Category Archives: Women's Health

Quick Fix for Life’s Embarrassing Health Conditions

Itchy Man Cartoon_AdobeStock_85546839If you’ve ever had an annoying bout of athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, or a vaginal yeast infection, blame it on fungus. Fungus, you say? Wait a minute… you had mushrooms on your salad last night. Aren’t they a form of fungus? Yep. A fungus is actually a primitive vegetable, just like mushrooms.

Fungi (pronounced fuhn-jahy), the plural for fungus, live and reproduce in the air, in soil and water, on plants… and on YOU. Those embarrassing health conditions mentioned above are caused by an excessive amount of fungus growing on the surface of your skin. Think of that fuzzy green mold that grows on decaying old fruit hiding in the back of your frig or the mildew that grows on shower walls. Same idea.

Please Don’t Pass the Fungi

Fungi reproduce through tiny spores in the air. That means, you can inhale the spores or they can land on you! As a result, fungal infections often begin in your lungs or on your skin. That means they’re easy to get and PASS AROUND.

Only half of them are harmful, but they can be annoying, itchy and difficult to kill. If you have a circulation problem, weakened immune system, diabetes, or take antibiotics, you may be more likely to get a fungal infection. (Antibiotics may disrupt the balance of natural microflora in your system which causes fungi to overpopulate.) It’s important to get treatment at the first sign of a problem.

Where They Thrive

Fungi will grow on anything and can multiple in enormous mass. They grow best in areas that are warm, dark and damp, such as:

  • Locker rooms
  • Exercise machines that haven’t been disinfected after use
  • Boxing gloves
  • Shared towels, clothing or footwear (e.g., rental bowling shoes, ski boots, ice skates, or roller skates)
  • Tanning beds
  • Skin folds
  • Toenails and fingernails
  • Plastic gloves

Treatment

In healthy people, fungi don’t spread beyond the skin’s surface, so they’re easy to treat with a topical ointment. But for a serious and more persistent infection, you may have to take an oral antifungal medication.

Get Out of Gross Gear

Since I’m always encouraging you to exercise which involves some degree of sweat, be aware that fungi grow in sweaty gear. Here are a few antifungal fitness tips:    Continue reading

Heart Attack! First Aid Quiz

If you’re experiencing “chest pressure” or “chest pain”, aspirin is the BEST form of first aid. But all aspirins are not alike nor are all methods of taking aspirin alike. Take the lifesaving quiz below…

Why Aspirin

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), is permanent damage to the heart muscle. Most heart attacks develop when a cholesterol-laden plaque in a coronary artery ruptures. Plaque deposits are hard on the outside and when this outer shell ruptures (cracks), platelets rush to the area in an effort to ‘patch’ the ruptured area.

Platelets are disc-shaped particles in the blood that aid in clotting. A clot grows minute by minute! As a clot grows, it blocks an artery. When the artery is completely blocked, cardiac tissue dies from the lack of blood supply and you have a heart attack. But aspirin can help stop the platelets from forming a larger clot if you take the aspirin BEFORE the clot gets too big. Time is critical! Aspirin helps inhibit platelet activity.

heart-attack2_adobestock_70059927

QUIZ (3 questions):

1. Pick the METHOD that you think makes aspirin work the fastest*. That is, during a suspected heart attack, which of the following is the fastest way to reduce blood clot formation?

A. Swallow the aspirin with 4 oz. of water.
B. Chew the aspirin for 30 seconds, then swallow it.
C. Swallow the aspirin with 4 oz. Alka Seltzer.    Continue reading

Be Aware If You Passed Your Treadmill Stress Test

Having his heart's functions checked

When I first started working in cardiac rehabilitation as a new college grad, one of my Phase 3 cardiac rehab patients had a heart attack when he was only 35 years old. If that wasn’t unsettling enough, he had his heart attack the DAY AFTER he “passed” his treadmill test. Back then, I couldn’t understand how that could possibly happen, but I now know better.

How Sensitive Is Your Treadmill Test?

Here’s what you need to know. Currently, the exercise ECG is the most cost-effective first-line screening tool, but its accuracy relies on the ‘sensitivity’ of the test. Sensitivity refers to the percentage of cases in which exercise testing accurately identifies the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD). Unfortunately, the exercise ECG it is not 100% sensitive to detecting coronary artery disease. 

Per the American College of Sports Medicine, the current sensitivity for detecting CAD using the exercise stress test is only about 70%.  In other words, if you test 100 cardiac rehab patients with documented coronary artery disease, only 70 patients would show evidence of CAD per the stress ECG test. If you’re one of the 30 remaining patients, where does that leave you?

False Negatives

Well, don’t start your celebratory dance (or meal) just yet. It just means that you may fall in either of the following groups:

  1. You have a negative stress test. That is, you actually “passed” and show no signs of coronary artery disease.
  2. You have a false-negative finding. This means you’ve been given a negative stress test result (normal) where no CAD ‘appears’ to be present, but you actually have CAD.

The bottom line… a negative exercise ECG test is no guarantee that you do NOT have coronary artery disease (CAD) even if your cardiologist tells you, “Everything looks great! See you in a year.” So sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s the reality. Cardiac events that occur after a negative stress test happen all too often, but it’s not so perplexing to me anymore.

Causes of False-Negatives (Lower Sensitivity)

Stress test results are only as valuable as your performance, the technician’s monitoring, and the test interpretation. Here are some factors that may increase your chances of a false-negative finding:    Continue reading

Fit Minute | The New Definition of Being Fit

Group running on treadmills

Being “fit” is no longer about how much time you spend working out, but how much time you spend sitting as well. A study by the American Cancer Society compared people who sat less than three hours per day with those that sat more than six hours per day. The results were quite dramatic.

If you’re physically active and sit more than 6 hours per day, you are:

  • 18% more likely to die if you’re a man.
  • 37% more likely to die if you’re a woman.

If you’re NOT physically active and sit more than 6 hours per day, you are:

  • 48% more likely to die if you’re a man.
  • 94% more likely to die if you’re a woman.

Over 123,000 individuals (53,440 men and 69,776 women) were studied and none had a history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema or other lung disease at the start of the study.  Here are the results after 14 years:    Continue reading

10 Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Readings

In “The #1 Biggest Mistake That Affects Blood Pressure Readings“, wrong blood pressure cuff size topped the list as one of the most frequent errors made when measuring blood pressure. Be conscious of the following factors the next time you get a blood pressure reading. They can affect it by 5 to 50 points, and artificially high or low readings could affect your medical treatment.

1. Arm Position

Correct blood pressure arm position

Your palm should be facing up and your arm should be supported and horizontal at the level of the midpoint of your sternum (chest bone) which is at the approximate level of the right atrium of your heart. It may be necessary to place a pillow under your arm or adjust the chair or table to achieve the correct position.

  • If your upper arm is BELOW the level of the right atrium, your blood pressure readings will be too high (blood is flowing down into the arm).
  • If the upper arm is ABOVE heart level, the readings will be too low (blood is flowing down from the arm).

Researchers studied a group of outpatients to determine the effects of arm position on blood pressure measurements. Blood pressures were taken and compared in the following arm positions:

  1. Sitting with arms hanging down and elbows resting on the armrests of a chair (i.e., the elbow is at a right angle)
  2. Sitting with arms supported at the level of the mid-sternum

Blood pressure should be read with arm supported at the level of the mid-sternum

The results showed that blood pressure readings were significantly higher when sitting with arms on the armrest of the chair. Readings can be over 10 mm Hg higher in both systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) pressures.

Blood pressure readings are elevated significantly when the arm is hanging down.

In another study of 100 random emergency room patients, blood pressures were compared in two positions: 1) Arm lax and hanging down parallel to the body and 2) Arm in the “correct” position. Among the seated patients, 22% of them were diagnosed with hypertension, but twice as many patients were diagnosed with high blood pressure with the arm hanging down. Be sure to note the position of your arm whenever a clinician takes your blood pressure.   Continue reading

How’s Your New Year’s Resolution Working for You?

exercise new year_600x600_dollarphotoclub_73123624If you made a promise to exercise more starting on the first of the year, three months have now passed. If you enthusiastically invested in the latest and greatest home fitness equipment or a membership at the nearest gym, how many hours have you logged in so far?

If you’ve had trouble sticking with your exercise regimen because it’s become too hard, too boring or just too _____ (you fill in the blank), here’s a New Year’s Resolution ‘addendum’ that may help.    Continue reading

Testing for Alzheimer’s with Peanut Butter?

VIDEO: Here’s a brilliant use of peanut butter…. to diagnosis early stage Alzheimer’s disease. According to University of Florida Health researchers, all you need is a tablespoon of peanut butter and a ruler.

Why Test Your Nose for Alzheimer’s?

brain_content_600x386The ability to smell is associated with your first cranial nerve (the olfactory nerve) which is one of the first parts of your brain to deteriorate in Alzheimer’s disease. This nerve is located in your temporal lobe and that’s also where new memories are formed. Being unable to capture new information and remember it later is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Why Peanut Butter?   

Continue reading

Antibacterial Agent Can Impair Heart Muscle

[Since it’s been over two and a half years since this UC Davis study was published and triclosan is still widely used, I am republishing this post from 8/21/2012.]

Due to an obsession with germs by Americans, antibacterial products have flooded the marketplace. Triclosan, introduced in the 1970’s, has become a popular antibacterial agent in consumer products.

Studies have raised the possibility that the overuse of triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics, but new studies now attribute it to weakening cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility — a problem that can affect people with heart disease and heart failure.

Triclosan Use  Due to the abundant use of triclosan in personal care products, triclosan levels in urine, blood and breast milk are on the rise. It’s used in everyday products, such as:   Continue reading

Is Deodorant Shortening Your Life?

Do you often wonder if you smell? Are you one who NEVER leaves home without a heavy coat of deodorant under your armpits? If so, take note…

The ABC’s of B.O.

Being conscious of your stink factor starts early on in middle school. This is when you sit through the prepubescent talks about the inevitable biological changes that will soon take place, such as emitting a new and rather objectionable body odor.

Companies have used these classroom lessons as an opportunity to promote their deodorants by providing product samples and coupons to preteens. But unless you’re told otherwise, you probably assumed these products are safe.

Here’s what you need to know about minimizing your unique essence, deciphering deodorant ingredients, and being a smart consumer.

How Chemicals Enter Your Body

Hair follicles (small ducts containing the hair shaft) and sweat pores are open entryways to chemicals. Areas of the body that are particularly hairy (e.g., the underarms) and have higher concentrations of sweat pores (e.g., under the arm) are most easily penetrable by chemicals.

Once chemicals enter the body and penetrate the deeper layer of the skin, they’re distributed via the bloodstream where they may exert their effects far from the original point of entry. Transdermal patches are effective because they deliver medication through the skin and into the bloodstream.

“Safe” Until Proven Toxic      

Deodorants (classified as cosmetics) are considered safe only until they’re proven toxic. Until a chemical is tested and evaluated for toxicity or if the results aren’t publicly available, current laws recognize the chemical as safe.    Thousands of chemicals are considered “safe” because the government agencies cannot address the hazards associated with all of them.    Continue reading

Fit TV | Will Your Doctor Predict if You’ll Get Alzheimer’s?


VIDEO: Researchers are optimistic that they found a new way to predict Alzheimer’s disease. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this compact segment of health news in The Health Reporter Minute.

More on Alzheimer’s disease: Fit Minute | Check Cholesterol for Alzheimer’s Risk.