Our neighborhood is so fortunate to have a unique lecture series geared to inform and educate us about the latest medical advice and findings for all different ailments and for the prevention of various diseases. Navigating the Medical System, founded and directed by Dr. Mel Breite, MD, brings top physicians and medical professionals to our community to educate us.
On Tuesday evening, November 19, Dr. Breite shared the latest advances in medicine. As always, he offered a thorough, detailed lecture. He pointed out that “Dr. Google is the most visited doctor in the world. He doesn’t have a license to practice medicine, and if he did, it should be revoked.” Googling a medical problem can often scare people and may not be accurate at all.
He taught that a visit to one’s doctor has the goal to make life longer, pain free, and meaningful. He pointed out that sometimes even articles in the medical journals can be incorrect. There was an article in one medical journal that claimed it was healthful to consume saturated fat three times a week. It turned out that the author was paid off by the beef industry. “Don’t believe what you read in journals.”
He then spoke about something called a “polypill,” which treats multiple conditions with one pill. There was a study done in Iran with this type of pill, which contained aspirin, a water pill, a blood pressure pill, and a statin all in one. The study showed that those who took the polypill had significantly less cardiovascular events than those who took the placebo. Someone in Alabama also experimented with a polypill that contained a diuretic, aspirin, and a blood pressure pill, and found that those who took it had lower cholesterol and a bigger drop in blood pressure than the placebo group. “I won’t be surprised if the polypill will come to be used in the near future,” he said.
He then spoke about flu guidelines. The number one guideline for treatment for the flu is the flu shot. If you have flu symptoms like cough, fever, etc., go to the doctor or the nearest urgent care center. There are medications and shots and nasal spray that will help you through it. He urged, “Don’t wait three days to receive medication.” He also warned against using unnecessary antibiotics.
He noted that the most common abnormality on blood tests is liver enzyme slight abnormalities. He then spoke about microbiome or gut bacteria. He spoke about “C. diff,” which is an infection treated with antibiotic. “We will know much more about microbiomes in the next ten years.”
He then shared that dentists used to routinely prescribe opioids and they don’t do this anymore. Opioids do not lose their potency over time and are therefore dangerous to keep around in a medicine cabinet.
He emphasized the importance of not using unprescribed antibiotics or of not following the full course of antibiotics and then saving it for another time. This is totally the wrong thing to do. He noted a study in Brittan that found chances of getting colon cancer were less if you had fewer antibiotics over a lifetime.
He then mentioned a class of drugs that now treats macular degeneration and psoriasis successfully. It is very expensive and most have to be given by injection.
He also spoke about using a smart watch to detect arrhythmias. He recommended taking the pulse, which is always accurate.
He imparted studies that recommended using risk medications if you are age 45 or older and at high risk for breast cancer. Studies indicate these drugs may be helpful. Dr. Breite suggests that you speak with your doctor about this.
Next, he informed the audience that taking aspirin in low doses if you are in your 60s or 70s and healthy is not a good idea as it causes bleeding.
Another study said that nuts are very good for you, and people who eat nuts as opposed to other snacks lose weight.
Another study said that cognitive therapy for depression is just as good as using the medications. Cannabinoids are not good for depression and they can be negative. They do not help in the long run.
Dr. Breite reviewed major areas that we should take into account in order to stay healthy: Do not smoke. Have a healthful diet and exercise regularly. Keep blood glucose level normal and avoid high blood pressure. Also, know your body mass index and make sure it is in the proper range. A person with 18-25 BMI is normal weight. A BMI of 26-30 is overweight and 30-35 is obese. Over 40 is morbidly obese.
“I strongly suggest that you walk every day, and dieting begins in the supermarket.” Also, he strongly suggested having blood pressure taken frequently. If pressure is high, write it down and bring it to the doctor. If you use a cuff, bring it to be checked by the doctor. Do not consume salt if you have high blood pressure. Keeping your cholesterol level lower prevents heart attacks and stroke. He explained that HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is the bad one. The HDL will not protect us if the LDL is too high. IF the LDL is over 160, it must be treated with statins.
Next, he shared that there are now better pumps for treating Type 2 diabetes. The new pump prevents blood sugar from dropping too low. There are three new medications for Type 2 diabetes, but none are generic. “You should speak to your endocrinologist about these new medications.”
He strongly recommends bariatric surgery for obese patients who have diabetes. Also, a recent study showed that the water pill was the best medication for treating hypertension.
Dr. Breite listed all different names of new medications. He shared that Zantac was contaminated so it was recalled.
The lecture was followed by a lively question-and-answer session.