Behaviors

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Is It Bad to Take Medications?

This blog is dedicated to helping non-medical consumers make smart choices about how to handle their health and health care. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, is there more misinformation or more misconceptions than where medications are concerned.

Sometimes when I advise prescription drugs to treat uncontrolled medical conditions patients react as if I am literally trying to poison them. I find the majority of patients, regardless of their intelligence, are not well educated about either the danger of not treating certain conditions or the benefit of treatment with the right drug at the right dose.

Read this post if you are willing to set your preconceptions aside and look at the whole medication question from a health professional’s perspective.

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7 Tips for Staying Energized

Here are 7 safe, solid and proven tips to help you stay energized all through the day.

BTW – these don’t come from me, they are from patients who have read my book and then come up with their own ways to make healthy lifestyle behaviors work in their lives. Those that do the following things say they have energy all day - and they are losing weight, too!

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Smart Women Missing Stroke Risks and Warning Signs

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in both men and women (right behind heart disease and cancer). It occurs equally in men and women until age 75. After age 75 women are at much greater risk for stroke than men. Stroke incidence has been increasing in women of all ages. In recent years strokes have surged in the age 45 to 54 age groups – groups usually at low risk for stroke. Why? Experts believe it’s because of an increase in risk factors that lead to stroke.

In a recent study published in the February 2009 issue of the medical journal Stroke researchers reported that 215 women, all having at least one risk factor for stroke, were unable to identify their risks. Furthermore they did not consider themselves to be at risk and were doing nothing to reduce their risk. The researchers concluded “Educational strategies must advocate for and target high-risk women.”

Read this post to learn the risks and warning signs of stroke these women missed.

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Your Lifestyle Choices: Are You Preventing Disease – or Inviting It?

Maverick Health and my book, A Nurse Practitioner’s Guide to Smart Health Choices, are all about using your lifestyle behaviors to prevent or control chronic diseases. I’ve been at this for over a decade now and every day I read studies and hear news-bites that only validate what I write about on this blog and talk about in my book.

But until you know what I know and, more importantly, act on what you know all this information is useless. Read this post about a study in Europe that looked at how well people controlled their risk factors after they’d already had a heart attack or serious cardiac event. Hint: reviewers that read the study found its results “ominous”.

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Synch to Your Body’s Own Clock and to Mother Earth for Better Health

In March 2009, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published research done at the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Researchers studied 10 subjects – 5 men and 5 women – to see what happened to their cardiovascular and metabolic systems if their behavioral and circadian rhythms were disrupted.

If you want to know what effect being out of synch with your body’s own clock and the rhythms of the Earth has on your health, read this post.

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High Blood Pressure Rx – Keeping It Simple

Successful treatment of high blood pressure is difficult to achieve for a couple of reasons. First, health practitioners have many drugs and multiple guidelines from which to choose when making a treatment plan for individual patients. Second, patients do not like taking medications, so often they don’t take them as they should - if they take them at all.

Researchers in Canada looked at this problem to see if they could come up with a simpler and more effective approach that would make it easier for prescribers and easier for patients. They published their findings in the April 2009 issue of Hypertension.

Read this post to see which drugs helped 20% more people reach their BP goals.

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Eat Whatever You Want and Still Lose Weight

A two-year study funded by National Institutes of Health called Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies had 811 overweight participants who consumed four different types of reduced calorie diets and, guess what? It doesn’t matter what you eat, it’s the number of calories consumed that determine weight loss or weight gain in the human body.

If you are a chronic dieter, if there is not a single diet you haven’t tried, if your bookshelf is mostly diet books, and if all you seem to think about is your weight, please read this post. I want to set you free!

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How Much Exercise is (Really) Enough?

In February 2009, the American College of Sports Medicine published Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults. In this position statement they revised their 2001 position and raised the bar on the amount of exercise they recommend - from 150 minutes to 250 minutes a week. 

In my book, A Nurse Practitioner’s Guide to Smart Health Choices, I went out on a limb and exceeded the ACSM guidelines at the time and recommended 240 minutes of exercise a week at your target heart rate as the minimum amount of exercise needed for good health and weight maintenance. I went even further and, in the book, recommended 300 minutes of exercise a week if you are really serious about losing weight.

Before you click me off, just read this post.

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Do You Want to Prevent a Stroke? Behave This Way

Working on my book over 10 years ago, I already knew from experience that behaviors - not mysterious diseases - are the cause most of today’s illnesses. After years as a critical care nurse, I saw how medical treatments arrive too late in the game – way too late – to spare people the pain and suffering that comes from having a chronic disease or suffering a catastrophic health event like a stroke. Nobody was talking much back then about health risks or the behaviors that create them, but they are now.

Study after study keeps proving that certain lifestyle behaviors promote health and prevent disease. Two recent studies – one published in the British Journal of Medicine  and one in the journal Circulation- both showed how specific lifestyle behaviors dramatically reduce stroke risk.

Read this post to see what those behaviors are.

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Vitamin D Update – Are 3 out of 4 Americans Really Deficient?

Six months ago, in September 2008, I wrote a post on vitamin D. Since then info keeps pouring in about the apparent benefit of this supplement. This month researchers at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine reported that three out of four Americans are deficient in vitamin D. They claim that’s up from about one out two 20 years ago. Some have argued that it might just seem that way because of how vitamin D was measured then and now.

After I researched and wrote that post 6 months ago, I started measuring my patients’ vitamin D levels. I am shocked at the results.

Read this post to see what vitamin D levels are like here in the “Sunshine State” of Florida.

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