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Knowledge of disease
Old 12-09-2019, 04:10 PM   #1
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Knowledge of disease

I find it interesting that, as we all know, heart disease and cancer will take out a good chunk of us. And yet most of us, I would speculate, have done no real research of the current data. There is a ton of excellent and timely information about most disease causes and cures, and its right at our fingertips on the web. And yet we only become really interested until it strikes us or a loved one. For me personally, that's when I become an expert. During my past bouts with kidney stones and various other maladies, I quickly found myself telling my doctor about things I read from the Mayo, Hopkins, etc., that pertained to my illness. And the doctors were frequently at a loss as to what studies I was referring. I know they are very busy treating people, so keeping up on the literature might not always be possible. But I find that disheartening, as well as my general laziness to try and learn about all the popular diseases. If I spent as much time researching disease as I do farting around on this RE forum, I would be an MD!

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Old 12-09-2019, 04:21 PM   #2
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There are so many things that could hit us, though, can you really research and do something about all of them? I mostly read up on illnesses I've had or my parents have had. My dad had a heart attack so that's one of the most common one, but he smoked, had a lot of stress at work, and didn't exercise much. I never smoked, retired early (and didn't have THAT much stress when working), and exercise a lot.

Cancer, I suppose I could read up on more, but I don't know how much they really know about causes and some things that can help.

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Old 12-09-2019, 05:44 PM   #3
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I spend more time optimizing money than I do health, which is backwards since I'm dozens of times more likely to die by 75 than run out of money ever.

On the health front, what I have done is looked at the most likely causes of death for my cohort. I then look at the three or four basic things I can do to reduce my probability of dying from each of those causes. I then try to do all of those things.

It turns out that is easier than it sounds, because the list of things overlaps a lot from disease to disease. So pretty much all I do is:

1. Cardio exercise regularly. For me that's currently 3x per week.
2. Strength train regularly. For me that's currently 2x-3x per week.
3. Eat a balanced diet. Lots of ink has been spilled, but for me it's eat only when hungry and lots of color other than brown.
4. I do take some vitamins and minerals for specific reasons. In my case: multi, VitD, fish oil, and iron.
5. I visit my primary care doc once a year.
6. I get all recommended vaccines and screening procedures.
7. I try to minimize stress and maintain good sleep patterns.

Nothing real earth shattering, but I think that consistently doing the above will give me decent odds at a relatively long and relatively healthy life.
"At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may in fact be the first steps of a journey." Violet Baudelaire.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:08 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by cbo111 View Post
I quickly found myself telling my doctor about things I read from the Mayo, Hopkins, etc., that pertained to my illness. And the doctors were frequently at a loss as to what studies I was referring. I know they are very busy treating people, so keeping up on the literature might not always be possible.
Doctors often have dozens (hundreds?) of patients, with a variety of illnesses, and only a short time to diagnose what it going on. Their strength is learning to recognize a wide range of symptoms and causes and how to treat them. The usual "Jack of all trades, master of none" approach. Not counting doctors who specialize in a single area (i.e. brain surgeons probably don't have much expertise with bowel issues).

On the other hand, I only have to worry about myself and the one condition I may be having. I can afford to spend as much time as I wish researching my particular situation, and may end up learning more about the subject than my doctor does. Still, I know I'm just an amateur with a narrow field of research so I never try to act like I know more than they do. But it does let me ask better questions and not just follow instructions blindly.
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An Informed Consumer
Old 12-09-2019, 06:18 PM   #5
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An Informed Consumer

I am a firm believer in being an informed consumer and when I am seeing the doctor and his resident for my annual physical, I come prepared with questions I have about things which are bothering me for which I need answers. After I receive their responses and opinions, I do my own research using the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, along with the PubMed database. This arms me with enough information to form an educated opinion of what I will do regarding my concerns. This approach has served me well as far as medication management and treatment for various medical events I have experienced, like a stroke and a total-knee replacement (so far). The nice thing about this process is I can make a copies of my research and give it to the doctor (and his resident) to read at their leisure and they can better understand why I think the way I do about the many "gray" areas of treatment, as well as offer their insights into my opinions. For what it's worth, I trust my doctor completely, but I think there is always a chance I might bring something to his attention which could benefit us both.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:29 PM   #6
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I’m pretty up to speed on recent info on heart disease risks and chronic metabolic diseases, and I tell you things have really changed and our medical system is way behind on treating it effectively.
Retired since summer 1999.
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:48 PM   #7
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I do find researching on the net helps me ask more informed questions. I have learned way too much about skin cancers over the last couple of years. DW insisted I go to the dermatologist for a nasty looking "thing" on my back. One melanoma, two basal cell, and two squamous cell cancers later, the ugly thing is still on my back, but all is good.

I find the Mayo Clinic website to be the most informative and least dramatic, for just about everything.
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Old 12-09-2019, 08:40 PM   #8
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And I still cannot get over that so many people don't have good quality periodic checkups including chest x-rays.

I once had a doctor in his checkups put all patients that can walk a tread mill go on it while he did an EKG. His practice's heart attacks went down to about nothing.

We only have two close friends that smoke, and both had stage IV lung cancer last year before they even knew they had cancer. We buried one last year, and the other one is not long for this world. Had they been having yearly chest x-rays, their odds would have been dramatically better.

My wife's cardiologist says that it's a shame more people don't take their blood pressure like diabetics take their blood sugar levels. Those numbers mean something, and life adjustments can be easily made with the numbers go the wrong way.
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Old 12-09-2019, 10:03 PM   #9
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There's only so much you can do. Sure exercise, eat right, don't smoke.... I can do that but nothing special to ward off dementia, glaucoma... things that are in my family history.

I get the pleasure of frequent colonoscopies due to family history. I guess that's an upside?
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Old 12-09-2019, 10:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MRG View Post
...but nothing special to ward off dementia...
Move around throughout the day to keep blood flowing to the brain. Don't sit longer than 20-30 minutes. Exercise once a day isn't enough. There's a recent study on this. I used to wonder about the warning that came with my recliner about not sleeping in it but it made sense when I threw out my back and slept in it, barely reclining, for a couple of hours and got a headache. You need to be flat when you're not moving so blood could get to your head easier.

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