Here’s some recent information from the current medical literature. I found this to be interesting and I hope you find it to be useful.
Let’s start with a question I’m frequently asked in the clinic.
“Doc, I know exercise is supposed to be good for you, but how much is enough?”
Well, exercise is good for us -- no matter our age. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with multiple problems. But this is an important question -- what’s the right amount? What’s the goal? This area of medicine is been receiving a lot of attention recently, and we’re learning more about the benefits of staying active. For instance, adequate physical activity can lower our risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even breast and colon cancer. Sounds like things we should all want to avoid, but what is “adequate physical activity”? The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the equivalence of 150 minutes each week of brisk walking (75 minutes per week of running), or about 20 minutes a day of dedicated exercise. That doesn’t sound so bad, and that amount of activity will provide significant benefits for our hearts, muscles and joints. But to achieve a significant reduction in the diseases noted above, that amount needs to be doubled -- maybe a little more. That will take more effort -- more time. Remember though, we were created to be active, physical creatures and we need to keep moving. Gardening, cycling, “hot yoga” and even strenuous housework.
“I had an ultrasound of my gallbladder and the report came back as showing I had a fatty liver. What is that and what do I do about it?”
“Fatty liver” or, more properly, “nonalcoholic fatty liver disease” is very common, and if untreated can progress to cirrhosis, liver failure and even liver cancer. In fact, it’s so common that it’s now the most common liver disease in this part of the world. The causes of this include obesity, elevated lipid levels and diabetes. Remember, this is “nonalcoholic” liver disease. Alcohol induces a whole separate and serious set of problems. And while we know what causes “fatty liver,” we’re not exactly sure how to treat it. Aggressively managing diabetes and elevated lipids is important, as it refraining from adding alcohol to the problem. But this is not always enough, and we’re looking for other alternatives. Recent evidence suggests that something as simple as artichoke leaf extract might help. The Chinese have known for centuries that this vegetable is good for our livers, and now we know that the extract can reduce our cholesterol, lower our blood sugar, and reverse the accumulation of fat in our liver cells. The studies used 2,700 milligrams/day -- about five of the currently available capsules. A little less might still be helpful, and there have been no serious side effects. So if you’re given this diagnosis, talk with your doctor about this possible treatment.
And lastly, “I got my shingles vaccine a couple of months ago, and I’m wondering how long it’s good for. What do you think?”
I think shingles is something to be avoided if at all possible. It’s extremely painful and can cause long-term discomfort. The vaccine has been routinely available since 2006 and is recommended for people older than 60. It’s not 100 percent effective, but will substantially reduce our chances of developing this debilitating problem. Unfortunately, recent information indicates that by eight years the immunity is effectively gone. Re-vaccination is not currently being recommended, but that may be changing. We’ll have to stay tuned.
“Wait a minute, Doc. I want to know about restless leg syndrome.”
We’ll look at that next time.
Dr. Robert Lesslie is a graduate of Dixie High School and Erskine College. He is current an emergency room doctor in Rock Hill. Lesslie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org