Blog Posts by The Editors at Sharecare

  • Heart Health: Do the New Statin Guidelines Affect You?

    Prescription statins

    By: Darria Long Gillespie, MD, MBA

    New guidelines for prescribing statins released by The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) this week have caused debate -- and some consternation -- within the medical community.

    Is your cholesterol hurting your health? Take the free assessment.

    That's because the guidelines do an about-face from what used to be considered the gold standard for treating patients with high cholesterol: prescribe a statin and monitor "bad" LDL cholesterol levels through regular blood tests. The goal was to reach an LDL of less than 100 (or less than 70 for some). The new guidelines not only advise doctors not to prescribe statins based on cholesterol levels alone, they don't set any LDL target levels when the drug is prescribed.

    Instead, doctors are advised to prescribe statin regimens based on an individual patient's medical conditions and -- in some cases -- via a new online risk calculator that would take other

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  • Even Skinny People Are at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

    Thin woman measuring her waist.By: Robin Miller, MD

    With November being National Diabetes Month, there's more than the usual focus on the epidemic in this country: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States -- 8.3% of the population -- have diabetes, with 7 million of them undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association.

    Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes? Find out now.

    And we have all heard the description of a typical patient with type 2 diabetes. He or she is overweight or obese and sedentary. But you may be surprised to learn that people who are slender and active can develop type 2 diabetes as well, and the symptoms for the majority of those afflicted (normal and overweight) can be subtle.

    Interestingly, the risk for diabetes is more about the fat you have inside your body than what is visible. What I'm talking about is visceral fat -- the fat surrounding your organs. There is a condition known as Thin Outside, Fat Inside, or TOFI for short. These are people who look trim but

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  • 7 Surprising Fixes for Back Pain

    Woman waking up with back pain

    By: Darria Long Gillespie, MD, MBA

    If you're struggling with back pain, it's not surprising -- the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that 80% of us will have back pain issues at some point in our lives. But before you turn to narcotics, muscle relaxants, or other therapies, check out today's list. You may be surprised at what could be contributing to your back pain -- and what you can do to ease it.

    1. Lighten that load
    . I see so many people in the ER with sudden, severe back pain after lifting something heavy -- especially if they follow that lift with a twist. This strenuous motion can damage the vertebral discs -- those little cushions between the bones in your spine. So when lifting, don't lift and twist -- lift and TURN (including turning your feet and legs). You'll thank me the next day.

    2. Get a move on!
    We used to think that mild back injuries and strains should be followed by rest, but research has shown that continuing activity, even gentle things like

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  • FDA Proposes Ban on Trans Fats

    French fries cooked in trans fat

    By Darria Long Gillespie, MD, MBA

    Did you hear about this week's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement proposing that trans fats (also known as "partially-hydrogenated oils") be banned from our processed foods? What does this mean? And why should you care?

    Research has proven that trans fats are linked to heart disease-a report by the Institute of Medicine stated that trans fats directly increase your "bad" LDL cholesterol, which then raises your risk of heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that removing trans fats from our processed foods would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year. As a result, the FDA (whose job is to make sure our food is safe), has stated that with the known increased risk of heart disease, foods with trans fats can no longer be "generally recognized as safe."

    Find out what Dr. Oz says about trans fats

    Where can trans fats be found?
    Trans fats exist in a

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  • Head Lice: 11 Myths Debunked

    Child scratching his lice-infested headBy: Rachael Anderson

    When it comes to what makes people go "Ewww!," lice are close to the top of the list. But if you have a preschool or elementary school child, you know that head lice are all too common. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 6 to 12 million lice infestations occur each year in the U.S. among kids 3 to 11 years old. But don't panic just yet. There's a lot of misinformation about lice, from how they spread to how they're treated. We're here to set the record straight.

    Find Out the True Age of Your Body. Take the RealAge Test.

    Myth 1: Lice Can Jump from Person to Person

    Head lice are parasitic insects that survive on blood from their host. They don't jump -- or fly, for that matter - they move by crawling, wandering from one host to another through head-to-head contact. Once they find a host, lice begin breeding: Adult females lay eggs, or nits, which are cemented near the person's scalp. After about a week the nit

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  • 10 Best (and Worst) Cities in America for Sleep

    Woman sleeping soundlyBy: Rachael Anderson

    How Sleep Keeps You Young

    Do you often find yourself guzzling yet another cup of coffee just to stay awake? Chances are you're not getting enough sleep -- and that could spell trouble for your health. "Sleep deprivation certainly increases risk of heart disease," says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Sharecare and co-creator of the RealAge® Test."It also increases risk of obesity, worsens memory, increases anxiety and depression and may increase risk of excess alcohol use." However, getting adequate sleep -- at least six hours, but no more than nine -- can make your RealAge as much as 1.5 years younger if you're a woman and 0.9 years younger if you're a man. That's why we factored sleep into our RealAge Youngest & Oldest Cities in America Report. Find out the top 10 cities where residents get the most sleep and which cities have residents who are the most sleep-deprived.

    Find out the true age of your body! Take the RealAge Test.

    1. Milwaukee,
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  • Tom Hanks’ Diabetes Battle: How High Blood Sugar Levels Led to Full-Blown Diabetes

    Man with diabetes testing his blood sugar levelsBy: Darria Long Gillespie, MD, MBA

    Tom Hanks is the most recent celebrity -- following in the footsteps of Halle Berry, Paula Dean and Randy Jackson -- to reveal that he has type 2 diabetes. Appearing on Late Show with David Letterman in early October, he told the talk show host that after a long history of high blood sugar numbers, his doctor told him he'd "graduated" to full-blown diabetes. Hanks said that controlling his weight is one way he's battling the disease.

    Keeping diabetes under control can make your RealAge younger! Take the RealAge Test.

    What Is Diabetes?
    Diabetes occurs when your body can no longer handle glucose the way it's supposed to do. Glucose is a simple sugar that is the basic fuel of the body. Foods that supply glucose include fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. The body's digestive system converts these nutrients into glucose, which is absorbed into the blood stream and transported to the body's cells. But to get the glucose into your body's

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  • Life After Breast Cancer: Steps to Stay Strong and Healthy

    Breast cancer survivor wearing breast cancer awareness ribbon

    By Darria Long Gillespie, MD, MBA

    With Breast Cancer Awareness Month still in effect, it's important to discuss not just how to prevent and diagnose breast cancer, but what to do after the diagnosis. How can you optimize your health and strengthen your resolve to not only defeat the disease, but prevent it from coming back? Here are answers to a few common questions:

    What are the most important lifestyle factors that affect people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
    Three crucial factors are at play: obesity, inactivity and poor dietary quality. Taking steps to address these increase the likelihood of improving both cancer survival rates and overall longevity. They may even improve prognosis, especially in early-stage cancers. While studies are still early and we need more research to know exactly how these factors impact breast cancer, research has shown promising trends.

    Protect yourself against breast cancer. Find out your risk now.

    Role of Obesity

    Body fat

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  • Ask Dr. Darria: Will Wearing High Heels Permanently Damage My Feet?

    Will wearing high heels damage my feet?By: Darria Long Gillespie, MD

    I'm a slave to fashion - if 5-inch heels are trending, I'm there! But wearing heels can be painful and I wonder if I'm doing permanent damage to my feet. Am I stuck with flats?

    My patient was wearing fantastic shoes. Tan heels, with a little platform to give her extra height.
    Of course, she hadn't come to see me to discuss foot fashion - she'd come because she'd fallen, twisting her ankle. It was what you'd call a fashion casualty. Don't worry - today's blog is not about how you shouldn't wear your favorite heels - it's about how to wear them safely and comfortably. As beautiful as these shoes are, the consequences can be ugly! Here are some of the more common injuries I see in the ER causing foot pain.

    Have a health question for Dr. Darria? Ask it here!

    Sprained ankle: Watch the height of the platform and heel (as well as heel width) or you could end up with a sprained ankle. Ideally the heel should be no more than 2 inches high if you're

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  • 7 Flu Vaccine Myths that Can Make You Sick

    Doctor preparing to give a patient the flu shotBy Darria Long Gillespie, MD

    Has another year gone by already? It's that time of the year again -- flu shot time. If you're anything like me, another shot is about as exciting as a root canal. But before you avoid getting the flu vaccine this year, read some of the comments below that I heard this week from my patients:

    Have a health question for Dr. Darria? Ask it here.

    1. Flu season isn't until the winter -- I'll wait. The timing of flu season is unpredictable. While it tends to peak in January/February, it's hard to say when the virus will start making its rounds. Not only that, but it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in. So don't wait, or you could end up getting it too late in the season to help. And what's worse than getting a shot and getting sick because you procrastinated?)

    2. I'm protected because I received the flu vaccine last year. Not true for two reasons: (a) the body's immunity decreases over time (especially in older people), even within

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