Shake Your Groove Thing

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Public Health Image Library

Public Health Image Library

As we settle into the fall season, we would like to share a 2010 article from The NYTimes to anyone who spends most of their day sitting in chairs and staring at computers.  I’m talking to you, engineering and liberal arts students, artists, bench scientists, graduate students en masse; anybody writing papers, sitting in class, studying for tests, counting beans, watching a lot of TV or playing a lot of video games.

Turns out if your buns are being warmed by a chair for the majority of your day – at school, work, home, on planes, trains or automobiles-your heart is probably suffering.   Even if you exercise regularly.

Animal models suggest that as you withdraw the regular isometric contractions and active muscle activity from walking, bending, lifting, etc. on a daily basis, muscle cells experience deleterious microscopic changes like those associated with Type 2 Diabetes as well as insulin resistance and elevated levels of free fatty acids in the blood. 

Research has shown that males who are sedentary for 23 hours a week (that’s only a little more than 3 hours a day!) have a much greater chance of dying of heart disease (67%) than males who are sedentary less than 11 hours a week.   What is striking about this is that the risk is greater in the more sedentary group even when they exercised regularly.  So all those hours of studying, prepping, working, researching and vegging out in front of the boob tube can take their toll on your muscles even if you hit the gym afterwards.  And remember, your heart is the most important muscle you got.

I’m not suggesting you stop heading over to the RPAC to hit the elliptical machine and weight room – just make sure you’re moving around the rest of the day too.  Use the restroom on another floor; take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk out of your way at lunch; do a few push-ups or crunches in your cubicle if you can; deliver a message on foot, in person with a smiling face, rather than a bland email.  

And then go hit the gym.

Victoria Rentel, MD (OSU Student Health Services Alum)

Save a Million Hearts!

Million Hearts - Sodium?

Think you will have a heart attack or stroke in the next five years?  Well, of course, at 50, my chances are a lot greater than yours.  But even young adults can be at risk.  Is your cholesterol elevated?  How about your blood pressure? Do you smoke? 

Visit this link to try out a risk calculator for yourself

Ok, maybe you are reading this in the RPAC, after your intense daily workout, your pleasing weigh-in, and your fruit-n-bran smoothie.  If you are already doing the things you should, maybe you can spread the word to the people you care about.  (Think – Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Aunt, Neighbor, Friend):

Launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with several key partners, Million Hearts aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.

The first goal is to empower Americans to make healthy choices such as preventing tobacco use and reducing sodium and “trans” fat consumption. This can reduce the number of people who need medical treatment such as blood pressure or cholesterol medications to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The second goal is improving care for people who do need treatment by encouraging a targeted focus on the “ABCS

  • Aspirin for people at risk,
  • Blood pressure control,
  • Cholesterol management and
  • Smoking cessation

These four items address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.  

If you want to learn more about your health and your heart attack and stroke risk, stop in at the Student Wellness Center, or come see us at Student Health.  We have the expertise and are here on campus for you. 

Students First!

Roger Miller, MD  (OSU Student Health Services)

Smoking can make your nipples fall off!

texags.com

Now THAT is a blog title that’ll get your attention, huh?  I wish I could take credit for it, but it actually belongs to Dr. Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon in Detroit.  Dr. Youn is a pretty funny guy and gives some good advice – you should definitely check out the post.  

Now I realize that gravity has yet to inflict its cruelties on most college and grad students so there aren’t a lot of breast lifts getting scheduled around campus.  But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from Dr. Youn’s terrifying tale of necrotic nipples. 

We did a post a while back on reasons to quit smoking you might actually care about and we talked about peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – impaired blood flow to the extremities which can lead to tissue damage and amputation.  Like many of smoking’s ill effects, PAD mostly affects old people and is therefore easy to blow off.  But there are all kinds of surgeries that young people may run into, and as Dr. Youn so vividly points out, ones who smoke are at a higher risk for poor wound healing, which can lead to heavier scarring and/or higher risk of infection after surgery.

So don’t smoke, Young Buckeyes.  Your nipples – and the rest of you – will thank you for it.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

OSU docs pioneer new treatment for sleep apnea!

The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital

Monday’s Lantern had a story about a group of OSU researchers who were the first scientists in the United States to implant a nerve stimulator in the diaphragm of a person with central sleep apnea.  Go Bucks!!

Sleep apnea is a condition where the normally rhythmic breathing cycles are interrupted during sleep.  These non-breathing (apnea) episodes can have serious health consequences: increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and stroke; poor school or work productivity; even increased risk for accidents due to daytime drowsiness. 

Symptoms of sleep apnea include excessive daytime fatigue or sleepiness, poor attention or concentration, non-refreshing sleep and headaches.  Sounds pretty familiar, right?  But before you rush into the Student Health to get your robo-respirator, note that this device is indicated for central sleep apnea (CSA), not obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  What’s the difference?

Generally, central sleep apnea is limited to people with heart failure, stroke or brain injuries.  These conditions cause damage to the parts of the nervous system that signals your body to breathe.  This is a pretty rare condition, especially among college and graduate students. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by blockage of the airways that prevents breathing, even though the brain’s breathing signals are working just fine.  It can be caused by anatomic problems like big tonsils, a short neck or small jaw, but far and away the biggest risk factor is obesity.  Our muscles relax during sleep and excess weight on the chest, abdomen and neck can cause the muscles to collapse and close off the airway.  Because of this, OSA causes severe SNORING, while CSA does not.

OSA used to be identified primarily in middle-aged, overweight men (like me), but unfortunately with the obesity epidemic in our country, the rates are increasing in younger adults and even children.  If you’re having any of the symptoms mentioned above, or your neighbors down the hall can hear you snore, you should see your health care provider. 

OSA is diagnosed by an overnight sleep study test called a polysomnogram.  It’s usually treated with a machine that delivers air at a high pressure through a mask to keep the airways open during sleep called CPAP.  Throat surgery or oral appliances to alleviate the obstructions are sometimes used as well.

But the absolute mainstay of treatment is weight loss.  So there’s another reason added to the very long list of reasons to watch your weight and get active.  LOSE WEIGHT = BETTER SLEEP = BETTER SCORE on your physics midterm??  Let’s hope!!

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Everything you need to know about fish oil supplements

Nutraoriginblog.com

Ever since researchers discovered that Greenland Eskimos had really low rates of heart disease because of all of the fish they ate, fish oil has been a hot topic.  And once supplement manufacturers realized they could bottle and sell it, fish oil really took off. 

So let’s dish about fish – here’s everything you need to know about fish oil supplements.      

What conditions does fish oil really help?

It’s been proven that the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid – prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol by reducing triglyceride levels, and prevent heart attacks, stroke, and death in people who already have heart disease. 

While Dr. Google will tell you that fish oil will cure rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, bipolar disorder, menstrual pain, and certain kidney problems, there isn’t a lot of good evidence to back that up at this point.

Is taking a fish oil supplement the same as eating fish?

Obviously, the best way to consume fish oil is to eat oily fish.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least two servings per week for cardiovascular health.  A serving is 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards, or ¾ of a cup).  So if you can afford, prepare and stomach salmon a couple times per week, you can skip the fish oil capsules.

How much fish oil supplement should you take?

A good target intake is between 250 and 500 mg per day of EPA + DHA.  You could get that in a daily 1 gram fish oil supplement, which contains between 200 and 800 mg of EPA + DHA, depending on the formulation and manufacturer.   

Do fish oil capsules have side effects?

The most common side effects are nausea, heartburn, a fishy aftertaste, and burping.  Taking them with food or refrigerating them helps a lot, but some brands can’t be refrigerated so be sure to check with your pharmacist.  In general, fish oil capsules have an “expiration date” of about 90 days after opening a new bottle.  Capsules with a very strong or spoiled smell should be thrown away.

Can you get mercury poisoning from taking fish oil supplements?

There’s been a lot of concern lately about mercury contamination in the world’s fish supply.  In general, this is more of a concern for pregnant women and young children, but it’s always a good idea to pay attention to what you’re eating.  Fish known to be low in mercury include shrimp, canned light tuna (not albacore), salmon, pollock, and catfish. 

Fish oil capsules are generally low in mercury and other pollutants.  But to be safe, only buy products with the “USP Verified Mark” on the label; these have been tested and found to contain acceptable levels of mercury.    

Jason Goodman, PharmD, RPh
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Cholesterol: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

wellsphere.com

Q: I have heard about “good” and “bad” cholesterol. What’s the difference and how do I know which one I’m eating?

A: Way to be a buzz kill on Thanksgiving week!  Just kidding – great question.  Let’s begin with a little chemistry lesson. 

Fat doesn’t dissolve in water and blood, so it has to get chauffeured around your body by cholesterol.  There are two main types of cholesterol: high density lipoprotein (HDL, “the good guy”) and low density lipoprotein (LDL, “the bad guy”).

HDL acts like a scavenger or vacuum cleaner, picking up cholesterol and transporting it back to the liver, where it is processed and put to many necessary uses like building cell walls and membranes, bile acids and hormones.

On the other hand, LDL picks cholesterol up from the liver and drops it off throughout the body. This is especially problematic in blood vessels where the excess cholesterol can form plaques. The blood vessels around your heart (“coronaries”) are the diameter of spaghetti; a little plaque in them can mean a lot of trouble, like a heart attack. Too much plaque in the vessels supplying your brain can mean a stroke.

How do you know when your LDL is too high? Unfortunately, high cholesterol has no specific symptoms so a blood test is the only way to find out.  While healthy eating and exercise can go a long way towards keeping your cholesterol in check, high cholesterol can have a genetic component so you should talk to your doctor about when you need to start screening.

Certain foods, like trans fats, can actually increase LDL and decrease HDL. On the other hand, fatty fish (like salmon), walnuts and oatmeal can actually decrease LDL.  If you’re a smoker, quitting can also improve the amount of HDL in your blood (among a host of other improvements to your health). To see more tips on cholesterol and what you can do to improve yours, check out the websites below:

American Heart Association

U.S. National Institutes of Health

The Mayo Clinic

Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Victoria Rentel, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Shake Your Groove Thing

theletter.co.uk

Recent item of interest in The Gray Lady to anyone who spends most of their day sitting in chairs and staring at computers.  I’m talking to you, engineering and liberal arts students, artists, bench scientists, graduate students en masse; anybody writing papers, sitting in class, studying for tests, counting beans, watching a lot of TV or playing a lot of video games.

Turns out if your buns are being warmed by a chair for the majority of your day – at school, work, home, on planes, trains or automobiles-your heart is probably suffering.   Even if you exercise regularly.

Animal models suggest that as you withdraw the regular isometric contractions and active muscle activity from walking, bending, lifting, etc. on a daily basis, muscle cells experience deleterious microscopic changes like those associated with Type 2 Diabetes as well as insulin resistance and elevated levels of free fatty acids in the blood. 

Research has shown that males who are sedentary for 23 hours a week (that’s only a little more than 3 hours a day!) have a much greater chance of dying of heart disease (67%) than males who are sedentary less than 11 hours a week.   What is striking about this is that the risk is greater in the more sedentary group even when they exercised regularly.  So all those hours of studying, prepping, working, researching and vegging out in front of the boob tube can take their toll on your muscles even if you hit the gym afterwards.  And remember, your heart is the most important muscle you got.

I’m not suggesting you stop heading over to the RPAC to hit the elliptical machine and weight room – just make sure you’re moving around the rest of the day too.  Use the restroom on another floor; take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk out of your way at lunch; do a few push-ups or crunches in your cubicle if you can; deliver a message on foot, in person with a smiling face, rather than a bland email.  

And then go hit the gym.

Victoria Rentel, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Wanna keep your heart healthy? Brush your teeth!

Dentistry

We have learned over the years that inflammation is the ultimate culprit in many types of disease.  A recent article in the British Medical Journal has looked at a link between inflamed gums and the likelihood of developing fatty deposits in blood vessels (called atherosclerosis), which leads to lots of bad things down the road like heart attacks and strokes.  These researchers looked to see if there was a relationship between the frequency with which someone brushed their teeth and the likelihood of them developing heart disease.  Turns out that brushing twice a day was associated with less heart disease than brushing less frequently. 

Now, I am sure there are scientists out there saying, “Well, people who don’t brush their teeth probably don’t take care of themselves in other ways, too so how do you know it was the tooth brushing that helped them.”  If you thought the same thing, good logical thinking!!  The researchers took a lot of other variables – age, gender, wealth, smoking, physical activity, weight, family history of heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes – into account when they designed the study to help them decide if there really was a significant association between what they are studying and what they found.  And they decided that toothbrushing really did have an impact on developing heart disease.  You can read the details yourself to see if you think they really proved it – I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

Bottom line – keep brushing those pearly whites, and you may just be around longer to use them! 

Roger Miller, MD (OSU SHS Preventive Medicine)