoporosis and Fractured Bones
Osteoporosis is a state when a person’s bones are weak and fragile. After menopause, women start to lose more bone mass, but men get osteoporosis, too. The first symptom is often a painful break after even a minor fall, blow, or sudden twist. In Americans age 50 and over, the disease contributes to about half the breaks in women and 1 in 4 among men. Fortunately, you can prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Screening Tests
A special type of X-ray called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) can measure bone strength and find osteoporosis before breaks happen. It can also help predict the risk of future breaks. This screening is recommended for all women age 65 and above. If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you may need to start sooner.
Skin Cancer
There are several kinds of skin cancer, and early treatment can be effective for them all. The most dangerous is melanoma (shown here), which affects the cells that produce a person’s skin coloring. Sometimes people have an inherited risk for this type of cancer, which may increase with overexposure to the sun. Basal cell and squamous cell are common non-melanoma skin cancers.
Screening for Skin Cancer
Watch for any changes in your skin markings, including moles and freckles. Pay attention to changes in their shape, color, and size. You should also get your skin checked by a dermatologist or other health professional during your regular physicals.
High Blood Pressure
As you get older, your risk of high blood pressure increases, especially if you are overweight or have certain bad health habits. High blood pressure can cause life-threatening heart attacks or strokes without any warning. So working with your doctor to control it can save your life. Lowering your blood pressure can also prevent long-term dangers like heart disease and kidney failure.
Screening for High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure readings include two numbers. The first (systolic) is the pressure of your blood when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) is the pressure between beats. Normal adult blood pressure is below 120/80. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is 140/90 or above. In between is prehypertension, a sort of early warning stage. Ask your doctor how often to have your blood pressure checked.
Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol can cause plaque to clog your arteries (seen here in orange). Plaque can build up for many years without symptoms, eventually causing a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking can all cause plaque to build up, too. It’s a condition called hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Lifestyle changes and medications can lower your risk.
Checking Your Cholesterol
To get your cholesterol checked, you’ll need to fast for 12 hours. Then you’ll take a blood test that measures total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). If you’re 20 or older, you should get this test at least every five years.
Type 2 Diabetes
One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Diabetes can cause heart or kidney disease, stroke, blindness from damage to the blood vessels of the retina (shown here), and other serious problems. You can control diabetes with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medication, especially when you find it early. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.
Screening for Diabetes
You’ll probably have to fast for eight hours or so before having your blood tested for diabetes. A blood sugar level of 100-125 may show prediabetes; 126 or higher may mean diabetes. Other tests include the A1C test and the oral glucose tolerance test. If you’re healthy and have a normal diabetes risk, you should be screened every three years starting at age 45. Talk to your doctor about getting tested earlier if you have a higher risk, like a family history of diabetes.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s spread through sharing blood or body fluids with an infected person, such as through unprotected sex or dirty needles. Pregnant women with HIV can pass the infection to their babies. There is still no cure or vaccine, but early treatment with anti-HIV medications can help the immune system fight the virus.
HIV Screening Tests
HIV can be symptom-free for many years. The only way to find out if you have the virus is with blood tests. The ELISA or EIA test looks for antibodies to HIV. If you get a positive result, you’ll need a second test to confirm the results. Still, you can test negative even if you’re infected, so you may need to repeat the test. Everyone should get tested at least once between ages 13-64.
Preventing the Spread of HIV
Most newly infected people test positive around two months after being exposed to the virus. But in rare cases it may take up to six months to develop HIV antibodies. Use a condom during sex to avoid getting or passing on HIV or other STDs. If you have HIV and are pregnant, talk with your doctor about reducing the risk to your unborn child.
Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Most colon cancers come from polyps (abnormal masses) that grow on the inner lining of the large intestine. The polyps may or may not be cancerous. If they are, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Removing polyps early, before they become cancerous, can prevent it completely.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
A colonoscopy is a common screening test for colorectal cancer. While you’re mildly sedated, a doctor inserts a small flexible tube equipped with a camera into your colon. If she finds a polyp, she can often remove it right then. Another type of test is a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which looks into the lower part of the colon. If you’re at average risk, screening usually starts at age 50.
Glaucoma
Glaucoma happens when pressure builds up inside your eye. Without treatment, it can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness. Often, it produces no symptoms until your vision has already been damaged.
Glaucoma Screening
How often you should get your eyes checked depends on your age and risk factors. They include being African-American or Hispanic, being over 60, eye injury, steroid use, and a family history of glaucoma. People without risk factors or symptoms of eye disease should get a baseline eye exam, including a test for glaucoma, at age 40.
Bottom Line: It’s good health sense to talk with your doctor about screening tests. Some tests, such as a Pap test or breast exam, should be a routine part of every woman’s health care. Other tests might be necessary based on your risk factors. Proper screening won’t always prevent a disease, but it can often find a disease early enough to give you the best chance of overcoming it.

Secrets For the Salt Sensitive

January 5, 2013

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I am a baby boomer and have joined the middle age club. I have a history of heart disease in my family and both parents were hypertensive. As a result I’m very salt sensitive. Salt added to your diet tends to hold onto water and increase your blood volume thus making your heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body. For those of you who have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or are just salt sensitive, here are a few suggestions for limiting the salt intake in your diet.

You can easily tick off a list of salty, sodium-rich foods: potato chips, popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, pickles, and more. But there are plenty of high-sodium foods you probably aren’t aware of. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans get almost one-third of their sodium from breads and rolls, chicken and chicken dishes, pizza, egg dishes, and pasta dishes. That’s partly because these foods contain added salt and partly because we eat them so often. Here’s another staggering number: up to 80% of the salt in your food was put there by someone other than you.

Why does salt matter? Your body needs a little bit of the sodium in salt to contract muscles, send nerve impulses, and maintain a healthy balance of fluids. But too much sodium can increase blood pressure, make the heart work harder, thicken and stiffen blood vessels, and more. Higher salt and sodium consumption have been linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
How can you avoid these hidden salt mines? Read food labels carefully. Look at both the amount of sodium per serving and the recommended daily sodium allowance percentage. Shop for products labeled “salt free,” or “no salt added,” or “low-sodium.” Avoid condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and salad dressings, which tend to be loaded with salt.

Another good strategy is to limit your use of prepared and processed foods, which tend to be made with a lot of salt. Adding more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to your diet can also lower sodium and increase potassium.
Restaurant foods are often loaded with salt. Many restaurants now offer low-sodium choices. If your food is being made to order, don’t hesitate to ask that it be made without salt.

Use Ms. Dash or potassium containing salt substitutes. (Potassium salt substitutes should be avoided in patients with chronic renal failure) Try filling your salt shaker with a low- or no-sodium salt, or replace it with a shaker full of herbs and spices or a squeeze of lemon.

Bottom Line: Although salt may make food taste better, it can be hazardous to your health. If you are salt sensitive, consider alternatives that don’t affect the flavor of your foods but do protect your heart and lower your blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure-A Silent Killer

November 14, 2012

Control Your Blood Pressure And Protect Your Hear

More men than women in the United States have hypertension, that men are less likely than women to be aware of their condition and to be taking medication to reduce the high blood pressure. The study appeared from the national health and nutrition examination survey.

The data from the study showed that less than 80% of the men were aware of their condition of high blood pressure compared with 85% of women. In addition, 70% of men were taking medication for hypertension compared with 80% of women with hypertension.

Bottom line: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may apply to your car but not to your heart and blood vessels. Hypertension is a silent disease and often has no symptoms until complications occur. See your doctor at least once a year to have a blood pressure determination.

Sit Down and Die Early or Get Up And Add Years to Your Life

July 16, 2012

A sedentary lifestyle can not only impact your quality of life but can shorten it as well. Americans have moved from the rural areas and the farm to urban environments which are accompanied by prolonged sitting. Sitting for long periods leads to clogging of the blood vessels, heart disease, kidney disease and even early demise. A simple solution is to get off of the chair and move around even if you have a sedentary job and lifestyle. This blog will review the evidence for more exercise and less sitting down.

A study from the British Journal of Medicine points out that the population life expectancy in the U.S. would be 2 years higher if adults reduced their time spent sitting to less than 3 hours a day and 1.38 years higher if they reduced television viewing to less than 2 hours a day. Cutting time spent sitting down could increase life expectancy by up to 2 years, a life table analysis showed.

Limiting time watching television to less than 2 hours a day added 1.38 years of life, and cutting total sitting time to less than 3 hours a day increased life expectancy by 2 full years.
They noted, however, a number of mechanisms that could explain the association of sedentary behaviors and mortality, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. I also think it is possible that it is very easy to down a few beers and a bag of potato chips or a pint of ice cream while watching T.V. for 3 hours a day. You all know what that kind of nutrition can lead to. Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity, all of which lead to increased time in the doctor’s office and in the hospital with a shortened life expectancy.
Bottom Line: Doctors need to walk the talk and start walking the walk, i.e., get up and get moving. We need to set and example and get up off the sofa at the end of the day, turn off the T.V. and turn the couch potato into a fit, healthy and energetic care provider.

Primary source: Katzmarzyk PT, Lee IM “Sedentary behaviour and life expectancy in the U.S.A.: a cause-deleted life table analysis” BMJ Open 2012; DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000828.

Men, Start Your Engines…Take The Road To Good Health

July 8, 2012

Unfortunately, men, including myself, often have the attitude that if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  As a result men don’t take as good care of their health as they should.  There are some men who will spend more time, energy, and money taking care of their cars than they do of the wonderful machine called their body.  Men seldom see a doctor after they leave their pediatrician’s office at age 20 and never get medical, and especially preventive health care until they over 50 years.  That’s 30 years or a third of your life without any fine-tuning or maintenance.  Is it any wonder that our bodies breakdown in middle age?  It doesn’t have to be that way.  In this blog I will summarize an article, 6 Questions to Ask Your Doctor, by Dr. Matt McMillin that appeared in WebMD the Magazine on July 8, 2012

Your Diet

But eating right most of the time is an essential part of taking care of yourself. No matter how much you work out you can’t maintain a healthy weight unless you stick to a healthy diet. So be sure to satisfy your appetite with good-for-you foods, and make an effort to keep an eye on calories.

Men are often surprised that even though they are exercising four days a week, they are not losing weight. It’s all about portion control.  For example many men drink beer. To burn off the 150 calories in one can of beer, the typical man needs to jog a mile in less than 10 minutes or do 15 minutes of stair climbing.

Exercise

It’s simple: To get or stay fit, you have to get and stay active. According to the latest federal guidelines, that means a cardio workout of at least 30 sweat-inducing minutes five days a week, plus two days of dumbbell workouts or other weight-training activity to build and maintain muscles. Crunched for time? Kick up the intensity to vigorous exercise, such as jogging, riding a bike fast, or playing singles tennis, and you can get your cardio workout in just 25 minutes three days a week.

Exercise protects against so many conditions — from heart disease to colon cancer to depression — that the best choice is to start exercising now, no matter how healthy you are or think you are. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, see your doctor first and get medical clearance before engaging in a good exercise program.  I also suggest that you read the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Ledge, M.D.  This book will give you the motivation and the schedule for a real get-in-shape program consisting of diet and exercise. 

 

Stress Reduction

Stress is harmful. It can wreak havoc on your sex drive, increase your blood pressure, and overwork your heart. Here’s the facts: middle-aged and older men who reported years of moderate to high levels of stress were more than 40% more likely to die than men with low stress.

One of the best stress busters is exercise.  You might also try yoga or meditation in addition to exercise.

The D word-Depression

At least 6 million men in the United States suffer from depression each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. However, many guys don’t like to talk about their feelings or ask for help. Identifying those problems is a crucial part of any man’s checkup. Depression is more than simply feeling sad, unmotivated, and without energy. Depression is a real illness, and it can be life-threatening. That’s especially true for men, because it increases the risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Depression is also the leading cause of suicide — and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives.

A lot of men are reluctant to discuss their feelings with friends, spouses, their clergyman\woman, or their doctor. Identifying those problems is a crucial part of any man’s checkup. Depression is more than simply feeling sad, unmotivated, and without energy. Depression is a real illness, and it can be life-threatening. That’s especially true for men, because it increases the risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Depression is also the leading cause of suicide — and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives. “I discuss how common it is so they see they are not isolated,” says White, who screens men for depression during their annual checkups. “Too often, it takes until they reach the end of their rope before they come to see you about it.” Depression is also the leading cause of suicide — and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives. Medication, exercise, and therapy are all treatment options.

Get your zzzz’s-sleep

It’s hard to overestimate sleep’s importance. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are all linked to insufficient sleep, as are excess weight and mood disorders. A recent study showed that young men who skimp on shut-eye have lower levels of testosterone than men who are well-rested. Lower testosterone translates to a decrease in sex drive and sexual performance including impotence or erectile dysfunction.  Meanwhile, older men risk high blood pressure if they don’t get enough deep sleep.

Sleep disorders can also have physical causes. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for example, disrupts breathing and forces you to wake up to draw a deep breath. It affects an estimated 4% to 9% of middle-aged men (twice the rate in women), yet as many as 90% of cases go undiagnosed. OSA raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure as well as car crashes, which are more common among the sleep-deprived.

You can vastly improve your sleep by practicing good sleep hygeine: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, exercise regularly and early in the day, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening, don’t eat large meals at night, skip the alcohol right before bedtime, and use the bedroom for sleep and sex only. If these measures don’t help, see your doctor.

Good Health Equals Good Sex

 Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a concern that goes beyond the bedroom.  Years ago, ED was thought to be just a psychological problem or do to testosterone deficiency.  Now we know that ED is most a problem of disease in the blood supply to the penis and now we have learned that ED is a risk factor for heart disease.  Men with ED are twice as likely to have a heart attack and nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease than other men. Men who have trouble with erections tend to be overweight or obese, and to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The younger you are, the more likely your erectile dysfunction is a sign that you are at risk of heart disease.

Many of the men White sees for ED ask for quick fixes such as erection-enhancing drugs like Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis. For a long-term solution, you need to make some lifestyle changes. Sexual health depends on getting and staying fit, physically and mentally.  Yes, Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis will help but the real solution is to get fit and open up those blood vessels to the heart and also to penis.  Your heart and your sexual partner will thank you.

Bottom Line:  Men, you can’t buy good health.  It doesn’t come in a bottle or with one visit to the doctor’s office.  It comes with discipline, hard work, and the commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle.  Good health is within reach of every man.  Get off of the couch and into the pool, on to the jogging track, or into the gym.  You can thank me latter!

Dr. Neil Baum is a physician in New Orleans and the co-author of ECNETOPMI-Impotence It’s Reversible.

Get Your Blood Pressure Taken in BOTH Arms-Could Save Your Life

March 18, 2012

Patients commonly get their blood pressure taken in only one arm. However, there has been a finding that there is may be a disparity between your right and left arm. People whose systolic blood pressure — the upper number in their reading — is different in their left and right arms may be suffering from a vascular disease that could increase their risk of death.
The arteries under the collarbone supply blood to the arms, legs and brain. Blockage can lead to stroke and other problems. That’s why the blood pressure should be taken in both arms should be routine.
The arteries that run under the collarbone can get blocked, especially in smokers and diabetics. If one artery is more blocked than the other, then there is a difference in blood pressure in the arms.
Doctors should, for adults — especially adult smokers and diabetics — check the blood pressure in both arms. If there is a difference it should be looked into further.
A report in the prestigious British Medical Journal, Lancet, found that a difference of 15 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or more between readings was linked with an increased risk of narrowing or hardening of the arteries supplying the lower limbs, called peripheral vascular disease.
The difference in blood pressure was also associated with a 70 percent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 60 percent increased risk of death from any cause.
Finding peripheral vascular disease early and treating it by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol as well as giving up smoking can help reduce the risk of death.
Bottom Line: Next time you visit your doctor and have your blood pressure taken, request that the doctor or nurse measure your blood pressure in BOTH arms. It could save your life.