Walk into Spring

 Spring is here!

Get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while achieving your health goals. Walking does not require you to sign up for a gym membership you may never use.  Its is free, modifiable, and can be done anywhere!  It allows you to spend time with companions and enjoy the outdoors, while also getting your body moving and creating a happier, healthier YOU.

If you still need some convincing, here are multiple ways walking is beneficial to your health.  Walking allows you to:

  • Lose Weight – Walking just 30 minutes a day can help you burn calories and lower your weight while also curbing snack cravings
  • Strengthen your Heart – Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke while lowering cholesterol
  • Control High Blood Pressure – Moderate intensity walking helps lower your blood pressure as effectively as jogging
  • Improve Memory Function & Prevent Dementia – Increasing cerebral blood flow helps prevent brain shrinkage and lowers risk of vascular disease
  • Boost your Mood & Gives you Energy – Walking releases endorphins, reduce stress levels, and reduces stress and anxiety
  • Reduce Risk of Cancer – Women who walk 7 hours each week are 14% less likely to develop breast cancer and Men who walk briskly for a minimum of 3 hours each week reduce risk for prostate cancer*
  • Improve sleep – Quality of sleep is improved because melatonin production is boosted while walking
  • Reduce Pain – Arthritis pain can be reduced by walking one hour each day and mobility can be improve

Hopefully, more than one of these reasons catches your eye.  With so many great benefits to your health, there really isn’t a reason not to increase your daily step count.  So get yourself a pedometer and get your 10,000 steps in each day!  Your body will thank you and you will be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals.

*Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

MATTERS OF THE HEART

The first thing that usually comes to mind when health is discussed is diet and exercise. While this is important, it’s our heart that matters most. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of fatalities in men and women in the United States. And many cases can be caught with early detection and healthy lifestyle habits. Although signs and symptoms are different for men and women, prevention and treatment is the same. Healthy habits to incorporate into your daily life include:

  • Regular exercise: Get your body moving at least 30 minutes every day. Whether it’s a brisk walk or a jog, regular exercise is key to a healthy heart.
  • Eat healthy: Choosing foods low in fat and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables keep your heart in shape and help prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
  • Don’t smoke: Not smoking is not only a great way to keep your heart healthy, it also benefits your entire body.
  • Check in with your doctor: Visit your doctor for regular check-ups, especially if you have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Know the signs and symptoms: Be in the know of what to look for, not only for yourself, but your loved ones, too.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease present themselves differently in men and women. Men usually experience the classic symptoms of a heart attack including chest pain that spreads to the arms, as well as shortness of breath. Some patients have reported a sense of impending doom.

Women tend to have difficulty breathing, nausea, abdominal pain, extreme fatigue, and chest pain. Because of these differences, it is so important to know the signs of a heart attack, your risk factors, and what to do if you experience these symptoms. Talk to your doctor about these issues and know the matters of your heart.

February is Heart Health month. Take the time to show your heart some love and talk to your doctor about any risk factors you may have and learn about what you can do to strengthen this precious organ. Start new, healthy habits today that will aid in the prevention of heart disease.

Your heart matters!

New Year, New You by Edwin Taylor, MD

It seems that every year, as the holidays come and go, our best intentions for staying healthy become merely that. Best intentions. The extra sweets, meals, and get-togethers that tend to pile up around the holidays, instead, start packing in around our midsection. And when the New Year arrives, we make that promise, yet again, to NOT do the same thing next year. Or maybe, the resolution is a “quick fix” to get rid of the extra pounds we acquired the few months before. More often than not, we lose interest in our “quick fix”, find it too hard or restricting, it hasn’t worked, and we’re back to our old habits.

So what is the answer to our botched resolutions and lack of will power? Making good habits. And although it seems easier to break good habits than bad ones, it is not impossible. You can make healthy choices right now and keep them with you throughout the upcoming year and those to come. But what will it take? How can you set goals that do not end in failure? How can you achieve the goals you set without zapping the joy out of life? There is a way, but it will take effort. Here are some suggestions on how to achieve your goals and make them a permanent part of your healthy lifestyle.

Set reasonable goals

Sometimes the goals we set are so lofty that the minute we fail, all is lost and we give up. If you have a larger goal in mind, break it up into smaller milestones. If your resolution is to lose weight, instead of deciding on a number and hope it happens by osmosis, set smaller, long term goals like choosing healthier options at one meal each day. Or set your goal at losing 10 pounds to start. You can also decide to start eating breakfast daily. Research shows that eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism and essentially, “breaks the fast” by giving your body the fuel it needs to start the day.

Set exercise goals

This doesn’t mean you need to find the nearest gym and get a membership. Just start moving! Set smaller goals that you can reach and maintain. Take a 30 minute walk twice a week; park in the back of the parking lot when you go shopping; walk the mall with a friend; play with your kids, grandkids, or pets. There are plenty of options in any season to get your body moving, your heart pumping, and help you reach those long term goals of living a healthy lifestyle.

Do not fast

Make it a point to eat three meals per day. Fasting only puts the body into preservation mode and anything you feed it ends up getting stored in case for those moments when you fast. Additionally, fasting causes the body to break down easy to reach proteins, such as muscle, to maintain caloric needs for daily functions. Fat is the last fuel source the body will try to consume because it takes work to break it down.

Carbohydrates

Essential as they are, simple carbohydrates should be your nemesis. Bread, rice, pasta and potatoes should not have a dominant presence on your daily meals. Instead choose foods rich in more complex carbohydrates and also decrease the amount of refined sweets, sodas and juices. You would be surprised at the amount of calories that originate from these food sources and that can essentially sabotage the best laid weight loss plans, particularly if exercise is not an integral part of your lifestyle modification.

Ask for help

Goals are much easier to reach and maintain when we have someone along for the ride. Whether it is a friend or family member, find someone that will help keep you accountable, or even reach that goal with you! Believe it or not, social media such as Facebook can put you in the public view within a close circle of friends who will expect weekly or monthly updates from you! Check in daily for help to stay on track, for support when there are set backs, and celebration when goals are met. And remember, set backs are normal. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day at the gym or that second helping was just too good to pass up. This is a lifestyle change, not a strict regimen made to make life miserable. Healthy changes are meant to improve your life, not take away the joy. This is a marathon, not a race. Your current situation did not happen overnight, it took years to develop; therefore, why should you expect it to resolve in weeks?

Be intentional

If you are setting goals to make healthy changes, be intentional about fulfilling them. Write them down and post where you can see them. Talk to your doctor to have them help you set goals that are reasonable and realistic. And take it one day at a time. Make a conscious decision each day to stick to your goals. When you have set backs, pick yourself up and start over. When you have victories, celebrate! But most of all, be kind to yourself. It is said that Rome was not built in a day…neither are lifestyle changes. It takes, so the saying goes, 3 weeks to break a habit. Stay focused. It takes work to decide to make healthy adjustments to begin with, then set up a plan, and follow through. But the work is worth it…YOU are worth it! Each day is a new day to make better choices and begin living a healthy lifestyle to improve your body, mind, and soul. Make 2016 the year for a new you. Today is the perfect time to start!

________________________________

Dr. Edwin Taylor of Healthcare Associates of McKinney
Dr. Edwin Taylor of Healthcare Associates of McKinney

Dr. Edwin Taylor earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology at the University of New Orleans after serving 8 years enlisted in the United States Navy. He attended medical school at the Louisiana State University School of Health Sciences in Shreveport, Louisiana and family practice residency at the Naval Hospital Pensacola, Florida. He served 15 years in the Navy after overseas tours in Okinawa, Japan and Italy and various subsequent deployments. A 13 month veteran of the war in Iraq, Dr. Taylor is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is bilingual and bicultural in Spanish. He is in private practice at Healthcare Associates of McKinney. For more information, visit HealthcareAssociatesofMcKinney.com or call (972) 268-9383.

Can your zip code really be used to determine the future of your health?

Where you are located on the map can definitely play a role in the outcome of your health.  Population health management has become a very important issue to help reduce healthcare spending and improve patient outcomes.  It may be difficult to comprehend, but 20% of the population (Medicare patients) actually drives 80% of the costs in healthcare.  If there is a way to effectively manage that 20% of patients, there may possibly be a way to reduce the costs of healthcare across the board.

To effectively manage population health, it is necessary to first identify populations who are in the most need of healthcare interventions.  The best way to do this is through advanced technological capabilities that allow results to be monitored.  Then, programs can be established to improve the health of specific patient populations based on demographics and patient history.

One of the first steps is to create a patient registry to help identify segments of the population most at risk.  Information should be collected on family background, socioeconomic status, and mental health factors to determine at-risk populations.  Both social and cultural factors, as well as genetics and behavioral issues, drive the future of healthcare utilization.  Next, data analytic capabilities will be necessary to run analyses on particular sets of patients based on a diagnosis, for example.

Some hospital organizations have already begun experimenting with leveraged IT data analytics to improve population health management.  By examining their populations thoroughly and understanding where their greatest opportunities were, Aurora Health Care has been able to uniquely identify patients according to disease cohorts.  This allows them to predict which populations are at greatest risk for certain diseases.  This 15-hospital network in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is able to share data with primary care physicians to help patients in high risk populations with congestive heart failure and COPD.  After implementing this program, Aurora Health Care has seen a 60% reduction in hospital admissions for heart failure-related causes.

Through the advancements in population health management, doctors are able to treat patients in the early stages of their diagnosis based on the evident risk factors.  Dr. Richard Boehler, CEO of St. Joseph Hospital in New Hampshire, reminds us that “when you take people with risk factors and craft an intervention program for them, it can make a difference in preventing a heart attack or stroke.”  By implementing IT systems to more effectively monitor risk factors in patients early-on, people will be more knowledgeable about their own health and be given the opportunity to address their illnesses before their ailments become physically overbearing and costly.

SLEEP WELL, LIVE WELL

DSC_6633By Edwin Taylor, MD

Sleep is sometimes the one precious thing that eludes us from time to time. For some, lack of sleep is a frustrating, constant reality. When we do not get enough sleep, or quality sleep, it can greatly affect our daily lives. From tossing and turning during the night, to the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, our bodies suffer from bouts of drowsiness during the day, irritability, depression, or other illnesses. Instead of immediately reaching for a sleep aid, there are plenty of natural and practical ways to help you get that good night’s sleep.

REGULAR SCHEDULE
First, maintain a regular bedtime schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. This strengthens the sleep/wake cycle and can make falling asleep easier at night. Prepare your body for sleep by having a routine before going to bed. This can include soaking in a hot bath or hot tub, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. Stay away from bright lights (including laptops, e-readers, and cell phones), which can cause excitement, stress, or anxiety, and subsequently make it difficult to fall asleep, get solid and deep sleep, or remain asleep. Avoiding e-readers, cell phones, computers and television close to bedtime will also aid in preparing your body to go to sleep.

REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
Only use your bedroom for sleep and sex. Remove work materials, computers, and televisions from your sleeping environment. When such distractions are removed, the association between your body/mind with bed and sleep is greatly strengthened.

GET COMFORTABLE
Create a comfortable sleep environment that is dark, quiet, cool, along with being attractive and inviting for sleep. Check your room for noise or other distractions, including a partner’s snoring. Consider using blackout curtains or eye shades if your room is too light. Ear plugs and white noise machines can help with unavoidable outside noise, as well as humidifiers for dry weather or fans to cool you down. You can also make a comfortable sleep environment by ensuring that your mattress is comfortable and supportive. (The life expectancy of most mattresses is 9-10 years.) Use sheets that are soft, along with comfortable pillows. Keep your room free of allergens and remove objects that may cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up during the night. The presence of pets in the bed with you is overlooked as a cause for disrupted sleep. Aromatherapy is beneficial at times such as using a lavender or chamomile scented spray on the sheets and pillows.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
Another way to help get a better night’s sleep is to watch when and what you have for dinner. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime. Eating or drinking too much before bed could make you less comfortable when settling down to go to sleep. Avoid heavy meals and spicy food, which can cause heartburn and discomfort during the night. Eating a night time snack, such as peanut butter, will help keep hunger pangs at bay during the night. Foods rich in tryptophan help you sleep, as it helps the body make niacin (a B vitamin) that is important for digestion, skin and nerves, and in producing serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps create a feeling of well-being and relaxation. It is also used to make melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles.

PUT DOWN THE COFFEE
It is best to avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can produce an alerting effect in your body. Caffeine products to avoid before bedtime include coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate. These items remain in the body, on average, from 3 to 5 hours, but can affect some people up to 12 hours after consumption! In addition to reducing or eliminating caffeine intake before bed, it is also a good idea to reduce your alcohol consumption. Although most people think alcohol is a sedative, it actually disrupts sleep, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night, leads to restless sleep patterns, and prevents REM sleep.

GET GOING!
Regular exercise can help relieve daily tension, making it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. But make sure you exercise regularly, as sporadic exercise may make falling asleep more difficult. It is also best not to exercise right before going to bed. When we exercise, our body temperature rises and may take up to 6 hours for it to drop. A cooler body temperature is associated with the onset of sleep, and makes falling asleep much easier.

PUT IT OUT
Studies have shown that smokers may take longer to fall asleep and wake up more often during the night. If you haven’t already, consider not smoking as a benefit to your overall health and quality of sleep.

TALK TO YOUR DOC
If you do have issues falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early, talk to your doctor. Sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety can lead to poor sleep and are best evaluated by your doctor.

Sleep…good sleep…is an essential part of our daily lives. By having good sleep hygiene, you can improve your sleep quality in addition to your overall health and wellness. Be good to your body and get better sleep!


Dr. Edwin Taylor earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology at the University of New Orleans after serving 8 years enlisted in the United States Navy.  He attended medical school at the Louisiana State University School of Health Sciences in Shreveport, Louisiana and family practice residency at the Naval Hospital Pensacola, Florida.  He served 15 years in the Navy after overseas tours in Okinawa, Japan and Italy and various subsequent deployments.  A 13 month veteran of the war in Iraq, Dr. Taylor is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is bilingual and bicultural in Spanish.  He is in private practice at Healthcare Associates of McKinney.  For more information, visit HCATEXAS.us or call (972) 268-9383.

 

Doctors and Nurses Need Sleep, too!

Healthcare Executive published a recent article in their Sept/Oct 2015 edition bringing attention to an issue that is often overlooked.  A report conducted by HealthLeaders Media in 2013 brought to light the fact that over 25% of nurses surveyed make errors during their jobs due to fatigue.  However, that percentage may be higher because it is likely many medical staff are unaware their fatigue levels actually affect their decision-making processes.

Growing evidence has shown that physicians and nurses who are highly fatigued are more likely to make clinical mistakes and jeopardize others regardless of their qualification status.  A study conducted by the Harvard Group in 2007 showed a correlation between long work hours and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.

Although teaching hospitals were required to put their staff on an 80-hour week maximum, it does not appear that any policy exists to oversee that this mandate is being followed.  The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has reported the risk of employee fatigue is due to the duration and timing of sleep, as well as varying work shift schedules.  Having inadequate sleep leads to adverse medical outcomes and higher injury rates.

A 2014 survey conducted by the American Organization of Nurse Executives showed that 56% of respondents said their hospitals disregard required rest periods.  Also, 65% of those surveyed said their hospitals do not even have policies in place regarding extended shift hours or maximum cumulative work days.

This is an urgent matter that needs to be addressed across the entire field of medicine for multiple reasons.  Physicians, nurses, and other medical staff all need adequate and restful sleep to function at their best – especially when the lives of others are in their hands.  Policies and restrictions should be established and followed precisely so our care providers are not performing procedures after multiple days of little or no sleep.  Scheduling firm work shift hours is also important so employees’ body clocks adapt to one regulated sleep cycle.  Not only will this reduce harm to patients in the hospital, but will also ideally decrease the number of motor vehicle crashes related to the driver being an over-worked, sleep-deprived physician or nurse.  By establishing a monitored and balanced system to decrease fatigue among medical staff, many people’s lives will be saved – both in and out of the hospital setting.

Minimally Invasive Treatment for Varicose Veins Now Available in Granbury

J. Douglas Overbeck, MD, FACC
J. Douglas Overbeck, MD, FACC

Tuscan Cardiovascular and Vein Center, based in Irving, Texas, announced today that J. Douglas Overbeck, MD will be performing minimally invasive varicose vein treatment in Granbury. The procedure, called radiofrequency ablation, is a non-surgical method of resolving the unsightly, painful and potentially dangerous effects of varicose veins.

Varicose veins are a common medical condition, affecting approximately 25 percent of women and 15 percent of men in the United States.  The condition is caused when valves located inside the vein become damaged, allowing the blood to pool inside the vein. This can cause the veins to distend, resulting in the “rope-like” appearance commonly associated with varicose veins. Many patients experience discomfort and leg swelling.

More often than not, people with varicose veins believe their condition to be cosmetic, not worthy of an actual medical diagnosis. However, if left untreated, varicose veins can lead to a range of serious health problems, including blood clots, leg ulcers and poor circulation.

“Before radiofrequency ablation was developed, the only effective treatment for large varicose veins was vein stripping, which is an invasive surgical procedure with a lengthy recovery period,” says Dr. Overbeck. “Radiofrequency Ablation is major advancement because it’s a patient-friendly procedure, which can be done in the office and the procedure is covered by Medicare and most other commercial insurance carriers.”

The procedure is simple. Under local anesthesia, the Closure Fast catheter is inserted into the diseased vein, through a small incision in the skin. The catheter powered by radiofrequency energy delivers heat to contract the collagen in the vein walls, causing them to shrink and seal closed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will re-route itself to other healthy veins, often leading to the disappearance of the undesirable varicose vein and alleviation of symptoms. Compared with surgical options, minimally invasive ablation of the vein can result in less pain and quicker recovery time. The whole procedure lasts less than one hour in the office. After treatment, patients can walk immediately and return to normal activities.

Douglas Overbeck, MD is board certified in Cardiovascular Disease, practicing for over 25 years and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He says, “Radiofrequency ablation is truly a major advancement in the treatment of varicose veins.”

Tuscan Vein Center is one of the leading facilities in North Texas that is equipped to provide this in-office procedure and is now pleased to offer these services in Granbury. For more information or to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Overbeck in Granbury, Stephenville, or Irving, call (972) 253-2505. For more information visit www.TuscanVein.com.

Chocolate Might be Healthy for Your Sweetheart

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, it’s chocolate to the rescue! And not just for your sweetheart…for your heart! In multiple studies from around the world, chocolate is being touted as a forerunner in lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. So not only can you woo your love with chocolate, you can love your heart with it too.

In a recent study by researcher Oscar H. Franco, MD, PhD, of the University of Cambridge in the U.K., people who ate chocolate had a 37% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke, compared to people who did not eat chocolate. Chocolate has also been linked to protecting against high blood pressure and diabetes, both risk factors for heart disease and strokes.

But how does it work? Researchers give credit to polyphenols found in chocolate. These antioxidants increase the body’s production of the chemical nitric oxide, which in turn leads to improvements in blood pressure and blood flow through arteries. Another factor are flavonoids in cocoa. These little sweethearts have antioxidant properties, protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and suppressing the oxidation of bad cholesterol.

So when you think of getting something for your sweetheart this year, chocolate may be the best bet. And you can be sure your gift goes straight to the heart.

Be Sweet to Your Heart

There is only a 1 out of 30 risk of dying of breast cancer, yet it’s well-known that women over the age of 40 need an annual mammogram.  A less-known fact is that 1 out of 3 women will die from some form of cardiovascular disease. Getting your mammogram is important, but screening for cardiovascular risk is even more so.  February is Heart Health month, so do something sweet for your heart by finding out your risk for cardiovascular disease.

The signs of coronary disease are often different in women than in men. For example, while most men present with the classic symptoms of heart attacks that include chest pain that spreads to the arms, women have a tendency to have difficulty breathing, nausea, abdominal pain or extreme fatigue.  These less obvious symptoms can delay proper treatment, increasing the mortality.

We need to focus much more aggressively on reducing cardiovascular risk in women through healthy lifestyle choices and early detection.  Please remember that it’s important to practice healthy habits to prevent the onset of coronary disease, such as:

1. Take the first step to get physically active, as simple as a 30 minute walk daily.

2.  Eat meals that are low in fat, with a focus on fruits and vegetables.

3.  Avoid smoking.

4.  See your doctor for regular check-ups.

5. Take the Framingham 10 year cardiovascular risk calculator. It is available at TuscanCardio.com and will give you an idea of your baseline risk.  It also forces you to “know your numbers.”

At Tuscan Cardiovascular Center, we have the tools to help you maintain good cardiovascular health. I invite you to visit TuscanCardio.com for more educational information related to healthy living and heart disease. Treat yourself this month by taking the time to learn about your cardiovascular risk and start a new habit that is sweet for your heart.

 By Dr. J. Douglas Overbeck  


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Dr. J. Douglas Overbeck is an Irving-based cardiologist with more than 20 years experience in providing cardiac care to patients in North Texas.  He is the founder of the Tuscan Cardiovascular Center in Las Colinas and also primary cardiologist for the Medical & Surgical Clinic of Irving. To learn more about how you can reach your health and wellness goals, please call us at (972) 253-2505 or visit TuscanCardio.com.