How can men improve their chances of living as long as women?

Men and women are all eventually headed towards death, but nature tends to come for men first. The gap in life expectancy has shrunk in recent years – from 1990 to 2007, the gap narrowed from seven years to a little over five years in the United States. Women outlive men, it turns out, in every stage of life, starting in the womb.

Miscarriages are mostly male, although there is a slightly higher rate of boy babies born than girls (105 males for every 100 females.) In their early 20s, the male death rate spikes. The increase is unsurprising, considering the violence and bravado that often define that stage of life for men. Young men are headed to war, are more likely to fight, and engage in risky behavior like driving a motorcycle without a helmet. Surprisingly, when researchers control for violent or avoidable death, the female advantage still remains (although the spike disappears completely.)

The gender gap in death rates narrows from the late 20s to the 50s, but death still favors men. In the early 50s, the gender gap widens again, peaking in the 60s and 70s, and then narrows again. Male chances of living to become supercentenarians – someone who lives past 110 – are slim. As of July 2013, nine of the ten living supercentenarians were women. What makes women more durable creatures, outliving men at every stage of life? We’re not really sure, but we’ve got some ideas. What we can be sure of is that the old adage claiming that women are the weaker sex is flawed.

Culture or Genetics?

Human men are not alone in being outlived by their female counterparts. In most species, females live longer than males, suggesting that the gender gap is part of our biology. Possible biological causes are still debated. I’ve listed a few hypotheses below.

• Size For most species, the general rule is that the larger individuals in a species tend (on average) to live shorter lives than their smaller counterparts.

• Onset of cardiovascular disease  If women suffer a heart attack or stroke, they usually do so a decade later than men do. Men typically face heart disease in their 50s, while women are in their 60s or 70s. Estrogen was thought to be the cause of delay, but studies  have shown that may not be the case. We’ve also learned that giving women estrogen post-menopause can be harmful.

• Lower iron levels Women are iron deficient compared to men, especially young women, because of menstruation. Less iron translates into fewer free radicals, molecules that damage our cells and may contribute to aging.

• Value for reproduction Men and women both contribute to the creation of new human beings, but women are responsible for nine months of gestation. It may be that women are more durable – they have to be in order to continue the species.

We’re still not sure if the gender gap is biological. And if it is, there’s not much we can do to control it. The difference in life expectancy may also be  cultural, an area where men can make a change. If you’re looking to narrow the gap, here are a few changes to make today.

• Quit smoking and cut back on the drinks  Our culture has changed a lot since Don Draper’s halcyon days of Lucky Strikes and cocktails from lunch until dinner. Men are still heavier drinkers and more likely to smoke than women. Smoking may not always cause lung cancer, but it will always damage your health from your heart to your brain. Cut it out and you’ll live longer. Alcohol needs to be enjoyed responsibly. Studies have shown that people who indulge in a moderate number of drinks (like a glass of red wine at night) can actually live longer. But hitting the bottle hard does you no favors.

• Seek help with mental illness or depression Mental illness still carries a stigma, making seeking treatment difficult for some. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need. There’s nothing un-masculine about getting the treatment you need and deserve. Depressed men have a higher death rate than depressed women do, especially if they’re older. Men who attempt suicide are more likely to succeed than women are. We must all work together to end the stigmatization of mental illness – there’s no shame in seeking treatment.

• Cut back on the derring-do This is a tough one to tackle. Men and women alike can think back to foolish decisions made in their teens and 20s and be grateful the outcome wasn’t different. We all take risks (our parents tried to warn us!) Talk to the young men in your life. Discuss how to handle dangerous situations with your teenager  – like someone inebriated trying to take the wheel – with your teenager. Communication (and a bit of luck) can help young men make smarter decisions.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do Immune Boosters Really Work?

By David Martin,

President and CEO of VeinInnovations 

The New Year is off to a very chilly start. Last week, parts of the United States were colder than Mars. It’s frigid across the country and this year’s flu season is harsher than usual. So far this season, almost 5,500 people suffering from flu have been hospitalized.

So as we walk down drugstore aisles, remedies in bright boxes that promise to boost your immune system start to look appealing. If you’ve ever had the flu before, it’s understandable.

The flu is nasty. It can knock you out for days. Our beds become a sickbay and pajamas a uniform as Kleenex piles up by the pillow. So, do those “natural immune boosters” really work? Short answer: not really. (Longer answer: found here) Save your money and do these immune boosting things instead:

Get Vaccinated. 

Vaccines are the best way to “boost” your immune system. They provide a cheat sheet for your acquired immune system – the immune system you build via colds and viruses you’ve had and built antibodies for, and those for which you’ve had vaccinations. Your acquired immune system produces the antibodies that attack and destroy invading germs.

This season’s most common strain of flu is a mutated variety of H3N2. Unfortunately, it was not a strain included in this season’s flu vaccine. Remember, there are a lot of different flu strains and the vaccine can’t contain every one. But don’t let t his deter you from getting a flu vaccine in the future! You still get protection from the other common strains included in the vaccine.

Go to Bed. 

Sleep is vitally important. Without the shut eye you need each night (about 7 to 9 hours for adults) your body struggles. We’re not yet sure exactly why, but we do know that running on fumes lowers the effectiveness of our immune system. It gets dark early this time of year. Take advantage of the darkness, pile up the blankets on your bed and get plenty of rest. Your immune system will thank you.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables. 

Products like Emergen-C promise to load your system with vitamin C and keep you healthy. but the 1000 milligram dose is impossible for your body to absorb. You’ll keep less than a tenth of that in your system and the rest will be flushed out quickly. You’re better off loading up on vitamins through healthier dinners. Skip sugar while you’re at it. (You probably overindulged last month, anyway.) Ingesting too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. After drinking a couple sodas, the effect lasts for a few hours.

Exercise. 

Exercise is medicine. But it’s medicine many of us avoid like we once did acrid tasting cough syrup as kids. Regular, moderate exercise, such as a brief walk around the park, helps your immune system. It also helps you sleep, which helps your immune system even more. Bundle up and get outside or to the gym. You’ll be glad you did.

If you do get the flu, stay home. Limit your contact with others, especially young children and people over 65. And while you’re stuck in the house, you can try these home remedies for a little relief.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are your 2015 resolutions simple, slow, and satisfying?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Welcome to 2015, everyone! The optimism of a New Year and new beginnings cheers us through the cold month of January. Resolutions are made (and abandoned) this month. Gym memberships most of us don’t use surge as we promise ourselves to spend the next year more fit than before.

Want to get healthy in 2015? Make a fitness resolution that will stick. And the best health resolution is…

Simple, slow and satisfying.

I know that sounds like a slogan from a whiskey commercial. But let’s tease it out.

Simple

“I will go to the gym before work every day” is not a good resolution. Sure, it’s an okay goal to have. But if you aren’t already in the habit of hitting the gym regularly, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Shoot for simple, realistic goals. “I will go for walks around the park twice a week” is doable. Take the dog, take your husband, take a friend. Maybe your walking companion will become someone you start going to the gym with.

Slow

Expansive resolutions fail by February. “I will lose 20 pounds by spring” is a hefty goal.

Before I discuss “slow” resolutions, let me address weight-based resolutions. Weight fluctuates daily; it’s not a great indicator of health. You might start a workout regimen and gain weight if you put on muscle. If your focus is always on the scale, you’ll miss the awesome milestone of increased strength while you fret over a number.

Focus on wellness over weight. If hopping on the scale every day makes you feel better and keeps you motivated, do it. But if the number gets you down, ignore it. Work on wellness: measure your accomplishments in a faster mile, increased reps or lifting capacity, a lower heart rate or simply feeling better.

Go slow. Turn “I will lose 20 pounds by spring” into “I will be able to do 10/25/30 pushups in a row by the end of the month.” Set small goals and give yourself ample time to achieve them.

You’re more likely to have lasting success if you take on the challenges bit by bit.

Satisfying

“I will cut out all bread and sugar from my diet” is a negative resolution. We’re more likely to keep positive resolutions where we add something good to our lives than we are to keep negative ones where we deny ourselves something. (You can read more about the psychology of this phenomenon here.)

On another level, will you be satisfied by cutting all the sugar out of your diet? Be honest. The answer is no. You’re setting yourself up for failure! If you’ve got a sweet tooth in need of shrinking, try this instead: “I will have fruit for dessert on weeknights,” or “I will keep whole grain breakfast options, like rolled oats, in my pantry.”

If any of your resolutions fill you with dread, ditch them. Instead, fill 2015 with positive goals! Make resolutions that are good for you and enjoyable.

Happy New Year, everyone!

How to Make Realistic Resolutions

How to Create a Healthy Habit

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Do You Avoid Christmas Stress? Choices You Can Make To Reduce Holiday Rabies

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Christmas is upon us. It’s a joyful season, but it’s also a stressful holiday. There are multiple parties and family gatherings, food to be cooked, dishes to get done, kids to get out the door, elderly relatives to look after… Christmas can be hectic. Starting to feel Christmas stress creep in?  Here are five choices you can make to reduce stress during the holidays.

Practice Healthy Habits

This might sound impossible in the moment. It’s not! The more healthy habits you choose to keep up during the holidays, the better the holidays will be. Feeling run down only adds to stress. During Christmas festivities, try not to overdo it on sweets. Roller-coaster blood sugar leads to stress and meltdowns. Pack yourself (and your children) a simple, one or two-ingredient snack with fruit, nuts, or veggies.

Keep up physical activity. You have time – really – to take 20 minutes and go for a walk. Do jumping jacks and push ups in the basement before your morning shower. Get your blood flowing and you’ll feel better all day.

Finally, get your rest. You need sleep. If you stay up late the night before, well, it’s the holidays. If you’re lucky enough to have some days off, sleep in a bit, or grab a nap.

Say No

How much, really, can you do in a day? What can your family do? The more people you add to the equation, the more you need to adjust your expectations. Little ones are tough to wrangle and can really only handle one or two events in a day. Teenagers might be worse. Sometimes, for the sake of sanity, we have to say no.

Try not to overextend yourself or your family by saying yes to too many events. If you can’t contribute more than one dish to a meal, say so. (Saying no earlier is better!) If your toddler gets sick, stay home or send your wife and older child to the party on their own. Say no when you need to, and you can help stop the spread of holiday rabies. You’ll also be teaching your children that it is okay to sit out some events as opposed to rushing around, packing in too much, and getting irritable and sick in all the doing.

Be Realistic

There’s the ideal, idyllic Christmas we see in ads and cheesy movies.  And then there’s our family. We have the family we have. It’s okay that you have an aunt who overdoes it every year on Christmas Eve and tells the same stories. Acceptance and gratitude create more acceptance and gratitude, and reduce “expectation stress.” It’s been said that expectations are resentments in the making. If you can temper your expectations, your holiday will definitely be merrier.

To temper expectations, don’t compare yourself to the ideal on TV or curated Facebook pages. No one gets a perfect Christmas. So if you’re struggling, at least remember you’re not alone.

At the end of the day, Christmas is meant to be a holiday where those who celebrate it give thanks. If you feel overwhelmed and stressed, take a breather. Take 15 minutes all to yourself – read a book or flip through a magazine. Do whatever calms you.

Or maybe just step out into the cold air and stargaze in the quiet night. Count your blessings;

your blood pressure may well go down in equal measure.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to get back in shape after the holidays? Keep the focus on wellness.

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

It’s no secret that the holidays are rough on our waistlines and our health. By all means, eat, drink and be merry this December! But once the new year starts, it’s time to rededicate ourselves to health. After taking a holiday break, what’s the best way to get back into shape?

Find a Diet That Works For You

There are literally thousands of diet plans. They come in the form of books, videos, pay-by-the-week webinars, meals delivered to your home… You’ve likely tried at least three diet fixes. Trendy diets, like cleanses, are appealing because they promise a quick fix. But most trend diets are, in practice, worthless.

Make your own “diet”. You can’t go wrong if you focus on these four things:

  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables than you do meat.
  • Practice moderation. Serve yourself smaller portions, but go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Remember that a treat is okay; an occasional “bad” day is okay, too.
  • Try to cook at home more often than you eat out.

Ease Into an Exercise Routine

When we panic about our health or recent lethargy, we sometimes take drastic measures. Hasty, grandiose New Year’s Resolutions feel good to write down on paper. But they’re much harder to put in practice. If (when) we can’t keep our outlandish goals, we feel let down. Sometimes we quit.

Exercise, like diet, is best done in moderation. Recommit to a realistic exercise regimen.

  • Make realistic exercise goals. “I will try to hit the gym three times a week,” is a better resolution than “I will go to gym every morning at 6am!”
  • Try something new. A dull exercise plan won’t motivate you.
  • Experiment with solo and group exercise. Some people find classes invigorating and push themselves harder. Others may revel in the alone time while exercising solo. Try both and see what works for you.
  • Keep a gym bag in the car. Being prepared means you have one less excuse when your resolve weakens.

Finally, seek wellness, not weight loss. We often give thanks for good health during the holidays. Wellness, our overall health, should be the end goal of diet and exercise.

If the sight of the scale is getting you down, stop looking at it. Don’t obsess over your weight. You weight is not the only, or the best, measure of your health.

When you go back to the gym after the holidays, measure your progress in meaningful ways. Track your progress. Can you lift more weight? Can you complete more sets than before? Are you swimming or running faster? Are you more flexible than you were a month ago? Do you feel better?

Work towards wellness, always.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have the flu? Know the best home remedies?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

As we move closer to the holidays, we move further into flu season. Flu season starts in October and begins to peak in December. When you or a family member comes down with the flu, you can turn to home remedies. Home remedies won’t cure flu, but they can help ease the symptoms.

When Should Someone With the Flu See a Doctor?

You should go to the doctor if you get the flu if you have a high risk of developing complications. People at high risk of developing flu complications include

  • very young children
  • people over 65
  • and pregnant women.

For a complete list, please check here.

You should also see a doctor if you’re worried about your case of the flu, or if you are very sick. Last week, I wrote about the flu vaccine and why it’s a good idea to get a shot. If you’re a high-risk individual or live with someone who is, please get a shot as soon as possible!

But for most people, the flu is a mild illness. Flu symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and a runny nose can all be treated at home. Flu symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, headaches and chills are best treated by staying in bed. Most of us do not need to see a doctor when we come down with the flu.

What Are the Best Home Remedies for Treating the Flu?

For aches and pains, take an epsom salt bath. Add one or two cups of epsom salt to warm bathwater and soak for at least 20 minutes. The salts relieve muscle soreness and cramps. If you’ve never tried it, you’ll be amazed at the results.

Epsom salts are cheap and available in most drugstores. You can get salts scented with essential oils such as rosemary, mint and lavender, too. Wait to add bubble bath or washing with soap until you’ve finished your 20 minute soak – the soap may interfere with the salts.

Try gargling to relieve a scratchy throat.Warm salt water can provide temporary relief. So can gargling with green tea, which is rich in tannins, and can help relieve the tickly feeling in your throat. Another trick worth trying? A honey and lemon gargling solution. (One tablespoon lemon juice, one cup hot water and one teaspoon honey mixed well and then cooled to room temperature.)

Relieve congestion with nasal irrigation once a day. (A Neti-Pot is the best tool for irrigation, but you certainly don’t need to own one to try this method.) Make a saline solution by mixing ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and eight ounces of warm water. Tilt your head slightly forward and to the side over a sink and pour the solution through one nostril. The solution will run out through your other nostril and the back of your throat. Repeat two to three times in each nostril. Blow your nose lightly afterwards. In addition to breaking up congestion, the saline solution removes virus particles and bacteria from your nose.

If you have the flu, remember to stay in to avoid spreading the infection to others. Hopefully, you’ll be well by Christmas and New Year’s, and your family will stay healthy, too.

How to treat the flu – http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/coping-with-flu

14 Tips – http://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-and-flu-map-tool/cold-and-flu-treatment-checklist

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When is the best time to get a flu shot, and why is it so important?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

It’s that time of year again. Christmas music seems to have taken over every airwave, from the radio to any and every store you enter. But the joy of the season is often accompanied by sniffles and sneezes. December is the beginning of peak flu season. Have you been vaccinated yet? If you haven’t gotten a flu vaccination already, early December is the time to do it.

Get Vaccinated for Flu

Flu season starts in October and continues into May. Ideally, everyone who could get a flu shot would get a flu shot by October. In reality, less than half of Americans get vaccinated.

After vaccination, it takes two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies to protect it against flu. So don’t wait! If you can get the vaccination, get it today. Shots are widely available. If you’re not sure where to go, use this Flu Vaccine Finder from flu.gov.

Who Needs to Get Vaccinated?

Everyone that can get vaccinated should be vaccinated. The flu is no joke. Flu causes 36,000 deaths every year. Another 200,000 people are hospitalized.

If you’re wavering on whether or not to get the vaccine, consider who you’re in close contact with. Some people are more likely to get the flu and experience potentially deadly complications from flu. At risk populations include:

  • Young children
  • Pregnant women
  • People with disabilities
  • People with health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
  • Seniors

How Can You Help Prevent the Flu from Spreading?

The vaccine protects against the three strains of flu – those predicted by research to be the most common that year. So remember, the vaccine isn’t a guarantee you’ll avoid getting sick.

To help avoid getting, or giving, the flu, be conscientious about hand washing and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you get the flu, stay home! You need rest and fluids. You’ll wear yourself out and expose other people to illness if you don’t take a break. So do yourself, and everyone else a favor: sleep in and stay in!

Why Are There More Colds and Flu in the Winter?

Despite generations of folklore that says otherwise, cold weather doesn’t cause cold and flu. If you’re worried about the kids catching a cold from playing outdoors too long, don’t. The culprit behind the increase in cold and flu is our behavior in winter. We’re chilly, so we stay indoors with friends and family.

Cooped up inside, we’re breathing recycled air and sharing germs with one another in close quarters. Another possibility for the rise of illness in the winter is our own dry mucosa. Mucosa lines the back of your throat, sinuses, and trachea. In cold, dry conditions, the mucosa gets drier and more susceptible to viruses.

Our immunity may not be as robust, either. Exercise is an immune system booster, but a lot of us neglect it when it’s too chilly. So don’t worry too much about sending the kids (and yourself) outside in winter. You may all be better off for spending some time with Jack Frost!

10 Flu Myths

CDC Guidelines for Flu Vaccination

Flu Vaccination and Vaccine Safety

What You Should Know About the 2014-2015 Influenza Season

Why Vaccinate? Considering the Herd

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Diabetes is a costly epidemic! Learn more about it now, before Thanksgiving’s temptation to over indulge.

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

We’re preparing to tuck into Thanksgiving dinners around the VeinInnovations office. Thursday can’t come soon enough! Thoughts of turkey, sweet potato pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and the rest make the workdays before Thanksgiving seem longer than usual.

Even with the stresses that often accompany large family gatherings, most of us are looking forward to cooking dinner this Turkey Day. There’s not much that can beat the smell of homemade cranberry sauce, a roasting turkey, and a pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven. Cooking is a social ritual that draws us together, after all.

Cooking from scratch is also a great way to improve our health. That’s one of the main messages of American Diabetes Month, which is happening right now. It’s an appropriate month to raise awareness. Thanksgiving kicks off the holidays and the attendant tendency to overindulge.

Diabetes is increasingly common in the United States. About 3 million people have Type 1 diabetes. Twenty-seven million people live with Type 2 diabetes. An astounding 86 million people have prediabetes, which means they have high blood sugar and are at risk of developing diabetes. More than nine percent of Americans (9.3%) have some form of diabetes.

Though diabetes is more common these days, it’s not easy to live with. Diabetes requires near constant consideration. Blood sugar has to be checked three or four times a day (sometimes more.) Every food and drink choice matters and must be covered with enough insulin. A high or low blood sugar is at the least inconvenient and unpleasant. At most, it can be deadly.

The complications stemming from diabetes include cardiovascular disease as well as nerve, kidney, eye, and foot damage. The financial cost of diabetes is major, too; the American Diabetes Association, estimates diabetes and related costs were to be $245 billion in 2012.

The forecast is grim, as the CDC expects two out of every five Americans will develop diabetes at some point in their lifetime. But we can change that! Knowing risk factors and making simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference.

So before you celebrate with family (and second helpings!) on Turkey Day, spend some time learning about diabetes. You may temper your appetite, and opt for a walk after dinner instead of, or in addition to, your nap!

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes

  • Being overweight
  • Exercising less than three times, or 150 minutes, a week
  • Being over age 45
  • Having gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant)
  • Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Being African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian, Asian-American, or have a Pacific-Islander family background

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes

  • Turn off the TV. Every two hours spent in front of the TV increases your chance of developing diabetes by 14 percent. Replace time spent in front of the TV with more active pursuits. (If you are going to stay glued to the games during the holidays, make yourself get up and march during commercials to help lower blood sugar, burn calories, and improve your circulation.)
  • Get moving! Even walking can make a difference – really. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week at the least.
  • Make some dietary changes. Read more about the type of changes that are most beneficial here.
  • Quit smoking. Smokers are 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes.

 

More resources:

Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes

Understanding Type 1 Diabetes

The CDC’s Guide to Diabetes

 

FullSizeRender-9 IMG_0241 FullSizeRender-9 FullSizeRender-10

Great day the Saturday before Thanksgiving at the American Diabetes Expo! VeinInnovations CEO David Martin screened more than 30 people at the event at the Cobb Galleria. Hundreds of visitors to the VeinInnovations booth learned more about the link  between varicose and spider veins, leg pain, swelling, and restlessness, and how these are symptoms of a medical condition that degrades quality of life, Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). For more information about chronic venous insufficiency, veininnovations.com.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Brittany Maynard, Thanksgiving, and how facing our mortality head-on this “Movember” is a leadership gift to our families.

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Thanksgiving is next week. It is a time to celebrate our blessings and our loved ones. In the midst of love and life, I am reminded of a family that will mark their first Thanksgiving without one of their loved ones.

Brittany Maynard was 29, newly married and hoping to start a family. But that changed when severe headaches sent her to the doctor’s office. The diagnosis she received was improbable and heartbreaking. Brittany had a terminal brain tumor. She began planning for her death.

Mortality is a thorny subject. We ignore and avoid discussing death, even (or especially) with the ones we’re closest to. We spend time preparing our wills in the hopes that we can leave our assets as gifts to our family. Especially in this age of modern medical advances, we need to prepare for our exit from the world, too.

Brittany Maynard’s options were limited. Full brain radiation may have added a few weeks to her life, but it could not save her. Her family would have watched as her hair singed off and her scalp became covered in burns. Her quality of life would have been destroyed. The death she faced was awful. She described it this way: “I considered passing away in hospice care at my San Francisco Bay-area home. But even with palliative medication, I could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive, and motor loss of virtually any kind. Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.”

Circumstance led Brittany to plan for her death. She decided what interventions she wanted and what she wanted for her family. She and her husband left California and moved to Oregon so she could use the Death with Dignity Act. In early November, she passed away peacefully, in her home, with her mother and her husband by her side.

The majority of Americans have not considered the way they wish to exit this world. A Coping with Cancer study found that two-thirds of terminal patients had had no discussion with their doctors about end of life care. On average, those same patients were only four months from death.

Modern American health care is excellent at extending your life, but this is a double-edged sword at the end of our lives. We must decide what interventions we want when the end comes. If we don’t make our wishes known, our families will be left to make heart-wrenching decisions in the midst of grief.

A friend of mine was in just such a situation when her stepfather was dying of Alzheimer’s disease. She and her mother had to decide whether to replace the man’s pacemaker battery or not. A family dispute ensued, and the pacemaker’s battery was replaced. The family suffered, as did the man, emotionally and financially, in the 18 months he lived in a nursing home, curled, most of that time, in a fetal position. He would not have wanted that ending. But he had not made his wishes known, legally, with an Advanced Directive.

As the men’s health awareness initiative – Movember – draws to a close, I am thinking of family leaders  — men and women – taking charge of their health and modeling healthy behavior, and of our extending that healthy behavior all the way to making our end-of-life wishes known, and making this conversation a part of the family holiday gathering,

I am also thinking of Brittany Maynard and her family, and imagining that while they will miss her dearly on this first Thanksgiving without her, that they are grateful for her courage and bravery to face her mortality head-on.

Facing our mortality head on, and sharing what we want, is a gift we give to our families.

Here are a few resources to get you started: 

Spare Your Loved Ones by Making Your Final Wishes Known

Letting Go: What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End a new book by Atul Gawande

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movember? Let’s circle back around to look at Prostate Cancer, the cause that launched the Men’s Health movement.

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Movember – Men’s Health Month – grows on and men across the globe are starting to brush out their mustaches. This year, more than 550,000 people are participating. More than $13 million has been raised thus far, by fewer than a million participants!

Hopefully the men that are now looking for mustache trimmers are also having lots of serious conversations about men’s health. After all, Movember’s goal is get men talking amongst themselves about mental health, as well as testicular and prostate cancer. According to the annual, independent survey of past participants, the mustache works. Ninety-nine percent of MoBros talked to someone about their health, and 75 percent said they were more aware of the health risks they face. Half of men surveyed said they told someone to take action to improve their health.

Movember’s first years were dedicated solely to prostate cancer. In the spirit of Movember, let’s talk about it:

Prostate Cancer Facts

  • The risk of prostate cancer increases with age
  • 1 in 7 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point
  • 1 in 36 American men will die of prostate cancer, which accounts for 22 percent of all cancer deaths
  • A man with a close blood relative (father or brother) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 60 is twice as likely to develop prostate cancer
  • Avoiding physical activity and eating a poor diet are contributing risk factors
  • African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and 2.5 times as likely to die after diagnosis

When to Get Screened for Prostate Cancer

Testing isn’t necessary for everyone. That may sound ludicrous, but if you don’t believe me, please check out the American Cancer Society’s website. You won’t know if you need testing, or which test is best for you, if you don’t have a primary care doctor. No matter your age, finding a “medical home base” in your primary doctor, and establishing a relationship with them, is crucial. It’s one of the most effective steps you can take to improve your health!

Your doctor will discuss the best course of action with you. Do you need to be screened? What age should screenings begin? Should you take the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test or not? Establishing that relationship with your primary care physician will help you when it’s time to ask these questions.

The United States leads in Movember participants, closely followed by the United Kingdom. Canada has 40,000 fewer participants than the US, but they’ve raised almost as much money as the US has. So if you want to contribute to men’s health – and beat our neighbors to the north – find a MoBro or MoSista and contribute to the cause!

Movember USA

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment