Just a spoonful of sugar . . . is really not good for you

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img_1852Hey, everybody.  Thanks for checking in with me at the blog.  If you are new to MyHealthyMatters, this is the companion blog to my weekly radio show, coincidentally called HealthyMatters.  The show airs on Sunday mornings, at 7:30 a.m. Central Time on WCCO 830 AM radio in Minnesota and surrounding states and streams live at that time on wcco.com if you aren’t in our part of the world.  Anyway, thanks for spending some time with me on the blog.  Go ahead and subscribe by e-mail (at upper right or at the end of this post) if you like what you see.

Preview of this post

Here’s what I’ll cover today:

  • The sordid past of sugar and fat research.
  • The great sugar vs fat debate of 1967.  And 1987.  and 2007.  And today.  This is one debate that never seems to go away.
  • A few words about processed foods.
  • And of course, links to further information for the extra-curious reader.  You know who you are.

So with apologies to Mary Poppins, here we go . . .  Continue reading

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections (but no pictures) from 9/11 and this week’s Emergency Preparedness topic

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nycA remembrance:

Fifteen years ago today at around 8:00 Minneapolis time, I was in the Intensive Care Unit at HCMC.  I was a medical resident on that day doing my rotation in Nephrology and was visiting a critically-ill patient in the ICU with really bad kidney problems.  My attending physician on that day was my med school adviser and my residency program director, Dr. Morris Davidman.  Though no longer practicing, he’s still a mentor, role model and friend.  He was the first person I talked to about what was certain to be a much-changed world  that day.

I remember that day well, and today marks its 15th anniversary.  That is long enough that my own kids were too young to remember and a whole generation is growing up not having been born yet in 2001.  To me that’s a strangely weird thought.  I’m not going to write about those events per se, as enough is already written and said about it and I have no insight whatsoever that each of you reading this doesn’t already have.  And I’m not posting pictures of the tragedy after reading a provocative blog post from a New Yorker basically saying that the none of that is helpful  . . . we all know what it looked like.  Instead, I’m showing the NYC skyline as it looks now from my recent ride on the Staten Island Ferry.  I do love New York.

That being said, I think it therapeutic and natural for us to remember where we were, what we were doing, and then stop and remember those who were impacted so directly – people in New York City and Washington, people on those planes, their loved ones, the firefighters and cops and first responders.  Perhaps take a few deep breaths and remember that though we cannot prevent bad things from happening, we can still dedicate ourselves to doing good in the world and remember the terrific and loving people in our lives.

So I remember standing next to Dr. Davidman watching the TV above the head of a critically-ill and comatose patient.

Do you remember where you were?


National Preparedness month

Regional 2016 National Preparedness Month Logo

“Americans have been tested by trial and tragedy since our earliest days — but year after year, no matter the hardship, we pull through and forge ahead.”

                                   President Barack Obama

September is National Preparedness month so that was the topic today on our Healthy Matters radio broadcast.  I guess it was apropos given that today is September 11.  To help me, I invited Mark Lappe, the Director of Emergency Management here at my hospital.  Did you know most hospitals have a Department of Emergency Management?  I knew my hospital does, given that it is a major Level I trauma center, but I guess I didn’t know that most other hospitals do as well.

We talked about community-wide preparedness as well as the steps hospitals take to stay prepared for bad situations.  Like the generators that kick in at HCMC (my hospital) within 2 seconds of a power outage across a campus spanning 6 downtown city blocks.  Wow.  Then we moved to emergency preparedness in your own homes, so as promised, I’m going to put some links here for more information.  You’ll find them in a bit.  In the meantime, listen to Mark on the podcast if you wish.

To read President Obama’s full proclamation, click here.

Why worry?

When I think about 9/11 and about the other disasters that we hear about just about every week in the news, I often wonder if it makes any difference whether we plan for them or not.  Have you ever felt that way?  After all, between flooding in Louisiana and shootings in Orlando and terrorism on the French Riviera, it’s easy to feel like we live in a whole new world in which we are powerless to defend ourselves.

But I resist that thought whenever it hits.

Certainly, there are loads of events that we are powerless to either predict or prevent.  That being the case, I think I find myself drawing two conclusions:

  1.  I am not deterred by awful events in living my life.  I will continue to travel, attend big celebratory events, meet new people, welcome the immigrant to our community, learn about new cultures, enjoy fine art, and most of all see new places in the world.
  2. But I think it wise to listen to those among us who have expertise in keeping us safe, like Mark Lappe on my radio show today

The first point reflects my belief that we need to keep on living boldly and not let scary things paralyze us.

I know terrorism is real but the terrorists score a victory when we demonize immigrants, pre-judge people in the name of safety, allow the government to invade our privacy and scale back our liberties  . . .  all out of fear.  Benjamin Franklin was right when he said:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”

And the Zika virus is also real and scary.  But we have the knowledge, if perhaps not the willpower, to do something about it, so let’s do it!  See below for one suggestion on how you can act.

And earthquakes and tornadoes and flooding are real as well.  But we can do something about climate change and when natural disasters do occur, we can do like we always do and help each other out.

Which leads me to the 2nd point above, now that I’ve been on my soapbox a little bit (sorry!) and that is that a bit of advance planning seems to make some sense.  So now onto some resources you may wish to check out in keeping your family safe and secure during emergency situations.

Great resources and a call for action

A good place to start is ready.gov which is a comprehensive site from the US Department of Homeland Security.   Click around the site for a while; it is really comprehensive with information on a variety of topics for you and your family.

One of the recommendations from the experts to prepare your own family for emergencies is to make an Emergency Plan.   Get help with making a plan for your family here from FEMA.  There are printable checklists of supplies you should have in an Emergency Kit.  (One aside . . . those of you who watch The Big Bang Theory may know that Sheldon has not one, but two, emergency kits in his apartment.  And he’s a genuine genius.)

We learned on the show that texting is preferable to calling on the phone if you or a loved one is caught in a disaster situation.  Teach your kids to text you “I’m OK and I am currently at location here” if you ever find yourself separated.  Phone lines, even cellular lines, often don’t work in disasters!  It’s also a great idea to write down all your contact information.  The FEMA site has some downloadable sheets to help with as well.

A call for action

I encourage you to contact your member of Congress and US Senator and urge funding for overcoming the Zika virus.  We have the medical knowledge and the public health knowledge to solve the spread of Zika.  We just need our leaders to act!  Or if you don’t favor such an approach (hey, people have different views on how best to act and that’s OK) then tell your elected officials your own view.  It’s no longer just in other countries (though we should have acted to help other countries long before this), it is our neighbors in Florida and Puerto Rico we are talking about with Zika.

Public enemy #1

Public enemy #1, Aedes aeygptii

 

So some thoughts on risk and planning, disasters and planning for disasters.  I admit you probably have as much insight into these issues as I do, which I’d love to hear!  Next post will be about something medical.  Since this is a medical blog and all.

Thanks for stopping by!

David

 

 

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Posted in Dr. Hilden's reflections, Health in the News, Public Health, Tips from Healthy Matters radio broadcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Our 400th radio show!

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DRH 400This Sunday morning, September 4, at 7:30, Denny Long and I will take to the veranda at the WCCO Radio booth at the Minnesota State Fair.  It will be our 16th time doing a show live from beneath the shadow of the Giant Slide and sandwiched between Sweet Martha’s cookies and the Ye Olde Mill.  But more significantly, it will be the 400th Healthy Matters radio broadcast.

That’s right.  Since our first broadcast in January 2009, we have done 399 one-hour shows and I tell you what – we’re going to keep doing it until we get the hang of it!  The 400th attempt will be on Sunday which just so happens to be one of our popular State Fair shows.

So consider this your invitation to join Denny and me on Sunday morning!  Last week we had a pretty good crowd at the radio booth around the corner of Underwood and Carnes, and that was only for the 399th show, small potatoes compared to the awesome-ness of the 400th show.

Love this Tweet from my awesome friends at HCMC (hint – hit the play button on the picture):

 

So come to the fair on Sunday, Minnesota (and Wisconsin, and Iowa, and North Dakota, and South Dakota, or where ever you are from . . . last week we had a wonderful woman from San Diego . . .).  If you ask a medical question live on the air, I just may have a special gift for you, one never knows . . . !  

As life-changing and memorable as it will be to be in the audience for the 400th show on Sunday, there is LOTS more to do at the Fair.  Here’s a recap of some cool activities related to medicine. Continue reading

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Posted in Eyes and vision, HCMC, Health and wellness, Medical research, Preventive care, Traumatic Brain Injury | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The finer things: Beethoven’s 5th, Dutch bicycles, and naked saunas

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Concergebouw interior emptyBeethoven, bicycles in Holland, and naked saunas.  Now if anything screams “get your in-depth medical information here” . . . well let’s just say you’ve come to the wrong place.

But among other things, my life the past two weeks has involved, yes, numerous encounters with my man Beethoven, dodging bicycles in Amsterdam, and naked saunas in Finland.

I’ve had an interesting two weeks.  I’ve been away from the Mother Ship (aka Hennepin County Medical Center) for a while so haven’t had a chance to write or post anything medically relevant.  Instead I’m going to subject you, dear reader, to some musings from my recent travel experiences when I was fortunate to serve as the tour physician for the Minnesota Orchestra as it played incredible concerts to sold-out European audiences.  I’ll try to weave a bit of medical perspective into this post but mostly get ready for my ramblings about things that make me happy  – which when you think about it is a cornerstone to a healthy life.

And if you want to know what Beethoven has in common with either Dutch bicycles or with naked people in Finnish saunas, well you’ll just have to read on at your own peril. Continue reading

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Posted in Diet and exercise, Dr. Hilden's reflections | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Surgeon and TV star Dr. DiBardino talks heart valves

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Dr. Daniel DiBardino

Dr. Daniel DiBardino

Hello from warm and muggy Minneapolis!  Yup, it’s summer here in the upper Midwest in my hometown.  Hope you’re cool and comfortable where ever you are checking in from.

Today’s topic is loosely about heart surgery and I’ll highlight one of my new surgeon colleagues at HCMC, Dr. Daniel DiBardino.

To get us started I talked a bit about heart valves in the last post which you can check out here.  Since that post I had a fantastic guy on the Healthy Matters radio broadcast:  Dr. Daniel DiBardino is a cardiac surgeon on the staff of Hennepin County Medical Center.  This guy is not only a skilled cardiothoracic surgeon but he’s also a bit of a celebrity.  And as I found, he’s the kind of guy that you warm up to in the first minute that you meet.  That’s Dr. DiBardino in the picture and you can learn more about him here.

My first bit of advice is to listen to the podcast of the Healthy Matters show featuring Dr. “DiBar” – just click my face here:

HM logo newer

I think Daniel is my first radio show guest (in nearly 8 years of broadcasts) that is also a genuine TV star.  You may have heard about the TV series Boston Med which aired on ABC back in 2010.  Boston Med was a real-life documentary series in which camera crews followed the action at a few of the premier hospitals in the United States.  Dr. DiBardino was a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston at that time and he featured prominently in the very first episode.  Totally cracks me up that his nickname on the show was “Dr. DiBar” – when you meet him it totally fits that he’d have a catchy nickname.  Here is the entire first episode of Boston Med if you want to check it out:

 

 

What do heart valves do?

In my last post, which you can check out here, I talked about the basic physiology of the heart.  I thought about getting into some more detail here in this post, but as I started to write more about the heart and what can go wrong, I quickly realized why it takes a a dozen years or more to become a cardiac surgeon.  This is a huuuge topic so I abandoned that effort.  Rather, I will simply offer a number of links for you to read more as you wish.  As always, I try to provide links only to reliable sources, the Internet being a pretty tough place to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

Overview of valve disease

First, for a great and readable overview of heart valve disease, click on this page from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the US Government’s National Institutes of Health – or NIH – which is our country’s major route for funding quality research).

Here’s an echo (ultrasound) picture of the four chambers of the heart – you can even see the valve leaflets of the mitral valve on the right side of this picture (though in reality that is the left side of the heart  . . . medical images are usually looked at backward like this!)

iStock_000063540139_Large

Aortic stenosis

One of the more common valvular diseases is aortic stenosis.  The aortic valve sits between the left ventricle (the big, muscular pumping chamber) and the aorta (the biggest artery in your body and the major conduit for blood to your body).  When the valve gets stenotic (or narrowed), it fails to open all the way. The heart then has to beat harder and harder and harder to get blood out to your body.  This can lead to feelings of dizziness, chest pain, or shortness of breath.  If untreated, it can lead to heart failure.

One in ten people over age 75 will get aortic stenosis.  Yikes!  The treatment is surgery and I’m happy to say surgery really works, as scary as it may sound.  To understand more about aortic stenosis, watch this short video from the Alliance for Aging Research:

 

Aortic insufficiency and mitral insufficiency

Also known as aortic or mitral regurgitation, this is just about the opposite problem of stenosis.  Valvular insufficiency is the situation where the valve fails to close all the way hence it gets leaky.  As we learned elsewhere, a leaky valve means blood goes the wrong way.  For more info, I recommend checking out the information from the American Heart Association here.

Random trivia since I love trivia:  the mitral valve is so named because someone thought the valve looked like a bishop’s mitre (hat).  Never learned that in med school!

Bishop's_mitre,_Bishopsgate,_London

What about the other valves?

Most heart valve problems occur in the aortic and mitral valves which are located in the high-pressure left side of the heart.  There are two other valves on the lower-pressure right side. They are the tricuspid valve (so named for its three leaflets) and the pulmonic valve (which is located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery leading to the lungs).

These right-sided valves can also have problems and are sometimes implicated in congenital heart disease (which means problems present at birth) but they are far less likely to need replacement as adult.

Valve surgery

As we talked about with Dr. DiBardino on the radio broadcast, valve surgery can involve replacement either with a mechanical valve made from manufactured materials or a bioprosthetic (aka tissue) valve which uses tissue from animals.  Both are perfectly acceptable options.   A good explanation on these two types is in this video.  I invite you to pay particular attention to the explanation of the differences between these 2 types of valves which starts about one minute into the video.

 

Dr. DiBardino

In my job I encounter all sorts of characters, and I’m just talking about the doctors!  This past week was really fun hanging out with Dr. DiBardino, one of the terrific surgeons at my hospital.  If you need a heart surgeon, you ought to know about this guy who practices at Hennepin County Medical Center.  As always, to reach any doctor any HCMC, call 612-873-6963.  Or check out HCMC.ORG.  And learn more about Dr. DiBardino here.

Thanks for subscribing to MyHealthyMatters.org.  What?  You haven’t subscribed by e-mail?  Do it today right below on this page.  Don’t worry I won’t flood your inbox with too many e-mails and I will never get all commercial and try to sell you stuff.

Bye!

David

 

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Posted in Cardiology, Geriatrics and aging, Surgery, Tips from Healthy Matters radio broadcast | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick tips: Heart valves, prolapsed uterus, gout

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Hey hey hey!  

Last week was an “Open Lines’ show and thanks to the best listening audience in the world, I had more questions than I had time for answers.  Here’s another edition of Quick Tips from the listener mail bag.DRH Letterbox

If you missed the show, click the Healthy Matters logo below and listen to it on your time, your terms, your device.  I’m all accommodating like that.logo_healthy-matters

 

I’ll cover heart valves, uterus prolapse, and gout – all questions from listeners.  Remember these are quick tips only so not complete answers.  It occurred to me that none of these topics are in area of expertise so I’ll be very general.  As always, my medical thoughts are only for advice and information.  You should see your own doctor for your own personal needs. Continue reading

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Posted in Cardiology, Geriatrics and aging, Joint and Muscle issues, Tips from Healthy Matters radio broadcast | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pearls from Medicine Science: Tai chi may be good for arthritis

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Reading this stuff . . . so you don’t have to.

Journals photoA few months ago I launched the first in what I hope will become a recurring series:  Pearls from Medical Science.  As many of you know, I strive to provide high-quality, scientifically accurate medical information on Healthy Matters, both the radio show and this blog.  As do most doctors, I get inundated with medical journals, which are the repository of what the medical science community has learned about our various medical conditions.  Since nobody can read all this (or want to), every now and then I will present one thing I’ve learned from what doctors call (with apologies to Hemingway and Fitzgerald), the “literature.”

This week I’ll highlight a fascinating study about arthritis and the ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi.  If you have arthritis – no matter your age – read on.  Oh yeah, at the end of the post I talk about the Minnesota State Fair.  Don’t miss it! Continue reading

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Posted in Geriatrics and aging, Joint and Muscle issues, Pearls from Medical Science, Physical Therapy | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dementia is not normal aging. It’s a disease.

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Alois_Alzheimer_002Hi, everybody!  I’m back after a bit of a hiatus for a bit of family vacation.  Thanks for checking in!

This week’s topic is dementia.  We talked about it with an expert colleague on our Healthy Matters radio broadcast and as I mentioned on the air, I’ll use this blog post to dig a little deeper into this expansive topic

Do you know who that is in the picture at left?  That’s Dr. Alois Alzheimer.  He’s the Bavarian doctor who had a patient, 51 year old Auguste Deter, who back in 1901 was in the Frankfurt asylum.  She was forgetting things and acting strangely – a condition he called presenile dementia.  Sadly, she was exactly the type of people who ended up in places like asylums at that time.  She was to become the first patient with what later became known as Alzheimer’s Disease, named for this doctor who found strange formations in her brain tissue at autopsy.  More on that later.

But rather than get into the science of dementia right away, I’d like to get you thinking about what dementia can look like on a more humanistic level.  Please check out this 3-minute video – it’s really poignant and tender.

Preview of this post

Here’s what you will find in this post should you choose to read further:

  • Meet Dr. Abigail Holley.  Someone who is uniquely positioned to care for older adults.
  • Dementia 101.  The scientific/medical basics.
  • Links to resources to help you or a loved one who may have cognitive decline.  There are some terrific links scattered throughout this post that are interactive, reliable, and really informative.  Look for the blue underlined links and click away!
  • Two videos – one above about the human aspect of dementia and one near the bottom from the scientific community about latest research. Continue reading
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Posted in Geriatrics and aging, HCMC, Medical research, Medications, Primary Care, Tips from Healthy Matters radio broadcast | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

There’s a virus in my carry-on: Travel Medicine

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Earth_Eastern_Hemisphere

Source: NASA

There is almost nothing I’d rather be doing than going places all over the world.  In fact, I am usually planning the next trip while I’m on the way home from the current one.  And if you are fortunate enough to have the means and freedom to travel – this post is for you!  (Important to note, I think, that not all people have the privilege of world travel due to lack of freedoms, economic realities, and so forth).

I think international travel is one way in which we can come together with people who are different than us.  Learning other cultures, visiting other places, perhaps being the one in the minority (racially, culturally) in a strange new land.  These are good for us.  It’s hard to judge other people when you’ve visited their awesome country!  I’ve met some of the most interesting, perplexing, lovely, hospitable people when abroad.  And our Earth has the most breathtaking natural wonders!

Just for kicks – to get you thinking . . .

  • What’s the weirdest place you’ve been to?  I think for me it may be Cappadocia, in Turkey.

    Cappadocia_Chimneys_Wikimedia_Commons (2)

    Photo: Benh LIEU SONG via Wikipedia Commons

  • What’s your most favorite place to visit?  Me:  Paris.  No contest

    Palais_Luxembourg_Sunset_Edit

    Photo: Benh LIEU SONG via Wikipedia Commons

  • What’s the most life-changing place you’ve been to?  Me:  West Bank, Palestine.  I’ll tell you about it sometime.
Sunset in the West Bank.

Sunset in the West Bank.

And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in all this travel enthusiasm.  In 2014, over 1.1 billion people traveled overseas to somewhere in the world.  Billion with a B.  Something like 8 million people fly every single day, spending $2.6 billion every day, or about $30,000 per second.

No wonder the TSA lines require patience of biblical proportions.

Klondikers_buying_miner's_licenses_at_Custom_House,_Victoria,_B_C,_Feb_21,_1898_(HS85-10-9774)_(cropped)

TSA line?

In this post I’m going to cover Travel Medicine and health.  Read on for:

  • General health tips prior to travel
  • Links to resources for travelers.  Look for the most important link below.
  • A few disease-specific issues.  Yes, I’ll talk about our new friend, Zika.

Here we go . . .

Continue reading

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Posted in HCMC, Tips from Healthy Matters radio broadcast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Book club! How Doctors Think

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how doctors thinkHi, everybody!  For about 2 months I’ve been yammering both in this blog and on the radio broadcast about the current Healthy Matters online book club selection, and it’s time to get to it!  As they say in billiards .. “Quit talking and start chalking . . . “

 I don’t know about you, but I’ve been reading How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman.  For regular readers of MyHealthyMatters, hopefully you’ve had a chance to check it out.  But it’s OK if you didn’t read the book.  I’ll bet you’ll have something to add to the conversation even if you didn’t get to read it!

 

To get you thinking, I’m going to talk about the book in the following format:

  1. My summary and reflections about an aspect of the book, broken into 3 topic sections
  2. A few questions for you to consider in response to my reflections.  Hopefully you’ll leave a comment at the bottom with your own thoughts.

I’d rather this be a two-way conversation – an online book discussion – rather than just me talking.  (I talk enough).  I’m most interested in your thoughts so please join the conversation even if you didn’t get a chance to read the book.  (Just like in-person book clubs where half the people didn’t actually read the book!  You know who you are.) Continue reading

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Posted in Dr. Hilden's reflections, Healthy Matters Book Club, Humanities and Medicine, Medical Education | Tagged , | 4 Comments