Health (things to know) / My Life (sometimes I need to share)

Updates from the OMED Conference

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Annual Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas! I’d mentioned a few weeks ago that I won their video contest for a free trip, and the link is now live here.

The weekend ended up being so much fun! It felt like much more of a vacation than I’d anticipated and was a much needed break. About 50 or so students from my class were there, so we took the opportunity to spend a few nights out on the town.

Out for the night

This was at a huge club called Marquee. There were two levels of dance floors….needless to say we spent the entire night dancing! I’d argue that it counted as its own workout 🙂

And, of course, no vacation is complete without a scenic run! My friend Mary and I decided to venture out down the Vegas strip.

Bellagio fountains

We ended up at the Bellagio just in time for the end of their fountain show and a gorgeous picture.

image

Here we are outside Paris after our first 2 miles. Unfortunately, the picture is really dark and I couldn’t fix it!

New York New York

And obviously we needed a picture of our home away from home! I have to say, running through a new city is a great way to see everything. As long as you can accept the fact that in a busy city you won’t be going for speed or time. We both felt so much better after exercising! Once we got back to the hotel we quickly readied ourselves for the OMED Welcome Reception dinner- complete with live music, good food, and great people!

Welcome dinner

Conference events began on Monday. Our school gave us the day off on Monday and Tuesday only, so we weren’t able to stay through the week. But we made the most of the time we were there!

OMED

A big chunk of the lunch hour was spent at the Expo, where tons of businesses set up shop to give us information about their products. The most notable one for me was a new Epocrates app called “Bugs and Drugs.” Epocrates, for those who don’t know, is an application that tells you about virtually every prescription drug available.  Bugs and Drugs is their new app which categorizes certain infections that are prevalent by area and lists the resistance to common antibiotics. (When we overprescribe antibiotics, infectious bugs frequently figure out ways to get around them over time so that the drugs no longer work- this is called Resistance).

There was also a company trying to sell Muscle Stimulators. They are these tiny devices that you stick to a large muscular area that bothers you (lower back, for example) and it forces the muscles to contract involuntarily. This is supposed to help improve blood flow to the area. I only tried it for 2 minutes, and it was a weird buzzing sensation. My friend swears by it and says it’s the only thing that’s given her acute low back pain relief! I may have to try it out in full swing.

Then there were drug companies, hospitals, schools, board review programs, etc. But none as impressive as the ones I already talked about 🙂

In the morning, I attended a session about brain health. Remember way back when I blogged about Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes?”  Well it turns out this talk gave me a lot more information.  If you’re interested, keep reading.

It turns out that cardiovascular health is one of the top predictors of dementia. Over time, plaques can form in our blood vessels. These come primarily from cholesterol deposits and can hide out for years covered and contained by our immune systems. Eventually, a small piece can break open, triggering the formation of a blood clot. This blood clot can then detach from the blood vessel wall and travel to other areas of the body, including the heart (causing heart attack) and the brain (causing stroke). The primary causes of dementia result from poor cardiovascular health! Strokes can deprive the brain of oxygen and lead to death of the tissues in certain areas.

Research shows that cardiovascular risk is more predictive of dementia than cognitive score evaluation. Furthermore, midlife hypertension increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and accelerates its progression. By not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating healthy, and limiting alcohol intake, we can reduce our risk for heart attacks by 88%. Exercise and foods like nuts, fruit (especially blueberries), extra virgin olive oil, and coffee (less than 3 servings per day) can also reduce the risk of dementia. Interestingly enough, not skipping breakfast was also a factor. Men who skipped breakfast were 27% more likely to develop heart attacks. So make sure you don’t skip meals!

I also went to a short session about tobacco. It turns out that smoking cigarettes alters sleep cycles such that smokers end up with an average of an hour less sleep per night compared to non smokers. There are limitations to this fact, however, because the speaker pointed out that smoking is frequently a habit taken up in times of stress. Because stress and anxiety are also tightly linked to sleep, it’s difficult to tell what is actually causing the problem. Also, they haven’t determined how long it takes to readjust sleep cycles after quitting- stay tuned and maybe we’ll know more in a few years!

The take home point is that we have some level of control over our bodies and health. It’s not inevitable that we end up with heart disease, stroke, dementia, lack of sleep, etc. A healthy lifestyle prolongs a healthy life!

And there you have it! I only wish I could’ve stayed longer. The sessions being held throughout the week seemed so interesting! But I’m grateful to have had the opportunity and a much needed break from school.

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