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Heart Health And How You Can Improve It

Heart Health And How You Can Improve It
Heart Health And How You Can Improve It

Heart-related diseases or cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are still the number one killer of men and women in the world. According to recent estimates, more than 18 million people lose their lives due to CVDs each year. In Australia, 1 in 5 adults (22%) of the population are diagnosed with CVD every year. It is expected that by 2030 more than 23 million people living in different parts of the world will die from cardiovascular diseases.  

The good news is that most of these heart diseases or CVDs can be prevented easily by making healthy lifestyle choices. Most of these choices revolve around minimising or completely eliminating the risk factors that increase your chance of developing CVD (heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and arrhythmia). Controlling the risk factors can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing any heart-related complications.

To understand how you can improve health of your heart, it is important to first have a good understanding of the risks factors that increase your chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

Risk Factors Associated with CVDs

There is no single thing that causes cardiovascular diseases; in fact, there are “risk factors” that increase your chances of developing CVDs. Some of the risk factors are:

  • having high blood pressure
  • having a high cholesterol level
  • having insomnia (lack of sleep)
  • having diabetes
  • having depression
  • being overweight
  • being physically inactive
  • heavy alcohol use
  • smoking

How to Improve Your Heart Health

Here are a few practical yet simple steps you can take at your end that will surely get you on the road to a healthier heart and better health in general.

Say Goodbye to Smoking

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Smoking is one of the major risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the body to produce a hormone called “adrenaline” which makes the heart beat faster and raises the blood pressure. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the heart, this damages the artery walls. Other chemicals present in cigarettes damage the lining of the arteries and make the blood more likely to clot. All of these things increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, angina, and peripheral arterial disease.

Saying goodbye to smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your heart health.

Be Physically Active

Regular physical activity is good not only for your heart but also for your general wellbeing. People who are physically active have healthier bodies and minds than those who are not physically active. Regular physical activity helps to:

  • build healthy muscles, bones, and joints
  • improves cholesterol levels
  • reduces the risk of diabetes
  • improves mood and helps you sleep better
  • decreases the risk of heart diseases
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improve body composition (body-mass-index ratio)

Moderate intensity rhythmic (aerobic) exercises such as cycling, brisk walking, and swimming are considered to be ideal for a healthy heart. Make physical activity part of your daily routine and aim to do at least 150 minutes of different aerobic exercises in a week to keep your heart in good shape.

Achieve & Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

medical centre southbank

If you are obese or overweight, you are at a higher risk of facing serious health problems like heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, diabetes, asthma or other breathing problems. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight goes a long way in keeping your heart healthy.

You need to first examine your daily eating habit and make sure you are not eating more calories than your body is able to burn, these extra calories actually result in weight gain. By eating the right portion sizes and cutting down on sugar and fats, you can dramatically reduce your waist size. Increasing your physical activity can help you burn the extra calories, and keep your body weight in check.

Eat Heart-Healthy Diet

Good nutrition plays a big role in keeping your heart healthy. By making smart food choices, you can significantly reduce your risk of CVDs. A heart-healthy diet helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol level, and your waistline. According to experts, here is what constitutes a heart-healthy diet:

  • more portions of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and plain unsalted nuts
  • un-refined whole grains and cereals such as oatmeal, brown rice, pasta, bread, and noodles
  • moderate amounts of lean unprocessed meats, reduced dairy products, and skinless chicken
  • oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, herring and lake trout (at least twice a week)
  • low fat or fat-free milk and dairy products
  • plant-based oils, such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil
  • limited or no use of salt

The exact composition of the heart-healthy diet will ultimately depend on individual characteristics such as your age, gender, physical and mental health, lifestyle, the degree of physical activity, availability of food items in your area, and dietary customs.

Keep your Stress Levels under Control

blood pressure checks

There is a strong link between stress and heart health. Studies have shown that people who are under constant stress or do not have quality social support are at a greater risk of developing CVDs. Constant stress can also lead to the adoption of unhealthy habits such as smoking, use of drugs, and excessive use of alcohol, all of which increase the risk of heart diseases.

It is, therefore, very important to learn how to relax and effectively deal with stress. Here are some simple tips you can follow to tackle day-to-day stress:

  • identify situations/activities that make you feel stressed and try to avoid them, if possible
  • be realistic about your expectations/goals and do not try to push things to the limit to satisfy your end goals
  • make sure to keep yourself active by engaging yourself in activities that you like
  • try relaxation techniques or join meditation/yoga classes
  • be socially active and share your feelings with your loved ones

It is never too late to make changes in your life and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Whatever your age, race, sex or medical condition, you can always make these adjustments in your life to protect your heart and your overall health.

Southbank Medical Centre
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Skin Cancer Moles | Mole Checks & Treatments

skin cancer moles
skin cancer moles

Moles, medically referred to as “melanocytic nevi” are pink, brown, or tan colored raised or flat skin lesions of cells that produce “melanin” – the pigment that gives human skin its color. Presence of moles on the skin is not unusual. On average, most people have 10-40 moles on different parts of their skin. They may be present at birth (congenital melanocytic nevi) or may develop in the later parts of life (usually adulthood) as a response to external stimuli (sunlight or UV light), these moles are referred to as acquired melanocytic nevi. Although genetics play an important role in determining the pattern and frequency of skin moles, exposure to sunlight and UV light can also cause you to have more moles and make the ones you already have larger and darker. So, how can you differentiate between a normal skin mole from a skin cancer mole?

While a skincare specialist (dermatologist) is the ideal person to tell the difference between a normal mole and an abnormal one, there are few simple things you can do at home to identify a troublesome mole/blemish/freckle.

Skin Cancer Mole Check

Moles come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Most of them are usually harmless and do not change, there are some that can grow, change in shape and color and even become cancerous (melanoma). Melanomas can develop from existing moles or they can appear as “new mole-like marks” on the normal skin. The good news is that moles that are considered unusual or “atypical” affect only 10% of the population and only 1 in 10,000 people will have a cancerous mole. With early diagnosis and detection, most melanoma cases can be successfully treated.

While a detailed exam by an experienced Dermatologist is the best way to determine if a mole is cancerous or not, there are a few specific things you can do on your own to spot changes or identify any potential cancerous growth. The ABCDEs of moles can help you analyze moles and check for warning signs that may indicate melanoma.  If you see one or more signs, you need to consult your dermatologist immediately.

  • Asymmetry – if the two halves of the mole may differ in appearance
  • Border – if the outside edges or border of the mole is uneven, distorted, or ill-defined
  • Color – if the color of the mole is changing and not consistent or if  you see different colors of dark black, blue, red, purple, pink, or brown within the mole
  • Diameter – if the diameter of a mole is larger than the diameter of the eraser found on the backend of pencil
  • Evolution – if you notice any changes in color, size, shape, or thickness and if this change is rapid or different than you notice in other moles

The ABCDE formula is just a handy tool to watch for general signs, not all skin cancer moles have these traits. Some might be growing quickly but not have other characteristics, while others may not be growing but show discoloration and asymmetry. Your dermatologist will be able to come to a better conclusion after performing a careful history and physical examination and conducting some additional tests such as a biopsy.  

The Treatment Options

The treatment for skin cancer moles depends on a number of factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, the size, location and depth of the melanoma, and your overall health. Surgical removal of the cancerous mole is the most preferred treatment option. A team of specialists including a dermatologist, a pathologist, a plastic surgeon, an oncologist, and a specialist nurse usually participates in these surgeries. In order to make sure that no traces of active cancer cells are left behind, the surgeon may remove a normal margin of the tissue surrounding the mole. If the team of doctors finds that a melanoma has spread beyond the skin, other treatment options may be used, such as:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Biological Therapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Knowing your risk factors and being aware of the early warning signs is the best way to deal with skin cancer moles. If you note any changes in the color, size, shape or appearance of your skin moles, don’t wait – consult your dermatologist as soon as possible.

Southbank Medical Centre
Skin Cancer Moles
Doctor Melbourne

Prostate Cancer | What Tests are Available For Detection

prostate cancer

Who Is More at Risk, Why Don’t We Have a Screening Program For All Men, How Is It Diagnosed, What Treatments are Available

prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland located under the bladder and surrounding the urethra. The gland is part of the male reproductive system and is mainly responsible for the production of semen – the fluid that carries the sperm.

The formation of a tumor (abnormal, malignant cell growth) is referred to as prostate cancer. Sometimes the abnormal uncontrolled cell growth does not remain confined and may start to spread.

Prostate Cancer is generally a slowly progressing disease; the majority of men do not experience any marked symptoms and live with it for the rest of their lives without it spreading to other parts of the body and becoming life-threatening. However, high-grade cancer can spread very quickly and can prove to be fatal, therefore early diagnosis and management is the key to survival.

What Tests are Available for Detection of Prostate Cancer?

It is often very hard to detect since it normally grows very slowly and does not cause any other health problems. Moreover, some of the tests (such as PSA used for early screening of prostate cancer) may not yield accurate results and can prove to be misleading. This can lead to unnecessary treatment which can result in nasty side effects.

The most commonly used tests for detection are PSA blood test and digital rectal examination. However, both of these test do not diagnose, they are only helpful for detecting changes in the prostate gland.

  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test

PSA is actually a protein made by the prostate cells as well as by cancerous cells. In order to measure the levels of PSA, a blood test is used. If the results of the blood test are above the normal range for your age or if they are rising rapidly, this may indicate the possibility of cancer. A high PSA level does not necessarily mean cancer since other prostate diseases can also raise the PSA levels in the blood.

  • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)

Although not recommended as a routine test for men with no symptoms, the DRE is used to check the size, shape, and any abnormalities. DRE can be uncomfortable for some patients, but it is rarely painful. The examiner inserts a gloved lubricated finger into the rectum to probe any abnormalities. Presence of abnormalities does not always indicate prostate cancer, similarly, the absence of any abnormalities also does not rule out the chances of prostate cancer.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan

A specialised type of MRI is used for men suspected of having prostate cancer; it is called the mpMRI or multi-parametric MRI scan. The mpMRI combines the results of three MRI scans to show a clearer image of the abnormal areas. The mpMRI scan is usually recommended to help work out if a biopsy is needed and on which area to perform a biopsy (if needed). The mpMRI scan is also used to find out whether cancer has spread from the prostate to other nearby areas.

  • Biopsy

If the results of the above tests indicate the presence of abnormalities in the prostate, a biopsy is performed. Small amounts of tissues from different parts of the prostate are taken using a specialised needle. These samples are then examined by an expert pathologist to see if cancer cells are present or not.

Who Is More at Risk?

While it is still unclear what causes prostate cancer, your risk of developing prostate cancer can increase because of the following risk factors:

  • Age – prostate cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men aged 60-79 and is very rare among men under 45.
  • Genetics – a person has a higher risk of developing prostate cancer if his brother or father had it. Certain ethnic groups are at a higher risk because of their genetic makeup. In the US it is 60% more common and deadly among black men than white or non-Hispanic men.
  • Geographical Location – people living in North America, the Caribbean Islands, Australia, and northwestern Europe are at an increased risk for reasons unknown.
  • Diet – a diet rich in high-fat products or red meat is linked with increased risk of developing prostate cancer, but the links are weak and not confirmed yet.
  • Obesity – some studies link obesity to be one of the risk factors of prostate cancer, however, there is no clear-cut evidence linking the two.
  • Medication – use of certain medications such as NSAIDs is linked with the reduction of prostate cancer, while some studies suggest the use of NSAIDs to be a high-risk factor of death from this disease.

Why Don’t We Have a Screening Program for All Men?

Screening refers to testing a person for the early stages of cancer or any other disease before he/she starts to experience any symptoms. Screening for cancer patients is usually recommended if:

  • the results of the screening tests are reliable
  • the benefits would outweigh the risks
  • screening tests have good value for money

The simple answer to the question “why don’t we have a screening program for all men” for prostate cancer is that we do not yet have any reliable enough screening test to use. The most commonly used tests for detection of prostate cancer are PSA blood test and digital rectal examination. However, both of these results do not diagnose cancer, they are helpful only for finding out changes in the prostate gland. Moreover, some of the tests (such as PSA used for early screening of prostate cancer) may not yield accurate results and as mentioned before can prove to be misleading.

Prostate Cancer – What Treatments are Available

Depending on your age, health status, and the stage of prostate cancer, your doctor will develop an appropriate treatment plan for you. Since it is a slow progressing cancer, many patients do not experience any symptoms or long-term issues, so treatment is not necessary. Treatment options for men with prostate cancer might include:

  • Active Surveillance of Prostate Cancer
  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Rosacea | What You Need To Know About

rosacea
rosacea

For most people, red flushed skin on the face is a common reaction to emotional feelings such as shyness, anger, embarrassment, or excitement. Yet, for others, it is a manifestation of an all-too-common, non-contagious inflammatory skin condition – Rosacea.

Rosacea is quite a complex medical condition and is often confused with Acne, Eczema, or skin allergy. It is quite common in women (especially during menopause and people with fair skin. In Australia, 10% of the population struggles with Rosacea. More women get affected by this skin condition than men, although in men the symptoms are usually more severe. The first symptoms of Rosacea start to appear between the ages of 30 to 50 years and tend to worsen with the passage of time.

Rosacea is a common but often poorly understood chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease with significant medical, cosmetic, and psychological impact on the daily lives of millions of people.

What Is It?

Rosacea, medically referred to as “rosacea acne” is a non-contagious inflammatory skin disease characterised, alone or in combination, by symmetric flushing, inflammatory lesions (pustules and papules), central facial erythema (redness), stinging sensation, telangiectasias, and phymatous changes (nodules and tissue hyperplasia).

Frequent flushing or blushing that lasts for just a few minutes is commonly the first sign. Over time, permanent redness may develop on the face, and in more severe cases, it can also affect the neck and the chest.

How Do I Know If I have Rosacea?

Occasional flushes of redness on the cheeks aren’t anything to worry about but if you experience persistent facial redness coupled with a burning sensation and slight swelling, it is possible that you have rosacea. Here are some other important signs and symptoms to look for:

  • enlarged capillaries (telangiectasis)
  • small red lines under the skin which appear somewhat swollen, warm, and red
  • a permanent flush across cheeks and nose
  • burning or stinging sensation
  • small spots or lumps (which may later become painful) on the cheeks, chin, and forehead
  • inflamed eyes/eyelids
  • facial swelling
  • a swollen nose (in men it becomes red, larger, and bumpy)
  • thickening of the skin

While not all patients encounter all the symptoms and in the same severity, multiple symptoms can surface at once. If you encounter any or a combination of these symptoms, it is a good idea to look for triggers that aggravate the condition and cause the symptoms to worsen.

What Causes Rosacea?

Although the exact cause of rosacea is still unknown, many researchers believe that internal inflammation, heredity factors, lowered immune system, some bacteria, and dermodex mites (a microscopic creature that lives on everyone’s skin) are the major contributors.

Some of the factors (triggers) that can aggravate the condition and make the symptoms worse, include:

  • emotional stress
  • anxiety or anger
  • hormonal changes (due to menopause)
  • exposure to extreme weather conditions (hot or cold weather)
  • eating spicy food
  • drinking coffee and tea or other hot drinks
  • UV exposure
  • long term use of steroids
  • strenuous exercise
  • excessive alcohol consumption

Can Rosacea Be Cured?

It is important to note that rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can be controlled but not cured. The good news is that rosacea is generally responsive to treatment and with early diagnosis; most of the symptoms can be effectively treated and controlled.

The range of treatments available for rosacea are as diverse as the rosacea symptoms themselves, from topical applications to laser therapy or light treatment, your doctor (dermatologist) will be able to suggest the most suitable treatment plan for you.

Here are some of the treatment options for rosacea that your doctor (dermatologist) may suggest, depending on the type and severity of the symptoms:

  • Self-help Measure
    • taking good care of your skin
    • avoidance of known triggers
    • keeping the eyes/eyelids clean
    • using less makeup
  • Topical Treatments
    • Metronidazole
    • Azelaic Acid
    • Brimonidine Tartrate
    • Ivermectin
    • Tretinoin cream
    • Sodium sulfacetamide and sulfur
  • Oral Medications
    • antibiotics
    • Isotretinoin
  • Laser and Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Alternative Therapies

How Long It Takes To See Results?

Depending on the type and severity of symptoms and the type of treatment option used, the time to see results will vary from person to person. Most people will start noticing some improvement with 3-4 weeks and significant improvement in 2-3 months.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

polycystic ovarian syndrome

What Is It, Who Does It Affect, How Is It Diagnosed, How Is It Treated

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – What Is It?

polycystic ovarian syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder among teen girls and young women. As the term “polycystic” meaning “many cysts” suggests, it is a complex condition in which the ovaries become enlarged and contain multiple small-sized, fluid-filled cysts. It affects approximately 5-10% of women between the ages of 18-44 and is one of the leading causes of fertility problems with a potential to be a risk factor for type-2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, endometrial cancer, and heart diseases.

Signs and Symptoms of PCOS

Although PCOS is relatively common among infertile women, almost 70% of the women remain undiagnosed. Diagnosis of PCOS means the presence of polycystic ovaries and any one of the following three major symptoms:

  1. Irregular Menstrual Periods – irregular, infrequent, prolonged, or abnormally heavy periods are the most common symptoms of PCOS.
  2. Excess Androgen – elevated levels of “androgen” the “male hormones” which may result in excessive growth of hair in unwanted areas of the body such as the face, breasts, chin, or stomach.
  3. Polycystic Ovaries – the presence of enlarged ovaries containing many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) which surround the eggs. This may result in infertility problems, as the ovaries fail to function regularly.

If you experience any two of the above signs and symptoms, it is worth getting tested for this hormonal abnormality.

Causes of PCOS

The exact cause of PCOS is still not clear; experts, however, believe that PCOS results from a combination of health, genetics, environment and lifestyle factors, some of which are very complex in nature. Some of the factors that might play a part include:

  • high levels of insulin
  • high levels of androgens
  • low-grade inflammation
  • heredity

Who Does It Affect?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can happen at any stage after puberty and can affect women of all races, ethnicity, and color. Between 12%-18% of women of reproductive age (15-44 years) have polycystic ovarian syndrome. You are at a higher risk of PCOS, if you are overweight, or have PCOS in your family, such as your mother, sister, or aunt.  

How Is It Diagnosed?

There is no single test that can be used to diagnose PCOS definitively, healthcare professionals often rely on a number of tests/exams to come to a solid conclusion. Your doctor will start by assessing your symptoms first, followed by asking your medical history and checking you physically. After ruling out other possible medical conditions, he/she will then recommend following exams/tests to come to a conclusion:

  • Pelvic Exam – body parts such as vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum are checked for anything unusual. Your doctor may conduct a pelvic ultrasound to get a clear picture of these parts.
  • Physical Exam – your doctor will also conduct a complete physical examination of your body including checking your weight, BMI, body fat, extra hair growth, acne, and discolored skin.
  • Blood Tests – your doctor will finally conduct some blood tests to check for levels of male hormones, glucose, cholesterol, insulin, and other hormones.

For better results and prevention of other potential health problems, early diagnosis is important.

How Is It Treated

To date, there is no cure for PCOS and it does not go away on its own. Various treatment options are available though, but they are only aimed at managing the symptoms associated with this hormonal disorder and can help to reduce the risk of developing other serious long-term health problems such as heart diseases and diabetes.

Based on your symptoms, other health issues, medical history, your plans for having children and your potential risks of developing other long-term health problems, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan. For women who want to get pregnant, but are facing complications, the treatment plan will focus on helping them conceive.

Medications

Different medications may be prescribed by your doctor depending on the symptoms associated with PCOS. Some commonly prescribed medications include:

  • Oral Contraceptive Medications – oral contraceptive pills are often prescribed for regulating the menstrual cycle, contraception, preventing the womb from thickening, and reducing excess hair growth and acne.
  • Infertility Medications – are prescribed to help you get pregnant.
  • Other Medications – your doctor may even advise you some medications to block the testosterone hormone.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Menopause | What Are the Common Symptoms And Types of Treatment

menopause

Menopause – What Is It?

menopause

Medically speaking, menopause means that a woman’s menstrual periods have paused/stopped for one year. For a woman, it means that she has had her last period and she is no longer fertile. Although it is a completely natural process, and definitely not any kind of disease or illness, it sometimes can cause physical and/or emotional symptoms that can be very disturbing and can have a significant impact on everyday activities.

In many countries, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 45-55 years, however, 1 in 100 women will experience it before she celebrates her 40th birthday, this is referred to as premature menopause. Sometime it may occur all of a sudden while most of the time, the period will start to become less frequent over months and years before they come to a stop altogether.

Menopause – What are the Common Symptoms?

During this transition, hormonal changes in the body can have profound effects on a woman’s menstrual cycle accompanied with common symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and trouble sleeping. The severity of these symptoms varies from woman to woman and can range from mild in most cases to severe in others. Some common symptoms many women experience around the time of menopause are:

  • irregular or skipped menstruation
  • sore or tender breasts
  • weight gain
  • insomnia
  • reduce sex drive
  • increased urination
  • vaginal dryness
  • memory problems
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • dry skin, mouth, and eyes
  • hot flashes
  • racing heart
  • stiff/painful joints
  • urinary tract infections

Menopause – What are Common Forms of Treatment?

For many women, menopause is a normal event and the symptoms associated with it go away on their own after some time. However, if you are not so lucky and you experience uncomfortable symptoms that affect your quality of life, your doctor can advise any of the following treatments depending on the severity of the symptoms, your age, health conditions, and lifestyle.

  • Hormone therapy – also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT) uses a combination of estrogen and progesterone hormones
  • Vaginal Estrogen – estrogen can be administered directly into the vagina in the form of a ring, tablet or cream to address the vaginal dryness.
  • Low-dose antidepressants – for the relief of hot flashes
  • Vaginal lubricants – for vaginal dryness and addressing painful intercourse  
  • Biphosphonates – for treatment of osteoporosis
  • Psychotherapy or CBT- for addressing psychological issues such as anxiety and depression

Menopause – Non-medical Treatments

The good news is that most of the signs and symptoms associated with menopause are temporary in nature and may subside or go away on their own or by using some non-medical treatments such as:

  • home remedies
  • alternative medicines
  • lifestyle changes

Southbank Medical Centre
Melbourne GP

MEN’S HEALTH – WHICH MEN ARE AT HIGHER RISK

men's health
men's health

What Are The Common Causes Of Premature Death In Men; What Deaths Are More Likely In Men Than In Women; What Health Checks Should Men Have?

Very few men can expect to have a life expectancy like Misao Okawa of Japan, who recently died at the age of 117, and women live an average of 5-10 years longer than men. Although the male population enjoys a numerical advantage at birth (105 males for every 100 females), this advantage, however, decreases with the passage of time. By their first birthday, 21% more males than females will die and this pattern of excess male demise persists through every stage of life, such that by the time they reach the age of 65 and older, only 75 males are left for every 100 females. Moreover, this pattern of women outliving men is noted across all cultures. So, which men are at a higher risk of premature death, what are the causes of premature death in men, what deaths are more likely in men than in women, and what health checks should men have to beat the odds of premature death.

Which Men Are At A Higher Risk Of Premature Death?

People living in highly developed countries like Japan, Iceland, Hong Kong, and Australia enjoy higher life expectancy rates, in fact, Australia ranks the highest when compared with these three nations. However, Australian males do not enjoy a longer life when compared to their female counterparts. On average, Australian women can expect to live 84 years while Australian men enjoy a life expectancy of 79 years. This is because men are 2 times more likely to have liver diseases, 1.3 times more likely to have cancer and almost 3X more likely to contract HIV/AIDS. Yet, most men, especially the younger generation often tend to ignore common health issues that disproportionately affect them. Let’s have a closer at some categories of men which are at a higher risk of premature death:

  • Men Involved In a Criminal Activity – men who are involved in any criminal activity increase their risk of dying from homicides, suicides, accidents or other risky unlawful ventures.
  • Men With a Bigger Body Size – although bigger is sometimes better, unfortunately not when it comes to body size and longevity connection. On average, men with bigger body size (height of more than 6 feet) do not live as long as their shorter counterparts.
  • Men Addicted to Alcohol, Smoking, or Drugs – smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs in excess amounts can lead to a lot of serious health complications for men’s health.
  • Men Associated With High-Risk Occupations – all the world’s most dangerous (high-risk) occupations (firefighting, law enforcement, military, construction sites) are predominantly dominated by males.
  • Men With Weak Social Connections – women have stronger social connections, this is one of the reasons they enjoy a longer life. Men, on the other hand, are often not that open to discuss and share their problems with others; therefore they experience more psychological and mental health issues.  
  • Men Who Put-Off Regular Checkups And Medical Care – men usually have a tendency to avoid or delay regular checkup and medical care. Women, on the other hand, are very health conscious. Men’s health relies on checkups

What Are the Common Causes of Premature Death in Men?

As per the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the common causes of premature death in Australian men, in order from first to last are:

  1. Ischaemic heart disease
  2. Trachea and Lung Cancer
  3. Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
  4. Cerebrovascular disease
  5. Chronic lower respiratory disease
  6. Prostate Cancer
  7. Colon and Rectum Cancer
  8. Diabetes
  9. Blood and lymph Cancer
  10. Suicide

What Deaths Are More Likely In Men than In Women

With the exception of sex/gender related deaths, such as childbirth mortality, men outnumber women in many non-sex-related deaths. For example

  • Colon and rectum cancer – 55% of deaths are male
  • Suicide – 75%  of deaths are male
  • Blood and lymph cancer – 58% of deaths are male
  • Trachea and lung cancer – 60% of deaths are male
  • Ischaemic heart disease – 57% of deaths are male

What Health Checks Should Men Have?

While there is nothing you can do to avoid death, you can increase your odds of living a healthy and happy life and adding a year or two to it by being proactive about your health. Changing your lifestyle, adopting healthy eating habits, and performing routine screening tests can help you monitor and maintain your health.

Depending on your age, lifestyle choices, family history, and health condition, some of the following health screening checks may be recommended on regular basis for men’s health:

  • Blood Pressure Checkup
  • Cholesterol Profile
  • Blood Sugar/Diabetes Test

Southbank Medical Centre
Men’s Health
Doctor Melbourne

Hayfever and Allergies

Allergies

What Causes Allergies, Allergy Testing, Medical Treatments, Non-Medical Treatment/Prevention, Desensitisation Treatments

Allergies

Hay fever, medically referred to as allergic rhinitis is a common allergic condition that refers to a group of allergic hypersensitivity reactions in the nasal mucosa and the conjunctiva of the eye. Contrary to what the name “hay fever” suggests, it is not caused by hay and it seldom results in fever. Allergic rhinitis affects around 18% of children and adults in Australia and New Zealand.

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is caused by an allergic response to airborne environmental allergens (indoor or outdoor) such as pollens, dust mites, perfume, pet fur or dander, mold or fungi, and cigarette smoke. People who are allergic to these airborne environmental allergens may experience the following symptoms:

  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • nasal congestion
  • watery, red, or itchy eyes
  • itching throat
  • headaches
  • blocked ears
  • sinus pain
  • fatigue

What Causes Allergies 

Hay Fever occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies these airborne environmental allergens as something harmful and launches an “attack” to neutralize the threat. The immune system then triggers the release of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the threat. A chemical known as histamine released by the immune system is the primary culprit for the common symptoms associated with hay fever.

It is not clear yet what causes the immune system to launch the “attack”, however, there are certain factors that increase your risk of developing allergic rhinitis. Some of the most common triggers that cause allergies in people at different times of the year and in different environmental conditions are:

  • Pollens – there are more than 30 different types of pollens that can cause allergies in people and they originate from different sources such as grass, trees, and weeds. It is possible for a person to be allergic to more than one type of pollen.
  • House Dust – house dust also contains a number of pollutants (both organic and inorganic) that can trigger allergies. Some of the common allergens found in house dust are dirt, debris, dust mites, fibers, hair, smoke, insects, mammalian dander, saliva and feces from pets, insects, and mites.
  • Fungal Allergens – fungi and mold present in the indoor or outdoor environment also produce large quantities of allergenic spores.
  • Pets – household pets such as dogs, cats, birds, chickens, etc are an important source of domestic allergens and can cause severe allergies in people.
  • Occupational Irritants – common allergens found in workplaces include different forms of fumes, gases, dust, chemicals, enzymes, powders, asphalt, solvent vapors, diesel exhaust, ammonia, and wood dust.

Allergy Testing

Whether you experience seasonal allergic rhinitis – occurs in spring, summer, or early fall when the airborne grass pollens are at their peak, or experience the symptoms all year long (perennial allergic rhinitis), you need to visit an allergist to help you find the appropriate treatment option for your allergies. A clinical immunologist/allergy specialist may conduct a few allergy screening tests to identify the type of allergens disturbing you. The two main allergy tests your doctor may recommend are:

  • Skin Prick Test – skin prick test is the easiest, most sensitive and generally the least expensive test to identify allergens. In this test, the skin of the person is either pricked with a tiny amount of known allergen or an allergen is injected under the skin. If the skin shows a reaction to the presence of allergen/s, this would confirm that you have been sensitized to the allergen in question.
  • Blood Test – a blood test is conducted to check for the presence of certain antibodies, i.e. E (IgE) which is produced by the body when it comes into contact with the pollens that cause hay fever.

Medical Treatments

Although there is no cure for allergic rhinitis (hay fever), the symptoms associated with this common allergic condition can be relieved or managed by using various treatment modalities.

Avoidance

The best and easiest way to manage the symptoms associated with seasonal or perennial form of allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergens that trigger them. Following steps can be taken to avoid indoor or outdoor exposure:

  • keep windows, doors, vents closed to keep the allergens at bay
  • use “mite-proof” covers
  • wash your bed sheets, sofa covers, comforter covers, blinds, curtains frequently
  • keep the indoor humidity between 30 -50%
  • keep the floors, carpets, rugs, cleaned at all times
  • avoid going outdoors during the peak allergy season
  • wear sunglasses when outdoor
  • wear pollen mask when outdoor

Medications

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the allergens that trigger hay fever with these simple steps, under such circumstances your doctor (allergist) may prescribe different medications to relieve different symptoms. Various medications available to treat different symptoms of hay fever are:

  • Antihistamine tablets, eye drops, syrups, and intranasal sprays – effective for itching, sneezing, and watery eyes
  • Intranasal corticosteroid sprayers (INCS) – effective for blocked nose, dryness and irritation in the nasal passage
  • Combination medications (antihistamine + corticosteroids) – effective for itchy eyes, sneezing, watery eyes, and blocked nose
  • Decongestant sprayers – for unblocking dry, blocked nose
  • Decongestant tablets – effective for blocked nose

Non-medical Treatments/Prevention

Non-medical treatment for hay fever may include the use of natural products and alternative therapies.

  • saltwater/saline nasal sprays
  • herbal medicines
  • acupuncture

Desensitisation Treatments

Desensitisation also known as allergen immunotherapy is used to reduce the severity of symptoms and dependency for regular use of medications. Immunotherapy involves gradually administering small amounts of allergen extracts by means of drops, tablets, sprayers, or injections. It is a long-term treatment and may take up to 3-5 years to achieve good results. Two types of immunotherapy are available:

  • Allergy shots
  • Sublingual tablets

Southgate Medical Centre
Allergies
Doctor Melbourne

TYPE 1 & 2 – WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

what is diabetes

Diabetes – Can It Be Prevented? How Is Treated?

what is diabetes

Our bodies cells and organs need energy in order to perform various functions. Although many tissues use fat or proteins as a source of energy, some organs such as the brain and red blood cells rely on glucose for energy needs. A hormone called insulin, produced by the beta cells of the pancreas helps to convert blood sugar into usable energy, it also helps to control blood sugar levels and keep them in the normal range. Sometimes the pancreas is unable to produce enough or any insulin or fails to use insulin well, this results in an increase in the blood glucose (sugar) levels.

What is Diabetes?

Medically termed “diabetes mellitus” or simply DM is a metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to properly store, process, and use sugar. This can lead to an increase in the sugar levels in our blood. Increased levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood can lead to serious health complications including but not limited to heart diseases, kidney failure, blindness, and lower-extremity amputations.

Types

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and a challenging problem for public health worldwide. It is estimated that roughly 1.7 million Australians suffer from this chronic disorder, and a further 2 million are at a high risk of developing it in the coming years. As per the data shared by the World Health Organization, it will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. Despite all the dangers associated with it, many are still living with outdated assumptions about what it is, what the different types are, what the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 is, what are the causes and its risk factors.

Type 1 & 2 – What is the Difference between the two

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes aka juvenile onset or insulin-dependent is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system starts to destroy the pancreas – the insulin-producing gland. Since the body is unable to produce its own insulin, people suffering from Type 1 may have to use multiple insulin injections or a continuous infusion of insulin throughout the day in order to keep the blood sugar at normal levels. Although type 1 can occur at any age, children, teenagers, and young adults are the ones most affected by this type. Type 1 accounts for 10% of all people with diabetes in Australia. Unfortunately, there is no cure or means of preventing this type, it can only be managed.

Type 2

Type 2 aka adult-onset or non-insulin is the most common type and accounts for more than 80% of all diagnosed cases in Australia. People suffering from this type do produce insulin, but the cells in the body do not respond to it the way they used to or become resistant to the body’s own insulin. Type 2 is generally diagnosed after the age of 40, but it can also occur in childhood. If diagnosed early, type 2 can be effectively controlled or managed through a healthy diet, weight loss, and physical activity.

What Causes It

The underlying causes of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes are different, and despite popular belief, none of them is caused directly by eating too much sugar.

Causes of type 1:

  • autoimmune destruction of beta cells
  • damage or removal of the pancreas
  • endocrine disease
  • unfavorable environmental factors
  • viruses and infections
  • hereditary predisposition
  • autoimmune disease
  • drugs and toxic chemicals

Causes of type 2:

  • genetics
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • biochemical/hormonal imbalances
  • cellular starvation
  • hyperglycemia
  • high blood pressure
  • toxicity
  • insulin resistance

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention

Many studies suggest that a good diet accompanied with increased physical activity and other healthy lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake can dramatically reduce the progression of type-2 and may control type-1 diabetes. In addition to this, certain oral anti-diabetes drugs may also help prevent the development of type-2 diabetes in prediabetes individuals. Secondary prevention involves early identification of people with type-2 diabetes and offering support to make necessary lifestyle changes as well as following an effective treatment plan for both type-1 and type-2 diabetes in order to stop costly diabetes complications.

How Is Diabetes Treated

The key to leading a healthy life and reducing the risk of developing complications from diabetes is to seek the best possible treatment available. A number of treatment options are available to help you manage or treat diabetes. The treatment will vary depending on the type of diabetes, the age, lifestyle, and your individual needs.

Treatment Options for Type-1 Diabetes:

  • multiple daily injections (MDI)
  • insulin pump therapy
  • incretin mimetics
  • islet cell transplant

Treatment Options for Type-2 Diabetes

  • Tablets and medications
  • weight loss surgery
  • healthy diet and exercise.  

Southgate Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne


What Is Arthritis And What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis?

WHAT IS ARTHRITIS
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS

Put simply, the term refers to “joint inflammation”. It is typically referred to as a single disease, in reality, however, it is an umbrella term used to describe more than 200 medical conditions/diseases (rheumatic diseases) that affect the joints including bones, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage.

Usually associated with older people, it can affect anyone from young children to senior citizens. It is one of the most common medical conditions in Australia, affecting more than 3.9 million adults and children, creating disability and medical expenses that exceed billions of dollars a year.

Whether you have recently been diagnosed with arthritis or have been living with it for quite some time, it can raise many concerns and questions. So, what are the different types, what can you do to prevent it, how is it treated, and what are some of the newer treatment options that can help you better understand and deal with its debilitating symptoms more effectively.

Symptoms

There are over 100 different types which affect people in different ways, but all of them share the following common symptoms:

  • persistent joint pain
  • swelling in joint/s
  • inflammation
  • tenderness and stiffness
  • decreased range of motion

Causes

Although there is no single common cause for the different types of arthritis, wear and tear of the joints, connective tissues, and ligaments from frequent use and/or injuries may result in an arthritic condition. Sometimes, it is difficult to pinpoint an underlying cause, but a combination of factors is thought to play a part. Some possible causes of arthritis may include:

  • genetics, such as osteoarthritis
  • immune system dysfunction, such as SLE and RA
  • injury, leading to degenerative arthritis
  • infections, such as arthritis in Lyme disease
  • abnormal metabolism, such as in osteoarthritis

What Are The Different Types?

Though arthritis can take more than 200 different forms, the most common types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) – also referred to as degenerative arthritis is probably the most common type of arthritis which affects the whole joint including muscles, bones, ligaments, and cartilage. More than 2.1 million Australians are affected by this type of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid (RA) – is the most common inflammatory form of arthritis caused by malfunctioning of the body’s immune system which starts to attach the connective tissues of different body parts/joints causing inflammation, pain, and degeneration of joint tissues.
  • Juvenile (JA) – an umbrella term used to describe different types of arthritis that affect children. Also referred to as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) or Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, this is actually a type of auto-immune disorder that affects around 6,000 Australian children annually.
  • Psoriatic (PSA) – this type of arthritis usually affects people with the skin disease psoriasis, however only 10-20% of the people with psoriasis will also have Psoriatic arthritis.
  • Reactive – this type of arthritis usually develops following an infection and causes swelling, pain, and inflammation of the joints.
  • Gout – another common type of rheumatic disease which is caused by the accumulation of urate crystals inside the joints causing inflammation, pain, and swelling. This type of arthritis usually affects the joints at the base of the big toe, but it may affect other body joints such as joints in the wrists, knees, ankles, and elbow.
  • Fibromyalgia – also referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a type of central pain syndrome in which the brain processes the pain signals differently and amplifies the perception of the pain. It causes generalized body pain, extreme fatigue, and muscle stiffness.
  • Lupus – also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is also a type of autoimmune disease in which body’s own immune system starts to attack other healthy body tissues, producing widespread inflammation. SLE can impact other body organs such as kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, and skin besides affecting joints.

What Can I Do To Prevent It?

Aging is a natural process and there is nothing we can do to stop or avoid it. As we age, several parts of our body naturally wear down; especially our joints that help connect the bones. The wearing of joints makes them inflamed or damaged over time and this is one of the main reasons we experience arthritis pain. By the time we reach the age of 65, nearly half of us will suffer from some type of arthritis.

Although there is nothing you can do to stop the natural aging process, or change your genes, there are certain things you can do to keep your joints healthy, maintain mobility and functionality, and make yourself a less likely candidate for certain types of arthritis.

  • Lose Weight – being overweight is a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis and many other chronic diseases. Overweight women are 4X more likely to experience osteoarthritis pain than women with healthy body weight. Losing weight is a good start to lowering your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  • Be Physically Active – by participating in various physical activities, such as walking, running, weight lifting, swimming, etc you will not only be able to reduce your excess weight but also strengthen the muscles around the joints. Certain exercise programs such as stretching and aerobic activities will also help you maintain your flexibility and range of motion.
  • Eat Healthy Diet – healthy diet rich in certain nutrients such as vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids is linked with healthy bones and joints and reducing inflammation. Eating fish like sardines, trout, salmon, and mackerel twice a week may lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women.
  • Avoid Injury – people with past joint injuries are at a greater risk of experiencing arthritis pain. Therefore make sure to wear protective gear while playing any sports and always use the correct techniques.
  • Protect Your Joints – the better you take care of your joints, the better they will take care of you down the line. Avoid lifting heavy items, avoid sitting in awkward positions, and avoid putting too much pressure on your joints to protect them for later part of your life.

Pay Regular Visits to your Doctor – arthritis is a progressive disorder, means the longer you wait to seek treatment, the more the damage. Visit your doctor or a rheumatologist on regular basis and seek his/her professional advice on how to prevent arthritis and preserve your mobility.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne