Shingles! Complete with Greek art.

Public domain, from the National Historic Museum of Greece

Hi, friends!  If you are wondering why I inserted the cool-looking Greek dude in the picture here, then read on.  It has something to do with his belt. . . 

It has been a while since I have posted here on MyHealthyMatters blog.  That’s because I have been lying on a beach in the South Pacific, drinking cocktails with little umbrellas in them and in general being slothful.

Actually, no, I’ve been around doing my usual doctor stuff at Hennepin Healthcare.  If you click on that link and scroll down just a bit you’ll find a picture of me and WCCO radio host Denny Long taken in the WCCO studios.  I usually don’t like pictures of myself but I rather like this one!  Check it out. 

Of course, we’re still streaming on wccoradio.radio.com with our live Healthy Matters radio broadcast every Sunday morning at 7:30 Central time and also at 830 on your AM radio dial.  I hope you tune in.  

I’m going to resume posting so look for topics from the broadcast.  We’ve recently done great shows about leukemia, hearing loss, kidney transplant, preventing foot amputations, skin cancer, and more!  In the meantime, I recommend you listen to the podcasts of any of our previous shows at wccoradio.radio.com

For now I’m going back to last Sunday, June 30, where I did an open lines show and the overwhelming topic of the day seemed to be shingles.  So read on to hear more about:

  • What is shingles?  (Yes, it is grammatically correct to use “is” and not “are”).
  • Clinically, what does shingles look like?
  • Who gets shingles?
  • What is post-herpetic neuralgia?
  • Maybe most important, I’ll answer the common questions about the shingles vaccine at the end.
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Aspirin for people over 70? New science right here.

Photo: NIAID

I know many people who take a daily aspirin in an effort to stay healthy.  I even know many doctors who recommend it.  But you may be surprised to know about what the actual medical science says about aspirin.

Back in 2016, I wrote a post that proved to be one of the most-popular that whole year.  In that post I described the guidelines for who, and who should not, be taking a daily aspirin.  Fortunately, that post is still largely accurate and these guidelines have not changed in the past two years.  You can read that 2016 post here.

But there is now a massive new study about a group of people for which there was no medical science one way or the other.  The new study, called ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) was just published in September 2018 and it specifically looked at healthy people over age 70.

The one thing you need to know

There is no data to support healthy people 70 and older for taking a daily aspirin, and in fact, it likely has more risks than any potential benefit.

I will expand a bit on this new data in this post.

Continue reading “Aspirin for people over 70? New science right here.”

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Menopause

Our Healthy Matters show last week focused on menopause. We billed the show as being about “Women’s Health” and as we all know, women’s health is more than menopause.  But I had an expert in the studio and there is so much interest in menopause!  So we focused on that specific topic.  This post recaps a few learning points from the show.

If you are looking to register to be an audience member for our Decade with Dave live radio broadcast on June 10, or for the Here 4 Health community education series, click here.

If you missed the show (Healthy Matters show #488, May 20, 2018), listen to the abbreviated podcast by clicking the banner:

In this post, you’ll read about:

  • Basics of menopause
  • What’s a hot flash and what can be done about it
  • Acupuncture in the treatment of menopause symptoms

Continue reading “Menopause”

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Quick tips: shingles, dementia & depression, high blood pressure medications

Since you asked . . . here’s another “Quick tips” post from last week’s Healthy Matters broadcast.    I have included links to point you toward reliable information if you want to learn more.  The Internet is full of not-so-reliable information so I try to include sources that I think you can trust.  That’s assuming you trust me.  As my texting daughter would say “hahahaha”!

 

To listen to the podcast of this recent “Open Lines” show, click this banner and look for April 29, 2018 show (Healthy Matters show #485)

On to the questions from listeners . . .

Continue reading “Quick tips: shingles, dementia & depression, high blood pressure medications”

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Quick tips: Shingles and pnuemonia shots, blocked coronaries, antibiotics for dental work, HIV test

Hennepin Healthcare’s Clinic and Specialty Center

Hey, friends!  Here’s another “Quick tips” post in which I answer a few of the questions posed by listeners to a recent Healthy Matters radio broadcast.  As is often the case, I can’t get to all the questions, but this week’s grab bag of topics is a good one.

Read on.  Or if you are aurally inclined, you can listen to the podcast recording at your leisure by clicking the banner below.  The questions here are taken directly from listeners from Healthy Matters show #480, March 25, 2018.

I’m going to scatter pictures of our newly-opened Clinic and Specialty Center, which is a state-of-the-art medical facility in downtown Minneapolis.  Cool to see a new medical facility that still has that “new clinic” smell – ha!

Continue reading “Quick tips: Shingles and pnuemonia shots, blocked coronaries, antibiotics for dental work, HIV test”

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Falls: Humpty Dumpty was just like you and me

 

Sobering facts about falls in the elderly:

  • The leading cause of injury that leads to death in people over age 65 is falling.
  • That means 27,000 older adults in the US will not survive a fall in a year.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 older adults will fall in a given year.
  • That adds up to 29,000,000 (yes, that says 29 million) falls in a single year, resulting in 7 million injuries.

Ouch.  So we, like our egg-shaped friend on the wall, need to be careful!

On the radio program last week, my colleague, HCMC Geriatrician Dr. Larry Kerzner joined me in the WCCO studios for a conversation about falls.  If you missed that show, check out the podcast (without commercial breaks!) and listen on your computer or mobile device.  Click the logo here to get to the podcast:

(Healthy Matters show #439, June 4, 2017)

For now, let’s move beyond the grim statistics and learn a bit . . .

Continue reading “Falls: Humpty Dumpty was just like you and me”

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November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

grandma-h-alexMy grandfather, Heizel “Bill” Hilden, before he died used to say the goofiest things.  One doozy that I remember was when he flatly reported that the cane he carried came from the moon. It was a lovely gnarly wooden cane with white indentations if I recall.  But I doubt its provenance was the moon.   At least I’m pretty sure.

At the same time as Grandpa was talking about the moon and canes and such, he could also sing songs from his boyhood.  In Norwegian.  I doubt he had sung those songs in seven or eight decades, but apparently he nailed them – words and tune and all – in a language that he no longer spoke with any frequency.  That’s Grandpa with our son, Alex, in about 1994.  That kid is now 6’4″ tall.

I guess that is dementia in a nutshell.  My 90-something year old gramps had amazingly accurate long-term memory but couldn’t be dissuaded about the lunar origins of his wooden cane.

I bet many of you could tell a similar story of someone in your life with waning cognitive functioning.

In recognition of November Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, I hosted Dr. Anne Murray, a nationally-recognized researcher in dementia (and a colleague of mine) at the WCCO studios in downtown Minneapolis.  We talked about dementia, both Alzheimer’s and other types, and about the latest in research for this disease which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.  To hear the podcast of the radio broadcast about Alzheimer’s click the logo here:HM logo

Last July I discussed dementia in a previous post featuring another colleague of mine (Dr. Abigail Holley), so if you missed that post (the 6th most-popular post of the past year!), you may want to read it by clicking “Dementia is not normal aging.  It’s a Disease.”

So this post will not be information so much as a few stories.  The first was about my grandfather.  Let’s look at a couple more . . .  Continue reading “November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month”

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Do you need a mammogram?

breastcancerawarenessOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I wrote this post about 4 or 5 times.  The first draft found me in the weeds of details and statistics.  In the second draft I sounded too preachy.  My third attempt covered every aspect of breast cancer from risk factors to diagnosis to treatment and was waaaaaaay too long.   I just couldn’t seem to get it right.

Then I realized that breast cancer is a multi-headed beast.  It has technical clinical aspects.  It has emotional overtones.  It has a definite gender angle that I, as a man, really cannot fathom.  It has controversy.  It is scary.

It is just too much to cover in one blog post, ergo, my troubles in writing about it.  So I’ve decided to talk about a single aspect of breast cancer – that being the role of mammography in screening.

I know people with breast cancer.  I bet you do as well.

Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer?  I’m guessing you do.  Perhaps someone you love died of breast cancer.  Perhaps you know someone living with breast cancer.  Perhaps you or someone in your life was recently diagnosed.  Perhaps you are a survivor yourself.

I know so many people in my life (not just my doctor life, I mean my real life) who have or have had or did have breast cancer.  It is really sobering.  Really close friends.  Several women from my church congregation.  Relatives.  My own mother-in-law.  Wonderful strong women all of them.

The point is that breast cancer is a relatively common disease that affects nearly 1 in 8 women in their lifetime.  The other point is that breast cancer takes a variety of forms and affects women (and men) with many different faces from every community.  And another point is that breast cancer is treatable.

This Sunday on Healthy Matters (my weekly health and wellness radio show) we talked about breast cancer screening with the major focus on mammography as the single most effective screening method available.  In this post I will cover:

  • Expert advice from last Sunday’s radio broadcast featuring radiologist and mammography expert Dr. Tony Severt.
  • Some solid information about breast cancer screening – the guidelines for mammography, including the newest 2016 guidelines
  • A look at the controversy around mammography guidelines.

Thanks for joining me.  Let’s learn something together . . .

Continue reading “Do you need a mammogram?”

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Surgeon and TV star Dr. DiBardino talks heart valves

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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Quick tips: Heart valves, prolapsed uterus, gout

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 “Quick tips: Heart valves, prolapsed uterus, gout”

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