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Preventing Drowning And Other Submersion Injuries

This is another post derived from a presentation given at the 2011 Annual Summer Meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society. Tracy Cushing, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine gave an excellent presentation on submersion injury—i.e., the dangers of becoming submerged under water. What follows is some of what we learned.

Historically there have been many terms and definitions, such as “drowning,” “near-drowning,” “dry drowning,” and others. Current experts favor the term “submersion injury” as any adverse effect from submersion in water. This commonly causes difficulty breathing, for many reasons. “Immersion syndrome” refers to the situation where there is a lethal heart rhythm during or after a cold-water exposure, usually attributed to stimulation of the vagus nerve, which slows the heart rate. “Shallow water blackout” refers to a person becoming unconscious after hyperventilating prior to attempting a lengthy period of breath-holding underwater.

Drowning is the Read more »

This post, Preventing Drowning And Other Submersion Injuries, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Is The Ironman Triathlon Safe For The Middle-Aged Heart?

Before I even start, let me say this to my triathlete friends…

I really like you all. And…I am sorry for how I feel about your sport’s pinnacle, the Ironman triathlon. But I was poked into writing this post. When asked the question of whether the Ironman is safe for the middle-aged heart, what was I to do? Lie?

Each August, my hometown, Louisville, KY, gets overrun, over-swum and over-ridden with “Iron people.” No, these humans aren’t rust colored, or all that hardened, but they are indeed a determined lot. Triathletes, or iron people if you will, wake up before sunrise to swim, bike or run. Then they eat; some go to work (barely), and then they do the training thing again in the evening. Calling these athletes focused would surely be an understatement.

So it is each summer that I endure the same question: “Dr. Mandrola, did you do the Ironman?”

“No…I just ride bikes.”

But this year was different. Before I could launch into my usual dissertation on how training for Ironman-length triathlons causes excess inflammation, coronary calcium, atrial fibrillation, divorce, etc., etc., another question quickly popped up.

“What did you think of that guy who died during this year’s race?” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Swimming May Not Be As Safe For Your Children As You Think

Lifeguard standing duty poolside.As summer continues in North America, and for anyone who goes near the water during any time of year, prevention of drowning is very important. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) takes its responsibilities on this issue seriously, and in 2010 issued a policy statement on prevention of drowning. This is a remarkable and well-thought out document that addresses all of the important issues associated with risk for and prevention of drowning. The online version of the policy statement, along with updated information and services, is available on the web.

The document points out that, historically, drowning has been the second leading cause of unintentional death in individuals aged one to 19 years, causing more than 1,100 deaths per year in the United States alone.

The AAP defines drowning as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.” It does not imply any particular outcome. Persons may “drown” and survive. The categories of outcomes include:

  • death
  • no morbidity
  • morbidity (moderately disabled, severely disabled, vegetative state/coma, and brain death)

There is a discussion of entanglement in drains, particularly in females who are underwater with long hair near a suction outlet. Inflatable pools pose a particular hazard if they are not fenced.

The AAP has previously taken the stance that children are not developmentally ready for swimming lessons until after their fourth birthday. They based this opinion on factors including: Read more »

This post, Swimming May Not Be As Safe For Your Children As You Think, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Affordable Prenatal Fitness For Pregnant Women

Low cost, prenatal fitness classes. What a progressive thought. The New York City Prenatal Fitness Initiative is a community model that should be replicated on a national scale. A nurse midwife, Marilinda Pascoe and Andrea Bachrach Mata, an aquatic fitness instructor founded a program that offers prenatal water exercise and yoga to low-income pregnant women in North Manhattan and the Bronx at an affordable cost. For 7 weeks, pregnant women will be able to do light aerobics, swim, dance, gentle stretching and exercise for a total cost of $60.00 in a community pool. Not only will these women have fun by releasing endorphins (substances released by the brain that make you feel happy) but they will also be reducing their risks of developing gestational diabetes, obesity and other potential complications. Three weeks ago the program sponsored a community walk and invited pregnant women to participate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Water Safety: A Drowning Child Doesn’t Scream

This summer I learned a couple of very important lessons. Drowning kids don’t scream. Mothers have a sixth sense even when it’s not their own child.

On a beautiful warm sunny day in San Diego, my family and our good friends were enjoying a well-deserved vacation. My five-year-old daughter was splashing around with her friends as their father and I observed them from the pool. Though he had to watch three kids, one was already on a swim team and the two younger children had followed their big sister in swim class. He also had some help. His wife was watching the kids from her chair.  The scene was certainly picturesque, serene, and unassuming. Children playing happily in the pool. Adults relaxing and talking. It was a great day to be away from home and work.

Who would realize that nearby a little boy would be in serious trouble? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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