NSIADS – Good or Bad?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – also known as NSAIDs – are medications that relieve or reduce pain. The best-known examples of this group of drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve).  They are classified as painkillers because of their nonsteroidal effect against inflammation. They reduce high temperature, fever, inflammation, and pain by hindering the formation of compounds known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are enzymes that produce chemical signals that call up the immune system’s inflammatory responses. They also act as protectors of the stomach lining by helping the stomach walls produce mucous that defends them from stomach acid.

NSAIDs block a prostaglandin called cyclooxygenase, also known as COX. By blocking the COX enzyme, inflammation in the body is reduced. Blocking COX also inhibits the function of platelets, so they help prevent bleeding. This is why low dose aspirin is given to help prevent heart attacks or strokes.

Most people who take ibuprofen or naproxen daily for low back pain, knee pain, or joint pain take it in higher doses then people who take a daily low dose aspirin. However, they may not know that taking NSAIDs at high doses can have side effects, including an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as developing peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Since 2001, several studies – including one from 2011 in BMJ and a 2013 review in The Lancet – have linked long-term, high-dose NSAID use to a greater risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and death from cardiovascular disease.

Long term use of NSAIDs can also lead to ulcers developing in the gut. These ulcers, known as peptic ulcers, form because the action of NSAIDs blocking the COX decreases the mucous produced in the stomachenzyme has an undesirable effect in addition to the main beneficial one.  Long-term NSAID use can leave the stomach vulnerable to damage caused by digestive acid.

To help ease muscle or joint pain, consider trying other therapies — such as hot or cold packs, Chiropractic, or massage therapy. Give us a call and schedule your free consultation with Dr. Gibson!

What Being Angry Does to Your Health

Mental health researchers in California have estimated that one in five Americans has an anger management problem. If so, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis just published in the European Heart Journal, that anger may be killing them by triggering heart attacks.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, analyzed the findings of 9 previous studies that included over 4,500 cases of heart attack, 462 cases of acute coronary syndrome (heart attack or angina), over 8,000 cases of stroke, and over 300 cases of acute heart rhythm problems. What they found was that having an angry outburst greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the hours immediately following the incident.

The critical period seems to be within two hours of an angry outburst. The findings indicate that a person’s risk of heart attack or acute coronary syndrome increases five-fold during that period. During the same two-hour “anger window,” a person’s risk of stroke increased nearly four-fold. Their risk of ventricular arrhythmia (a dangerous heart rhythm disorder) also increased. Risk was highest among those who got angry more often, and among those who had prior heart problems and other existing cardiac risk factors.

The association of anger and heart trouble is not a new idea, because anger has long been associated with increases in heart rate and blood pressure, which have immediate impact on the body’s reaction to stress, and which can have immediate adverse consequences.

The researchers pointed out that their findings say little about the risk to any one person for having heart trouble immediately after any single outburst of anger, but they did indicate a broader pattern that deserves attention. Study leader Elizabeth Mostofsky said, “Although the risk of experiencing an acute [heart] event with any single outburst of anger is relatively low, the risk can accumulate for people with frequent episodes of anger. This is particularly important for people who have higher risk due to other underlying risk factors or those who have already had a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes.”

Explaining that the study’s findings indicates that certain groups of people are more at risk than others, Mostofsky continued, “For example, a person without many risk factors for [heart] disease who has only one episode of anger per month has a very small additional risk, but a person with multiple risk factors or a history of heart attack or stroke, and who is frequently angry, has a much higher absolute excess risk accumulated over time.”

Extrapolating from the data, the researchers estimated that among people with low heart risk who get angry only once a month, angry outbursts could trigger one extra heart attack per 10,000 people. But among those who have higher heart risk and get angry often, angry outbursts could trigger four extra heart attacks per 10,000 people.

This information may become useful in the fight against heart disease by helping doctors to better identify patients who are at increased risk because of their frequent outbursts of anger. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, preventive cardiologist a Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, says, “In managing a patient with [heart] disease, it is important to ascertain if the patient is quick to react when it comes to the anger response, as this personality trait may increase the risk of heart attacks and be worth treating. Whether it be a behavioral intervention or medication, as physicians, we need to ask the patient about anger, as they can increase the risk of heart attacks and may need to be a part of how we counsel our patients to take care of themselves.”

Exercise as Medicine: Spotlight on Walking

Do you want to become healthier and stay healthy longer? Take a walk. That is the message of two important new studies.

In the first, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, researchers found that a simple aerobic program based on walking was as effective in alleviating lower back pain as muscle-strengthening programs that required specialized rehabilitation equipment. The researchers recruited 52 patients with chronic lower back pain, and assigned half of them to complete a six-week, clinic-based muscle-strengthening program, exercising under supervision two to three times a week. The other half of the patients spent the six weeks of the study walking for 20-40 minutes two to three times a week.

According to study leader Dr. Michal Katz-Leurer, in research published in the journal Circulation, the walking program was “as effective as treatment that could have been received in the clinic.” He explained that when people walk, their abdominal and back muscles are forced to work in a similar way as when they complete rehabilitation exercises targeting those areas. And unlike rehabilitation, which requires specialized equipment and expert supervision, walking is an activity that can be performed alone, and easily fit into a person’s schedule.

In the second study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston analyzed data collected on the activity and sitting habits of 36,000 older men, over a period of 24 years. The researchers determined how much time the men spent sitting, performing other activities, and walking, and whether they walked at an easy, average, or brisk pace. What they found was that even a little walking each week significantly lowered the risk of hip fractures in men over 50.

Over the period of the study, which was published in in the American Journal of Public Health,  546 hip fractures occurred, 85% of which were from “low trauma” events such as slipping, tripping, or falling from a chair. The study data indicates that the more the men walked, and the more vigorously they walked, the lower their risk of hip fracture was as they aged. Walking over four hours per week was identified as the point at which the most significant benefits occurred, providing a 43% lower hip fracture risk than in men who walked only one hour a week.

Study author Diane Feskanich says about her findings, “It’s well known that physical activity helps to prevent hip fractures, that it helps to build bone and muscle tone. It can help with balance, too. One thing we’re pointing out here is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous activity. A lot of studies have focused on the benefits of strenuous activity, but we found walking alone helped to prevent hip fractures, and when you come down to it, older people are often more comfortable with walking.”

How to Be Happy

Remember the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”  by Bobby McFerrin?  The lyrics suggest that we can be happy no matter our circumstances. That is possible if you work to have the following things in your life, even when life is giving you lemons.

Happy Step 1 – Having a purpose

Humans are driven creatures.  We want to be moving forward, be going places, be a success in life. But to do that, we have to have a goal. It doesn’t have to be a grand goal, and you don’t need to have your life planned out for the next 5, 10 and 20 years. Just knowing what you want to accomplish each day, and it be something that makes you feel like you are worthy and giving to others is all you need to have a sense of happiness. Figure out what you want to do with each day, and go for it.


Happy Step 2 – Spend time with people who “get” you

Humans are relational creatures in addition to being driven.  We like to run in packs with like minded people.  People who are not moving towards the same goal can drain the happiness right out of us.  Try to find people each day to interact with who are positive and have the same likes and desires that you do.  It will help you to fend off the negative energy from people you have to be around – the happiness drainers.


Happy Step 3 – Enrich others lives

Humans like to make others feel better and like to see others improving.  Each of us has something that we can share with another to either make them laugh or improve their knowledge.  Tell someone who is down a funny story, share a video from You Tube, or share something you know with them that they don’t  ( how chiropractic care can help them to feel better is a good place to start!). Besides helping your fellow man, you will be making yourself happy because you will feel like you have a purpose and you matter.

5 Simple Food Substitutions to Improve Your Heart Health

By Editorial Staff To Your Health
March, 2013 (Vol. 07, Issue 03)

Heart health is a significant topic these days for two simple reasons: First, increasing evidence suggests that our poor dietary choices – particularly the Standard American Diet (SAD), characterized by heavy intake of processed, fatty, calorie-laden, fiber- and nutrient-deficient foods – puts us at major risk for heart disease; and second, evidence also suggests wise dietary choices can protect the heart from disease, keeping it healthy as we age.

Case in point: A recent study that examined the heart-health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. According to study findings, people at higher-than-normal risk for cardiovascular disease reduced their risk simply by consuming a diet high in whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, and fish, and low in dairy, red meat, processed meats and sugary foods.

Specifically, eating the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra olive oil or extra mixed nuts reduced study participants’ risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, or dying of cardiovascular disease, by nearly 30 percent compared to a control group, whose only dietary modifications were based on a general recommendation to reduce dietary fat intake. Results were similar when the two Mediterranean diets were combined and compared to the control diet.

Here are five easy ways to follow the principles of the Mediterranean diet and improve your heart health starting today, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:

  1. Think plant-based meals: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans) and nuts / seeds.
  2. Instead of adding salt to your favorite meals, substitute herbs and spices to give your meals punch without the sodium content.
  3. Eat no more than 1-2 servings of red meat per month, and eat at least two servings of poultry and fish (preferably wild, not farmed) a week.
  4. Replace butter with “good” oils (olive, canola, etc.), which are high in monounsaturated fat, helping clear cholesterol from the body.
  5. Limit dairy intake and choose low-fat / fat-free options when it comes to milk, cheese and yogurt. That way, you can enjoy some of the health benefits of dairy (calcium, protein, healthy bacteria) without the high fat / cholesterol.

The key principles of the Mediterranean diet make perfect sense considering what we know about food intake and health, and they’re all great for your heart – and by the way, great for your entire body. To learn more about the Mediterranean diet and how a healthy diet can benefit not only heart health, but also weight loss and an overall healthy lifestyle, talk to your doctor.

B Vitamins can protect against heart attack and stroke

According to Dr. Al Sears, MD, B vitamins are your best protection against heart disease and stroke, and are more powerful than any drug. In fact, the pharmaceutical companies are working to develop a drug version of B vitamins so they can be sold as prescription instead of over-the-counter.

B vitamins are found in beef, poultry, fish, nuts, beans, eggs, milk, pork, fruits and vegetables.  The following chart from Dr. Sears shows the body’s use of B vitamins:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)Circulation, Blood formation, Brain function
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)Blood cell formation, antibiodies, Cataract prevention
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)Circulation, Nervous System, Healthy skin
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)Adrenal hormones, antibiodies, neurotransmitters, stamina
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)Brain/ Immune system function, cancer immunity, mild diuretic
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)Cell Growth, Metabolism of carbohydrates/ fats/ proteins
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)Preventing birth defects, Brain function
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)Memory, Brain Function

Dr. Sears states that studies show when Vitamin B9 (Folate)  is high in the body, a man’s risk of heart attack is cut in half, a woman’s risk of heart attack drops by 43%, and a woman’s risk of stroke drops by more than a third.  Furthermore, when Vitamin B6 is high, a man’s chance of heart attack is reduced by over 60%, a woman’s risk of heart attack drops by more than half, and a woman’s risk of stroke drops by more than a third.

High homocysteine levels, due to a low level of B12, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Medications such as antibiotics and birth control pills deplete B vitamins and increase your homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and birth defects.

So, protect your health by eating food high in folate, vitamin B6 and B12 every day.  Dr. Gibson also works with our patients on dietary supplementation, and can help you ensure your are getting what you need every day for optimal health.  Call our office at (479) 587-0227 to schedule your appointment to discuss your nutritional situation with Dr. Gibson.