01 January 2020
The new year is approaching and people are already drawing up a list of resolutions – many that will be broken before 2020 is even weeks old!
But, with the knowledge that health and happiness go hand in hand here a few suggestions to ensure you have a happy and healthy new year.
The heart of the matter
Dr Ahmed Farag, a Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Spire Cheshire Hospital, says that despite huge amounts of publicity urging people to take care of their heart it is still getting ‘a rough deal’ from a lot of people.
“During an average life time, the heart beats 2.5 billion times – unfortunately, despite the work it puts in, we still take it for granted! Why not use the new year to take a new look at keeping your heart healthy.
“Stopping smoking is a must, as is cutting back on alcohol consumption. But you can also improve heart health by eating a healthy balanced diet – dump the processed foods and get more fresh fruit and vegetables on the menu.
“Exercise is also very important… the usual thing like taking the stairs rather than the lift and walking rather than driving to the shops. If you haven’t been active for a long time, don’t go straight into five mile runs or anything drastic – take it easy and build up slowly.
“If you have any doubts about what you should be doing then see your GP – they will be happy to advise exercise plans that allow you to improve your health in a controlled manner. When it comes to heart health small changes can make a big difference.”
Don’t suffer in silence
It is a problem that most women would “grin and bear” rather than discuss but urinary incontinence (UI) is both very common and very treatable says Mr Shahzad Shah, a Consultant Urologist) at Spire Bushey Hospital.
He explained: “Twice as many women compared with men experience UI but, when you consider things like pregnancy, childbirth and the menopause, as well as the structure of the female urinary tract, it is easy to see why.
“Yet, in so many cases, the solution is fairly simple. We undertake urodynamic assessments to assess the patient’s bladder function. Symptoms can be treated by effective pelvic floor exercises, lifestyle and behavioral changes, bladder retraining and medication or surgery.
“If you have to cross your knees while sneezing or exercising then simple procedures can provide good results and, for overactive bladders, Botox injections are very useful if drug therapy fails. There are also a variety of surgical options that we could discuss – taking into account the individual patient’s particular needs.
“The majority of women tell me their lives were transformed following treatment and that they wish they had sought help sooner.”
Food for thought
It is definitely one of the most popular resolutions but how many people are going to give up on their ‘must lose weight’ campaign just days into their new diet?
She explained: "Going on a very restrictive diet is counterproductive. While you’ll initially lose weight, the body’s `starvation response’ kicks in, so you regain the weight – and often ‘a little bit more’.
“Also, the moment we say we’re on a diet we start making rules for ourselves. When the rules are broken, people are then vulnerable to losing control of their eating. Getting stuck in a cycle of losing and regaining weight leaves people feeling demoralised and hopeless and more likely to turn to comfort eating.”
Jenny stressed that it was people’s relationship with food that was often the main hurdle when it comes to losing weight.
At her clinics at The Montefiore Hospital, Jenny advises people to, among other things, avoid strict diet rules, eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg and keep a record of their eating habits.
She said: “There is no simple solution and everyone is different, but the best way to make healthy changes to your eating lifestyle is to seek expert advice before you turn to the latest weight loss fad.
“Understanding your relationship with food and taking positive steps to change that relationship are the things that most successful weight loss campaigns are based on.”
Walking back to happiness
There is no doubt that regular walking is good for your heart, helps burn up the calories that can lead to obesity and helps a create a feeling of general wellbeing.
Unfortunately many people are putting off a regular brisk stroll because the pain in their hips makes exercise a very daunting prospect.
“Many people are putting off hip operations because they think they are too young to need joint replacements or are frightened that the actual operation will be too traumatic. Instead, they put up with the pain and their general health can often be the price they pay,” according to Mr Amit Shah, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Spire Fylde Coast Hospital.
He said: “The deciding factor in whether you have a hip replacement should not be your age – it should depend on how it is affecting your quality of life. I have done hip replacement procedures on people of all ages and if feedback is anything to go by then most people say it has made them feel years younger.
“The operation takes between 60 to 90 minutes and most patients spend two or three nights in hospital. As hip surgery skills have developed over the years so recovery times have become shorter. We now expect most patients to return to driving within six to eight weeks and be back to normal activities within three months.”
Longing for the sound of silence
The sound of someone snoring can make people laugh out loud – unless, of course it is stopping them getting to sleep. Then snoring suddenly becomes a serious issue!
So how about a silent night in 2020?
There are solutions - from simple changes in lifestyle to a range of operations - that could correct the causes of the snoring.
Mr Costa Repanos, an Ear, Nose and Throat consultant at Spire Portsmouth Hospital explained: “Snoring is caused by turbulence inside the airways due, mostly, to a partial blockage that may be located anywhere from the tip of the nose to the vocal chords. Typically, this occurs when the muscles that keep the airways open become too relaxed or excess tissue accumulates nearby and obstructs air flow.
“Common sense changes such as losing weight, not drinking alcohol within three hours of bedtime and stopping smoking can all have a beneficial effect as can sleeping on your side, sleeping with a thin pillow and keeping pets out of the bedroom.”
However there can be times when medical intervention is needed.
“Snoring is often due to a multi-level obstruction with varying degrees of blockage at the level of nose, soft palate, tonsils and the tongue base,” said Mr Repanos.
“Surgery to the nose may be as simple as a septoplasty or turbinate surgery to improve the nasal airway. Palate operations are generally to reduce its size or stiffen it up and stop it vibrating and tonsil surgery helps to create more space.”
If you’re concerned about a niggling pain, or just want to speak to a professional about your health, our world-class consultants can help. Get in touch for more information about services at Spire, or book online today.