Friday, February 02, 2007
Battered athletes may suffer the consequences
We see it on the field, in the rink and in the ring. Athletes in high-contact sports suffering concussions - a brain injury caused by a strong blow to the head that can cause dizziness, headache, memory loss, and even a loss of consciousness.

Every year players in the National Football League suffer concussions and risk life-altering consequences, particularly those who experience multiple concussions.

For decades athletes have called them "dings," and some shook them off, "playing through" the injuries that some doctors now link to depression, dementia and even suicide - once an athlete's playing days are over. In a study of nearly 2,500 former NFL players by the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina, the rate of depression for players who had five or more concussions was three times that of players with no history of concussion.

And what about children who play sports? Studies spanning the last 20 years show that nearly 20 percent of high school players - nearly 250,000 kids - suffer concussions yearly, moving experts to call for better education among players, trainers, coaches and parents.

If you've had one concussion your brain needs time to heal because head injuries can cause lasting problems. And we know that a player who has had a concussion has a greater risk of having another one. But if your brain hasn't healed from the first, your next concussion could be fatal.

There's a lot that we don't know about concussion, but with all we do know, do players, coaches and parents need to start taking them more seriously.

Has your child suffered a concussion playing high school sports? How long did you make him or her wait before resuming play?
Thursday, February 01, 2007
A beautiful addition to the family
One week ago, my wife delivered our second child. Up to the point of the delivery, we had no idea whether the baby was a boy or a girl. She is definitely a girl. Very pretty, very mild mannered. Beautiful. We could not be happier.

My wife and I are both pretty compulsive people. Yes, we had a birth plan and everything went pretty much as we anticipated. To prepare, I have been reading tons of books written by friends such as Dr. Laura Jana, who often calls to check in on us. Thanks, Laura. I also have read several books by Heidi Murkoff and Dr Ari Brown, who have both been guests on my show. My wife is partial to "The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy." Without a doubt, there are many great books out there and great resources.

Still, I am not sure any amount of reading can truly prepare you for your second child. It is a very different experience from the first. Truth is, I could write a book about all that I have felt over the last week. My friend and colleague John Vause sent his greetings from China and very correctly stated that we "had gone from being a couple with a kid - to a real family." A real family. Interestingly, one of the most powerful emotions I felt had more to do with my 19-month-old daughter. I was so used to seeing her as a baby, and suddenly she seemed grown up, too grown up. When she offered to go get her new sister's diaper, I was both amused and sad. Wasn't she still our baby too?

It is when your children grow up that you are truly forced to stare into the face of mortality. As I reflect now, I realize that I wasn't quite ready for that. I am sure that it will get better over the weeks and months, and then our new one will suddenly seem too grown up. In the mean time, I want to enjoy our moments.

I typically don't solicit parenting advice, but I wanted to get a discussion going here about what experiences other parents have had, especially bringing their second child home, and wondering whether you raised your second child any differently from your first. And, what advice for me do you have on new-dad bonding?
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
The perfect meal

There are so many diets out there - how do you know which is the right one? Check out Dr. Sanjay Gupta's podcast "Paging Dr. Gupta" (iTunes or CNN.com) for tips on the most balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner options.

Have you tried our perfect food tips? Have they worked for you? Tell us about your perfect breakfast, lunch and dinner meals!

Women's heart disease still poorly understood
As wives and girlfriends and sisters and friends worry that the men in their lives who smoke, eat big steaks and covet the couch will have a heart attack, I'm going to let you in on something the American Heart Association says fewer than one in five doctors know:

Heart disease kills more women than men.

The statistics are a study in superlatives.

Women are six times as likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer.

Heart disease kills more women older than 65 than all cancers combined.

And that has Dr. Sharonne Hayes, director of the Mayo Clinic's Women Heart Clinic frustrated.

"We need to be able to tell women whether the diagnostic tests we order are accurate and how treatments will affect them, but today we don't have enough data specific to women," says Hayes. She's just published research showing sex differences continue to be poorly understood.

She attributes it to the fact that far fewer women are included in clinical trials, and even when they are included, study results are not sex-specific.

Other facts:

-Men and women respond differently to certain heart medications.

-Even aspirin affects men and women differently: In women, aspirin therapy seems to reduce the risk of stroke more than in men, while in men it reduces the risk of heart attack.

-A woman may experience different heart attack symptoms. Men and women are both likely to feel chest pain, but women may also feel it in their neck, back or abdomen.

-Depression affects women's hearts more than men's.

-Smoking is much worse for women than men.

Why?

Doctors don't fully understand it yet but suggest hormones, particularly estrogen receptors in the heart, may play a role.

For both sexes, heart disease is often avoidable. Don't smoke. Maintain your weight. Get regular blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.

And knowledge helps.

Everyone from the Dr. Hayes to the first lady of the United States to our own Paula Zahn will be wearing red this Friday ... it's the American Heart Association's "National Wear Red" day to raise awareness.

So when you see people in red, remember: More women than men die of heart disease.

Pass it on.

Will you be wearing red to support heart disease awareness? Send us an i-Report by clicking here.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Doctor Salisu's Hospital
My interview with Dr. Salisu
As Americans, we can take for granted our access to safe health care. Even people without health insurance can still see a doctor when they are sick.

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, having a doctor or any kind of health care nearby is still very much a luxury. But that's changing in the northern part of the country.

Recently, I visited a hospital in Katsina State near the border of the Niger Republic. I spoke with Dr. Salisu Barau Banye, who was born and raised in Katsina and has practiced medicine in the area for more than 25 years. When many of his generation were leaving Nigeria for opportunities abroad, Dr. Salisu chose to stay and serve his community.

Dr. Salisu works at Katsina General Hospital, which is considered a shining star for health care in northern Nigeria. People travel there from neighboring Nigerian states and even the Niger Republic. The tiny hospital treats 1,500 people a day and is open nearly around the clock. Just eight years ago, the hospital did not have a clean water supply, consistent electric power or adequate staff. But the government of Katsina State has invested millions of dollars into health care, and Dr. Salisu's patients are beginning to thrive. Like many places in Africa, the plague of poverty is the doctor's biggest foe. Infections, malaria, food-borne illnesses and malnutrition are some of the major maladies in Katsina.

Dr. Salisu and his colleagues say they are continuing to provide the three A's of health care: availability, accessibility and affordability. Thanks to funding from the Katsina State Government the hospital provides:

Free prenatal care and delivery
Free kidney dialysis
Free treatment of malaria
Free emergency treatment of accident victims
Discounted prescription medicines

New equipment, facilities, ambulances, better-trained doctors, nurses and midwives, improved immunizations and even a state-of-the-art intensive care unit have created an oasis of high-quality health care in a very rural area.

It's now Dr. Salisu's goal to bring more primary-care facilities to villages so people will not have to travel as far to be treated for more common illnesses. Easy access to health care is improving in this part of the world. Can you get medical care when you need it where you live?
Monday, January 29, 2007
Injecting your way to a younger face
Watching Dr. Lisa Airan, cosmetic dermatologist to New York's glamourotti transform a 40-something single mom into a 30ish-looking woman with a few pricks of a needle, I'm thinking, injectable facial fillers look as easy as hitting a "refresh button" on your face.

For the uninitiated, facelifts lift, lasers sand, Botox relaxes, and injectible facial fillers plump up wrinkles and folds.

Face work no longer requires extended periods behind dark glasses. Minimally invasive cosmetic procedures are skyrocketing: 8.4 million people in the United States had this type of work done in 2005.

While Botox remains the most popular minimally invasive procedure, facial fillers are elbowing their way in: Restylane remains the dominant player, but enter a crop of recently FDA- approved fillers: among them, Juvederm, Radiesse, and Artefill.

Users find the immediate gratification and few side effects (bruising and swelling) attractive. But fillers can be expensive: hundreds of dollars per syringe - several times a year. As Dr. Alan Matarasso, spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons points out, annually, a face-full of fillers may be comparable to facelift in terms of cost.

Artefill is billed as the first permanent filler, and may alleviate wallet and needle fatigue. Experts warn, Artefill is not a great choice as a first-time filler, and it's not approved for lips.

Also be careful about who's plumping your face. There's an aesthetic involved - and more isn't necessarily better. Fillers aren't insurance reimburseable, and even dentists are getting into the act. Dr. Matarasso says lips are the biggest offender in terms of looking "overdone."

Are fillers really safe? It's "buyer beware" according to Dr. Matarasso, who notes that no long-term studies support safety claims.

Finally, less into needles, more into natural? Key factors for face preservers: avoid weight fluctuations and the sun. Not as dramatic as hitting the "refresh button" - but it works for me.

Do you have facial fillers, or are you considering them? Tell us your stories.
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