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Heart health, fad diets and weekend warriors: Health notes from Baptist Healthcare

DON’T FLUTTER AROUND WHEN IT COMES TO HEART HEALTH 

If you feel a fluttering sensation in your throat, neck, or chest while performing your daily activities, it could be an indication that a visit with your physician is needed. Those flutters might be atrial fibrillation or AFib.

Afib occurs when the upper chambers of the heart (atria) quiver or flutter. This irregular beating causes the blood to move inefficiently through your heart. While AFib is not usually life threatening, it can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. Your quality of life can be significantly impacted by some of the following AFib symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats
  • Swelling of the lower extremities
  • Decreased stamina

“AFib is a common heart rhythm disturbance,” said electrophysiologist Thabet Alsheikh, M.D., FACC, FHRS of the Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute (BHVI). “It has a variety of symptoms. Many patients never know they have it. The most concerning thing is the risk of having a stroke. That’s why talking to a doctor and seeking treatment for AFib is essential.”

According to researchers at the American College of Cardiology Foundation, the likelihood of developing AFib increases with age and approximately 70% of patients are between the ages of 65 and 85 years old. Other factors can also increase a person’s risk of developing AFib, such as family history, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, alcohol consumption and other chronic conditions.

Treatment options for AFib include:

  • EKG, echocardiogram, external or implantable monitoring
  • Medication therapies
  • Surgical procedures
  • Catheter ablation
  • Left atrial appendage closure (Watchman)
  • Convergent procedure

For more information, visit ebaptisthealthcare.org.

 

FINDING BALANCE IN FAD DIETS 
Following a popular trend may work well for choosing clothes, home decorations and hair styles. Yet when it comes to nutrition, following a fad diet for the long-term may not be best for your body or your lifestyle.

Fad diets are the stylish weight-loss plans that often promise dramatic results. Many involve eliminating foods or entire food groups. Here are five of the most popular fad diets and what you should know about them as you consider nutrition and your food options:

Keto
The keto diet is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates. Keto was originally used to treat epilepsy in children with diets were not working. It works by putting the body in a metabolic (fasting) state because of the limited carb intake but it still supplies enough energy to support most needs. The body goes into ketosis and begins to burn fat for fuel.

Pros: Keto offers accelerated weight loss and helps with blood sugar management. Research shows that it has been helpful in some athletic training, cancer treatments and neurologic conditions.

Cons: Keto has been known to possibly cause some kidney damage, digestive discomfort, nutrient deficiencies and social isolation from the lack of eating out options.

Paleo/Whole 30
This diet is set up as a modern eating style to imitate our hunter and gatherer ancestors and whole food way of eating. It reduces processed foods, contains lower sodium, little or no sugar, no beans and legumes, has little to no alcohol and no dairy. 

Pros: Paleo/Whole 30 has been helpful in weight loss, blood sugar regulation, improvement in digestion, reduction in inflammation, improvement in chronic health conditions and better sleep.

Cons: Paleo/Whole 30 way of eating can be costly. Vegetarians and athletes may find it hard to stick to this diet.

Intermittent Fasting
This is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It focuses less on the foods that are eaten and more on when the food is eaten. It can reduce calories and create a metabolic shift to use fat for energy. The most common approach is to fast for 16 to 24 hours, two times per week.

Pros: Intermittent fasting has no food specifics. Therefore, eat whatever you like in the allowed time fame.

Cons: Intermittent fasting is hard to manage long-term. It does not support metabolic and hormone systems. Some people may not lose weight because they are overeating or eating processed foods in their allowed eating period.

Gluten Free
The gluten-free diet is free of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and many oat products. This was introduced for celiac disease patients and individuals with other autoimmune conditions. Omitting gluten completely can let the intestines heal or reduce its inflammation. 

Pros: Gluten free helps reduce processed foods in diet and can help with weight loss. It reduces inflammation and aids in digestion, both needed for celiac disease.

Cons: Gluten free can be hard to commit to long-term. Products can be challenging to find and costly when available. Reducing or removing all gluten can lead to possible nutrient deficiencies.

Mediterranean
The Mediterranean diet consists primarily of plant based foods with whole grains, legumes and nuts. It replaces saturated fats like butter with unsaturated fats like olive oil. The diet recommends using herbs and spices to flavor foods rather than salt. It limits red meat to less than a few times per week and recommends fish and poultry at least twice per week. Optional red wine in moderation is allowed. This diet is often recommended to prevent and treat heart disease. 

Pros: Mediterranean offers a more diverse option of foods. It has heart health benefits and potential weight loss. It has also been known to reduce blood sugar.

Cons: Mediterranean may be hard to meet the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. This style of eating can be more costly.

What to know before you try any diet:

  • Talk to your doctor before you begin a drastic, new way of eating. Your physician may want to monitor your health progress.
  • If you’re taking medication, you should consider how that medication could affect or be affected due to dietary changes.
  • Track your energy, blood sugar levels and other vital signs to ensure you are staying well.
  • If you want a boost to your weight loss or for other health reasons, then try these fad diets on a short-term basis, no more than three months at a time.
  • Keep in mind what you can manage for the long-term lifestyle, both personally and financially.

 

RECOVER FROM AN INJURY BY BEING MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY STRONG

Weekend warriors, leisure sports enthusiasts and lifelong athletes all face the potential risk of an injury. Recovering from an injury can be discouraging and not the way you hope to start work on your New Year’s goals in 2020.

Whether you have a shoulder dislocation, a hamstring strain or shin splints, here’s how to stay positive after a sports injury and when to seek treatment: 

Focus on things you can do now

The injury you experience may be out of your control. You may be limited post-injury in your range of motion or activity level. For a few weeks, you may have to simply drive the golf cart while your friend scores a birdie on a par 3. Instead of letting the temporary setback cause you to feel blue, focus on what you can do now to help you return to that activity. 

James C. Presley, M.D., a non-surgical sports medicine specialist with Andrews Institute, is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and sports medicine. He specializes in ultrasound guided procedures, regenerative medicine treatment options and musculoskeletal and sports-related injuries. 

“Each patient’s injury is unique,” said Dr. Presley. “I listen to their individual concerns, assess them and make recommendations based on the condition the person is faced with and what they hope to achieve.”

Dr. Presley uses musculoskeletal ultrasound in place of an MRI to look at an injury in more detail. The images allow him to see the tissues around the injury so that Dr. Presley can quickly and accurately make the diagnosis treat the patient.

“The musculoskeletal ultrasound gives me an immediate, clear picture of the affected area and how severe the injury is so I can work with the patient to create a care plan,” said Dr. Presley. 

Patients overcoming an injury can then take time to rest and discuss physical therapy or other treatment options.

Try alternatives

Your injury may limit what you can do physically, but you can explore alternatives and continue moving. For example, if you sprain an ankle, you can still focus on core exercises and upper-body fitness. If the upper body is hurt, then lower body movements and exercises may be performed such as walking, doing squats and lunges. Swimming is often a great way to be gentler on the muscles and joints and still exercise.

Temporarily redirect your focus away from exercise and consider learning a new skill. Think about a hobby that you’ve wanted to try and consider doing that until your injury heals.

Dr. Presley can recommend fitness options for the patient dealing with an injury. In addition, he can recommend customized physical therapy for people of all ages and stages, from minor to more severe pain.

Make current and long-term goals

After you experience an injury, you should set recovery goals to help with the physical and mental healing process. Dr. Presley’s residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester, Minnesota and his fellowship in sports medicine at the Mayo Clinic taught him the importance of mental and physical collaboration.“I recommend that my patients set short-term and long-term goals,” said Dr. Presley. “Together we set goals that the person can work toward and do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis as well as longer periods as appropriate.”

Through hard work and goal-setting, you may be able to get back to yourself quicker than expected.

To learn more about Dr. Presley or to schedule an appointment, please visit AndrewsInstitute.com or call 850.916.8700.