Medical Potpourri

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Can post-open heart patients have sex?

In general, yes, after full recovery, which is usually after a period of two to 3 months, depending on the severity of illness, the extent of surgery, and the individual stamina or tolerance. The aim of open heart surgery is to bring the person back to the normal stream of life, as much as possible. The recommendation is for the patient be the passive partner (lying flat) during the lovemaking, minimizing heavy exertion. Some may even be benefited by taking a nitroglycerine pill under the tongue before the act. It is most prudent for the person who had surgery, whether of the heart or of other organs, to consult with the attending physician or surgeon for advice on this, and other related, matters, including the indication, safety and risk in the use of Viagra as an aid for male erectile dysfunction. Those on any form of nitroglycerine pills MUST NOT take Viagra, because the combination of these two drugs can lead to fatal consequences.

Is it safe to warm breast milk in a microwave oven?

No, it is not safe to warm breast milk in a microwave oven. Collected breast milk should never be warmed in a microwave oven, because it destroys many important natural protective elements in breast milk that is beneficial to the infant. As a matter of fact, even milk formulas in cans or bottle should never be warmed in a microwave oven. In both instances, the milk, and the bottle itself, can be too hot for the baby and could result in burns, and the bottles can also explode. Many times, the bottle may feel cool but the milk inside can be too hot for the baby. The best way to warm or take the chill out of milk is by soaking the bottle of milk (formula or breast milk) in warm (NOT BOILING) water. Swirl the bottled breast milk a few times to mix it well. Before feeding the baby, let a few drops of milk land on your wrist to check the temperature. If it not too hot for your skin, then it is probably just right for the infant. It is always better to err on the cooler side. Some babies may even prefer milk at room-temperature or cool (not cold) milk. And they will usually let you know, in not so many words.

Why is improperly cooked pork dangerous?

Poorly cooked or insufficiently barbequed pork (or any meat, for that matter) is dangerous to health, because of the infection, or infestation with parasites, that they can cause. Improperly cooked pork, for instance, can lead to a parasitic disease known as Trichinosis, caused by a round worm called Trichinella spiralis. The larvae are killed by high temperature. If the pork is undercooked, the larvae survive, and when ingested, the digestive juices dissolve the cyst capsule and liberate the larvae in the intestine where they grow to maturity, ready to travel and invade the muscles of the eyelids, the heart, and other muscles in the body. This causes pain, fever, profuse sweating, chills, swelling of tissues, hemorrhages in the retina of the eyes, extreme photophobia (sensitivity to light). All these happen after an incubation period of 7 to 14 days, from the time of ingestion. Mortality is less than 5%. Most patients recover fully with treatment. This disease is 100% preventable, so we do not have any excuse to catch it at all.

How can we live longer?

While waiting for the discovery of the fountain of youth, here are some tips on healthy activities that could add years to your life: abstinence from smoking adds 1.3 years; vegetarian diet (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain), 2.4 years; eating nuts five times a week, 2.9 years; healthy weight, 1.5 years, vigorous exercise 3 times a week, 2.1 years. All these good habits alone can add up to more than 10 years to your life, according to the studies conducted by health experts at Loma Linda University in California. This is one of the many scientific investigations that support the same conclusions. Noteworthy too is the fact that persons with high blood pressure and/or diabetes mellitus AND normal total cholesterol level (not higher than 150) do a lot better and have lesser hardening of the arteries, compared to those individuals with high blood pressure and/or diabetes whose total cholesterol is high. Staying away from red meat and concentrating on fish, vegetables, fruits, a high-fiber diet, and following the other tips listed above, do, indeed, pay great dividends in terms of health and longevity.

How can we beat a hangover?

Taking a couple of spoonfuls of honey, before or after drinking, may aid in preventing a hangover, according to a research from the U.S. National Headache Foundation. Headache experts say that the fructose in honey speeds up alcohol metabolism and its effects on our body dissipate more rapidly. Tomato juice also has a lot of fructose in it, the reason why Bloody Mary (the virgin type) is considered a treatment for hangover the morning after. Obviously, tomato juice may also be taken before, and/or after, imbibing alcoholic beverages to minimize hangover symptoms.

Is Oregano an antibiotic?

Technically, no, oregano, our friendly spice on the kitchen shelf, is not an antibiotic. Not on the drugstore shelf yet anyway. It has recently been found to be a very potent antioxidant, more powerful than many fruits and vegetables. But oregano oil has also been found to kill dangerous, and some drug-resistant, bacteria, including staphylococcus. Researchers from the Georgetown University discovered that a minute amount of oregano oil diluted with olive oil prevented bacterial growth, just like some potent and expensive antibiotics. I won't be surprised if sometime soon a pharmaceutical company came up with a new antibiotic called "Oregacillin" or something.

Is Aspirin -Vitamin E combo cardioprotective?

Yes, taking aspirin and vitamin E daily has been found to protect the cardiovascular system, especially the heart. This combination of aspirin (a blood thinner) and vitamin E (an antioxidant) can significantly lower the risk of coronary heart disease (heart attack), reported Domenico Pratico, M.D. of the University of Pennsylvania. These two medications, taken together, help reduce the severity of hardening of the arteries (the culprit that causes heart attack and stroke) by as much as 80%. Although they are sold over the counter, they should not be taken without medical advise and supervision. This combination is not recommended for all persons. There are possible risk and complications, like bleeding in the stomach or in the brain, to mention two.

Can a nearly frozen person be revived?

According to studies at the University of Pittsburgh, physicians may soon be able to bring people back to life after they have been nearly frozen. Investigators found that by rapidly flushing the blood vessels of experimental animals with ice cold salt solution, they can lower the body temperature of the animals to a nearly frozen state (50 degrees F), stop the heart from beating, and then revive the animals after two hours of suspended animation or hibernation. One immediate application of this in the near future is the ability to freeze severely injured accident victims at the scene, to suspend the progress of injuries, bleeding, swelling, etc., stabilizing the patient's condition, and allowing for a safer transport of the patient to a medical center for proper resuscitation and definitive treatment. When the technique is perfected for a safe extended frozen animation, it may be possible for us to freeze a person ill with a disease with no known cure at the present (cancer, etc.), and revive them for treatment when the cure for the disease is available in the future, say 5, 10, 20 years, or longer, down the line. Science fiction? Today, yes. But I have no doubt this will come to fruition in the future.

More medical pearls.

Overweight persons have a higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas.

A better way to take the blood pressure, to reflect a dynamic and more accurate situation, is by doing so while the person is exercising. Just like a stress EKG taken while the individual is walking on a treadmill.

Doctors in England have developed a line of sterile maggots (the crawly creatures that eat dead tissues) that is great for wound debridement (cleaning) and disinfecting wounds. The bugs (live and active) will be sold under the trade name LarvE.

The first vaccine for AIDS is soon entering clinical trials in humans. The vaccine will aid the body develop immunity against HIV. Once immunity is established, future HIV infection will be impossible. In the meantime, abstinence, if not safe sex, is still the rule.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.