Okay, we’ve waited long enough for the real meat of the blog: Brain Health, Vascular Health, Gastrointestinal Health, and Renal Health.
We have already touched upon much of what we are going to say next, and I encourage you to read the beginning of the blog.
Again, what follows is my opinion and does not replace advice from your doctor.
Brain Health is a brand new concept that I just made up. It’s not in our medical textbooks or journals. I am not talking about Psychiatry or Psychology, these are more of a software issue.
I am specifically going to talk about the hardware, your brain.
I have had a few friends and colleagues that have died from cerebral aneurysms. A few month’s back I had severe ringing in my ears, enough to wake me up and check on my car to see if it was being stolen. It took me a while to realize that no matter where I went, the sound was the same. It was then that I realized that the sound was coming from inside my head.
I got an MRI with contrast of my head. Thankfully, no aneurysm or tumor. But I did discover that I only have 3 arteries feeding my brain versus the usual 4. Just imagine if I had all 4 arteries, maybe I could have been somebody, maybe a lawyer!
I asked my friends why everyone doesn’t get a head MRI. So much pathology could be discovered. Strokes are devastating. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you have a problem before it happens. Each doctor told me the same line: the risk of finding a benign condition outweighs the risk of finding pathology. Their point is that they might find many things that they normally wouldn’t operate on.
In my case, I am currently taking cholesterol medicine and aspirin to keep my cerebral arteries patent since I only have 3 of them. I would say, my MRI had actionable information and will help me live longer.
Just like we get routine EKG to examine your heart before you have a heart attack, I recommend getting a head MRI if you are over 50. Of course insurance won’t cover it, but prices are coming down and if you don’t have an MRI done as an emergency in a hospital, you would be surprised how affordable it is in the many radiology centers. Yes, I did it again, blasphemy!
What is this new discipline that you and I are inventing called brain health?
Basically, your body is a life support system for your brain. Your brain is insensate. Your brain is silent or mute. But, you ignore your brain health at your own peril. Your brain can’t directly talk to you, but our brain is responsible for all the stupid things we do.
We become drug addicts because we ignore our brains. We become alcoholics because we ignore our brains. We become obese because we ignore our brains. We develop Alzheimers because we ignore our brains. It’s all about the brain!
There was a study some 30 years ago looking at nuns in a convent. A convent is a good place to study people because you have a captive audience and can follow the subjects for a long period of time.
Basically what the researchers found was that early on the nuns without arthritis helped take care of the nuns with arthritis. Later on the nuns with the arthritis helped take care of the nuns without the arthritis because of Alzheimers.
The researchers concluded that the arthritis medicine, specifically aspirin, had a protective effect against Alzheimers.
Why this beneficial effect of aspirin is not publicized is beyond me.
When you and I go to sleep, our blood pressure naturally goes down. We get dehydrated throughout the night. Our brains are heavily vascularized. If any part of the brain does not get perfused for more than 5 minutes, it risks permanent cell death. These small strokes are called Lacunar Infarcts and they are very common in Alzheimers. If these widespread tiny strokes don’t cause Alzheimer, they certainly contribute heavily to Alzheimers’ mental decline.
I take a baby aspirin, or 81mg, every 3rd day. Aspirin interferes with clot formation from platelets and it is the mainstay to protect against heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin lasts for 10 days. I don’t take the enteric coated aspirin because I have witnessed undissolved aspirin tablets during colonoscopy! I take my aspirin with meals and a magnesium supplement.
Aspirin is off patent and there is little money in it for the manufacturer. That’s why you don’t see commercials. There is actually a movement away from aspirin because of ulcers and head trauma. Of course all medicines have a risk benefit ratio. 81mg for me is middle of the road, great benefit with little risk. Should we deny the benefit of aspirin to the millions that can benefit because of the risk to a handful? I don’t think so.
When we come back, we will discuss another great drug called Magnesium.
Why do I think it’s so important.
Not surprisingly, it’s off patent as well and there is little profit to the manufacturer.
Are you starting to see a pattern?