Archive for September, 2016

Can you tell me about the “new” CPR?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I thought CPR involved chest compressions, breathing into a person's mouth and checking their pulse. But my daughter told me that the "new" CPR involves only chest compressions. Is this correct?

DEAR READER: That's right. Since 2008, the American Heart Association has recommended "hands only" cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if an adult suddenly collapses.

Could something other than aging or dementia be to blame for my fuzzy thinking?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Lately my mind and memory have not been as sharp as usual. Could something other than aging or dementia be to blame?

DEAR READER: I'm glad you asked, because memory or thinking problems often lead people to worry that they are developing dementia. Most causes of dementia don't yet have cures. However, there are several underlying conditions that often affect memory and thinking -- conditions that can be cured. And they are often overlooked.

What is astigmatism?

DEAR DOCTOR K: At my last visit, my eye doctor told me I have astigmatism. He told me what that means, but I still don't really understand what it is. Please explain it to me.

DEAR READER: Astigmatism means that the eye's cornea has an irregular shape, which causes vision problems. Astigmatism is very common; I am among the several billion people who have it. Fortunately, it's easy to correct.

Is frozen produce less nutritious than fresh?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, but I don't have time to go to the grocery store every week. So I stock up on frozen produce. Am I missing out on any nutritional benefits by eating frozen instead of fresh?

DEAR READER: For taste, variety and quality of nutrients, recently picked local produce is the way to go. But if fresh produce is inconvenient or beyond your budget, frozen fruits and vegetables provide plenty of nutrition.

Could antidepressants help improve my thinking skills along with my mood?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I suffer from depression. My doctor told me that depression can cause cognitive impairment. Antidepressants improve my mood -- can they help improve my thinking skills as well?

DEAR READER: Depression is more than long bouts of intense sadness. People who suffer from depression often also experience a loss of energy and interest in things they once enjoyed.

What, besides diabetes, can cause peripheral neuropathy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have peripheral neuropathy. I know that people with diabetes often get neuropathy, but I'm not diabetic. What else can cause this condition? And what can I do about it?

DEAR READER: Neuropathy is a medical term that means nerve damage. The type of nerve damage that people with diabetes get involves specific nerve fibers in all nerves, particularly the nerves that travel to the legs and feet. (There are other conditions in which a single nerve leading to the legs and feet is pinched, causing pain. An example is what is often called a "slipped disk" or "herniated disk" in the lower part of the spine.)

Do financial incentives really help people change their health behaviors?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My employer has started offering employees financial rewards for weight loss. I'm skeptical. Does this kind of financial incentive really work?

DEAR READER: Offering financial incentives to employees for making healthy lifestyle changes is increasingly common. These days, nearly 80 percent of large employers do it. There are many ways to offer incentives, and doctors and economists are still learning what works best.

Will reducing stress reduce my risk of heart disease?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm under a lot of stress in my life. Of course, I don't like that, but what really worries me is that it will affect my heart. Heart disease runs in my family. If stress can lead to heart disease, does reducing stress reduce heart disease risk?

DEAR READER: We often think of the heart and brain as separate from each other, yet these organs are intimately connected. And when your emotions adversely affect your brain, your heart is affected as well.