Top10MD Blog

FINDING A SURGEON, YOU TRUST | A MATTER OF LIFE & DEATH

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Surgeries that some consider routine can still sometimes cause serious complications. No matter how straightforward you think your surgery might be, you still want to be in the absolute best surgical hands.

Today, your surgeon and hospital are especially important for procedures that are new or complex or even routine. You should be concerned and research but your surgeon and the hospital for that matter as most errors happen in a hospital setting according to John Hopkins report in May noting the third leading cause of death is medical errors. In your search for the best surgeon one indicator is how often your surgeon performs the procedure you’re seeking. For example, a study by researchers at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center of people undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer found that annual death rates were nearly four times higher for those treated by surgeons who performed the fewest operations.

With that being said, how should you choose a surgeon, someone with whom you’ll be sharing some of your most personal information and entrusting with life-and-death decisions? Communication with your surgeon is essential.

Ask your prospective surgeon these questions before going under…

Are you board certified, and is your certification current?

  • Look for a surgeon who has the necessary board certification(s), necessary training, and has maintained their certification(s) in the specialty they are practicing.

Is this surgery necessary?

  • Avoiding surgery entirely is the only sure way to avoid a surgical complication; understanding the effectiveness of the surgery and having exhausted alternatives you then need to compare the results of your alternatives with the possible risks of the surgery. 

What are your success, failure, and complication rates?

  • Not all surgeons are willing to be upfront with this information, but a good surgeon will.

What is your experience with this surgery?

  • Ask your surgeon how many of these procedures he or she has performed and compare that number with other surgeons performing the same procedure. The best surgeon is not necessarily the busiest surgeon; it’s about avoiding the surgeon who has not performed the procedure as much or as often or as well.

What’s the hospital’s infection rate?

  • Seventeen states now make that information public, and many hospitals report their rates voluntarily. Kudos to them! After asking these questions and others relating to your needs, likes, and dislikes, do your homework and make your choice. Your final decision could be one of the most important you’ll make for you and your family.

To locate a Top10MD Surgeon you can trust visit Top10MD.com and schedule your appointment today.


THE VIRTUAL HEART PREDICTOR

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Heart arrhythmias are a serious issue that can be life threatening. Whenever you suffer from a heart arrhythmia, the only treatment for you is a defibrillator. The defibrillator works by sensing an irregular heartbeat and jolting the heart to a regular pulse when one is sensed. Although a defibrillator is necessary for heart arrhythmia treatment, it also has health risks of its own. Along with health risks, it is expensive. The problem is that everyone with an arrhythmia is receiving defibrillators even though they may not need them. Imagine being able to use a virtual heart to not only detect your risk of arrhythmias as it relates to sudden death but to assess your need for a defibrillator. You no longer have to imagine it because it is now a reality.

Nearly 4 million people suffer from arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are an irregular heart beat, not due to heart structure problems, but due to a malfunction in electrical impulses. When the heart does not receive the right impulses, it will beat either too slow or too fast. This affects the body and can lead to death. The heart may stop altogether. Defibrillators are the primary source of treatment for arrhythmias. The problem with defibrillators is that it is sometimes placed inside of patients that do not need it. Arrhythmias are serious, but they are not always life­threatening. Defibrillators have many risks, so the worst thing you can do is place one in someone who does not need; it may hurt more than help.

virtual heart predictor top10md blogBefore now, there was a system called an ejection fraction that measured everyone’s need for a defibrillator on the same scale. Everybody is different so why would you be measured on the same scale? The ejection fraction only measures how much blood is being pumped out of the heart. If you are under 35%, you will get a defibrillator. The problem with that is arrhythmias is not only a result of heart function but electric impulses. John Hopkins University has now created a virtual heart that is giving the doctors the ability to predict life­threatening heart arrhythmias. VARP or virtual­ heart arrhythmia risk predictor is proving to be a great preventative treatment. It is preventing defibrillator surgery for patients who do not need it and providing it for those who have life­threatening heart arrhythmias. MRI scans are the first step of making a VARP scan. The scans are then made into a virtual model. The model shows injured tissue, non­injured tissue, and scars from the injured tissue. It also assesses the arrhythmic circuit by identifying the time at which electric pulses hit the heart. These two assessments together give doctors a better understanding of who truly has life­threatening arrhythmias.

This model is giving doctors a more accurate look at the heart and helping them understand your risk of life­threatening arrhythmias. It takes in consider scarring from heart attacks, the rate of the electric pulses, and the geometry of the heart. It is unique to each person. This new VARP, virtual­ heart arrhythmia risk predictor is much more accurate and allowing doctors to give defibrillators to those who truly need it. Leave the old way of doing things and get a cutting edge virtual model of your heart before you make any decisions about your arrhythmia treatment.


FROM TOP10MD TO YOU…

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HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

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7 SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE HEART ISSUES | TOP10MD

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Researchers have done a lot of work over the past several years to conclude that there are several seemingly insignificant symptoms that can arise in different parts of the body that could be pointing to a heart issue. So now is the time to get informed in order to help catch and prevent any heart issues later on!

 1. Chest or Shoulder Pain  chest pain

Surprisingly, one of the most common signs of coronary heart disease (CAD) is Angina, which is pressure and pain in your chest. Unlike the sharp pain of a heart attack, Angina is typified with a deep ache and constricting feeling on your chest, that is often magnified when you take a deep breath. Sometimes this type of sign and symptom is often missed because people mistake it for heartburn. This pain can also spread to the arm, neck, shoulders and jaw, where it is further mistaken for muscle pain.

Unlike a pulled muscle, Angina typically manifests itself as a prolonged pain, rather than a pain that comes and goes eventually.

Angina Statistics

17 million people have Angina, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and it is roughly the same in men and women. Angina occurs when the arteries in the heart get clogged with plaque build-up and episodes can occur when the heart is under stress or when the body is exercising.

How Angina Is Treated

Your doctor will probably prescribe you a medication called Nitroglycerin, which relaxes the veins that are pumping blood to the heart, allowing them not to have to work so hard. They will also probably tell you to take it easy and rest if you feel an episode coming on.

2. Shortness of BreathShortness of breath

Shortness of breath is commonly an early sign of heart disease or lung disease and feels like compression on your chest as well as not being able to catch up with your breath. This type of labored breathing may also be experienced at night as well as any time you are laying down.

According to the Harvard School Medical Health Guide, 95% of women who have had heart attacks claimed they had experienced certain forms of labored breathing and unusual symptoms either a few weeks or months before their heart attack.

Shortness of breath occurs when there is not enough oxygen in your blood because the heart isn’t pumping strong enough. It feels similar to exerting yourself in high altitudes and you don’t feel like you can get enough oxygen in your lungs.

3. Sexual Problems

For doctors, a big alert to a progressive heart disease is the presence of erectile dysfunction in males and this is the first thing that should be ruled out when a doctor is seeing a patient with this issue. According to the Mayo Clinic, men in the age range of 40-49 who had erectile dysfunction were twice as likely to develop heart disease. Furthermore, in another study, results showed that 2 out of 3 men who were being treated for cardiovascular disease, also had a previous history of erectile dysfunction. With this being said, if you or a loved one has erectile dysfunction, they should have their heart checked as soon as possible.

4. Sleep Apnea or Snoring man snoring

A big complication to the heart is restricted breathing during sleep. According to the American College of Cardiology, those with sleep apnea were found to be 3x more likely of having cardiovascular disease. Because there is airway obstruction with sleep apnea and snoring, the heart has to pump twice as hard to support the lungs. If you have either of these, going to a sleep specialist and having a sleep study performed is the most proactive way to take care of your health.

5. Bleeding, Swollen or Sore Gums

These are all symptoms of periodontal disease, which occurs from exposure to bacteria within the mouth, causing gums to hurt and become inflamed, and then the gums start to separate from the teeth.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, research has begun linking poor circulation in the heart to periodontal disease. And researchers continue to study whether there is a connection between plaque build up in the heart and gum disease, which could both be responses to the body’s prolonged inflammation.

Additional studies have also established a connection between periodontal disease and strokes, due to an oral infection in the mouth spreading to the heart.

If you have any of these symptoms, don’t wait to see a periodontist and even maybe a heart specialist to ensure you’re taking care of your mouth and heart.

Swollen legs and feet6. Swollen Legs & Feet

Ever notice that your shoes are tighter than normal? Or notice that your hands and wrists are puffy? Do you constantly have indentation marks from socks once you take them off? These could all be factors of fluid retention, and furthermore be a sign of cardiovascular disease or heart failure.

Why Does the Body Get Swollen & Puffy?

The body holds on to fluids when the heart doesn’t pump fast enough, and therefore waste products are not removed from tissue. If you notice any of these symptoms, report them to your doctor, who can determine if your heart is healthy.

7. Having an Irregular Heart Beat or Arrhythmia

Coronary artery disease, which restricts blood flow to the heart, is most commonly seen through symptoms of an irregular heartbeat. Heart failure is caused when the heart beats too hard and fast as it is trying to overcompensate from the arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

What to Do?

Go have an EKG performed, which measures the heart’s electrical activity. A stress test can also measure your heart rate, to make sure it is pumping properly.


4 SURPRISING CLUES YOU MIGHT HAVE CLOGGED ARTERIES: FOODS TO EAT FOR A HEALTHY HEART

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Each year, over 700,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack and 400,000 people in the U.S. die of coronary heart disease. Not only is preventing heart disease in patients a main goal to doctors, but early prevention is the next most critical thing.

Almost 80% of heart disease is preventable and can be helped with changes in diet and lifestyle.

Basic Clues That Can Lead to Early Detection of Heart Disease

1. Baldness can sometimes indicate clogged arteries. BaldnessIn a study conducted with 37,000 men, severe baldness was an indicator of the presence of coronary heart disease (CHD) at all ages.

2. Erectile dysfunction could be another indicator of clogged arteries. If it is difficult or impossible to achieve an erection, this could very easily be an indicator of clogged arteries in the pelvis, which could lead to a heart attack. Research shows there is a 3-5 year lag time between the onset of erectile dysfunction and then finding coronary artery disease. With this being the case, it gives one plenty of time to detect and prevent future heart issues.

3. Oddly enough, a crease in your earlobe might be an indicator of clogged arteries.  Specifically, this crease would be an angled crease running diagonally from the ear canal, to the opposite end of the ear lobe. Researchers originally thought this was just a sign of aging, but more recently, a CT scan method of research found that an earlobe crease could be a silent indicator of CHD.

4. Pain in your calf when you walk could mean clogged arteries. Calf PainThis is known as claudication, from the Latin word “to limp.” Atherosclerosis blocks arteries in the legs, commonly seen in people who smoke, and can later lead to diagnosis of coronary heart disease. If you have a symptom like this, it is very important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They will measure the blood pressure in your legs to find out if you have bad blood circulation.   If this is an early detection of heart disease, then there are several dietary changes that can be made to help reverse the situation from getting worse.

Dietary Restrictions to Help Clogged Arteries From Getting Worse

  • Increase intake of plant based foods
  • Lower intake of animal products
  • Start a walking regimen

Foods To Eat to Help Keep Arteries Clear

  1. Fish. Lots of different types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation, triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances. This fat also helps prevent plaque build up in your arteries.
  2. Quit Drinking Soft Drinks. As unbelievable as it may sound, 180,000 people die each year from overconsumption of sugary drinks. One way heart disease may set in is from people drinking too many soft drinks, and thus gaining weight, or potentially becoming diabetic and then they suffer from premature heart blockage. Another harmful thing soft drinks do is elevate blood sugars, which coats proteins and fats and makes them harmful to your arteries. Harvard researchers conducted a study over the course of 2 decades and found that women who consumed more than 2 servings of a sugary beverage a day were 40% more likely heart disease than women who drank fewer than this. Men who drank the most soft drinks were 20% more likely to have a heart attack than the group that drank the least amount or sodas.
  3. Eat Plenty of Vegetables. I know you’ve heard this plenty of times, but the research is proven and always the same that vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals and phytonutrients, which all lead to a healthy heart. Certain examples are that bell peppers, asparagus, and bok choy are packed with B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, which helps to lower an amino acid that is associated with heart disease. Carrots, tomatoes, bananas and oranges are all rich in carotenoids which are antioxidants that are great for heart health.
  4. Spices & Herbs Can be Medicine For the Body Too. Interestingly, spices are from spicesplants, so they contain some of the same properties that plants use to ward off pests and disease. Similarly, consuming these spices and herbs can protect the cells in our body from disease too. For example, garlic contains allium, which helps to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. Tumeric acts as an antioxidant and can also reduce cholesterol and blood sugar. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties which help to thin blood and cinnamon helps blood flow.
  5. Leafy Greens. Once again, this is one of those spoke rules that we don’t always follow. Spinach, beets, kale, arugula and other vegetables are rich in nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide during digestion, and helps the arteries to resist plaque build up, blood coagulation and more. This helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes from occurring.
  6. Grass Fed beefMeat that is grass fed. Think of trying to eat meat that is as “naked” as possible. This means trying to get meats that do not have added hormones or antibiotics, artificial colors, pesticides, sodium etc. Look for labels that say “Hormone and antibiotic free.”
  7. Black Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea. These teas have a rich source of plant substances called flavonoids. Flavanoids help neutralize oxidation that occurs in the body. Another ingredient in green tea is called catechins which help protect cells in our body. All three of these teas help stop and prevent heart disease through helping to block cholesterol from being absorbed into the blood stream, reducing inflammation and helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Let the tea steep for 3-5 minutes in order to help boost the level of catechins in it.

LOWERING BLOOD PRESSURE WITH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES | TOP10MD

 3 years ago    Leave a comments (0)



Was your mom right all along? Can we lower our blood pressure with Fruits and Vegetables?  I believe so!  No more  excuses now, eating fruits and vegetables every day will keep the doctor away! More distinctly, conclusive research has found a direct link between the consumption of fruits and vegetables to lower blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease.

Details of the Fruit & Vegetables Study

This study was conducted over 7 years on half a million individuals from 10 diverse locations in China.  The individuals were to report how much fruit they consumed on a daily basis, whether it be daily, 1-3 times per week, 4-6 times per week, monthly, or never at all.

Conclusions of The Study

The average age of the individuals was 50 years old. The results showed that those who cosumed fruit daily, lowered their risk for heart disease by 25-40% more than those who never ate fruit.  More specifically, the benefits of eating fruit resulted in lower blood pressure.

Another Study Proves Same Conclusion

In another study conducted on 110,000 men and women over 14 years of time,  the results were the same, concluding that those who ate fruits and vegetables daily had a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.  Even more conclusively, they linked the  consumption of citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes, to have especially protective benefits.

Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables

  1. Fiber: Fruits and vegetables have fiber which helps keep your digestive track normal as well as helps fill you up.
  2. Lower in Calories:  Fruits and vegetables are naturally lower in calories than many other snack foods.
  3. Vitamins & Minerals:  Because fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals, your body will feel health and energized.
  4. Convenient & Quick Snack:  They are easy to grab for a snack and there is plenty of variety you can choose from.
  5. Health Benefits: As stated earlier, daily consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of hear disease.

So if your take-away is one thing… reach for that fruit or vegetable as a snack rather than a processed food such as potato chips!


TOO MUCH SODIUM! WELL HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? | TOP10MD

 3 years ago    Leave a comments (0)



How many times have you heard a friend or peer put down your guilty food pleasures because “that food has way too much sodium.” I’ll never forget when I ran into my pediatrician at the grocery store, in the freezer section, and I was grabbing one of my favorite boxes of frozen country-ham and egg white biscuit breakfast-sandwiches. Foolishly, I asked her opinion on this product as a breakfast option. As I bragged about the low sugar and high protein content, the first thing out of her mouth was an accusation about the scarily high amount of sodium these breakfast sandwiches had! Well, my bubble was burst.

Most people seem to watch carbs and sugar, as well as ensuring that foods have ample protein… and now we have to worry about sodium as well? It all seems pretty overwhelming.

Why Do You Need To Watch Your Sodium Intake?

The reason why sodium (or salt intake) is something worth monitoring is because too much sodium raises blood pressure which is a major risk for heart disease and stroke. The good news is that through lowering your salt intake, in as little as a few days, you can lower your blood pressure. So that sounds pretty doable.

Sodium Facts

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, here are the various ranges of normal to high sodium intake.

Tolerable Upper Level Amount: 2,300 mg sodium (daily)

Preferable Amount: 1,500 mg sodium (daily)

Minimum Daily Amount Our Body Needs: 180-500 mg

The scary fact is that in the U.S., today, the average daily sodium intake is at 3,436mg even in children as young as two years of age! Something has got to be done about this.

Individuals Who Need To Stay At 1,500mg of Sodium Or Less Per Day

  • Individuals with diabetes
  • Individuals with kidney disease
  • African Americans
  • Individuals 51 years of age or older
  • Individuals who already have high blood pressure

How To Reduce Your Sodium Intake

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables in place of processed foods like crackers and potato chips
  • Cook from scratch more often and avoid ready-made soups and frozen pepperoni pizza *Unless they say ‘reduced sodium’ or ‘low sodium’
  • Foods to be wary of: mayonnaise, canned tuna, salad dressings, jam, cereal, whole wheat bread and white bread, as well as pasta and rice.

You’re not alone on this journey to greater food awareness. In today’s world, we are always on the go and sometimes take great health sacrifices for the sake of fitting more things into our schedule. Take the challenge to becoming more “heart-healthy” and choose to allot yourself more time to cook at home with fresh ingredients. It will not only help lower your sodium intake and increase your heart health, but also lead to a greater, more fulfilling and longer lasting life!


DO YOU HAVE RUNNER’S ROADBLOCK?

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Do you have runner’s roadblock? A history of enjoying to run, but now you’ve just hit a wall? Maybe it seems like every possible roadblock occurs when it comes to actually hitting the pavement?  All of a sudden, the idea of going on a run is so intimidating!

Overcoming Negative Emotions

Sport’s psychologist Windee Weiss says that these negative emotions are deeply rooted. She explains that intimidation causes the assumption that you wont be able to meet the demands of the task, whereas ‘realism accepts that a demand may be tough, but doesn’t place a judgment on it.’  Furthermore, these thoughts can lead to failure related stresses. With added stress, our muscles tighten and fatigue faster and our coordination is negatively affected as well.

How To Overcome That Mental Runner’s Block

Don’t compare yourself to others. Odds are, there are plenty of runners out there with faster times than you and they make it look so effortless. Don’t let this get you down. Embrace how you like to run and the satisfaction that comes with that.

Banish Your Guilt In Regards To Training

There are always times where you feel like you don’t have the dedication it takes to train enough. The truth is, you do have a busy life schedule to work around, so the realistic amount of training you can expect to get done should match that of your lifestyle.  If your running times need significant improvement, then yes, you will probably have to train more and understand that no amount of confident self-talk can get you to a faster time without training for it. Just make sure you give yourself realistic running time goals that fit with a training schedule that can consistently fit into your lifestyle.

Your 1st 5k Race

The best way to remove your jitters about your first 5k is to find a friend to do it with you. This will both help your accountability in following through with it, as well as take the pressure off of what pace to set since you can match one another’s paces.

Claim It, You’re A Runner

Don’t make the same misdirected assumption that being a runner means you have to be fast at it. Being a runner really just describes your lifestyle. Whether you run one to two times a week, or 5 times a week, you are a runner. You are a runner whether you are slow or fast. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and find the joy in running.  Forget those anxieties about time goals or frequency of running, just get down to basics and reap the emotional and physical health benefits that come with consistent exercise such as running.


ISAIAH AUSTIN DIAGNOSED WITH MARFAN SYNDROME | WHAT IS MARFAN SYNDROME?

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At age 20, just days before NBA Draft day, Isaiah Austin, who played basketball at Baylor, was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome and his dreams of playing in the NBA were quickly dashed. Isaiah is choosing to look at the positive as he says, “I know basketball is not my life, it’s just something I enjoy to do and something that’s brought me to great places in this world and made me become a better man because of it. I was blessed to be able to play. One day the ball was going to stop bouncing eventually. It just happened sooner for me than for others.” Isaiah’s mom encourages Isaiah saying, “Sometimes God puts trials in your life so you can get through them. God sees you as a vessel for Him. Honey, you’re a chosen one. You were meant to be something.’ Isaiah plans to allow this seemingly gut wrenching news to become part of his platform to pursue a greater purpose with his life.  He wants to bring about awareness of Marfan syndrome so that people can potentially get tested for it and catch it earlier on.  If people don’t struggle with Marfan syndrome, then Isaiah would like to simply encourage them through sharing his story and choose to look for the positive.

What Is Marfan syndrome?

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes problems with connective tissue within the body.  This tissue helps hold organs together and is made up of proteins. Those who have Marfan syndrome, have a genetic defect in the gene that tells the body to make a protein called fibrillin-1.  The mutated genes create excess proteins called TGF-B, which causes problems in the connective tissue of the body. Marfan syndrome affects many different parts of the body since we have connective tissue throughout our body. It affects 1 in 5,000 people, which include both men and women of all races and ages.  75% of people with Marfan syndrome inherit it, and 50% of those with it will pass on the genetic mutation to each child they have.

Know The Signs of Marfan syndrome

This disorder can cause problems in the bones, joints, lungs, eyes, skin, nervous system, heart, and blood vessels.  A common feature of this syndrome is aortic enlargement, although not everyone who has Marfa syndrome has aortic enlargement. The aorta is the main blood vessel in the heart that carries blood away from the heart.  This aorta enlargement can be life threatening. The earlier this syndrome is caught and treated, the better.  Symptoms affecting the heart and blood vessels, and bones and joints can get worse as time passes, therefore, getting accurate diagnosis and treatment is very important.

Potential Signs of Marfan syndrome

Some people have signs and features that are harder to detect, while others have some more visible signs.  They may have different combinations of these features and don’t necessarily have every feature, but these are a few that are easier to see.

  • Long arms and legs
  • Chest sunk in or sticks out
  • Tall and thin body type
  • Flat feet
  • Curved spine
  • Stretch marks not related to weight loss or gain

Marfan syndrome Signs That Are Harder to Detect

  • Sudden lung collapse
  • Eye problems
  • Severe nearsightedness
  • Early glaucoma or cataracts
  • Detached retina

Looking To Get Tested For Marfan syndrome?

If you or your loved one believes they may have Marfan syndrome, there are several different types of doctors you may go to, to get tested. These include your family doctor or an orthopedist (bone specialist). Don’t know what doctor to go to? Check out our preventive cardiologists at Top10MD today for your peace of mind.


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