Energy drinks: Is the jolt worth the risk?


Energy drinks and energy shots: They're enjoying a bull market. They make up the fastest growing segment of the beverage industry, thanks largely to teens and young adults. But even as they've won over the young, these drinks are raising red flags in the medical community. Here's what you need to know before you—or your kids—reach for one of these drinks. What's in them? Energy drinks (and energy shots) are nonalcoholic beverages that contain stimulants, most notably caffeine. Other ingredients that often make the list: vitamins, herbal supplements and sweeteners. When cocoa, guarana, kola nut and yerba mate are added, they contribute something manufacturers don't have to list: more caffeine. This means there might be more caffeine … [Continue reading...]

Early Detection is Key to Preventing, Treating Colorectal Cancer


By Paul Hackett, MD, independently practicing colorectal surgeon at Methodist Charlton Medical Center As a colorectal surgeon, I’m often asked, “Is colon screening really necessary?” In truth, most people would rather avoid both the procedure and the topic. But while this is a subject that can be uncomfortable to discuss, not giving attention to this area of our lives can carry grave and unwanted consequences. Why is colon health and screening so important? Of the cancers that affect men and women both, colon and rectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. There are no reliable signs or symptoms of colon or rectal cancer. Once a patient develops symptoms, the cancer is usually in advanced stages … [Continue reading...]

Clock Ticking on Deadline to Get Covered


If you haven’t yet enrolled for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the good news is you still have time. The bad news is you don’t have much. The individual health insurance open enrollment period for 2014 is scheduled to end on March 31. That means if you haven’t already enrolled, you have less than two weeks to obtain coverage for yourself and your dependents. If you don’t have coverage by the March 31 deadline, you may have to pay a penalty to the IRS. To help you avoid a penalty and get covered, Methodist Health System and area organizations are offering community events and enrollment locations to help you sign up before the deadline. When you go to enroll, make sure you bring the following: Proof of U.S. … [Continue reading...]

Medication mingling: The dangers of food-drug interactions


For many people, a balanced diet along with medication is necessary to maintain good health. To make sure you get the best results from the medications you take, take note of the various ways the foods you eat can affect your medication. For example, when certain foods are taken with or around the same time a medication is taken, they can increase or decrease the effect the medication has on the body — or cause a new effect altogether. Here are a few foods that commonly interact with medications.     Grapefruit Grapefruit affects the way the liver processes medications, resulting in lower- or higher-than-normal levels of those medications in the blood. Examples of these medications are cholesterol-lowering statins, … [Continue reading...]

The power of positive relationships


There’s no question that our relationships play a significant role in our lives. Research shows that they play an important role in our health, as well. When we have positive relationships — strong marriages, close friendships, tight families, even appreciative employers — our bodies will benefit. Here are just a few ways: Less stress – Positive relationships can improve your emotional state of mind. Not only do they reduce production of stress hormones, but conversely, some research suggests that they also increase production of the “happiness hormone,” or serotonin, which can help with depression. Heart help – “Being married could be a protective factor when it comes to cardiovascular health,” says Cheryl Vera-Burkhalter, MD, … [Continue reading...]

Am I having a heart attack? Knowing the signs can save your life


You’ve just finished a big meal when — WHAM — it hits you. You feel a sudden burning and pressure in your chest that you believe to be a bad case of indigestion. You might be right, or it could be something much more serious. You could be having a heart attack. Most of us know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Some may even know that 600,000 people die from heart disease each year. But when it comes to heart attacks, only 27 percent could list all the major symptoms. “Most people know that chest pain is a sign of a heart attack,” says Jeff Butterfield, MD, emergency medicine physician on the staff of Methodist Charlton Medical Center. “But not all heart attacks are sudden and intense … [Continue reading...]

Norovirus: Nature’s Nasty Little Bug


From a local high school to the high seas, norovirus is raising eyebrows and turning stomachs both near and far. But what is norovirus? And more important, what’s the best protection against this microscopic marauder? Ed Dominguez, MD, infectious disease physician on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, says norovirus isn’t new — it made its debut in 1968 as “Norwalk virus” because the first known outbreak occurred in Norwalk, Ohio. Originally referred to as “the winter vomiting virus,” the name would later be changed to norovirus, which encompasses a group of related viruses. So what makes norovirus so menacing? Dr. Dominguez points to two characteristics: It is resilient and extremely contagious. “Norovirus is … [Continue reading...]

Standing, bending, or twisting, we put our backs to work each day


By Angel Biasatti Director Community and Public Relations Methodist Mansfield Medical Center  Standing, bending, or twisting, we put our backs to work each day. It’s no wonder that at some point in our lives about 80 percent of adults report having back pain due to strained muscles or ligaments. There are several ways to prevent back pain and keep the back strong, says C. Benjamin Newman, MD, an independently practicing neurosurgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.  “Walking is perhaps the best exercise for the majority of my patients to help achieve and maintain a healthy spine. It is low impact and not only strengthens the core muscles, such as the abdominals, spinal erectors, and gluteals, but also … [Continue reading...]

How to Achieve Your Exercise Resolutions in 2014


2013 has come and gone and a new year has begun. About 45 percent of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, and an estimated 38 percent of those are related to weight loss. Is your New Year’s resolution to lose weight or be healthier? If so, a foundation of fitness is key to your success. Regular exercise is a major component of a healthy lifestyle. Whether you exercised every day in 2013  or you’ve never been able to commit to a routine, this guide aims to help you achieve your New Year’s fitness resolutions. Carrie Camin, Methodist Health System assistant vice president of wellness, offers some tips for getting started, increasing intensity and adding variety to your workout. How much exercise do I need? The … [Continue reading...]

Aneurysm: Silent Danger


When the wall of a blood vessel or cardiac chamber gets weak, it can begin to swell and bulge like a balloon. This swelling is known as aneurysm. If not treated properly, an aneurysm can rupture, causing severe bleeding (hemorrhage), or sudden death. There are two main types of aneurysms: aortic aneurysm (in the aorta) and cerebral aneurysm (in the brain). Aneurysms can affect people of any age or gender, but are most common in men over age 65. An aneurysm is not something to take lightly, yet in many cases an aneurysm can go undetected, leaving the individual vulnerable to serious health complications or death. Is it possible to know the symptoms of an aneurysm before it’s too late? If aneurysms commonly go undetected, how can … [Continue reading...]