Knowing Your Options When You’re Diagnosed

doctor with patientThe time of diagnosis can be a terrifying one. As a cardiothoracic surgeon, I’ve had to deliver diagnoses that I know will change a person’s life forever. Some will need to change their lifestyle, others will need drastic surgery, and still others may face imminent death. But what I’ve always loved about being a physician is that patient care is rarely the same even in cases where the diagnosis is identical. One patient might decide to go for medications while another goes vegan. One patient might elect for surgery while another decides to get their affairs in order and pass away surrounded by loved ones.

It’s for that reason that I think Angelina Jolie’s recent article on her ovary removal is so powerful and so important for all of us to hear. Read more  »

Prepping Yourself for Spring Allergy Season

sick woman allergies sneeze tissueThe weather is changing for the better outside, but not everyone is pleased. If you’re like millions of other Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, the warming weather also signals the coming of pollen season along with itchy eyes and a running nose. To help you get a jump on your seasonal allergies, I’ve put together a few pieces of information that I think will be helpful in getting you well prepared.

Where do seasonal allergies come from?

Our body’s immune system has a variety of different cell types to combat various invaders. The cells that trigger allergies are mast cells and basophils and they’re supposed to fight foreign invaders that can infect our bodies. In the case of allergies, these cells get tricked into thinking that pollen found in the air is a foreign invader. They respond by releasing a variety of inflammatory compounds to fight off the pollen, which leads to the itchy eyes and runny nose that you get during seasonal allergies. Read more  »

Why Checking Your Colon Could Save Your Life

488264177When I talk to audience members, a lot of them comment on the props we use on the show and the sometime “gross” topics we talk about together. No doubt you’ve seen a fan or two climb through a rarely discussed body part to illustrate how disease can affect that body part and why you should pay attention to it. That’s often been the case for colon health and I even went so far as to get a colonoscopy on television to show you how that it’s a straightforward procedure you shouldn’t be afraid of.

In spite of all those efforts, one in three adults still don’t get the lifesaving screening they need, and more than 50,000 people died from the disease last year alone. On top of that, many people are missing out on some of the things they could be doing to lower their risk overall. Since it’s Colon Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to spend a few moments talking about what colon cancer is, how you can lower your risk and who needs to get screened. Read more  »

Getting Ready to Spring Forward

woman-sunset-arms-upWhile the weather hasn’t been that great in New York as of late, hints of spring are already upon us. The weather is starting to warm up and daylight savings time is about to give us all an extra hour of sunlight in the evening. Here’s how to get a head start on that spring forward by prepping yourself for the warming weather.

Revisit Those New Year’s Goals

It might be painful to pull out that list of what you hoped to achieve this year, but the beginning of spring is a good time to look at those goals you set to see how you’ve been doing. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Chances are good some of your goals will look overly ambitious with two months of hindsight. Reassess those goals and use your experience so far to shape them into something to reach for that’s still achievable. If you’ve fallen off of the bandwagon entirely, take this as an opportunity to get back on and try again. Try and find an accountability partner who will help keep you on track and also give you encouragement when you hit your milestones. Read more  »

Why Eating Disorders Are Concerning No Matter Who You Are

woman-on-scaleOver the years that I’ve been doing the show, I’ve had a number of guests who have come to bravely share their struggles with eating disorders. I’ve always been struck by how consuming and devastating these illnesses are. Those who suffer from them often struggle with them for decades and, in tragic cases, may die from the illness.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I wanted to take some time to talk about eating disorders. I think addressing the topic is important not just because these illnesses are so damaging, but also because many people have a distorted sense of who is at risk for developing an eating disorder. Read more  »

Developing a New Understanding of Obesity

Doctor with Stethoscope Holding Red Measuring Tape.Many patients come through my office that are overweight or obese trying to drop weight to lower their risk of heart disease. For the most part, they’ve seemingly tried everything. Following the traditional advice, they try to cut back on their calories and up their exercise. They’ve tried increasing protein, cutting out bread, juicing everything they eat and everything in between. I see them at their most desperate, close to disease, knowing that their weight is a problem and yet seemingly unable to lose their extra pounds.

A number of research studies have come out recently examining where obesity comes from and why people become obese. They’re emphasizing what most physicians are only now beginning to acknowledge: that gaining weight and losing weight isn’t just about calories in and calories out. Obesity is the result of a complex list of changes that happen in the body, some of which we have little control over. But don’t feel like your weight is written in stone. There are some steps you can take whatever your weight to get your health back on track and some new possibilities on the horizon that might completely change the weight loss game. Read more  »

Keeping Your Heart Healthy at Every Age

womenshearthealth

If you’ve been watching the show, you’ve heard me talking a lot about heart health lately. That’s because this month is American Heart Month, with the goal of raising awareness about America’s number-one killer. As a cardiothoracic surgeon, I’ve been up close and personal with the damaging and too-often deadly effects of heart disease. I wanted to take a moment to talk about who is at risk and the easy steps you can take to safeguard your heart.

Am I at risk?

Heart disease affects people from all backgrounds. While most people have heard that older men are at high risk, heart disease is also the number-one killer of older women as well. In fact, many lifestyle factors play a key role in developing heart disease. Here are some of the signs that you might be at risk. Read more  »

Understanding the Measles Outbreak

sick baby thermometer feverAs you’ve probably heard by now, an outbreak of the measles virus has spread to more than 120 people. Last year, measles cases hit 644 in 23 separate outbreaks across the country. What’s so shocking about these numbers is that they add up to more cases than all of those seen in the five years before. So what’s going on? What is measles and why are we hearing about it? Here are some of my thoughts on the most recent outbreak.

What is the measles?

Over the last week, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about measles, so I want to get the facts straight. Measles is an extremely contagious virus spread through the air from those who are infected. Symptoms include fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, inflamed eyes and a blotchy red skin rash. It used to be a common disease that killed thousands of people, mostly children, but vaccination largely eliminated it from the U.S. population. There are still a few cases every year, but nowhere near the hundreds of thousands that we used to see. It’s because measles is so easily prevented with a vaccine, called the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine for the three viruses it protects against, that the news has quickly turned to a conversation about vaccination. Read more  »

Introducing Total Choice: The Easiest Way to Lose Weight

woman reading computer coookingIf you’re like the millions of other Americans who have tried The Total 10 Rapid Weight-Loss Plan, you’re probably about to start February at least a few pounds of lighter than you were at the beginning of January. That’s great news for your health. Study after study has shown that even small amounts of weight loss can lower your risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

But I don’t want those gains to stop. The Total 10 Rapid Weight-Loss Plan showed you that you could lose weight. Now we’ve developed a plan that will pick up where The Total 10 left off. It’s called The Total Choice Plan, and it’s designed to help you continue to lose weight and maintain the losses you’ve already seen this year. I want to take some time to explain how The Total Choice Plan works. Read more  »

Making It Past the Mid-January Lag

alarm clockWe’ve made it past the third week of 2015 and I’ve already been floored by some of the results I’ve seen from friends and family on New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve also seen some success, good work. But this week I want to talk about how to get yourself through the next phase of keeping your resolutions, something I like to call the mid-January lag.

You might have started to feel it creep up on you. The first two weeks of change were easier than you thought and made you feel good about your choices for the new year. But fatigue starts to grow. Going to the gym just makes you feel tired, putting on your running shoes has become a chore, and the new healthy meals you’ve been making are starting to lose their appeal. Read more  »