Dominick Curatola, MD, interventional cardiologist: When you look at many diseases — diabetes, heart disease, arthritis — the underlying issue is chronic inflammation, your body’s first-line defense against infection and injury, which can trigger disease if it goes on too long. So my tips are five major pillars to reduce the risk of inflammation: (1) Avoid diets that are pro-inflammatory, with lots of refined sugar and carbs. (2) Exercise. (3) Get quality sleep. (4) Manage your stress. (5) Have meaning in your life — get engaged with something that is important to you, which may be different than your job. And isolation is a killer, so intimacy is important, whether it’s with your dog or your spouse. These are the key things.
We can take a cue from our forebears. My grandparents lived into their 90s. They had fresh food that they cooked, they were surrounded by family and friends, and they didn’t have the same stress in their lives.
Edward Karpman, MD, urologist: If a man lives long enough, he’s probably going to develop an enlarged prostate. Men often see it as a quality-of-life issue — “I get up to
pee every two hours” — and just deal with these problems on their own because they’re scared to go to the doctor. But a lot of men confuse prostate cancer surgery — where we remove the entire prostate, which may damage nerves — with the treatment for an enlarged prostate, which doesn’t carry those same side effects. We can also mitigate the need for prostate surgery with lifestyle changes, like avoiding spicy foods and caffeinated beverages, and bike riding. Men should also know that testosterone decreases about 1 to 2 percent per year beginning at age 30. Symptoms of low testosterone are decreased energy, sex drive, erections, and physical performance as well as depression, osteoporosis, and muscle wasting. At the Men’s Health Program, if men complain about symptoms, we administer the ADAM [Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male] questionnaire and, depending on the results, may test for low testosterone. Exercise, good diet, good sleeping habits, and low stress all help maintain healthy testosterone levels. Testosterone replacement therapy can also help.
Evan Garner, MD, vice chief, Department of Psychiatry, and associate medical director, Psychiatric Emergency Services: Men are more vulnerable to depression in times of transition — like in adolescence and in retirement — when you have to reassess your identity. Men also have a higher rate of completing suicide. Untreated, some depression resolves, but only in a minority of cases. With treatment, the rate is significantly higher. Men are less likely than women to seek help, but there are safe, effective treatments for depression that don’t necessarily involve medication, like therapy and group therapy. Men should also seek help for substance abuse, which is more than just a physical dependence. It’s also the associated behavior — driving under the influence, problems at work or school, problems in relationships.
The Addiction Services Program at El Camino Hospital involves a comprehensive physical, emotional, psychosocial evaluation, and ongoing therapy is part of the treatment.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.