Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How Healthy is your Heart?

Despite the best efforts of western medicine to combat the problem, heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States. It is the leading cause of death in both men and women.  Stroke comes in third, after cancer. Stroke is also the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

These are alarming statistics. Together, heart disease and stroke have a devastating effect, striking a huge segment of the population when they are still in their prime of life.

Even those who survive a heart attack or stroke may find their quality of life suffers, with an associated loss of income or productivity, along with the exorbitant costs of life-saving treatments or long-term medications.

As a society, we used to think of heart disease and stroke as a man’s disease. But that is no longer true. Heart disease and stroke are equal opportunity predators. While breast and other cancers may get more attention in the media, the truth is that women are five times more likely to die of a heart attack than breast cancer. The American Heart Association reports that one in five women in the U.S. has some form of heart disease.

After menopause – either natural or due to a hysterectomy, that risk increases. Menopausal women are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease than younger, pre-menopausal women.

What can we do to reduce our risk? A healthy lifestyle that includes not smoking, some form of stress reduction, eating a low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables, and at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week is critical.

But we also know that hormones play a major role in our cardiovascular health and well being.

For women, estrogen’s positive effect on every tissue in the body is well documented. But you may not be aware that estrogen also increases HDL, the good cholesterol, while decreasing LDL, the bad cholesterol. In addition, estrogen helps keep the blood vessels dilated and the lining of the walls smooth, so blood can flow more easily, promoting good circulation. Some studies show estrogen may also reduce free radicals in the blood so they have less change of doing damage to the blood vessels.

The same situation is present for men. Not surprisingly, testosterone is good for the heart, the blood vessels and cholesterol levels. Adequate levels of testosterone have been shown to improve HDL, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation of blood vessel walls, improve heart function and promote heart muscle protein synthesis.

The key to remember is this: heart disease and stroke are preventable. Even though you may not be able to eliminate certain risk factors such as family history and ethnic background (African-Americans are at higher risk), it is possible to gain the upper hand over these two widely prevalent medical conditions.

The goal for everyone should be to develop good lifestyle habits in combination with a medically prescribed plan for supplementing or replacing hormone loss. Careful attention to diet, exercise, hormones and stress will lead to the best plan of attack for reducing the risk and severity of both heart disease and stroke.

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, we offer the most advanced age management therapies coupled with the education and statistical analysis to help you feel great at every age. We will access not only your hormone levels but every factor associated with helping you age well and enjoy your life to the fullest as it pertains to achieving the correct balances. You simply need to call to schedule your executive health evaluation with our expert team of age management specialists and started enjoying better heart health now.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not bad so far

I'm loving the program Southwest Age Intervention Institute has designed for me. Last Thursday I spent a sweaty, difficult hour and fifteen minutes with Vanessa who created a workout regimen especially for me and my very bad right leg. There simply are several exercises I cannot do because of a lack of strength and balance in the leg. Vanessa put me through a series of exercises aimed at increasing my core strength. What a workout! And that was HALF of what she's designed for me! I'll get the other half when I visit Southwest Aging Intervention Institute later this week.

Right now, I'm halfway through the eating induction period. I'm amazed at how easy it has been to make the change to a much healthier eating program. Now, that doesn't mean I wouldn't still enjoy a terrific burger, but I'm pretty proud that I'm now giving my body the proper nutrition. More to come later this week.

And say a prayer that the second half of Vanessa's workout regimen doesn't just wear me out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Libido... Where is yours?

How to get your "Mojo" back

Libido is defined as the desire for an intimate, sexual relationship with a partner.  For many men and women, enjoying an active and passionate sex life is a vital part of a happy and healthy lifestyle.

But perhaps your interest in sex doesn’t seem to be as strong as it was in your 20s, 30s, or even 40s. You’re not sure what’s going on, but you know for sure your libido isn’t what it used to be.

Or maybe your sex drive is still there, but there are complications to your enjoyment, such as men experiencing problems having or maintaining an erection and in women vaginal dryness, disinterest, or discomfort during sex.

Without an active sex life, you may sense that there is something “missing.”  You may feel dissatisfied with life or experience stress and anxiety. There may be the perception of lost vitality and virility if you’re a man, or low self-esteem and feeling less feminine if you’re a woman.

Sex Drive & Hormone Levels – What’s Age Got To Do With It?
There may be a medical reason for a loss of sexual desire or other problems related to sexuality.  Some chronic medical conditions or certain medications can cause erectile dysfunction or problems with sexual arousal in women.

But often, reduced sexual enjoyment is simply the result of declining levels of hormones – an unfortunate side effect of the aging process.

Did you know that starting at age 30, men on average begin to experience a yearly drop in testosterone levels ranging from 1% to 3%?  Many women start to have declining levels of estrogen as early as their late 30s.

The right balance of the sex hormones, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone, along with hormones such as cortisol, thyroid and DHEA, directly correlates to sex drive.  Diminished levels of these hormones play havoc with our libido, our ability to perform sexually and the sensations we experience.

But that’s not all.

The proper balance of hormone levels in our body also affects our overall health and well-being. Hormones have a profound effect on everything from mood and energy level to muscle mass and strength, bone health, skin tone, mental sharpness and focus, blood sugar levels, cardiovascular health, and much more.

It’s no wonder that as we age and hormone levels fluctuate, the body may no longer be in proper balance. As a result, we may begin to see and feel the consequences physically, sexually, mentally and emotionally.

For men, the change may be subtle and gradual. For women, it may be dramatic and abrupt.  But either way, there is the definite realization that they are no longer at their peak performance during sex, work and play.  And that can affect the quality of every aspect of their lives.

Male Menopause – Fact or Fiction?
It’s true. Many men at middle age experience a type of male menopause called andropause.  It may not be the same type of wake-up call that menopause creates in women. But for men, a gradual loss of hormones, especially testosterone, can be extremely impactful on physical, sexual, emotional and mental health.

Lower testosterone levels have a direct relationship to decreased libido and erectile dysfunction and can contribute to weight gain and increased abdominal fat, decreased beard growth, breast enlargement, loss of mental sharpness and muscle tone, even anxiety, fatigue and irritability.

Often, anti-depressant medication is prescribed to combat mood swings and depression.  But anti-depressants can reduce sexual desire further, exacerbating the problem. At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, we know that a holistic approach that restores and balances hormones, and includes a good diet, exercise and nutritional supplements, is the right solution.

Women, Hormones & Menopause
Exactly when women begin to experience the results of hormone loss can depend on many factors, including heredity, nutrition, stress, lifestyle and the age that the menstrual cycle began.

But we do know that as hormone production becomes more erratic, fluctuations and surges can contribute to the many well-documented list of symptoms: sleep disturbance, hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, depression, along with problems related to sex.

Decreased hormone levels can reduce sex drive and interfere with sexual arousal.  It can also make sex uncomfortable due to several factors. With the loss of estrogen, the walls of the vagina become thinner, less elastic and dry. There may also be changes in the tissues of the urinary tract leading to incontinence and greater risk of infection.

Appropriate hormone replacement therapy can improve your sex life by reducing these detrimental changes to the vagina, especially by improving the elasticity of the vaginal walls and increasing moisture and lubrication.

Not a Quick Fix – A Long-Term Solution
Untreated, hormonal imbalances can lead to a variety of complications and a loss of pleasure in life. Yet often, we may not know what to do about it. And sometimes, we may be embarrassed and prefer not to talk about it. Fortunately, the Southwest Age Intervention Institute has an answer.

By using safe and effective evidence-based medicine, we can help you get back on track. We can restore hormone balance by using a medically prescribed, personal treatment plan designed for your specific needs. Our goal is to stop your hormone levels from declining, restore them to a healthy level and maintain them over time so you can enjoy life to its fullest.

What We Can Do For You
The first step is to undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation. A laboratory analysis of your blood will identify your unique biological markers, including your current levels of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, thyroid, cortisol and insulin.

If your hormone levels are clinically lower than what we consider to be a healthy range, your treatment plan will focus on the best method of adjusting your levels for optimal health and satisfaction.  This may require us to stimulate your body to produce more of the needed hormones, or we may need to prescribe replacement therapy.

The right hormone regimen for you may include creams, supplements or injections.  However, it is important for you to understand that we only use bioidentical hormones – hormones that most closely mimic the body’s natural substances to give you the best results safely and effectively.

Follow-up is critical too.

As the body is continually changing, it is just as important for us to continually monitor your progress. You can be confident that we will continually evaluate your hormone levels to make sure that they are at appropriate levels to ensure the health and safety of your treatment plan.

To learn more about hormones and their role in helping you enjoy a great sex life all of your life, call Southwest Age Intervention Institute today to schedule your confidential executive health evaluation with our team of age management experts. We are here to address all of your concerns and ideally direct you toward a better quality of life, not just sexually, but in all areas as it pertains to your health and longevity.

Friday, May 20, 2011

And so it begins...

Last Tuesday I learned more about my body, my bad habits and my personal medical situation than in any previous day in my 66 years on earth. Weeks ago I'd given my blood and for the following 2-3 weeks Southwest Age Intervention Institute was determining exactly what kind of shape I was in. And not just physical shape, but total shape. I arrived in their Arlington offices at about 12:45 and didn't leave until well after 7p.m. Does that sound like a long day? It was! But what an incredibly informative, insightful afternoon learning how I could defy aging.

The afternoon began with mental agility tests (that's not what they called them, but they tested whether or not doing sports talk for 36 years had significantly rotted my brain. Thankfully it had not!) Such tests also gauged my manu
al dexterity.

Then it was back to the meeting room for a terrific lunch of scallops and snow peas while watching a video explaining the basis of their nutrition program. I'm 66 and I learned basic info I wish I'd had known 40 years ago---except that it didn't exist then.

Next came a 75 minute meeting with nutritionist Judy Van Beest. Her husband, Johann, has basically walked me through this program as kind of overall program guide. Judy, who looks to be about 45 years old, took me through WHY the nutrition program worked, how it was designed and that my personal eating habits had created situations that could be problematic in the near future if I didn't address them.

Honestly, I'd never been shown exactly how the body worked, the glycemic index of foods, how certain foods triggered the release of insulin in the body and that continuously elevated insulin levels work against a body. About 45 minutes deep in this session I wrote myself a note----"This WILL work!" Imagine how stunned I was sometime later that afternoon to find Judy was actually 60 years old! She absolutely does not look it----but then she's in this age defying program.

Next, I went down the
hall to work with physical and exercise therapist, Vanessa. We did all kinds of exercises, meas
urements, body scans and took pictures that I can assure you are not that flattering, but the Institute wants baseline information to measure your progress.

Then came the final and most vital part of the afternoon---meeting with Dr. Jacob Rosenstein, who'll oversee my progress in all areas. We began with a physical to check basics. (Yes, there was a prostate exam!) Then came the most eye-opening hour. The Institute has a virtual dossier on me. The blood work measured everything, good and bad. I'm happy to report some good areas. My cholesterol is good, but there's work to do in terms of "good and bad" cholesterol. I'm deficient in vitamin D and my insulin's way too high. If, in my current condition, I'm to rebuild lean muscle mass I'll need testosterone injunctions (Insert Gordo joke here!) The session went and on and learned more and more. The scans revealed where my extra fatty tissue is concentrated and that I have some significant build-up of plaque in my carotid artery. There's also a touch of arthritis in my back.

It was incredible! The information just kept coming then I learned exactly what MY program would consist of. I got a huge three-ring binder with all of SAII's research and my particular health plan. We reviewed old eating habits, surgeries, family medical history, supplements I'd been taking and medications I had to take. Whew!

After that meeting Dr.Johann van Beest walked me to the pharmacy---their pharmacy! All, and I do mean ALL, the supplements and hormones necessary to correct imbalances were waiting for me. Each month I'll be shipped another month's supply. And, just in case you're wondering, no---this is not special treatment. This is the way any man or woman wanting to defy the aging process gets treated at Southwest Age Intervention Institute.

I'm truly psyched. This program does what it advertises and it will do it for me. Next week comes another meeting with Vanessa, who'll outline my exercise program. I'm gonna have to give up some old, very detrimental eating habits, workout more and understand that my body needs care if it's gonna work for me for many more years.

I'll be keeping you posted. But if what I've written intrigues you why not make the call.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Starting Your Age Intervention Program

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, your customized program begins with extensive blood work. Our phlebotomist comes to you at work or home, and we work around your schedule. This blood work is the blueprint of your body at your age. We evaluate all major organ systems, hormonal levels, markers of inflammation, and risk factors for disease to determine how you are aging.

You complete detailed history forms so that we may understand your lifestyle, eating habits, past medical history, family health history, activity levels, and age intervention goals. The interpretation of the lab work is important. Where you are in the “normal” range clearly makes a difference. Your goal is to be at the lowest risk for disease and at peak physical, cognitive, and sexual function.

Your Executive Health Evaluation is scheduled at our facility in Arlington, Texas approximately 4 weeks after your blood draw. The day of your evaluation spans 7 hours and includes:

  • Ultrasound of the carotid arteries
  • Bone density testing
  • Body composition scan – determines the distribution of fat and lean in the body
  • Fitness Evaluation – to determine proper training zones to burn fat with shorter workouts
  • Mental acuity and cognitive function testing – to evaluate risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Lunch – nutritional video
  • Meet with our Nutritional Counselor – to teach the principles that allow you to eat healthy for life
  • Consultation with Dr. Rosenstein – 2 hours. (He reviews your blood work and test results and performs a physical exam. He designs a personalized treatment plan to correct and optimize hormone imbalances.)

Our Age Intervention Program is a multifaceted approach to age-related change. We address your immediate goals, e.g., weight loss, lean muscle gain, improved energy, mental acuity, and sexual function. In the long term, our most important goal is to help you maintain optimum physical, cognitive, and sexual function while keeping you at the lowest risk for disease – everything from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia – so you can enjoy a good quality of life and not experience decline as typically we would see. By correcting the underlying hormonal and metabolic imbalances, we help you reverse the age-related changes you have experienced.

Days 1 through 30 – You can expect an improved feeling of wellbeing with sharper mental acuity, increased energy, motivation and drive in both your personal and professional life. You will experience renewed confidence and competitiveness. Men typically experience greater sex drive and a spontaneous return of early morning erections with improvement in mild depression associated with declining hormones. Women will begin to see a reduction in menopausal symptoms including decreased hot flashes and night sweats with improved mental outlook.

Days 31 through 90 – You will experience increased physical strength and endurance with reduced recovery time. Weight loss occurs and lean muscle mass gain transforms your body composition. You experience an improvement in cardiovascular conditioning with increased workout and physical activity abilities. Men and women will continue to experience changes in mood and energy while libido and sexual performance continue to improve.

Days 91 through 180 – You will continue to experience measurable and significant body composition changes. Decreased abdominal fat and increased lean muscle mass are seen. For those with osteopenia (loss of bone density), stabilization of bone mass occurs. The risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive dysfunction decreases while improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels are experienced.

Beyond Day 180 – Transformation is possible. Dr. Rosenstein became an age management patient in April 2008. He had remarkable results. Prior to the program, he was on a low-fat diet and exercised daily. Despite this he developed muscle wasting and fat accumulation around his abdomen. While his total body fat was only 21%, his body composition was poor. His abdomen had 26% fat. This type of fat distribution is associated with chronic diseases including insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. In the Age Intervention Program, the fat around his abdomen decreased from 26% to 7%. His total body fat went from 21% to 8%. He lost 14 pounds of fat and gained 17 pounds of muscle. He achieved these remarkable results in only 6 months (180 days).

Monitoring Your Progress
Following your Executive Health Evaluation, monitoring your ongoing progress is a critical part of the Southwest Age Intervention Institute Program. Follow-up blood work and a body composition scan ensure that your program is working as intended. Periodic adjustments or refinements to your program will be made by Dr. Rosenstein as needed.

Your next blood work is performed two months after you start the program. Your blood work is compared to prior results and your progress evaluated. Dr. Rosenstein consults with you once more to determine how the program is working for you and as to what changes should be made. It is vital that hormone levels are maintained at proper levels. From this point forward, dependent on need, blood work is performed every 4-6 months.

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, our patients are encouraged to interact with both Dr. Rosenstein and staff. We monitor the changes in their program to ensure safety and efficacy. Each patient’s age intervention protocol includes proper diagnostics combined with a precise age intervention treatment plan.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Will I ever get some of that blood back?

Thorough! That's the impression I got when meeting the professionals at the Southwest Age Intervention Institute---thorough. As we talked I became more and more impressed with the singular focus of this place----they were absolutely serious about defying the generally negative feelings people have about getting older. As I've aged to a now still-very-spry 66, I faced these later years wondering what they'd be like and simply hoping I could "age gracefully." But at Southwest Age Intervention Institute, they've developed a proactive program in which we (they and I) take my future into my own hands. Their program stresses both mental and physical approaches to maintaining vitality. They believe passionately in their slogan of "turning the rest of your life into the best of your life."

I walked away both impressed and revved up about starting my individually designed program. Then, the day for the blood test and filing my paper work arrived. And, boy, did I ever understand what "thorough" actually meant! They wanted to know everything about me. EVERYTHING! But then, if you're designing such a program, you've got to know all there is to know about the body and the history the patient. Yes, the forms took some time to complete. But as I worked through the paperwork I realized again how dedicated they were to finding the very best paths to send me down.

Then came the blood work. Because my schedule was ridiculous around NFL draft time, James the phlebotomist visited my office. Let me assure you, I don't like to give blood. I hate the sight of blood. So, I asked if I could simply look away, keep working and have James simply tell me when it was over (though at that point I figured I'd probably know). One stick and the process was underway. I continued to read. James changed vials and drew more blood. More reading. More blood. Five vials in all! Five. That seemed a lot to me but again that word came back to me----thorough! This is not some simple pop-a-vitamin-do-a-push-up-and-it'll-be-OK program.

When we meet again at their Arlington offices May 10 for them to go completely through the program they've designed for me, they'll know everything they needed to know about me. That gives me even more confidence in the team at Southwest Age Intervention Institute. They want me to defy aging, not simply accept decline as a "fact of life." I'll up date you next week on that meeting and the program.

Meanwhile, I'm left with only one question at this point-----will I ever get some of that blood back?

-Norm Hitzges