Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Cost of Illness for Women

by Dr. Margaret Aranda

In the United States, the 2013 life expectancy of a man is 76.2 years of age, which is a huge boost from the previous 2009 estimates that were 4.6 years shorter.  The men are gaining on us, ladies, for the first time in a while. For women, life expectancy is is 81.3 years, a gain of only 2.7 years since 2009 (Briggs, 2013).

I think that this is a cause for alarm in our country. Why are men doing better at longevity in the United States? Why is a woman’s life span shorter in many counties than it was 20 years ago? The main reasons cited are that men are smoking less, men are more likely to not be obese, and men are more apt to get treated for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Women need to get better at these things, too. We need to seek medical care for cardiovascular disease, and we need to put ourselves first when addressing existing heart disease that has been diagnosed. These statistics mean that today, there are millions of girls that will live shorter lives than their mothers. I think this is a tragedy.

It’s not the fault of women, however, that the leading cause of death for U.S. females is cardiovascular disease that is undiagnosed. The American Heart Association admits that heart disease is often just undiagnosed and untreated in women, and the awareness of risk factors for cardiac events still needs improvement. Hence this book, From Menarche to Menopause: A Journey Through Time, which reiterates to you, the woman, how important it is to watch your waist:hip ratio, eat an anti-inflammatory diet, use High Intensity Interval Training if you can, consume fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids, and keep your ovaries if you need a hysterectomy and don’t have cancer. You have to be beautiful One Spoon at a Time, and From the Inside Out.

Is there nothing better than enjoying your grandchildren, going for those walks on the beach, or touring the continent or the world, like you always wanted to do? Or just enjoying you life working or volunteering to help others? Alas, each one of us has to die of something, some time. I’m not saying that you have to die as a mountain climber at the heights of Mount Everest, but you know what? That is a goal of many men and women in this world. With medical science geared to prevent disease and disability, your future health is in your hands, and it starts with the concept of eating One Spoon at a Time, and putting the positive into your life. Even if you are disabled, you can still exert some control over your future health care. You are empowered because you have knowledge.

Part of the problem is that doctors don’t prescribe preventative medicine that would ward off heart disease, according to Gina Lundberg, MD, national spokesperson for the American Heart Association. She states of women seeing doctors for heart disease:

“And many doctors don’t treat their symptoms as aggressively as they do in men. They’ll say you have an upset stomach and send you home.”

So let’s watch out, ladies, for three preventable causes of death: obesity, alcohol, and cigarettes. If you smoke, then your heart disease will cause blockages faster. And if you smoke and have a heart attack, you are more likely to die.  So let’s start with those big risk factors, and aim for improvement. 
I know we can do that.

Briggs, Bill. NBC News. American men finally closing the longevity gender gap, 2013.


No More Tears: A Physician Turned Patient Inspires Recovery

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And for those of you who don't know my story, I'm a doctor who was in a car accident. I sustained many Invisible Disabilities and the doctor's didn't seem to believe my complaints. I finally was diagnosed with: Traumatic Brain Injury, Diabetes Insipidus, Vertebral Artery Dissection with Aneurysm, Dysautonomia, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, urinary incontinence, hypovolemia, and more. I had shoulder surgery for a rotator cuff injury, and spinal stenosis surgery with fusion and a metal plate in my neck. I couldn't swallow for three months and believe me, it was better to just have dysautonomia and lay in bed than to choke on my food, too.
I was in bed for 6 years, and on an iv for 3 1/2 years.
I'm still in bed as I write this.
But I am doing better. Thank God there's no Hum Drum, Drip Drop of an iv any more.

If anyone ever tells you that you can't be what you want to be, 
you can't do what you think you can do, 
or you will always be in a wheelchair, 
just look at them.
And forgive them, because you realize that they just don't know who you are.
You are You.
You can try. You can try to do anything you want. 
Defy the Odds.
Be the miracle.
Someone has to be the miracle....why not you?



Age 31: The Color Blue

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