Fall 2014 Health Notes Features

Following are features from our Fall 2014 Health Notes:

An apple a day keeps the hungry away!

Apple baked Pork Chops

With cooler weather ahead, brace yourself with this hearty meal. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Core and slice 2 apples, set aside. Heat olive oil in a skillet over a medium high heat (until oil is shimmering), then add the pork chops. Brown them on each side and then place them in a pre-greased ovensafe pan. Layer the apples on top of the pork chops. Deglaze the skillet by adding ½ cup of water and stirring it around to pick up all the pork bits. Pour the oil/water mixture over the apples and pork chops. Sprinkle evenly with raisins (optional), cider vinegar then brown sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the dish and bake for 30 minutes at 325°F, then remove cover and bake for an additional 45 minutes. ENJOY!

  • 2 Apples
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 4 Pork chops
  • ½ cup Water
  • ½ cup Raisins (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Cider vinegar

Football season is here!

Whether you are a seasoned pro or a novice, the following tips will help to ensure that your tailgating experience is a fun and safe one:

  • Consider wind direction when you position your grill.
  • Shape and pack up burger patties between sheets of wax paper the night before. Be sure to keep food to be grilled away from prepared/cooked foods.
  • Don’t forget your meat thermometer. Chicken needs to have an internal temperature of 170°F, hamburgers 160°F, and pork 155°F.
  • Freeze water bottles to use in place of ice in coolers so you have cold water to drink after they melt.
  • If the day is particularly hot, do not allow foods to sit out for over an hour. Leftovers should be discarded, unless you have plenty of ice.
  • Use an empty laundry detergent dispenser as a hand-washing station. Float a big helium balloon on a long string from your car, so friends can find you.
  • Fill a six pack holder with your favorite hot sauces and other condiments.
  • Bring a large plastic tub to haul back dirty dishes.

Testosterone: Weighing Risks & Benefits

by Stephen C. Sharp, MD

The ads are unescapable these days. Testosterone (T) is being touted as a fountain of youth. It is hailed as a cure-all for fatigue, diminished strength, and, of course, dwindling sex drive. But more recently we have heard of risks for heart attack, stroke, and death. So how best to assess whether to T or not to T?
As far as benefits go, T-replacement does make some men with low levels of testosterone feel better. It can definitely improve libido (sex drive or interest), but it does not improve erections (that would be Viagra®, Levitra®, or Cialis®). Exercise is the only way to get stronger, but T will get muscle cells to retain more
sodium and water, making them look bigger and weigh more (lean body weight increase). Nothing makes us younger, but with proper diet, exercise, and enough sleep (yep, 8 hours) you can slow the effects of aging.

Risk from T-replacement has been difficult to assess because most studies have been too small, too brief, or poorly designed. One thing for sure: the higher the serum T-level achieved, the more Red Blood Cells (RBCs) are made by bone marrow; if the RBCs are excessive, blood gets too thick (or viscous) and clotting risk increases making strokes and heart attacks more likely. Presently, only one research study has been conducted in a way to define risk and it showed an increase in cardiovascular death for frail elderly men who were given 3-times the usual starting dose when compared to placebo. All the other recent studies have been reviews of patient charts. This kind of study can be suggestive of risk or safety, but is used as a justification, and is unable to prove the risk definitively.

For now, the recommendations remain that T-replacement be given only to men who have proven low T-levels on 2 or more occasions AND who have risks that may be due to T deficiency. The dosing should achieve mid-range normal serum levels, and be reduced if high/high-normal levels occur or if RBC levels
exceed normal. If there is no improvement to symptoms then therapy should be stopped.

Blood Glucose Monitoring

by Stephan C. Sharp, MD

Control of blood glucose in diabetes is one of the trickiest jobs in all of medicine. This is reflected in the fact that insulin is the single most-likely drug to send a patient to the emergency room or require hospitalization, and sulfonylureas (an old, oral medication for diabetes) are the fourth most-likely to do so. If
blood sugar levels remain high, then progressive damage to the patient’s eyes, nerves, and kidneys can occur. If blood sugar levels drops too low, then putting you are at risk for accidents, seizures, stroke, heart attack, and death. Early in the treatment of diabetes, it became apparent that patients needed the ability to assess diabetic control at home. The only means of doing so was to check the sugar in their urine, which could tell them only if the blood sugar was above or below 250 mg/ dl (normal 60-140 mg/dl). Laboratories could measure blood sugar, but the results took hours. Then in the 1960’s a means of testing blood sugar by a device was developed. By the 1980’s the devices were good enough (and cheap enough) for patients to use them at home. The early push was for fast results.

In the 1980’s the results took a few minutes, but now most meters can deliver results in 5 seconds. The current problem is the need to improve accuracy. Meters are required to be accurate within 20%, but that means that if the meter reads 250 mg/ dl the blood sugar is between 200- 300 mg/ dl. The FDA has mandated that the meters must measure the blood sugar more accurately. New meters will need to be within 15% and the next generation will have to be within 10% of laboratory-measure result.

What is RSV?

The Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus (better known as RSV) is an illness that typically effects children. However, new research shows that older adults should be vaccinated for this virus. The symptoms are similar to the common cold but it is the most common cause of other illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis. In extreme cases, RSV can cause severe cough, fever, rapid or difficult breathing, and can even cause the skin to turn a bluish color due to lack of oxygen. It is easily spread through direct contact and can remain live on surfaces (i.e. countertops and door handles) for up to five hours. It is particularly hard on older adults with underlying medical conditions like heart or lung problems. Beginning this October, Clinical Research Associates will be conducting a new research study to test the safety and effectiveness of a new investigational RSV vaccine. If you are over 60 years of age, call today to get more information and to reserve your spot in the trial. Compensation is available.

Should I vaccinate?

There is much misinformation about vaccines that many people have been opting out. Myths about vaccinations range from causing autism to giving people the illness it is supposed to prevent. Since their invention, vaccines have helped to reduced several illnesses almost to the point of eradication. There is no link between autism and vaccines. The physician that carried out the study was shown to be a fraud and the information fake. Numerous studies since have shown that vaccines are safe for children and is recommended by the CDC and other health officials. Another popular belief is that since everyone around me is vaccinated, I don’t need to be. This idea is called herd immunity. While this theory seems like a good reason to skip getting a shot, at least 95% of the population would need to be vaccinated in order for this effect to take place. Right now the National average is only about 68%.

Some people are concerned that receiving a vaccination will cause them to contract the illness they are trying to prevent. Have no fear, the influenza vaccinations given use an inactivated or killed virus, thus they are not able to replicated and make you sick. (If you receive FluMist®, the nasal spray, this is a weakened live virus. This is not used in any of our studies.) Educate yourself about vaccines, and make the smart choice for you.