Keck Medicine of USC Watching the Super Bowl is half the fun, the other half is the anticipation of the Super Bowl party and spending time with your friends. This checklist can make sure you are ready for a safe, health and fun game day. Hungry fans are waiting for your famous BBQ and out-of-this-world burgers — but the grill won’t start. This is not the time to pull out the lighter fluid for a quick-fix. Make sure your grill is in good working order and that you have plenty of charcoal or propane on hand. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there are almost 9,000 gas grill fires every year, and 17,000 people end up visiting the emergency room because of injuries. The leading cause is using a dirty grill with a buildup of burned food and soot. Set the grill away from the house and never leave it unattended, even if there are no children or pets at the party. Above all, have your fire extinguisher ready. Researchers have found links between moderate drinking and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s also well known that excessive drinking leads to serious health concerns like liver disease and gastrointestinal issues. Additionally there are some social concerns to take into account like aggressive behavior and driving home post-game. To keep alcohol under control: If you think that choosing diet soda will save you calories, think again. A 2015 study found that people who drank diet sodas gained almost triple the stomach fat over nine years as those who did not. Researchers think that when the brain receives “sweet signals,” it gears up for a rush of calories. When the calories don’t come, it possibly triggers overeating to satiate the brain. Commented [LC1]: PLEASE keep our em dash style in mind The average American eats 2.2 snacks a day and receives one-quarter of their total calories from these, according to the USDA. To be a smart snacker, make a plate of snacks for portion control instead of nibbling. Indulge with your favorites, but add in some healthy options like carrot sticks and peanuts. And limit your snacking to early in the evening. It’s a tradition at some parties to play pick up football. But remember — it’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cast. Football is a dangerous sport with a high incidence of injury — and broken bones and concussions aren’t reserved just for the professionals. Opt for flag or non-contact football to avoid accidents. Clear the playing field of yard tools, toys, planters and anything else that could cause someone to trip or fall. Additionally, ensure everyone is hydrated before, after and during play. The primary care physicians at Keck Medicine of USC offer state-of-the-art professional services to patients of all walks of life. If you are in the Los Angeles area, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment. By Heidi Tyline King
Follow these Super Bowl party so you can avoid any worrisome flags and enjoy a game-time win.
Clean your grill before the big game
Before having a beer, balance the health risks and the benefits
Don’t try to avoid a beer belly by slamming diet sodas
Take it easy on the snacks
Prevent putting on a few pounds by watching not only what you eat, but when you eat it. One study found that nighttime eating predicts weight gain. Another study found that snacks commonly have more calories than main meals.
Play it safe if you’re playing football
Take your cue from the champs and remember that the best teams prepare a game plan and follow it.
RSVP Event Here
Watching the Super Bowl is half the fun, the other half is the anticipation of the Super Bowl party and spending time with your friends. This checklist can make sure you are ready for a safe, health and fun game day.
Hungry fans are waiting for your famous BBQ and out-of-this-world burgers — but the grill won’t start. This is not the time to pull out the lighter fluid for a quick-fix. Make sure your grill is in good working order and that you have plenty of charcoal or propane on hand.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there are almost 9,000 gas grill fires every year, and 17,000 people end up visiting the emergency room because of injuries. The leading cause is using a dirty grill with a buildup of burned food and soot. Set the grill away from the house and never leave it unattended, even if there are no children or pets at the party. Above all, have your fire extinguisher ready.
Researchers have found links between moderate drinking and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s also well known that excessive drinking leads to serious health concerns like liver disease and gastrointestinal issues. Additionally there are some social concerns to take into account like aggressive behavior and driving home post-game. To keep alcohol under control:
If you think that choosing diet soda will save you calories, think again. A 2015 study found that people who drank diet sodas gained almost triple the stomach fat over nine years as those who did not. Researchers think that when the brain receives “sweet signals,” it gears up for a rush of calories. When the calories don’t come, it possibly triggers overeating to satiate the brain.
Commented [LC1]: PLEASE keep our em dash style in mind
The average American eats 2.2 snacks a day and receives one-quarter of their total calories from these, according to the USDA. To be a smart snacker, make a plate of snacks for portion control instead of nibbling. Indulge with your favorites, but add in some healthy options like carrot sticks and peanuts. And limit your snacking to early in the evening.
It’s a tradition at some parties to play pick up football. But remember — it’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cast. Football is a dangerous sport with a high incidence of injury — and broken bones and concussions aren’t reserved just for the professionals. Opt for flag or non-contact football to avoid accidents. Clear the playing field of yard tools, toys, planters and anything else that could cause someone to trip or fall. Additionally, ensure everyone is hydrated before, after and during play.
The primary care physicians at Keck Medicine of USC offer state-of-the-art professional services to patients of all walks of life. If you are in the Los Angeles area, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.
By Heidi Tyline King]]>
Joint and Spine Health:
Restoring and Preserving Your Quality of Life
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017
Indian Wells Country Club
46000 Club Drive
Indian Wells, CA 92210
From: 5p.m to 7p.m.
This past presidential election, President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were the oldest major party candidates to run for the presidency. At 70, President Trump is the oldest sitting president in the country’s history.
Modern medicine has increased life expectancy and slowed the aging process, but Americans have always been curious about the health and vitality of the president—so much so that past presidents have hidden medical concerns from the public.
Here are a few of the conditions that have plagued presidents in the past.
“Let’s not talk about it” was the press approach for addressing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s paralysis from polio. The public knew of his condition, but the press never showed Roosevelt in a wheelchair.
Because of his personal experience, Roosevelt went on to found the March of Dimes, which funded research to create the polio vaccine. Today, two vaccines are used: one inactivates poliovirus; the other weakens the virus. Together, they have virtually eliminated polio around the world.
Not just overweight, President William Taft was so obese that he got stuck in his bathtub. Taft, the 27th president of the United States, suffered from obesity and a whole range of related medical conditions, such as sleep apnea and high blood pressure.
Taft suffered shame and humiliation because of his weight, and even though he often dieted and exercised, he vacillated between weight loss and weight gain.
Modern medicine still hasn’t found a cure for obesity, but has come a long way in treating the condition. Dietary changes and nutrition plans, exercise regimes and sometimes, prescription weight loss medication and weight-loss surgery are viable treatments.
Who knew? Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower and Warren Harding are just a few of the presidents that suffered from heart disease. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, refers to the condition of blocked blood vessels that leads to heart attack, chest pain, angina or stroke.
Significant medical advancements have been made in the last 50 years, and today, the CardioVascular Thoracic Institute at Keck Medicine of USC is an established leader in research and clinical care. Cutting-edge treatments include robotic surgery, minimally invasive surgery, heart valve replacement, endovascular aortic interventions and ablation therapies.
President John F. Kennedy was the picture of health during office—but he actually kept a medical secret in the closet. In 1947, he was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, an incurable disorder of the adrenal glands that he treated with steroids.
Kennedy also suffered from intense back pain and by the 1950s, regularly took powerful narcotics like Demerol and methadone on a regular basis to combat his pain. He was known to get injections in his back to help him stand during press conferences.
President Grover Cleveland discovered a lump in the roof of his mouth, but rather than have it removed at a local hospital, he smuggled a medical team on board the presidential yacht. They performed surgery, removing the roof of his mouth up to his left eye, but the unsuspecting public didn’t find out until 15 years after his death.
Today, many of these diseases that plagued past presidents are treatable. If you think you may have any of these conditions, visit a Keck Medicine of USC physician to discuss your options.
By Heidi Tyline King
Keck Medicine of USC treats an array of medical conditions. If you are in the Los Angeles area and in search of a physical therapist, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.]]>
Almost 2/3 of Americans own a smartphone, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report. Researchers have discovered several health problems associated with cellphone overuse. While a digital detox may sound nice in theory (or send others into a panic), completely ditching your phone isn’t a realistic option for many people. However, being mindful of how it is impacting your health is an important part of healthy living.
Research has found that having your phone visibly on display when you’re having a face-to-face conversation can send a negative message. Researchers at University of Essex in the U.K. showed that those who had a mobile device were perceived less positive by independent observers. “These results demonstrate that the presence of mobile phones can interfere with human relationships, an effect that is most clear when individuals are discussing personally meaningful topics,” noted the researchers. In a similar study led by a psychology professor at Virginia Tech, participants who were involved in conversations reported feeling less fulfilled and feeling less empathy for the other person if they pulled out their phone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and mood of the participants.
Quick Fix: Put your phones away when you’re chatting with friends and colleagues. You are bound to notice an improvement in the quality of your conversations and relationships.
You can feel your stress levels increasing as you get more calls and incoming texts. Researchers in Sweden discovered that there is a direct link between the psychosocial aspects of cellphone use and mental health symptoms in young adults. High phone use was tied to stress and sleep disturbances for women, while high cell usage was associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression in men. Generally, excessive phone use was seen as a clear risk factor for mental health issues in young adults.
Quick Fix: Make sure you take frequent breaks from your phone throughout the day. Take stress-reducing walks, listen to some relaxing music, meditate and learn to live without the constant interruptions of cellphones in your daily life.
If you’re not touching your cellphone, chances are you probably have placed it somewhere germ-heavy. They are natural breeding grounds for germs. In fact, each square inch of your average cellphone contains about 25,000 germs, making it one of the dirtiest objects we come in contact with each day!
A study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine sampled 390 cellphones to measure them for bacteria. The results proved that 92 percent of the phones had bacteria on them — 82 percent of hands had bacteria on them and 16 percent of cellphones and hands had E. Coli. It’s an unpleasant thought, but fecal matter can easily be transferred from one person to another, and sweaty cellphones are the perfect spot for germs that cause E. Coli, MRSA and the flu.
Quick Fix: It’s smart to get in the habit of using special antibacterial wipes made to clean electronics frequently. Power your phone down, remove it from its case, and then wipe both the phone and the case thoroughly. The most germ-laden part of the phone is the “home” button so give it extra attention. Remember to wash your hands frequently and don’t hand your phone to others. Also, never use your phone in the bathroom.
A report by Seattle-based research group Informate Mobile Intelligence, revealed that Americans spend 4.7 hours a day on their cellphones per average. During these long periods of cellphone use, we tend to arch our necks and hold our bodies in strange positions. The constant use of hands when we send out texts and answer emails can create pain and bring about the inflammation of joints. If users hold the phone between neck and shoulders to multitask, this can also aggravate the back. The use of cellphones can double or triple the weight of our heads on the body, adding more stress on the neck and back area. That’s why doctors suggest that you don’t use cellphones for extended computer work or Internet browsing.
Quick Fix: When you use your cellphone or are reading on it, bring the phone up or just a little below your face.
Because screens on cellphones are smaller than computer screens, reading them can cause us to squint and strain our eyes while reading messages. Digital eyestrain leads to irritation in the eyes, fatigue, eyestrain, blurry vision, problems focusing, headaches, neck and shoulder pain and binocular vision issues. The high-energy light emitted by our phone screens can also lead to age-related macular generation, which may cause vision loss.
Quick Fix: To relieve eyestrain, blink often to reduce dryness and keep your eyes less irritated. Use anti-reflective coating on your cellphone screen to reduce glare. Take frequent breaks from looking at your phone. Adjust your screen’s text size and contrast. Keep your screen clean, and hold your smartphone about 16 to 18 inches away from your eyes.
If you are experiencing eye problems, contact USC’s Roski Eye Institute to schedule an appointment.
If you have neck or back pain or another spine problem, the experts of the USC Spine Center can provide a second opinion and help you stand tall again. Our physicians offer appropriate spine care, with the latest minimally invasive surgical options for quicker recoveries, and patients also have access to physical and occupational therapy. To request an appointment with a USC spine specialist, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273).
By Ramin Zahed]]>
We are talking about organ donation, one of the most generous gifts you can give. Consider these statistics:
Amid tragedy, one person can give up to eight people the precious gift of life — and improve the lives of up to 50 people with tissue and eye donations.
However, there are many misconceptions about organ donation. Know the facts and consider becoming an organ donor.
It’s as simple as signing up. In some states, you can become an organ donor by simply checking a box on your driver’s license form at your local DMV. However, if your state doesn’t offer this option, or if you want to ensure that your name is in the registry, you can visit the national organ donor page at www.organdonor.gov.
Only 3 in 1,000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation. This means that if all 1,000 of those people are registered as organ donors, only three will have the chance to give the gift of life.
There is no age restriction; people of all ages can be considered as potential donors. However, potential donors under the age of 18 must have parent or guardian authorization. The medical condition of the patient at the time of death determines, which organs can be donated.
There are few medical conditions that will disqualify you from donating your organs. Only medical professionals on hand at the time of death can determine whether your organs are suitable for donation.
The family of the donor does not pay the medical expense for organ donation.
Organs and tissues that can be donated include the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone and heart valves.
Organs are matched by blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographical location.
Never! Organ donation can only be considered after a patient has been declared brain dead by a physician. And medical staff always focuses on saving the life of the patient in front of them. They often have no idea that someone is an organ donor until it is necessary to consider a patient’s wishes after death.
Organ donation is confidential for both the donor and the recipient. Information about the organ donor is only released to the recipient if the donor’s family agrees.
Get registered: 95 percent of U.S. adults support organ donation but only 48 percent are actually signed up as donors.
Learn more about giving the gift of life by visiting www.organdonor.gov. For transplant information, visit the USC Transplant Institute at Keck Medicine of USC.
By Heidi Tyline King]]>
If you plan to be one of the more than 250,000 participants in this year’s L.A. Marathon, beginning at Dodger Stadium and ending in Santa Monica, you probably started to train for the event months ago. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind as you get to the final stretch of training season:
Marathon coaches always tell their runners to increase their mileage slowly to avoid injuries and straining their muscles. You should be training weeks before the marathon, so you can increase your running miles gradually each day. Cover the second half of your chosen distance faster than the first half for an easier approach to training.
Keep a relaxed form during your training runs. It’s best to maintain a relaxed form, which means shoulders down, arms relaxed and body upright.
Your running shoes can never be too comfortable. Some experts suggest having two good pairs of running shoes: one for long and easy runs and the other slightly lighter pair for faster training runs and intervals. It’s best to buy new shoes once you’ve run about 500 miles in the old pair.
Wearing the right clothes on the day of the marathon can make a world of difference. It’s best to avoid cotton clothes and go for materials like polypropylene or performance fabric, which keeps your body dry while pushing moisture to the outside. Check the weather forecasts and make sure you dress appropriately if it’s sunny and hot or rainy and cold.
Wearing clothes made of synthetic material can help fight the friction caused by other materials and your skin. Vaseline or a balm fights chafing on feet, nipples and other sensitive spots.
Make sure you include some light stretching after short easy runs. Avoid stretching after intense workouts since your muscles are stressed after strenuous activity.
Some trainers recommend swimming or deep-water running after an easy day of running. Spinning is a good cardio training program in the early stages of training, but as you get closer to the date, it’s best to stick with just running.
Don’t forget to eat a high-carb, low-fiber meal three to four hours before your run. If you have at least an hour before your workout, it’s recommended to eat about 50 grams of carbs — perhaps, a PB&J sandwich or a hard-boiled egg, You’ll also need to take in more carbohydrates (sports drinks, energy chews, quarter cup of raisins, etc.) during your run as fuel. When you’re done with your run, you need to restock your energy and help your body recover with healthier carbs. Oatmeal with raisins and nuts, a healthy omelet with veggies or grilled salmon with a side of sweet potato are all great choices.
Hydrate well before, during and after your training — especially during and after longer runs. You’ll need to get used to properly hydrating your body so that you can drink enough liquids on marathon day as well.
Never underestimate the importance of sleep during the months before the marathon. After a tough day of training, your body requires at least eight hours of sleep each night. Sufficient sleep allows your body to build and repair muscle, boosts your immune system and sharpens your mental abilities.
By Ramin Zahed
Schedule a visit with your primary care physician to discuss optimal workout levels and healthy training habits.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and in search of a physical therapist, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.]]>
Recovering from a race is as crucial as training for the big day, especially if you like to keep in good shape, and perhaps, get ready for another race soon. Make sure you pay attention to these post-marathon tips after you replenish your body and get some rest:
It might be tempting to just completely give in to your sore muscles and collapse like a zombie in front of the TV set for hours. Don’t! The more you stay on the couch, the more your muscles will get tighter and sorer. It’s important to loosen your muscles by taking quick walks around your room every half hour or so. Yes, it might hurt a bit, but it will shorten the recovery time.
Never underestimate the healing powers of ice. If you’re brave enough, dive into an ice bath. You can also ice your knees, shins, ankles, feet, back or pretty much anywhere you feel pain. Cold therapy will make you feel better since it reduces blood flow to the sore areas to reduce the swelling. This will also slow down the pain messages being transmitted to the brain.
After running a tough marathon, your body has depleted its food and water resources, so you need to drink lots of water or chocolate milk to rehydrate and get back all the nutrients you need. Research has shown that chocolate milk contains an ideal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, essential for refueling damaged muscles and helping with the workout recovery process. It’s best to stay away from many of the sports drinks on the market since they are often loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners that damage your body. H20 is the way to go. You should also stick with food that is high in protein and antioxidants to help heal your muscles. Eating Greek yogurt with granola, blueberries and bananas will help relieve the stress and replenish your muscles’ energy.
Getting lots of rest after running a marathon may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many athletes refuse to listen to their bodies. It will take a few days to fully recover from your average marathon. It’s important not to be tempted to get back to you running routine immediately. If you don’t give your body enough time to recover, you may suffer from more injuries further down the line.
After their rest period is over, some marathoners think they can go back to the workout routines they had prior to the big day. However, just because you feel okay doesn’t mean you can strain your muscles again. It’s best to start out with fewer miles and slowly work your way back up. Throwing in some mild cross training is also a good idea. An easy bike ride or a brisk half-hour walk may be all you should do during the first couple of weeks after your marathon.
Before you start your light post-marathon workouts, it’s best to skip the stretching. Stretching soft tissues while they’re sore and in a delicate state puts them at risk for slight tears. You can focus on calves, Achilles tendons, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes, but limit yourself to a brief, easy session no longer than then minutes.
Sometimes it’s tough to tell an acute injury apart from general soreness. If the pain and soreness persist, make sure you see a sports medicine professional. Schedule a visit with your primary care physician to discuss optimal workout levels and healthy diets to go with your workout routine.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top physicians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.
By Ramin Zahed]]>
If you own a pedometer, Fitbit, or any other kind of activity tracker you’ve probably held yourself to a 10,000-step goal. But, surprisingly, that magic number was part of a marketing campaign and is not backed by real science.
Yamasa Toki, a Japanese company, started the craze in 1965 with the launch a pedometer called Manpo-Kei, which translates to the “10,000 steps meter.” The company came up with the nifty slogan: “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!” Soon, walking clubs popped up and by the late 1990s, the 10,000 steps fitness routine swept America, becoming the unofficial standard for ensuring good health and fitness.
The truth is, there is no harm in encouraging people to walk 10,000 steps. In fact, 10K is a nice, even number that translates to about 5 miles for most people. But is it the right number for you?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That’s 2 hours and 30 minutes — less than the length of some movies — spread out over a week. However, whether this is enough exercise for you will depend on your current level of activity and your fitness goals.
The best way to find out is to get started. Using a pedometer, fitness tracker, or smart phone app, track your walking distance daily to establish a baseline. The number of steps will most likely be lower than 10,000 per day If you have an active lifestyle, your benchmark may be above 10,000 steps.
If you have an active lifestyle, your benchmark may be above 10,000 steps.
Gradually, your stamina will increase. Even better, exercises like walking are low-impact and can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other cardiovascular-related illnesses.
Being fit has a pleasant side effect: weight loss. In the U.S., 66.3 percent of adults are overweight or obese. To keep from becoming a statistic, you must burn more calories than you consume.
Consider this simple equation: One pound equals 3500 calories; 10,000 steps burns 400 calories or more, depending on how fast your walk. If you work your way to 10,000 steps a day, you can lose a half pound in a week.
Use the 10,000 steps rule to get up and off the couch, then increase your activity as your stamina and fitness level allows.
Interested in learning more about fitness? If you’re in the Southern California area and are in search of a primary care physician to oversee your fitness goals, call (800)USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment to schedule an appointment.
By Heidi Tyline King]]>
Whether you are a marathoner or training for your first 5K, your running shoes can propel you forward or stop you in your tracks.
Is there a method to choosing the right shoe? According to Eric Tan, MD, assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the USC Department Orthopaedic Surgery of Keck Medicine of USC, running shoes are a very personal choice.
“The best shoe is one that makes your foot feel the most comfortable,” said Dr. Tan. “Most shoes are lightweight but they should have some stiffness to the sole to help absorb the impact from your foot striking the ground. An insole may also help provide additional comfort and support. And don’t forget to replace your shoes every 500 miles to maintain continued structural integrity of the shoe and its support to your foot and ankle.”
In the right shoes, your feet will stay comfortable and fend off common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints and stress fractures.
Dr. Tan says to keep the following considerations in mind when shopping for running shoes:
Road race or trail run? Road shoes are designed to support repetitive strikes on hard surfaces. Trail-running shoes have more tread and offer more traction for gripping rocks, mud and roots. Soles are structured to provide stability and protection for your mid-foot.
Are you a marathoner or training for ultra-distance? Shoes designed for higher mileage will have more cushion and support compared to their shorter lighter distance cousins.
Look at an old pair of shoes: Are the soles worn evenly, or varied? Is one side of the shoe more worn that the other? Is the padding on the inside worn away in areas?
Over-pronators wear down the outside of the shoe first and need a motion control or stability shoe.
Under-pronators wear down the outside of the shoe and need a neutral or extra-cushioning shoe.
Finally, if you are experiencing any pain during running, it may be an indication of a more serious issue like plantar fasciitis and stress fractures. Make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist to assess your problem and get you back on your feet.
If you are unsure about which option is best for you, take a pair of old shoes to a running store. Specialty running shops have sales experts who are trained to identify your gait and help you select a shoe to support your gait, terrain and mileage goals.
By Heidi Tyline King
If you suffer from foot or heel pain, make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist. To learn more about USC Orthopaedic Surgery, visit ortho.keckmedicine.org.
To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://ortho.keckmedicine.org/patient-information/request-an-appointment/]]>
Cancer in your colon is slow growing, sometimes taking 10 to 20 years before the polyps on the colon become cancerous. But, if monitored, the chance of death drastically declines. And there’s more good news: diet and exercise — two controllable factors —play a major role in preventing colon cancer.
Most cases of colon cancer occur in people age 50 and older. The causes are linked to genetics and an unhealthy and inactive lifestyle.
Another at-risk group are people who carry a specific genetic mutation or have relatives with the cancer. In fact, 25 percent of those diagnosed have a familial connection to colon cancer.
Colon cancer is preventable and curable if detected early. Be proactive: If you are over 50, consult with your primary care physician about recommended screenings. If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, your medical provider might suggest being screened sooner than later.
Obese and inactive patients are at high risk for colon cancer. An active lifestyle and healthy diet has great rewards beyond fighting colon cancer including increased energy levels and the added benefit of shedding extra pounds.
Research shows that exercise and low-calorie diets help prevent colorectal cancer. Some experts believe making healthy lifestyle changes may lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer by as much as 70 percent.
Suggested changes include cutting limiting alcohol, and not surprisingly — quitting smoking. Other recommendations include a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Plant diets full of leafy greens and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables have been linked to lower levels of colon cancer. Increase your consumption of healthy proteins such as fish and eggs that are high in omega 3-fatty acids and decrease or eliminate red meat from your diet.
You can keep your morning coffee ritual. Researchers at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine of USC have found that coffee consumption actually decreases the risk of colorectal cancer.
“We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk,” said Stephen B. Gruber, MD, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at Keck Medicine of USC.
For 40 years, the National Cancer Institute has recognized USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center as one of the leading comprehensive cancers centers in the country.
By Heidi Tyline King
Visit one of the world-renowned specialists at the Researchers at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at Keck Medicine of USC to learn more about colon cancer screenings. If you are in the Los Angeles area and in search of a physical therapist, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.]]>
Valencia resident Arik Bibicoff was first motivated to go down the path of body building in 2012, after seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s weightlifting video, “Pumping Iron.” His interest quickly became his passion, and the gym became Arik’s second home.
Arik would work out six days a week with his friends. He loved it so much that he became a personal training director at a leading national fitness center within six months, making him one of the youngest directors at the company. For the next six months, he continued to excel in this position, within his district and beyond.
“I elevated my financial situation, moved up quickly at my company, and after working hard for it, obtained the physique I had always wanted,” Arik said.
In June of 2015, Arik started having serious symptoms, which caused him to cut his workouts short. These included fatigue, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, numbness of the extremities, shortness of breath and chest pressure.
“I went from the height of my young existence to the most limited and difficult part of my life in a very short period of time,” said Arik.
After many visits to doctors, he discovered that he was born with a heart defect called a bicuspid valve. This condition can cause the valve to leak. In some cases, surgical intervention is not needed. In others, it is not needed until later in life. But for Arik, the leaking valve was taking a toll on his health causing his heart to enlarge.
His condition progressed at an early age, likely because of his bodybuilding. He was told to immediately back off of one thing that he truly loved: weightlifting.
“Some of the other doctors I met with had predominantly older and less active patients. They delivered messages of doom and gloom, including extremely restricted post-surgery weightlifting and physical activity, and strong medications, such as blood thinners for the rest of my life,” he said. “They also warned that I needed to have my surgery within a couple of months to replace my faulty valve with a mechanical valve.”
Scared and unsure of what to do, Arik and his parents realized they needed to look for another option.
As Arik’s livelihood looked grim, his family went above and beyond to find a solution.
“Several family members became my advocates: researching all hours of the night, talking to everyone they knew and spending countless hours on the phone with my insurance company,” he said. “They found Keck Medicine of USC and Dr. Vaughn Starnes.”
Vaughn Starnes, MD is the chair of the USC Department of Surgery and the director of the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute (CVTI) of Keck Medicine of USC.
“Through persistence and help from family and friends, I was referred for a consultation with Dr. Starnes and was fortunate enough to become his patient. He was confident that because I was young and strong, I was a great fit for The Ross Procedure, which was his specialty,” he said. “Even though the thought of open heart surgery was extremely daunting, just knowing I would be cared for by the best, took a huge weight off my family’s shoulders.”
The Ross procedure is a cardiac surgery operation where a diseased aortic valve is replaced with the person’s own pulmonary valve. Dr. Starnes has successfully performed more than 400 Ross Procedures, which is best suited for younger patients with the intent of giving them their active lifestyle back, post-surgery and with very little medication.
After some research, Arik discovered that his hero had also had the same procedure with Dr. Starnes.
“It was fate, when I learned that my motivator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was also born with a bicuspid valve and underwent the Ross Procedure in 1997 with Dr. Starnes,” he said. “Not only did Arnold have the same procedure, but it was with the same surgeon at the same hospital.”
On September 30, 2015, Dr. Starnes performed the double valve replacement Ross Procedure on Arik. Analysis of Arik’s old valve showed extreme deterioration – his tissue was unusually thin. The timing of meeting Dr. Starnes couldn’t have been better. The surgery was a success, and Arik began his road to recovery with a healthy new valve.
“Dr. Starnes, his colleagues, and everyone at Keck Medicine of USC certainly lived up to their reputation,” Arik said. “The entire team was there to support me and my family both medically and emotionally through this life-changing experience. Everyone was patient, kind and caring.”
Arik is recovered and back to doing the thing that he loves.
“I have surpassed my one-year anniversary of the surgery and I feel great. I am so relieved that all of the symptoms I experienced before the surgery have vanished. I am even able to pursue my passion of weightlifting, but I do it responsibly,” he said. “Dr. Starnes saved my life, and my family and I will be forever grateful.”
Going back to the gym for more workouts — that is just another example of The Keck Effect.]]>
Reducing or eliminating your alcohol consumption can pay off in many ways:
If you reduce your alcohol consumption, you may lose weight. The average alcoholic beverage can contain about 150 calories, whether it’s wine, beer or a cocktail. Sugary cocktails, such as frozen margaritas, can have double or even triple the number of calories. If you’ve been consuming five drinks per week, that’s 750 calories a week – or 39,000 in a year. Since it takes an extra 3,500 calories to gain a pound, that’s potentially 11 extra pounds of weight gain a year.
Multiple studies have found a link between alcohol and greater food consumption. In one such study, women who had two drinks ate 30 percent more food than those who drank just water. Another study found that men consume an extra 168 food calories on days when they drink.
Studies show that drinking even six hours before bedtime (that is, even earlier than most happy hours) can reduce the quality of your sleep. Even a moderate amount of alcohol can make your sleep restless, with more frequent wakeups, especially in the second half of the night. The result? Daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
The National Cancer Institute links alcohol to a higher risk of cancers of the breast, esophagus, colon, mouth and liver. Alcohol changes how your body breaks down and absorbs some of the nutrients that help prevent cancer, including folate, carotenoids and vitamins A, B, C, D and E.
Even if you cut just a $20 bottle of wine per week, that’s a savings of over $1,000 in a year. Why not invest that money in a gym membership, or sign up for a 5k with a friend?
If reducing your drinking sounds like a good idea, start by tracking how much you’re actually consuming. Look for obvious ways to limit your consumption, such as limiting your total drinks in a week, drinking more water or meeting friends for a walk rather than a drink.
Your Keck Medicine of USC physician can help you get started. Request an appointment or call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273).
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
National Cancer Institute
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
Obesity: A Research Journal
After being resuscitated in a USC Verdugo Hills Hospital operating room, Alfred Lopez was transferred to Keck Medical Center of USC on May 12, on a ventilator, in septic shock and experiencing multi-organ failure.
Alfred, a 56-year-old Ralph’s market produce worker, had necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that usually enters the body through an open wound and rapidly spreads through soft tissue, eating away at muscle and flesh at an alarming rate of an inch an hour.
In Alfred’s case, there was no trace of an open wound. Without being able to locate the origin of the flesh-eating disease in his body, the Keck Medical Center team raced against the clock to save his right leg — which had tripled in size — and his life.
“When they told me what it was, I knew we had a long battle,” said his sister Aurora Jubile, who had encountered the disease during her 31 years of experience as a registered nurse.
A CT scan finally pinpointed the disease’s source: A plum-sized abscess had ruptured in Alfred’s rectum and had spread into the soft tissues of his right leg.
“I was scared, but I had a lot of faith,” said Alfred, who has trouble remembering the early details of his ordeal because of the heavy sedation and pain he was in.
Alfred finally started turning a corner, thanks to the aggressive and unified approach taken by Keck Medical Center’s experienced surgeons, nurses and wound care physical therapists.
“Alfred survived with excellent functional results because of the state-of-the-art multidisciplinary team effort” available at Keck Medical Center, said Demetrios Demetriades, MD, PhD, director of the trauma and surgical intensive care unit division at the hospital and professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Demetriades performed seven of the 10 surgeries Alfred received during a three-and-a-half-month period.
To stay ahead of the bacteria, a team of six wound care physical therapists dressed his wounds every day, which sometimes took up to two hours to complete.
“The main challenge was the location and extent of his wounds, in particular his posterior hip and perineum,” said Angela Kwan, PT, MPT, lead in-patient wound care physical therapist at Keck Hospital of USC and instructor of clinical physical therapy at the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.
Aurora had never seen anything like it. “His whole leg was without flesh. It looked like something out of an anatomy book.”
The fact that Alfred healed and wakes up every morning to walk a mile uphill (with the help of a cane) is nothing short of a miracle.
Stephanie Woelfel, PT, MPT, instructor of clinical physical therapy at the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and a board-certified wound specialist, credits Alfred’s unlikely recovery to Demetriades’ high skill and the Keck Medicine team’s approach to complex cases.
“The collaboration in Al’s case is what made it so successful,” Woelfel said. “Dr. Demetriades would sometimes bring us (Kwan and Woelfel) into the operation room so that we could see what he was doing during surgery so that we knew what we were going to have deal with.”
Woelfel fell in love with wound care after graduating from Marquette University’s physical therapy master’s program.
“You can literally see the change happen in front of your eyes, week to week,” Woelfel said. “It’s awesome to see a wound heal like that.”
Wound care physical therapy can be traced back to World War II when physical therapists played an essential role in the rehabilitation and wound management of injured soldiers in acute care hospitals.
Since then, the specialized practice has evolved beyond wound dressing. Wound care physical therapists can provide patients electrostimulation, low frequency ultrasound and the application of negative pressure to promote wound healing.
“Wound care physical therapists provide a unique perspective because we look at the functional implications of a wound,” Woelfel said. This allows them to make recommendations to surgeons. “We think, ‘How is this going to affect the patient’s ability to move?’”
While Alfred was receiving antibiotics intravenously, the wound care team also inserted catheters into his dressings so that nurses could administer antimicrobial solution throughout the day, creating a two-pronged approach to treating the infection.
In addition to providing wound management to inpatients and outpatients at Keck Medical Center, Woelfel is one of the center coordinators for clinical education of physical therapy students. The physical therapy faculty practice at Keck Medicine accepts more than 50 students a year for clinical training.
What makes USC’s physical therapy program different, Woelfel said, is that the students see the methods they are taught in the classroom directly reflected in the clinic.
The division’s integrated curriculum also affords students a well-rounded education by introducing them to various physical therapy specialties, such as wound care.
“It solidifies things,” Woelfel said. “Some students might ask, ‘Why do I have to learn about wound care?” Regardless of the area of physical therapy you practice in, all of your patients will have skin.”
Alfred, whose ordeal had turned him into a legend in Keck Medical Center’s hallways long before his Aug. 29 release, is especially grateful to Demetriades and the wound care physical therapists who still text him to see how he is doing.
“They are great people,” said Alfred, who is currently receiving physical and occupational therapy at Casa Colina. “They were all good to me, especially Stephanie and Angela. They were there all the time.”
By Stephanie Corral]]>
Rosemary Navarro, 40, at her home in La Habra, Calif. Navarro looks through old childhood photographs to find a picture of her mother, Rosa Maria Navarro, who also had the familial Alzheimer’s. (Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News)
Rosemary Navarro was living in Mexico when her brother called from California. Something wasn’t right with their mom, then in her early 40s. She was having trouble paying bills and keeping jobs as a food preparer in convalescent homes.
Navarro, then 22, sold her furniture to pay for a trip back to the U.S. for herself and her two young children. Almost as soon as she arrived, she knew her mother wasn’t the same person. “She was there but sometimes she wasn’t there,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh man this isn’t going to be good.’”
Before long, Navarro was feeding her mom, then changing her diapers. She put a special lock on the door to keep her from straying out. Unable to continue caring for her, Navarro eventually moved her to a nursing home, where she spent eight years.
Near the end, her mom, a quiet woman who had immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager and loved telenovelas, could communicate only by laughing or crying. Navarro was there when she took her last breath in 2009, at age 53. “What I went through with my mom I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” she said.
It has happened again and again in her family — relatives struck by the same terrible disease, most without any clue what it was. An aunt, an uncle, a cousin, a grandfather, a great grandfather. “Too many have died,” Navarro said. All in their early 50s.
Now the family knows the reason for their curse: It’s a rare type of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, caused by what’s come to be known as the “Jalisco” genetic mutation. Doctors today can tell someone they have it but they can’t stop its destructive march.
For Navarro, watching her relatives succumb is like looking into a crystal ball, one she wants to hurl across the room.
She, too, has the mutation.
It’s getting harder to stifle her fear. In April, she turned 40 — the same age her mother was when she started wandering off and forgetting simple things.
“I don’t look forward to birthdays,” she said. “I didn’t want to celebrate 40, much less 41.”
Navarro, who lives in La Habra, Calif., belongs to an exclusive but unenviable club whose members are genetically programmed for early memory loss and death.
Of the more than 5 million people across the U.S. who have Alzheimer’s, 5 percent are believed to have the early-onset form, striking people under the age of 65. Fewer still — about 1 percent — have genetic mutations that are known to cause the disease.
Navarro’s gene is known as the Jalisco mutation because it is believed to have surfaced first in that Mexican state. Passed from parent to child over generations, it likely was carried by immigrants across the Mexican border into California and other states. In Mexico and the U.S., roughly 50 families are known to have the mutation.
Cases like Navarro’s are of great interest to Alzheimer’s researchers. Studying this unique population with genetic mutations, they say, could help unlock some of the biggest mysteries of the more common form of the disease: How does it develop? How can it be diagnosed earlier? What can be done to stop it?
Ordinarily, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to predict Alzheimer’s. But with these families, researchers know the mutation carriers will get the disease. They also know approximately when symptoms will appear. So they can get a real-time look at how the disease develops — and can measure when the brain starts changing relative to expected onset. Perhaps most important, they can design drugs to target the disease before patients lose their memory.
“If you know from age 18 or even from birth whether someone is going to develop the disease or not, you have got a big window to intervene,” Navarro’s doctor, John Ringman, a neurology professor at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. “We don’t have a way to repair or bring back lost brain cells.”
Already, researchers of inherited Alzheimer’s have discovered clues that could lead to potential treatment for all patients with the disease. They have determined, for example, that the formation of amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s appear decades before the first noticeable signs of memory loss, and they recently began testing whether medications can block those plaques from forming in the brain.
Patients with a familial Alzheimer’s mutation “are sort of a model for how the disease progresses, because they are easier to recognize and easier to study,” said Bruce Miller, a longtime Alzheimer’s researcher who directs the memory and aging center at the University of California, San Francisco.
Around the world, hundreds of people whose families are afflicted with a variety of early-onset mutations are subjecting themselves to medical tests — spinal taps, memory quizzes, MRIs and other brain imaging, hoping scientists can develop therapies to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s.
But their participation often comes with the sad realization that resulting treatments may come too late for them. Ringman is studying about 100 patients at USC. Navarro is among about 30 with the Jalisco mutation.
More than 450 people are part of an international network of research being led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Each has a parent with an early-onset gene mutation. If the research doesn’t help them, they tell researchers, maybe it will help the next generation.
“They are all desperately fearful that they themselves have inherited a mutation,” said John C. Morris, director of the school’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. “But what they are really fearful about is that if they did, that they will pass it along to their children.”
Children have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutation from a parent who carries it.
Navarro is well aware of the statistics. She has joined the network’s research effort, of which Ringman is a part. She did it not just for herself but for her family — including her two children, now young adults.
Last year, she went for a brain scan. She had no overt symptoms, but the results told a different story. Her brain had already started to shrink — a sign that the disease was taking hold.
In November 2015, Dr. Ringman drove to Colton, Calif. — 60 miles east of Los Angeles — to meet with the large and close-knit Kitchen family. Jay Kitchen and his younger brother John had been referred to him after each suffered a series of baffling symptoms.
It had started about four years earlier. Jay, then a 44-year-old sports writer, began having difficulty speaking. He felt off balance, was forgetting things and having difficulty paying bills.
Soon afterward, his younger brother, John, a high school history teacher, started becoming easily confused. He would forget what day it was and how to get to the market.
“It struck me as really odd,” said John’s wife, Michelle Lopez. “Nobody could forget the store that was around the corner from the house you lived in for 12 years.”
Lopez said John started taking illegal drugs. At one point, while they were separated, he was arrested for stalking her. His bizarre behavior, completely uncharacteristic of him, nearly broke up their marriage, she said.
Jay Kitchen was the first to seek help. He went to an emergency room, then several specialists. One suspected a stroke. Another suggested mental illness. Test after test came back negative or inconclusive.
“It has been a long haul trying to get a diagnosis,” said the brothers’ aunt, Linda Ramos, who took Jay Kitchen to most of the appointments. Doctors constantly were “scratching their heads trying to figure out what was wrong.”
Late in 2015, a neurologist referred the brothers to Ringman, who ordered a blood test.
On the November morning in Colton, Ringman arrived at Ramos’ home, where the extended family was gathered. He pulled the brothers and a few others aside to deliver his grim news: Both men had the Jalisco mutation. Ramos said the brothers sat in near silence. She doesn’t think Jay understood, and John, already a quiet man, just seemed scared.
Later that morning, a larger group of family members met with Ringman around a long dining room table: the Kitchens’ father, aunts and uncles; Lopez and Jay Kitchen’s ex-wife. Jay Kitchen’s son came with his newborn, who fussed in a stroller.
Projecting pictures and diagrams on the wall, the doctor explained, in his matter-of-fact way, the history and science behind early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and the different types of mutations that can cause it.
Medications available today only address the symptoms, not the disease itself, Ringman said. Drugs may improve people’s thinking but don’t stop the progression.
“This is something we are going to crack eventually,” he said.
Like many families Ringman encounters, the relatives in the dining room absorbed the news with little emotion or surprise — as though the doctor were confirming nameless fears.
Ramos had watched the Kitchens’ mother, Olivia, lose the ability to walk and speak and eventually die in 2002. At the time, they were told she had multiple sclerosis. Now she was not so sure.
John Kitchen asked if there was any connection to Huntington’s disease, which the family had been told his grandfather had.
“Probably he didn’t have Huntington’s,” Ringman responded, adding that people are sometimes misdiagnosed.
Ramos recalls feeling somewhat relieved that day.
“My thought was, ‘At least we know now. Finally, we know. Thank God we have a name and maybe we can do something for their kids.”
In John Ringman’s office at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the shelves are filled with volumes on neurology and memory, accompanied by a model of the brain and a Sigmund Freud doll.
Ringman, though sometimes gruff, betrays a wry humor and a deep passion for science. He easily recalls patients’ stories over the years.
For the 51-year-old neurologist, who has two young children, working with families predestined to forget their own stories and die young can be “very depressing.” “It doesn’t get easier to be delivering the bad news,” he said.
At the same time, he likes getting to know his patients and watching their children grow up.
He became interested in neuroscience while in college at the University of California, Berkeley. But he knew lab work wasn’t for him. “I realized all these Ph.D.s study one molecule their entire lives and sit in a laboratory,” he said. “I didn’t want that.”
In the late 1990s, after completing medical school and specialty training, he joined the medical staff at the University of California, Irvine, where he saw patients with dementia and Huntington’s disease. He liked the personal interaction, combined with the scientific challenge.
In 1999, a 42-year-old woman came to see him, brought in by her young adult daughter. Rosa Maria Navarro had signs of early Alzheimer’s disease. Her daughter Rosemary was distraught, reporting that something similar had afflicted many other relatives.
It was the beginning of a long relationship, and a new line of scientific inquiry for Ringman.
The young neurologist was aware of recently identified familial Alzheimer’s mutations, and he immediately suspected Rosa Maria had one. He sent her blood sample to get the genetic test, and it came back positive for the A431E mutation of a gene known as presenilin 1.
Rosemary Navarro suspects her mother sensed even before then what was wrong, having seen her own father lose his memory and die young. “But she was quiet,” Navarro said. “She never said, ‘I might have this.’”
Soon afterward, another patient came into Ringman’s office with similar symptoms. That patient tested positive for the same mutation. Both had families originating from Jalisco, Mexico. “I was already getting suspicious,” he said.
Familial Alzheimer’s intrigued Ringman. It was a relatively new field. Families with the disease had been known to exist since Alzheimer’s first described the disease in 1906, but the genes weren’t identified until about 90 years later. The research touched on so many parts of science — neurology, biology and psychology.
Later, Ringman came across an article co-authored by a Mexican neuropsychologist he had worked with before, Yaneth Rodriguez. It was about four families in Mexico that had early Alzheimer’s disease, and they had symptoms similar to his two patients.
In 2000, Ringman traveled to Mexico and met with both Rodriguez and a geneticist, Maria Elisa Alonso. Alonso told him that another family there had tested positive for the A431E mutation. Now, there were three, all of Mexican heritage.
Ringman collected DNA samples of members of seven more families who were being treated in Mexico. Test results not only confirmed members of each family had A431E, they indicated the patients all shared the same chunk of DNA. That’s when he knew. They were all related, distant cousins who had never met.
Over the next few years, Ringman saw more and more patients with relatives from Jalisco and symptoms of memory loss at about age 40. In addition to their cognitive problems, they sometimes suffered from leg stiffness and fleeting seizures.
In 2006, the Mexican geneticist, Alonso, published a report in Neurogenetics, describing nine families who didn’t know they were related but all shared the A431E mutation. She concluded that the disease likely started with one ancestor in Jalisco. Ringman published a response describing 15 additional families with the same mutation.
The findings meant that Ringman’s patients owed their suffering to an unidentified individual who likely lived in Jalisco perhaps hundreds of years ago. Somehow, as his or her DNA copied itself during cell division, a fatal mistake occurred. And now, in places like La Habra and Colton, Calif., whole families were coping with the awful results.
Meanwhile, other scientists around the world had found families with different early-onset mutations in one of three identified genes, including a group in Puerto Rico and one in Colombia. Each group was believed to share a common ancestor.
Ringman saw the tragedy but also the scientific opportunity in these discoveries.
He worked on his Spanish and delved deeper into the cases on both sides of the border. He published reports on specific characteristics of Jalisco mutation carriers, such as the leg stiffness and weakness called spastic paraparesis. He described biochemical changes at the very early stages of the disease, such as changes in beta amyloid and tau, protein associated with Alzheimer’s, in the cerebral spinal fluid. And he reported how cognitive decline among carriers was similar to those with late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Ringman is continuing to identify new patients with familial Alzheimer’s. Some are referred by doctors in the U.S. and some by doctors in Mexico. He helps people get tested for free when they suspect the Jalisco mutation.
“Some people have no idea that there is a genetic test for this,” he said.
In homes across Jalisco, he and Rodriguez’s team are educating families about the disease — so that they will be informed enough to participate in future clinical drug trials. Some take comfort from helping with the research. Some have decided not to have children.
Ultimately, Ringman joined the Washington University School of Medicine network in its international quest for knowledge and treatment options for familial Alzheimer’s disease. The research now includes different sites in Europe, Asia and Australia.
The formal name is the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network, because the gene is passed down from one parent. USC is one of the research sites.
The network’s investigators — who all use the same standardized measures — are monitoring biological changes among carriers and non-carriers and are testing medications.
In addition to finding the early emergence of amyloid plaques, researchers have discovered decreased beta-amyloid peptides and increased tau proteins in spinal fluid 15 years before symptoms appear. Measurable shrinkage in some parts of the brain also occurs five years before symptoms.
The research essentially has presented a timeline of brain changes leading up to memory loss and cognitive decline and has helped lead scientists to decide when and where to aim drugs.
A promising target is beta amyloid. Many researchers believe that flaws in how the sticky substance is accumulated and disposed of in the brain can lead to the disease.
Scientists are studying two drugs aimed at attacking beta amyloid, with the equally unpronounceable names of Gantenerumab and Solanezumab. Both are antibodies that bind to the beta amyloid and help remove it from the brain.
Another encouraging finding, the researchers say, is that early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s seem to share many characteristics, and findings that help with one disease are likely to help with the other.
Neither of the Kitchen brothers is participating in the research. Both are in precipitous decline.
As John’s symptom’s worsened, Michelle Lopez invited him to move back in with her and their son, Reese, who is 14.
John, now 43, can still hold a conversation, but he struggles to find the right words. He gets frustrated at his inability to do simple tasks, like write his own name. He feels he is losing control of his life and worries about his family. “I want to be around for my son,” he said.
Lopez said she’s happy to have him back home. She is still “praying for a miracle.”
The changes have been hard to watch — and not just for her. Within a week after John moved back into the house, Reese asked his mom, “Is that going to happen to me?”
“That was the worst day of my life,” Lopez said.
Reese said his dad forgets things easily. “It’s like very slowly he is fading away.”
Reese tries not to think too much about his dad’s disease or what the mutation could mean for his own life. Lopez said Reese will wait until he becomes an adult to decide whether or not to get tested. Right now, he just focuses on school and helping his mom and dad.
John takes one medication, donepezil, used in many later onset Alzheimer’s patients to improve cognition and behavior. The neurologist recently told them it may only prolong cognitive abilities a month longer. “That was disheartening to hear,” Lopez said.
In December 2015, relatives realized Jay Kitchen could no longer live on his own. They arranged for him to rent a room from a friend. But soon after, he couldn’t figure out how to open a door and climbed, barefoot, out of the window.
He told relatives people were trying to kill him. Alarmed by the paranoia, the family took him to the emergency room. The family decided to place him in a nursing home but he scaled a fence and left without telling anyone.
“We were flabbergasted,” said his aunt, Linda Ramos. “We don’t know what to anticipate — is it all downhill from here? It all seems incredibly quick.”
Now, Jay Kitchen is in a locked facility. He recognizes family only occasionally and regularly misplaces his belongings. He can no longer speak in complete sentences and has trouble getting dressed.
“We get a glimmer of hope, but then we think we are foolish for even hoping,” Ramos said. “This is just devastating. It’s a horrible disease.”
Navarro’s 19-year-old daughter, Lizeth, and her 22-year-old son, Ricardo, live with her in a three-bedroom trailer in La Habra. They depend heavily on her, emotionally and financially.
Both say their mom has started forgetting little things — the movie they saw last week or what they need from the grocery store. “I usually have to say things more than once,” said Lizeth Navarro.
Lizeth, a chemical engineering major, decided to attend college nearby partly just to keep an eye on her mother. She hasn’t decided whether to get tested for the mutation herself. But her brother said he won’t.
“I would rather live my life not knowing,” said Ricardo Navarro, who is studying broadcast journalism at the California State University, Fullerton. “What is the point of living my life if I know I am going to die in my 40s or 50s?”
Their mother, meanwhile, works in customer service. She doesn’t make a point of telling employers about her condition. At a recent temp job, she had trouble focusing and remembering some of the things her trainers taught her. She didn’t get hired on permanently.
Navarro tries to focus on her family rather than the disease. “I can’t let it overcome me,” she said.
She puts a lot of hope in a drug trial out of Washington University. Each month, a nurse visits her in La Habra and injects a medication, which she’s pretty sure is not a placebo.
“I have to have faith in the drug,” she said. “That’s my only solution for now.”
She didn’t finish her thought.
By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
Photos by Heidi de Marco
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. KHN’s coverage in California is funded in part by Blue Shield of California Foundation. This story was also shared by NPR.]]>
It’s not in your head — in fact, that nagging, office-related pain can slow you down even when you’re away from work. Poor workplace posture and repetitive movements lead to musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries and epicondylitis — elbow and muscle strain on the lower back. Many of these conditions can be prevented, or the pain can be reduced, with ergonomic corrections.
Your best bet is to consult an ergonomic expert to work out the kinks in your workday habits.
It’s the law for workers to have safe and healthful environments in which to work. To make sure they comply, companies often have an expert on site who can evaluate your current working situation and make recommendations to improve your wellbeing.
Additionally, government resources are available through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA). OSHA provides detailed information about musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace and has trained professional who can “fit the workplace to the worker” by finding solutions to reduce and eliminate pain.
A third option is to consult with a physical therapist who can identify the factors that led to your injury. A physical therapist will develop a treatment plan that helps you build strength and reduce pain.
In a typical office evaluation, the consultant will evaluate your chair, desk, keyboard, mouse, monitor, and lighting to help you find the optimal working position.
The following are common ergonomic adjustments that can help you work smarter and pain-free:
A poor ergonomic position can lead to chronic injury and pain and result in missed work. If you are experiencing neck or back pain and numbness and tingling from nerve strain, don’t wait. Make an appointment with your physical therapist.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and in search of a physical therapist, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.
By Heidi Tyline King]]>
For centuries depriving prisoners of sleep has been a torture tactic used during wartime. When a person experiences acute sleep deprivation, they become disoriented, confused, open to persuasion, and unable to think or function normally. Are you inadvertently torturing yourself by skipping the appropriate amount of shuteye? Probably.
The amount of sleep necessary for individuals varies, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 7 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep for adults. Teens need 9 to 10 hours, school-aged children need at least 10 hours and newborns need a whopping 16 to 18 hours a day.
There is an emphasis on uninterrupted sleep because your circadian system — your 24-hour internal clock — keeps your entire body on track. Getting out of a normal rhythm causes multiple side effects that can significantly impact all aspects of your health.
“Our bodies benefit from good rest and sleep,” said Raj Dasgupta, MD, pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine expert at Keck Medicine of USC. “I actually think of sleep as necessary, like breathing, eating, and drinking.”
Still not convinced that sleep deprivation may affect your health? Consider these scientifically proven side effects:
It’s a fact: more than any other factor, healthful sleep can increase longevity — more than diet, exercise, or genes. Likewise, a chronic lack of sleep is linked to serious health problems such as heart disease, hypertension, depression, obesity, stroke, depressed immunity and diabetes — all of which can increase the risk of death.
Studies link the lack of sleep and fatigue to an increase in traffic accidents. One study found that 16 to 20 percent of serious highway accidents in the UK, Australia, and Brazil were linked to driver fatigue. A lack of sleep lowers your cognitive performance, which makes it harder to drive with the alertness and reaction skills needed to avoid accidents.
When you aren’t rested, you can’t perform at peak levels. Studies show that the lack of sleep decreases concentration and impairs cognitive and motor performance. Consequently, when someone is sleep-deprived, the risk of a work-related injury increases.
If death and injury aren’t enough to persuade you, perhaps the thought of gaining weight will get you in bed on time. A lack of sleep is linked to obesity and weight gain. It’s a known fact that sleep deprivation increases craving for high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods and weakens your willpower to choose healthy alternative foods.
There is truth in the saying that we need our beauty sleep. Studies show that sleep disorders not only make you grouchy and unable to function normally, but they can make you age prematurely. That’s because a disruption in sleep can negatively affect your skin health. Signs of aging increase, such puffiness around the eyes, dark circles, and droopy corners of your mouth. A lack of sleep has causes fine lines around your eyes, uneven pigment and reduced skin elasticity.
The good news? Participants in the study recovered quickly when they were allowed to sleep the needed amount of time.
Not enough sleep is killing your sex drive. It’s no surprise that sleep-deprived men and women are less interested in sex when they are exhausted. Depleted energy, lower testosterone levels, and sleepiness are to blame. Researchers found that adequate sleep increased arousal and interest in sex.
The USC Sleep Disorders Center of Keck Medicine of USC offers comprehensive outpatient and inpatient sleep disorder evaluations. Schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment
By Heidi Tyline King]]>
Runny nose, sore throat, aches and congestion are the all too familiar symptoms of the common cold. You’ve tried chicken soup, decongestant pills and tea with honey, but your cold symptoms still stubbornly persist. Then someone helpfully tells you to try zinc. Should you? Here’s everything you need to know.
Zinc is a mineral your body needs in order for your immune system to function properly, among other things. It’s found naturally in proteins, including red meat, chicken, oysters, beans and nuts.
Some studies (including one published in the Journal of American Pharmacists Association and one in the Oxford Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases) have shown that zinc prevents the rhinovirus (the virus that’s responsible for the common cold) by strengthening your nasal passages. If you take zinc lozenges or syrup at the onset of your cold symptoms every two to four hours, you may be able to cut your cold short by one day.
While your cold may be shorter, that sniffling and sneezing won’t improve in the interim. Plus, some people complain they don’t like the taste of zinc (described as metallic), it can make you nauseous and it may also reduce the effectiveness of any antibiotics or diuretics you may take, cautions the National Institutes of Health.
The coating that a zinc lozenge or syrup leaves on your tongue and throat may actually be part of what makes it effective; that’s how it comes into physical contact with the rhinovirus. As for that nasal spray, it may make you lose your sense of smell, potentially permanently, which is reason alone not to use it. The United States Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about these products in 2009.
If you’re able to start taking zinc at the very first signs of your cold and it doesn’t upset your stomach, it’s likely safe for you to use it as a preventative measure. If you have any concerns, reach out to your doctor.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top physicians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting http://www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.]]>
Foot pain can affect your daily routine and even cause medical conditions, but often your achy feet can be alleviated with something as simple as shoe inserts.
Do you need shoe inserts? If you have any of the following, the answer is probably yes:
Over-the-Counter inserts provide extra cushion and additional arch support. They also help you distribute weight on your feet more evenly. These inserts are mass-produced and can be chosen according to shoe size.
Custom inserts are available from your orthopaedic doctor. According to Eric W. Tan, MD and assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC, custom-designed shoe inserts prevent and correct deformities.
“An orthopaedic doctor provides insight into what specific behavior is behind your issue, then makes suggests to resolve the problem,” said Dr. Tan. This can include shoe inserts designed to correct your specific foot issue.
The USC Foot and Ankle Center at Keck Medicine of USC treats common and complex foot and ankle problems with customized individual treatment and rehabilitation plans.
Each patient has a care team composed of physicians, surgeons, physiatrists, physical therapists and orthoptists. All have different areas of expertise but one common goal – to help patients continue to put their best foot forward.
If you suffer from foot or heel pain, make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist. To learn more about USC Orthopaedic Surgery, visit ortho.keckmedicine.org.
To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://ortho.keckmedicine.org/patient-information/request-an-appointment
By Heidi Tyline King]]>
“After I was told that I had major kidney damage and needed a transplant, I had three matches on my donor list,” recalls the 61-old-retiree and former construction inspector. “Then, my youngest son told me that he would be happy to give me his kidney. So, they called my son, and he started doing the tests. I was worried about him. He is a young guy and starting a new life.”
Francisco Ramirez, a well-liked El Monte police officer, didn’t hesitate when he learned that his dad was in need of a donor.
“I was really happy that I could help him out,” Francisco says. “My whole family was very worried about his health. When your father’s life and well-being are concerned, you’ll do anything to help him get better.”
Tomas first realized that he needed to seek professional medical help in 2010, when he vomited blood one morning. He’d been battling diabetes and taking medication for his dangerously high blood pressure. After he visited a specialist, he was told that he needed to be on dialysis because his kidneys were heavily damaged. That’s when he also signed up to be a kidney recipient at the USC Transplant Institute of Keck Medicine of USC.
“Tomas was limited in what he was able to do because of his commitment to be on dialysis,” recalls Yasir A. Qazi, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine, and medical director of the kidney-pancreas transplant program at Keck Medicine of USC. “Getting that kidney transplant from his son gave him his independence back and gave him the opportunity to do what he couldn’t do on dialysis.”
The operation was performed by Sophoclis P. Alexopoulos, MD and Hamid Shidban, MD and medically directed by Yasir A. Qazi, MD of the kidney-pancreas transplant program at Keck Medicine of USC. It went smoothly, and Tomas was sent home after spending three days at the hospital. He says he will always be grateful to his team of doctors and all of the nurses who took excellent care of him and his son during the surgery and the recovery period.
“They were always there to help me with my concerns about the surgery and any worries I had after the operation,” Tomas notes. “They checked in and were concerned about my diet and meds in the months following the surgery.”
He has visited the hospital many times since his surgery, and each time, he is amazed at how the staff remembers him.
“I was gone for six months, and when I came back, everybody remembered me,” Tomas says. “Everybody calls me by my name and they ask me how my son is doing. They make me feel great.”
Since the surgery, his kidney function and diabetes have improved, his blood pressure is close to normal, and he has an enthusiastic new outlook on life.
I wish I could be as healthy as my son,” Tomas exclaimed. “I want my kidney to last. The doctors told me that if I take good care of my kidney, it could last more than 20 years. I want it to last!”
Francisco has been in perfect health since he donated his kidney to his dad. He continues to exercise regularly, runs marathons and graduated with a Masters degree from Azusa Pacific University. Meanwhile, his dad keeps busy doing some gardening and is trying to lose more weight by sticking to a healthier diet.
Dr. Qazi says Tomas will hopefully have many more years ahead of him thanks to his son’s generous act as long as Tomas continues to have a healthy lifestyle managing his diabetes. “It really altered his life… Everyday, you turn on the news, and you see something bad happening,” he points out. “But here at the hospital, we see people’s lives being saved because of organ donations. It’s the ultimate act of unselfishness that one person can do for his fellow human being.”
By Ramin Zahed]]>