Category Archives: Prevention

Could you use a little extra motivation to quit smoking?

Giving up tobacco is no easy thing.  By many measures, nicotine is the most addictive substance people use.  Most people who try to quit make several earnest attempts before they are successful, so don’t give up.

As a physician, I am always on the lookout for tools that help my patients to quit, and so I wanted to share these 2 free smart phone apps I came across:

Smokerstop App

Smokerstop app

Smokerface App

Smokerface App

The first is called Smokerstop and has lots of great features, but my favorite part is how it plays on our pocket book by keeping an up to the second tally of money saved by not smoking as you work toward incremental financial goals like saving for a dinner out (or a new mountain bike ☺).

The second is called Smokerface and it taps into our vanity by photo-aging a selfie to show how we might look after years of smoking.  Check out my Smokerface results.  Ughhhhhhh.

There are more links related to other strategies and medication for quitting on our patient resources page.   If you are motivated to quit smoking and need help let us know.  

You can do it!   We can help!

Problems with Large Joints

Mud Season Injury Prevention

Ahhhhh Mud Season:  we hang up our skis and start our summer recreational pursuits (weather permitting). 

Unfortunately this time of year we have particular vulnerability to sports injuries. Contributing factors include lack of sport specific conditioning and flexibility, nagging injuries, worn or overused equipment, and suboptimal weather/surface conditions.

Now is a great time to rest old injuries.  I recommend relative rest until there is no pain with activity, full range of motion and normal strength are achieved, and an eager, committed attitude is regained.

Next, turn attend to early season conditioning.  Don’t forget to warm up.  Warming up increases blood flow, oxygenation of muscle, mechanical efficiency, range of motion, nerve impulse speed and nerve receptor sensitivity.  It also improves mental focus. Start by working large muscle groups then turn attention to more sport specific areas. Consider stretching after a warm up and after activity during cool downs.  Stretch gently to the point of tension (not pain) and hold stretches for 15-30 seconds.  Don’t bounce into a greater range of motion. 

Build gradually into your planned aerobic and strength training regimens.  It can take up to 6 weeks to condition soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons to accommodate the rigors of a new activity. This less intense phase is a good time to incorporate proprioceptive challenges to enhance the connection between the musculo-tendenous structures and the central nervous systems balance control center. After this adaptation, you can begin a periodization schedule: think hard, harder, hardest, rest.  In the early season 5 % weekly increases in distance and intensity are reasonable.
 
Allow for recovery.  10-15 minute cool downs, whirl-pool therapy, and massage enhance
muscle relaxation, and can improve soft tissue adaptation and flexibility.  Don’t underestimate the importance of adequate sleep and good nutrition.

Review the condition of your equipment.  Over-worn shoes and gloves contribute to injury.
Make sure helmets and other protective equipment fits properly and functions well.

Finally, be prepared for the environment. “Unexpected” ice, mud, snow, cold and heat can
contribute to early season injury that affects the remaining season.
 

Set some goals, and get out there! See you on the trails.

 

Stroke Prevention Works!

The July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association has just published new data showing that the rate of stroke, the 4th leading cause of death in the US, has dropped steadily over the last 20 years. A fantastic result validating 2 decades of advancing medical practice!

What reduced the risk of stroke and death from stroke?
Researchers attribute the dramatic results to successful treatment of risk factors such as high cholesterol and hypertension, and a reduction in the number of people who smoke tobacco. The magnitude of benefit was greatest in adults over age 65, where the use of cholesterol lowering medication and blood pressure medication has increased the most. Effects were more modest for middle aged adults, and researchers point out that rising rates of obesity and diabetes in the middle aged population might reverse this trend as we see more obesity in elderly adults.

How big was the effect?
The rate of death from stroke dropped 25% and the number of strokes fell by 20%.

What is my risk of stroke?
A variety of tools have been published allowing patients and physicians to estimate an individual person’s risk of stroke and heart attack. Most of them predict 10 year risk, so the calculators apply best to patients over age 50 where the risk of stroke and heart attack is easier to measure and benefits are more obvious. Click here for one example of a Risk Estimation Calculator.

Putting a variety of hypothetical numbers into the calculator can be a very informative demonstration of the power of controlling blood pressure, treating high cholesterol, or quitting smoking.

Does treating my risk factors before age 50 make a difference?
Even though the risk calculators won’t show such impressive changes when applied to younger patients, we know that early and aggressive treatment of smoking, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol have a huge impact on health later in life.

The MyLifeCheck campaign from the American Heart and American Stroke association presents what we know about heart attack and stroke risk reduction in younger patients very clearly. Visit their excellent website to learn more.

What can I do now?
The answer is obvious but not necessarily easy: eat well, exercise, and don’t smoke. If you have questions about healthy lifestyle choices, if you need help quitting smoking, or if you are interested in finding out more about your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, check in with your physician. We would be glad to help!