1. Surgery linked to heart damage

    'Minor' surgery could pack a MAJOR risk

    It's the heart risk factor you never even knew you had... and it wasn't triggered by anything you did.

    It was caused by your doctor!

    New research proves yet again that there's really no such thing as a "minor" operation once you're past the age of 65. Any procedure -- even one on your knees! -- can lead to serious, lasting, and irreversible heart damage.

    A simple operation could even kill you, increasing your risk of death by 600 percent in the month afterward.

    The new report looked at what happens inside the heart during common and relatively minor operations such as that knee surgery I just mentioned, hip replacements, prostate surgery, gallbladder removal, and more.

    It finds that 1 in 7 patients at risk for heart problems -- including anyone over the age of 65 -- suffer from perioperative myocardial injury (PMI), or when heart tissue is damaged during or right after surgery.

    We're not talking heart attacks right there on the table. Then, you're surrounded by doctors and hooked up to machines to monitor your condition, so if you have a heart attack, everyone in the room will know.

    PMI is subtle and harder to spot.

    In most cases, there are no warning signs. Only 6 percent of patients feel chest pain, and just 18 percent show the lower oxygen levels that could indicate ticker trouble.

    For everyone else, it all seems normal.

    But in the new study, researchers whipped out a new test to detect levels of a protein that turns up when heart tissue is damaged.

    That's when they found that nearly 15 percent of patients actually suffered from PMI -- and in the month following surgery. These folks were six times more likely to die than the ones who didn't have that damage.

    Naturally, the mainstream is taking away the exact wrong message from this.

    It's celebrating the new test, saying that it can now figure out who's at risk after surgery.

    Here's what I see: an urgent warning to rethink ALL non-essential and elective surgery in older patients.

    Sure, operations like a gallbladder removal might be necessary -- in which case you should certainly get checked out when it's all over to ensure you didn't suffer heart damage.

    But others, like knee surgery, are often completely unnecessary.

    In many cases, the operations may not even work at all, which is why it's important to take some time to go over all your options. More importantly, never be too shy to get a second opinion, ideally from a holistic medical doctor who knows when you need surgery and when you don't.

    If you're in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

    Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

    And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!

  2. Surgical infections increase in summer

    Don’t schedule surgery without reading this!

    There's a lot to love about the approach of summer, but there's at least one thing you've got to worry about -- especially if you have surgery planned.

    You could battle an infection!

    New research shows how your risk of suffering one of these complications after an operation -- any operation at all -- rises with the mercury.

    In February, your infection risk is 9 percent higher than it was in January... and by August, that risk is a full 21 percent higher.

    After that, the risk starts dropping, declining a little bit every month until January, when the cycle starts all over again.

    These infections aren't just irritations and inconveniences.

    They're among the top causes of extended hospital stays and readmissions after surgery -- and those aren't even the worst of the risks at stake here.

    An infection after your operation can be dangerous and, in some cases, absolutely deadly, especially if you end up locked in a battle with a superbug.

    It's not exactly clear why the risk is higher in summer, but many germs just plain love heat and humidity.

    An infection that might struggle to take hold in December could thrive in the muggy warmth of July or August.

    So here are two steps that could help prevent a needless and potentially devastating infection if you have an operation planned for this summer.

    First, ask yourself the most basic question of all: Do I really need this surgery?

    If you do, then of course have the procedure -- and don't postpone it until a cooler month.

    But you'd be surprised at how many operations are completely unnecessary and, in some cases, downright dangerous.

    Just last month, for example, mainstream guidelines were updated to urge AGAINST the common knee surgeries done on two million older Americans every year.

    They DON'T ease pain OR restore function, but they COULD lead to risks such as infections.

    So, do a little homework and always get a second opinion.

    Next, if you're certain that you do need surgery, take steps to cut your infection risk.

    One unfortunate reason infections are so common in hospitals is basic poor hygiene. Make sure everyone who enters your room before, during, and after a procedure washes up before they come near you any time of year, but doubly so in summer.

    In addition, give your immune system a boost with probiotics and other infection-fighting natural therapies so it has the power to wipe out any nasty bugs that come your way.

  3. Seniors are routinely given too much anesthesia

    Seniors who get surgery are routinely given far more anesthesia than recommended by guidelines, putting them at risk for serious complications.
  4. One time you should use antibiotics

    If you have the signs and symptoms of appendicitis, emergency room doctors usually rush to have the organ removed. Maybe they shouldn't be in such a hurry, because doctors in Europe have been treating appendicitis with antibiotics for years -- and the latest study confirms that many of the patients who get the meds avoid surgery altogether.
  5. High-tech doesn't mean low-risk

    I wouldn't wish prostate surgery on my worst enemies. Not only is it often completely unnecessary since prostate cancer isn't nearly the killer it's been made out to be -- but the treatments themselves are often worse than the disease and come with more risks than your surgeon will ever let on.
  6. The tests seniors should skip

    Even as the mainstream moves away from routine cancer screenings for men and women alike, there's one group of Americans that are still getting screened regularly for cancers that almost certainly won't hurt them. And that's the elderly.
  7. The worst way to lose weight

    Surgery is supposed to be the ultimate shortcut when it comes to weight loss: Let the doc put you under, and when you wake up you're on your way to a brand-new body. If only it were that simple.
  8. Apples and pears can lower stroke risk

    Supposedly cutting-edge procedures like the brain stent I just mentioned won't lower your risk of stroke -- and they might even kill you. But you don't have to turn to risky surgery or unproven meds to keep a stroke at bay: A new study finds all you might really need is more of the foods you already enjoy.
  9. Question authority -- question your doctor

    For years, the doctor-patient relationship went a little something like this: Patient visits the doctor... doctor tells the patient what to do. That's the way it still is in many practices, and that might even describe your relationship with your own doctor. But you're perfectly capable of making decisions about your health -- and two new campaigns are urging you to do just that.
  10. Men living with prostate regret

    The real "disease" facing many prostate patients isn't cancer -- it's regret.
  11. Prostate cancer study dances around surgery question

    A recent study found that older men with early stage low- or moderate–grade prostate cancer are more likely to die of something other than the prostate cancer.

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