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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Five tips for staying healthy in 2019 with Natalie Ikeman

 

Natalie Ikeman PA-C outside the WCCO studios in Minneapolis

Hey what’s up Healthy Matters people!

On the Healthy Matters radio broadcast this week, my colleague Natalie Ikeman, MPAS, PA-C from Hennepin Healthcare’s Golden Valley Clinic joined us by phone to offer some tips for staying healthy in 2019.

You know what is really cool about her advice?  It is achievable even for people like me and you!  She doesn’t tell you to go to the gym 7 days a week.  Or run 10 miles.  Or eat nothing but pine cones every day. She gives advice that real people can follow.

I asked Natalie if she would be guest write this blog post and she agreed so most of this post is her words.

To listen to the podcast of the show (Healthy Matters show #523, January 20, 2019), including Natalie’s portion at time 22:05, click the logo here:

In this post you will find:

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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 . . .

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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!

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Opioids for back, knee, and hip pain? A chat with Dr. Erin Krebs

You have undoubtedly heard about the opioid crisis. It is a near daily part of my life since treating pain is a hefty part of what most doctors do. In addition, I am fortunate to work in an academic health setting so I am surrounded by researchers and teachers. Just this week, one of my friends and colleagues, Dr. Charlie Reznikoff was in Washington DC where he testified about opioids to members of Congress. So you might say I’m surrounded by smart people on this issue.

In this post, I want to draw your attention to some new information about treating arthritis pain.  A new study was recently published in JAMA (one of the most respected journals in existence) which concluded that for chronic back pain and arthritis pain of the hips and knees, opioids are no better than other remedies.

Let me say that startling conclusion again:  opioids are no better than non-opioid treatments at relieving low back, knee, and hip pain.  There is NO advantage, and plenty of risk, in using opioids to treat these chronic pain conditions.

This is big news.  For me, it is just a little bigger because the lead author of the study is a Minneapolis physician from my medical school class, Dr. Erin Krebs. Dr. Krebs is a leading researcher in this area and I may add, a terrific doctor and person. To her, I say, well done! To learn more about Dr. Krebs, check out her site from the VA here.  You can also learn more about her from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

I reached out to Dr. Krebs and she graciously responded to some of my questions about her research.  I offer her insights to you below.  This is a rare chance to hear from a physician-scientist, uncluttered from what you may find elsewhere on the Internet.  Often people ask me what where to get reliable information on health issues.  On this issue, this is as reliable as it gets.  I’ll include a couple links as well, including one to an audio interview with Dr. Krebs.  Read on.
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Do you need an annual physical?

I’m a doctor (duh).  I do annual physicals sometimes (duh, again).  But I recently was put in the position of debating another doctor – on live radio –  about whether or not the annual physical is doing anybody any good.

Of course, physicals help people to, well, stay healthy.  Right?  Not so fast!  This isn’t as simple a question as it may seem.

Do people really need an annual physical?

The big debate occurred about a couple weeks ago when I was asked to be on Southern California Public Radio, KPCC 89.3 FM out of Los Angeles.  I was on the long-running show AirTalk®, hosted by Larry Mantle.  It was set up as a “pro vs. con” debate between me and a physician-researcher from Harvard, Dr. Ateev Mehrotra.  Dr. Mehrotra has done a great bit of research on just such topics.

I invite you to listen to the audio segment from SoCal Public Radio.  It’s about 18 minutes long, and you can access it from their website, KPCC.ORG, under the AirTalk® section.  It ran on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 so go to that date in the archives and scroll to the bottom. Continue reading “Do you need an annual physical?” Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get your mammogram questions answered here!

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I welcomed two outstanding experts to the WCCO studios for the live broadcast of Healthy Matters.  We focused on the common screening test – the mammogram – and tried to answer your questions about this well-known but still sorta mysterious test that women (and a few men) get all the time.

To help me, I turned to repeat radio guest and my friend Dr. Tony Severt.  He is the Assistant Chief of Radiology at HCMC (the mother-ship where I work) and is a expert in women’s imaging, including mammograms and other breast imaging (like ultrasound and MRI).

As an aside, there is a bit of wisdom that some doctors heed . . . that it is always good for us non-radiologists to have a “go-to” radiologist to help us when we need advice on the best imaging to order or how to interpret the imaging that we have.  Dr. Severt is my “go-to” guy!  He’s smart, really understands the patient perspective, and he is kind and willing to help.  So I dragged him down to the studio last Sunday morning.

But Dr. Severt is not the one who actually performs the mammogram.  That job goes to mammogram technologists who are highly skilled, patient-focused, and dedicated professionals.  These women (yes, the mammogram techs are all women as it should be) are supervised at HCMC by Leah Hahn.  Leah joined us in the studio to give the first-hand perspective of one who knows her stuff about mammograms.  For more about mammograms, click the HCMC radiology page here.  And for an advance look at Minnesota’s newest and finest breast care center, scroll to the bottom of this post!

As always, the best way to catch up on a past show is by listening to the podcast.  Click this logo to reach the main podcast page, then select Healthy Matters show #460, October 29, 2017.

Podcasts

The problem, as usual with a live radio broadcast, is that we never get to all the questions that people call and text in to us.  So the rest of this post is simply a Q&A.  I’m using the text questions that listeners sent and have asked Dr. Severt and Leah to give their responses.   Here they are . . . Continue reading “Get your mammogram questions answered here!” Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

10 questions to ask your doctor: my interview in the Star Tribune

Hi, friends,

I was recently interviewed by Allie Shah of the Minneapolis Star Tribune for an article titled “10 questions you should ask your doctor.”   As I mentioned on the Healthy Matters radio broadcast last Sunday, I am posting the link to the article.

Check it out if you wish by clicking the underline link above.  Share or post as you want!

David

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Famous people get colon cancer and so can you

Dr. Jake Matlock. Now wouldn’t you want such a happy-looking guy doing your colonoscopy?

Hey, everybody.  March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and we’re going all in (bad choice of words when talking about colonoscopies, perhaps) here at Healthy Matters.

Here’s what we’re doing for Colon Cancer Awareness Month

  1. On Friday, March 3,  I wore blue clothes in recognition of #DressInBlueDay which kicks off #ColonCancerAwarenessMonth.  
  2. On Sunday, March 5, our live Healthy Matters radio broadcast will feature my colleague Dr. Jake Matlock.  He’s a gastroenterologist who will help us unravel colon cancer screening and talk us through a colonoscopy from the guy at the fun end of the colonoscope.  (In case you’re wondering, that would be you, my friend, at the no-fun end of the colonoscope!).   Read more about Dr. Matlock later in this post.  And be sure to tune in to the radio show Sunday, March 5, 7:30 a.m. Central time on WCCO 830 AM in the upper Midwest.  It also streams live at WCCO.COM so you can listen anywhere in the world.
  3. Right here on MyHealthyMatters.org, I’m doing posts to help keep you informed about colon cancer.  If you missed my recent post (complete with pictures of me in a hospital gown), check it out – it was a popular post called “The one where I get a colonoscopy.”  That post has lots of information about the various types of colon cancer screening.
  4. Twitter chat.  Later in March (date and time to be announced) we’ll be doing another Twitter chat in which we answer your questions in rapid fire tweet tweet tweet format.  It’s fun and (hopefully) informative!

Here’s a guy you should meet

Check out my guest from the March 5 Healthy Matters radio broadcast:

That’s Dr. Jake Matlock.  He’s a gastroenterologist at Hennepin County Medical Center and one of the best in the business at treating your various intestinal problems, among them colon cancer.  He is an expert with a variety of scopes and skilled at what we call “advanced endoscopy” which means if anybody can get a scope into some dark and remote part of your innards, Jake can.  He’s also a great teacher and “explainer of things.”

He was good enough to let me into the GI Lab where he works where I snapped a few pictures.  Yes, that’s a real scope.  It’s not as long as it looks.  Yes it is.  I lied.

So I’m fired up to have Dr. Matlock on the radio broadcast tomorrow (March 5).  If you missed the show, the podcast will be available here so you can listen on your own device on your own time.

Jake and I did residency together quite a few years ago.  I remember him as being the one who made us all just a little less anxious when he entered the room – he’s smart, good with a scope, and a good guy overall.  You just get the sense that your patients are in good hands with him.

Famous people with colon cancer

In my last post about colon cancer, (which again, you can visit by clicking here) I described the why and how of getting checked for colon cancer.  That post has lots of information, including the various types of tests you may consider.  Be sure to read that post if you want to know more.

In this post, I won’t give any more medical information about colon cancer.  Rather, I’m going to do something completely different and simply show you a few well-known folks who had colon cancer.  Some of them died from it, others got test, treated, and are still going strong today.  I think it is sort of interesting.

I’ve included a fact or two about each that I didn’t know but I found cool.  I hope you do as well.

Charles M. Schulz

By Roger Higgins, public domain photo

The Minneapolis native and creator of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang had been having a serious of strokes from blood clots in his aorta.  As part of his medical evaluation, they discovered colon cancer which had already spread into his body.  You see, the presence of a malignancy (cancer) makes a person’s blood form clots more readily.  I don’t know the details in Mr. Schulz’s case, but a big ‘ol clot in a huge artery seems like it was caused, in part, by the cancer.  So the stroke could actually have been a manifestation of the cancer. 

He died on February 12, 2000 and the last original Peanuts cartoon was published the very next day.  He made it clear that he never wanted anyone else to draw his characters after he died.

Vince Lombardi

Probably the greatest coach in the history of football, or maybe any sport, the great Vince Lombardi died of colon cancer when he was just 57 years old.  He apparently said to his priest when near death that he regretted not having accomplished more in his life.  Guess all those national championships weren’t enough!

Public domain

I didn’t know this:  Coach Lombardi demanded acceptance of everyone in his locker rooms, especially gay football players (he had a gay brother).  In a book, his son said his father would “tolerate nothing but acceptance” on his teams.  What an example from a true American icon – even back in the 1960s.

That’s the coach with Bart Starr.  And though I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan now, I was born in Wisconsin and my mom has a picture of me as a toddler with a “Put me in, Vince” sweatshirt on.

 

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

From US Supreme Court, public domain

Yup, “Notorious RBG” (a name I just love) was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999.  She underwent treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation.  And get this . . . after all this she embarked on a new strenuous fitness program.  By her 80th birthday, RBG could do 20 pushups.  She is so dedicated to her workouts that she calls her personal trainer the “most important person in my life” (since her husband died).  Apparently this workout would challenge someone half her age.  Go get ’em, RBG!

Want to know more about RBG and her workout?  Check out this piece on Politico.  It’s a great read!

And RBG is still going strong, even after she had a second cancer, this time pancreatic.  I want to be like her in so many ways.

Eartha Kitt

From her birth on a cotton plantation in South Carolina, Eartha Kitt became a national treasure.  Singer, actor, activist.  You know the song “Santa Baby”?  That was Ms. Kitt.   She won three Emmys for her acting and she played Helen of Troy under the direction of Orson Welles.  You know the song “C’est si bon”?  Listen to Eartha’s version here:


Eartha Kitt was much more than the woman Orson Welles called “the most exciting woman in the world.”  She also was a social activist and became involved in issues ranging from working with inner city kids in Los Angeles to peace issues to LGBT rights.

Eartha Kitt died of colon cancer on Christmas Day 2008.

Claude Debussy

I love the music of Debussy, even though I still remember struggling to learn “Clair de Lune” like so many people learning to play piano.  Our son, Alex, can play “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”  – well at least he used to be able to (still practicing the piano, Alex?)

Debussy was a French composer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and he wrote sounds that not many had heard before.  But don’t call him an “Impressionist” – he hated the term!

Listen to Clair de Lune while reading the rest of this post:

Debussy was diagnosed with rectal cancer (a type of colorectal cancer) in 1909 and in 1915 he underwent one of the first colostomy procedures ever attempted.  It didn’t go well and he was in quite a bit of suffering when he died at the young age of 55 in his Paris home during a German aerial bombardment.

You know who else had colorectal cancer . . . ?

 

Here’s who: 136,000 people in the United States.  In just one year.  People like you and me.

You can get this done.  If you missed my overview of the ways you can get tested for colorectal cancer, see my earlier post by clicking here.  It’s not as hard as you think!

If you live  in Minnesota, Dr. Matlock and his team at the HCMC GI Lab would be happy to help you.  Call ’em at 612-873-6963.  Trust me, there is no one more skilled at this that Dr. Matlock and his team.  All kidding and funny pictures aside . . . he’s really good!

Thanks for listening, for stopping by, and for hanging out with me at myhealthymatters.org.  Go ahead and subscribe by e-mail if you like, and follow me on Twitter @DrDavidHilden

-David

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting to – and maintaining – a healthy weight

By D. Bernard & Co, Melbourne (photographer) Adam Cuerden (restoration) via Wikimedia Commons

It is practically an expectation in health and wellness forums to talk about weight loss after the first of the year.  New Year’s resolutions being all the rage in January.  Perhaps you plan to lose a few pounds this year?

For me, it’s always around the middle where I put on a few pounds.  You know, the little beer belly.  The muffin top.  The love handles.  Begone, all of ye!

I was doing so well last fall, eating right, exercising more and so forth.  Then winter in Minnesota hit.  Now it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.  The perpetual ice slick on the sidewalks turn running or walking outside into a potentially bone-shattering experience.  I mean, literally, bone-shattering as in broken hips and wrists.  It has been so cold outside that your teeth hurt the minute you leave the house.

So I tend to hibernate a bit.  Evenings on the couch reading next to a warm fire, although evoking images of Norman Rockwell, are not the way to shed pounds.  Especially if I’m eating unhealthy foods all evening and maybe having a glass of wine with my chocolates.  Wow that is starting to sound good:  warm fire, wine chocolates, a good book . . . ah, but I digress.  I’m supposed to be talking about diet and exercise here.

 

Reminds me of a post I did about the challenges of staying active in northern climates. Check it out here.

To show you the depth of my dedication to the cause of fitness, I included a recent photo of me above.  Yup, that’s me all right.

Healthy life choices

So we talked weight loss and healthy livin’ on the show this week.

Natalie IkemanTo help me out, I invited a repeat guest to last Sunday’s Healthy Matters broadcast.  Joining me on the radio show was Natalie Ikeman, who is a Physician Assistant HCMC’s Golden Valley Clinic.  She runs “The Great Slim Down” weight loss program which you can check out here.

 

 

If you missed the show, you can to the podcast by clicking the “Play” arrow here: Healthy Matters logo alternate

 

Tips for losing weight and keeping it off

Natalie gave us some great tips from her work with patients trying to lose weight.  I’ll review some of them here.

Make goals.  

With her patients, Natalie meets monthly to set goals.  The good news is that they don’t have to be huge undertakings.  The goals can be small changes in your daily lifestyle which you continually adjust, a process which Natalie refers to as “turning up the dial” on your goals.

Just a few examples of achievable goals are:

  • Stress management tactics
  • Better food choices
  • Portion control when eating
  • Finding time for daily movement, like taking small walks on your lunch hour

Nothing big, nothing huge, just small changes to your daily routine.

People who are successful at weight loss have some common characteristics:

Natalie’s patients in the Great Slim Down have lost an average of about 16 pounds.  That is not only impressive but it is a sustainable amount of loss.  She points out a few characteristics of these patients:

  • They keep a daily record of their food intake.  The simple act of recording what you eat – whether on paper or using one of the many apps for your mobile device – makes a person aware and less likely to fool themselves into thinking they are eating healthier than they really are.  People usually eat more calories than they realize!
  • They are active often in their daily lives.  They find a way to move throughout the day.
  • They are striving to meet their own goals, not goals set by someone else.
  • They hold themselves accountable by sticking with it.

Pop (soda for those of you not from Minnesota) is not a healthy choice.

The sugar in soft drinks has virtually no nutritional value, and in fact, it probably leads to weight gain.  For more on that, see my previous blog post, “Just a spoonful of sugar . . . is really not good for you.”

After Natalie and I suggested that we ought to avoid so much sugary soft drinks, a few listeners asked if diet pop is healthier.  In a word, no.  Although diet soft drinks are probably better than sugary drinks, they also contain ingredients that lack much nutritional value.  Maybe stick to water!

So how about water?

For years, decades really, people have been taught to drink more water.  Most of us probably remember the “8 glasses a day” advice.  That is, in fact, what I told patients for years.  But the reality is that there is not a lot of scientific evidence that otherwise healthy people need to drink more water than they already do.  In other words, if you are thirsty you get a drink and if you are not, you don’t.

Photo: Jean Fortunet
Photo: Jean Fortunet

So that’s it?  Is that all there is to the water story – that it doesn’t matter?

Well, maybe not so fast. . . as we talked about on the radio program, there are some studies from this past year that suggest that there really is a benefit to drinking more water.  One study found that more water was associated with less obesity.  You can read about that one here.  Another study found that drinking more water made people consume fewer calories, – check out this article about that one from the Atlantic.

I should caution that no single study can be used to definitely prove anything.  Truth with a capital “T” is hard to come by in medical science!  So whenever I refer you to studies like these, I do so to get you thinking about your own situation and not to imply that one study is proof of anything.  Replication is the key in scientific studies (the findings of one study must be confirmed with separate studies).

But the water studies are at least thought-provoking.  It makes sense to me that if you are focusing your liquid intake on water, you will be less likely to drink soft drinks and fruit juices that are loaded with calories and sugar.  That has to be a good thing.

As Natalie said on the show, none of us should be “drinking our meals.”  Amen to that.

Move more

One half of the healthy equation is Eat Less.  The other half is Move More.  But how?  Most of us are not about to lace up our running shoes and hit the pavement for a long run.  Most of us can’t get to the gym for a run on the treadmill or an exercise class.  If you can do those things – great!

But lots of us have physical limitations that prevent vigorous work outs.  And gym memberships ain’t cheap!  So what can we do?

Let’s turn to Natalie again.  As a companion to “The Great Slim Down” program, she has produced a series of short videos to give you ideas for exercise that may be right for you.  Some are low intensity, others more vigorous.  Some require standing and moving while others can be done by people from a seated position.

Here’s an example of one of Natalie’s videos:

To see the rest of them, go to the HCMC YouTube channel.  If the link doesn’t work, simply search online for “HCMC YouTube channel” and click Playlists.  You’ll find them there.

Housework is good for you

Listen to the show podcast (the player is above in this post).  We talked about housework as a form of exercise.  And you know what?  It works.  One listener to the show moved nearly 10,000 steps in one day simply doing housework.  I complained that now I really have no excuse not to vacuum the house.  Rats.

The Great Slim Down

I’ll close with one last word about the Great Slim Down.  If you are in the Minneapolis area and struggling to lose some weight, maybe you should see Natalie.  Simply call 612-873-6963 or check out the Golden Valley Clinic site here.  No better time than now!

Thanks for reading.  Hope you are all having a good day, a good week, a good winter where ever you are!

David

 

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