A neat article on www.alternativemedicine.com talks about the 15 ways to live longer – so here it is, a little Holiday weekend advice:
FIND HAPPINESS AND PASSION
Some of Dr. Mitch Carroll’s patients are still going strong at more than 100 years old. Here are his tips based on observations of his healthiest and happiest patients:
1. Cultivate a support system. Whether it’s that gentle nagging by your partner to get your annual physical or it’s a concerned friend reminding you to take your blood-pressure medicine, the benefits of a support system are numerous.
2. Find passion for the little things in life. Love for the theater or gardening or art or reading keeps the mind active and can give you joy and a sense of purpose in life.
3. Don’t let mental illness go untreated. Depression and other psychological conditions can contribute to poor quality of life, and may compromise the body’s ability to recover from injury and illness.
CONTROL BLOOD PRESSURE
Dr. Joseph Ravenell, a hypertension specialist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, says that age 40 is the time people really need to start paying attention to hypertension, because that’s the time when you’re most vulnerable to type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. His tips include:
1. Control blood pressure early because as you age, your vascular health can worsen. Controlling hypertension helps slow the aging of your blood vessels.
2. Don’t be complacent about high-normal blood pressure because that’s increasingly seen as pre-hypertension. Your risk of developing hypertension increases with a blood pressure higher than 115 over 75. Anything you can do to reduce your risk of hypertension can add years to your life.
3. Keep the medications simple. The more medications you add, the more it costs, the more side effects may increase and the more complex it will be to keep track of them. There are more than 100 medications to treat hypertension, but the average number of medications needed for any one patient is 3.5.
START AS EARLY AS YOU CAN
Dr. Jack W. Spitzberg, a cardiologist at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, says that with heart disease being the No.1 killer of Americans, the earlier you practice good heart health the better.
Not smoking tops his list. His other tips:
1. Establish healthy habits early in life. Exercise and eat a balanced diet when you’re young. Overweight children most often become overweight adults-and that carries with it a host of risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and other serious medical conditions.
2. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly. They’re treatable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which causes heart attacks, strokes and other deadly conditions. The tests are quick and easy, and medical treatments are effective.
3. Don’t ride motorcycles. This actually doesn’t affect heart health, but he’s noticed over the years that motorcycles send a lot of patients to the emergency room.
REMEMBER THE BASICS
Dr. Jeremy Denning, a neurosurgeon at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano (Texas), has trained in spinal and cerebrovascular surgery. Here are his tips:
1. Eat healthy. It is important to not only limit the types of food you eat but the amount you eat as well. Obesity is a real problem. Diabetes, heart disease and spine problems are just a few secondary effects of obesity.
2. Exercise regularly. Dr. Denning tries to exercise one to two hours a day. He enjoys it, but he points out that it doesn’t require an hour of exercise every day to make a difference. As little as 30 minutes a day can help improve cardiovascular fitness, boost the immune system and also serve as a great stress reducer and mood enhancer.
3. Avoid tobacco. When he sees a patient who is a smoker, a red flag is immediately raised in his mind. Tobacco can lead to poor healing after surgery, a higher chance of infection or wound breakdown and higher risk of medical complications after surgery. Cigarette smoking also increases risk of heart attack, stroke, aneurysm development, deep-vein thrombosis and cancer. Nonsmokers are at a tremendous health advantage.
TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON
Dr. Bassem Elsawy, a geriatric specialist at Family Practice Center at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in adults 65 and older.
Dr. Elsawy’s goal is to treat the whole person, which means working with social workers as well as resident physicians to assess each senior’s medical, mental and social condition. His tips:
1. Continue your social interactions and involvement. Stay physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally active.
2. Take to the water. The best exercise for the elderly is water aerobics because it is an exercise that does not put a burden on weight-bearing joints such as the knees.
3. A well-balanced diet is crucial. An adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is important for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis. Folic acid, B6 and B12 can lower homocysteine levels, possibly reducing the risk of coronary artery disease and helping to prevent the decline in the cognitive function associated with aging. Protein and zinc help with immunity. But people should consult with their doctors before spending money on over-the-counter supplements.
Dr. Elsawy’s main concern with elderly patients is weight loss. As people age, they tend to lose the senses of taste and smell and have decreased stomach capacity. Keeping well-hydrated is important. Making mealtime a social event and adding herbs and spices may make meals appetizing. Well-fitting dentures and good oral hygiene help, too.
Nancy Churnin – http://www.alternativemedicine.com/common/news/news_results.asp?task=HowTo&id=9163&storeID=02AD61F001A74B5887D3BD11F6C28169