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Category: Health Connection Topics

Obesity: Genetics or Willpower – Dr. David Shafer

Most people believe that maintaining a healthy weight is just a matter of diet and exercise. But what if it’s not that simple? Is it possible that it may not be just a matter of willpower and self-control? UT Health Northeast diabetes expert Dr. David Shafer explores the ins and outs of this epic battle in the latest post to HealthConnection.TV.

Is being overweight just a matter of eating more calories than you body needs or are there other factors involved? (first question)

Do your genes or family history affect whether or not you are overweight or obese? What are the environmental factors that play a role in obesity? (skip to 1:44)

What is metabolism and is it accurate to say that some people have a “fast” metabolism and some have a “slow” one? (skip to 3:56)

Some scientists believe genetic disorders are the primary reason people are overweight. Others believe issues like the easy availability of high-fat foods and lack of exercise are responsible for the obesity epidemic. Who’s right? (skip to 4:59)

In reading articles about obesity and genetics, one frequently sees the term “twin studies.” What does that term mean? (skip to 6:13)

What is Leptin and why is it referred to as the obesity hormone?” (skip to 7:42)

What is the “hunger hormone?” (skip to 9:31)

Based on what we know now, what are the best tools to combat obesity? (skip to 12:02)

Why is losing weight such a struggle? (skip to 13:54)

What role do you think genetics will have on the future treatment of obesity? (skip to 15:35)

Your Thyroid: Small Gland, Big Impact – Dr. Christina Bratcher

In the front of your throat, beneath your chin and just behind the skin, lies a very small gland that has a very big impact on your health. Your thyroid produces a hormone that regulates systems throughout your body. In the latest post to HealthConnection.TV, UT Health Northeast endocrinology expert Dr. Christina Bratcher answers questions on thyroid health.

Where is the thyroid gland and what does it do? (first question)

When the thyroid makes more hormones than the body needs it’s called hyperthyroidism. What is hyperthyroidism and what are the symptoms? (skip to 0:34)

How is hyperthyroidism treated? (skip to 1:09)

The opposite of hyperthyroidism is hypothyroidism — when the thyroid doesn’t make enough hormones. What causes hypothyroidism and what are its symptoms? (skip to 1:33)

How is hypothyroidism treated? (skip to 2:10)

What is the connection between thyroid disease and heart disease? (skip to 2:31)

For women especially, the thyroid gland is frequently blamed for being overweight. How common is an underactive thyroid gland that results in weight gain? (skip to 3:05)

Are there other diseases of the thyroid gland? (skip to 3:49)

How are thyroid diseases diagnosed? (skip to 4:21)

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disease, when do you need to see a specialist, in this case, an endocrinologist? (skip to 5:00)

Can thyroid disease be cured or is it lifelong? (skip to 5:37)

Insulin Resistance – Gerald Brown, P.A.

When the body doesn’t use the insulin it naturally produces in an efficient manner, it’s called insulin resistance and it’s the first step on the road to diabetes. Physician Assistant and Certified Diabetes Educator Gerald Brown discusses insulin resistance in this edition of Health Connection.

What is insulin and what role does it play in the body? (first question)

What is insulin resistance? (skip to 0:45)

What causes insulin resistance? (skip to 1:10)

Who is at risk for developing insulin resistance? (skip to 1:40)

What health problems can insulin resistance cause? (skip to 2:10)

Do all people with insulin resistance automatically have diabetes too? (skip to 2:37)

What are the symptoms of insulin resistance? (skip to 3:10)

How is insulin resistance diagnosed? (skip to 3:20)

How is insulin resistance treated? (skip to 3:51)

Are there lifestyle choices that can be made that will reduce the chances of developing insulin resistance? (skip to 4:13)

What foods should we eat more of and what foods should we avoid if we suffer with insulin resistance? (skip to 4:53)

Can children have insulin resistance? (skip to 5:16)

Can insulin resistance be reversed or cured? (skip to 5:40)

Work as Hard for Your Heart as it Works for You – Dr. Dudley Goulden

Did you know your heart is a muscle just like the biceps in your arm or the quadriceps in your legs? It’s considered to be the hardest working muscle in your body; beating more than 3.5 billion times during an average lifespan. And like any hard-working muscle, your heart needs a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep to stay healthy. But what actually happens to this vital muscle over time when you have diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol? U.T. Health Science Center at Tyler cardiologist Dr. Dudley Goulden answers questions about maintaining a healthy heart muscle in this post to HealthConnection.TV.

Why do we call the heart a muscle? (first question)

What happens to the heart muscle during a heart attack? (skip to 1:03)

How does congestive heart failure affect the heart muscle? (skip to 1:51)

What does the term “weak heart” mean? (skip to 2:50)

What do high blood pressure and high cholesterol do to the heart? (skip to 3:25)

How does cigarette smoking and other nicotine exposure affect the heart muscle? (skip to 4:50)

How does aerobic exercise change the heart muscle? (skip to 5:46)

What do you recommend for the average person with respect to aerobic exercise? (skip to 6:35)

What changes will a healthy diet make to improve the heart muscle? (skip to 7:13)

Can’t Sleep? What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You – Dr. Jim Stocks

We all have occasional nights when we can’t sleep, but long-term or chronic insomnia is much more serious. Untreated, it can increase your risk for diabetes, hypertension, depression, heart failure, and possibly even death in older adults. Chronic insomnia affects your memory, your ability to concentrate, and your safety on the road. So how do you know when it’s time to see a doctor for your insomnia? The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler’s Dr. Jim Stocks answers questions about chronic insomnia in this post to HealthConnection.TV.

What is chronic insomnia? (first question)

What is the impact of not treating chronic insomnia? (skip to 1:08)

Given how serious chronic insomnia can be, why is it so often undiagnosed and untreated? (skip to 1:40)

What is the impact on one’s health for not treating long-term insomnia? (skip to 2:38)

What is the impact of chronic insomnia on work, health care costs, driving safety, etc.? (skip to 3:34)

Is chronic insomnia difficult to treat? (skip to 5:27)

Which prescription medications work best in treating chronic insomnia? (skip to 8:09)

What are your thoughts on the prescription medication Ambien? (skip to 9:02)

Are there any concerns as to the long-term use of prescription sleep medications? (skip to 10:15)

What about over-the-counter sleep aids such as antihistamines, Sominex, Tylenol PM, melatonin and chamomile tea? (skip to 11:08)

At what point should one see a doctor about chronic insomnia? (skip to 12:15)

When should one seek out a sleep specialist? (skip to 13:12)

New FDA-approved Weight Loss Drugs – Gerald Brown, PA

For the first time in many years, the FDA has approved two new medications for use in promoting weight loss. Physician Assistant Gerald Brown from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler answers questions about these medications in this post to HealthConnection.TV.

The FDA has approved the release of two new diet drugs. What are they and how do the work? (first question)

Who will be approved to take these new drugs? (skip to 1:33)

Who should not take them? (skip to 1:55)

Are these new medications safe? (skip to 2:25)

The FDA has not approved new diet drugs in over a decade. Why were these medications approved? (skip to 3:27)

Among the problems with prior weight loss medications was that of rebound weight gain. Will that be a problem with these new medications as well? (skip to 5:20)

When will these new medications be available in pharmacies? (skip to 6:11)

If someone is considering asking his or her provider to prescribe either of these new drugs, what should be considered first? (skip to 7:09)


Drug Shortages: Will You Be Affected? – Dr. Jonathan MacClements

Though more of an inconvenience at the moment than crisis, doctors and patients are finding that many drugs that are routinely used in patient care, and particularly for patients in the hospital, are in short supply. The problem has attracted the attention of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the FDA now has a website (available here) for gathering information on drugs that are in short supply. In this post to HealthConnection.TV, Dr. Jonathan MacClements from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler discusses the problem of commonly used drugs that are in short supply.

We’ve been hearing about drug shortages in the news. What’s causing the problem? (first question)

How many drugs are in short supply? (skip to 0:37)

What kinds of drugs are being impacted? (skip to 1:00)

What is being done about the problem? (skip to 1:24)

Is the United States the only country affected? (skip to 2:14)

What impact will shortages have on cost? (skip to 2:33)

How can I find out if a drug I’m taking is on the list of those in short supply? (skip to 3:16)

What can I do if a drug I’m taking is on the list? (skip to 3:42)

Is this going to be a chronic, ongoing problem or will it be resolved? (skip to 4:05)

The Diabetes Links – Dr. David Shafer

Diabetes is a very serious disease in and of itself. But it doesn’t stop there. Ongoing clinical research is revealing that diabetes has causal or complicating links to a range of other serious health problems including the most common cancers, hearing loss, dementia, heart attack and stroke. In the latest post to HealthConnection.TV, the U.T. Health Science Center at Tyler’s Dr. David Shafer answers questions on the diabetes links.

What is diabetes and why does there appear to be links between it and other serious diseases? (first question)

Are the links to other diseases equally attributable to Type I and Type II diabetes? (skip to 1:32)

What is the link between diabetes and heart attack or stroke? (skip to 3:23)

Why do people with diabetes have a greater risk of hearing loss? (skip to 4:18)

What is the connection between diabetes and cancer? (skip to 5:29)

Why would someone with diabetes be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia? (skip to 7:03)

What is the link between diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure)? (skip to 9:30)

Are these risks increased irrespective of how well diabetes is managed by the patient? (skip to 10:40)


Bed Bugs – Dr. Jeffrey Levin

Prior to World War I, nearly 30 percent of all homes were infested with bed bugs. Widespread use of pesticides such as DDT all but eradicated bed bugs for nearly 50 years. But with declining use of pesticides and the elimination of DDT, bed bugs have staged a comeback and are reported in all 50 states. There is even an iPhone app that allows users to track bed bug sightings. Dr. Jeffrey Levin of the U.T. Health Science Center at Tyler discusses bed bugs in this post to healthconnection.tv.

What are bed bugs and where do they come from? (first question)

What do bed bugs look like? (skip to 1:03)

Why are we hearing about bed bugs now? (skip to 1:33)

How do I know if I have bed bugs in my home? (skip to 2:36)

How is an infestation of bed bugs treated? (skip to 3:31)

What are the signs and symptoms of bed bug bites and how are they treated? (skip to 5:24)

Are bed bugs like ticks or mosquitoes, can they spread more serious disease? (skip to 6:35)

Is there anything to be done to prevent an infestation in one’s home? (skip to 7:16)

How can I check to see if a hotel I am staying in has bed bugs? (skip to 8:35)

Depression – Dr. Wyn Andrews

Everyone gets in a funk from time to time. It’s a natural part of being human. But for millions of Americans every year, it goes beyond being in a bad mood. It’s a debilitating disease called depression. For many sufferers, the first challenge is to recognize the problem. In this post, we’re joined by the U.T. Health Science Center’s Dr. Wyn Andrews as he discusses diagnosing and treating depression.

What exactly is depression? (first question)

Why can’t I just “get over it?” (skip to 1:17)

How big a problem is depression in the United States? (skip to1:44)

Are some people more prone to depression than others? (skip to 2:15)

How do I know if I truly am clinically depressed? (skip to 2:57)

How long does depression typically last? (skip to 3:42)

What are the common treatments for depression? (skip to 3:58)

How effective are medications in treating depression? (skip to 4:11)

What is “major depression?” (skip to 4:33)

When is it time to seek help from a physician that specializes in the treatment of depression? (skip to 4:53)

Generally speaking, is there hope for people who suffer with depression? (skip to 5:34)

Are there any new and more effective drugs in the pipeline waiting for approval? (skip to 6:00)

Are there serious side effects to the drugs currently being used to treat depression? (skip to 6:48)