Learn life-saving information to help you beat the odds and not become a medical statistic.
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. Eighty million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease, and women are two times more likely than men to die from a heart attack. Warning signs are often more difficult to detect in women than in men.
Singer and philanthropist Barbra Streisand and cardiologist Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz join The Doctors to share vital facts about heart disease. Barbra donated $5 million to the Barbra Streisand Women's Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Bairey Merz, director of the Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, discusses the startling statistics regarding women and heart disease.
To help prevent heart attacks and heart disease, monitor your blood pressure and heart rate numbers and see your doctor at least once a year for a checkup.
• ER physician Dr. Travis Stork illustrates the difference in size between a normal, healthy heart and a diseased heart that has been enlarged over time due to cardiac strain.
One in 10 Americans will develop liver disease in their lifetime. When a large part of the liver becomes damaged beyond repair and the organ is no longer able to function, it leads to liver failure. This often develops over time, but acute liver failure occurs rapidly and is more difficult to detect initially.
The number one warning sign of acute liver failure is jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
A new study shows that acetaminophen, found in over-the-counter pain relievers, is the leading cause of acute liver failure. The drug is safe when taken in moderation, but the American Liver Foundation recommends that you take no more than six extra strength tablets or 3 grams of acetaminophen per day. "As a rule of thumb, you never want to take more than six acetaminophen in one day," plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says. "That will be toxic to your liver."
"The most common reason for liver disease, in general, is alcoholism," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains.
OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson illustrates what is considered an acceptable amount of alcohol per day to maintain a healthy liver.
Another study shows that if you drink two or more sodas per day or too much fruit juice, you increase your chances of developing fatty liver disease by 80 percent. Dr. Jim recommends that children drink only 4 to 6 ounces of 100 percent juice a day.
"The liver is actually a filtering organ," Dr. Travis explains. "When you're drinking beverages with so much sugar, that sugar will literally be deposited in your liver as fatty deposits. Over time, you can get what's called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease."
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can cause an inflammation of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis, where scarring of the liver causes poor liver function and eventual failure.
"Diet sodas can do the same thing because they're changing your insulin metabolism with the added sweeteners," Dr. Ordon adds.
Find out how the liver fights off infection and cleans the blood, and see the difference between a healthy liver and one that has become cirrhotic.
One in 55 women is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and once diagnosed, seven out of 10 women die from it. OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson refers to ovarian cancer as "the silent killer," because there are very few screening markers that physicians have to detect the disease early. Ovarian cancer is more common in obese women over the age of 50.
"Cancer is simply cells gone wild," Dr. Travis explains. "Normally, cells have mechanisms by which they know to stop growing. A cancerous cell doesn't recognize these signals, so it starts growing uncontrollably, no matter what the organ is."
Dr. Lisa Masterson explains how ovarian cancer develops.
"A lot of women think that birth control pills are only for contraception," Dr. Lisa adds, "but actually, they have a lot of other health benefits and can cut your risk of ovarian cancer by 60 percent."
Dr. Lisa recommends women get a rectal exam to test for enlarged ovaries and have a blood test for the early onset breast cancer gene (BRCA1). If the BRCA test is positive, there is up to an 85 percent chance that you will get breast and/or ovarian cancer.
"After you're done having babies", Dr. Lisa adds, "you can remove your ovaries, and this will decrease your risk by 95 percent of developing ovarian cancer and 60 percent for developing breast cancer."
Diabetes is a common disease where the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore and resist the insulin, causing high glucose levels in the blood. Over time, high glucose levels in the body can damage vital organs. An estimated 23 million Americans are affected by diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of three people will get diabetes in their lifetime. Of that number, one in 10 will die from it. Diabetes is currently the seventh-leading cause of death in America.
The two types of diabetes
• Type 1: The body does not produce the hormone insulin, which helps the body use glucose as fuel. Type 1 diabetes typically appears during childhood. Symptoms include frequent urination, thirst, weight loss, sores that don't heal, blurry vision and vaginal infections in women.
• Type 2: This is caused by insulin resistance or your body not producing enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. It can be hereditary and is often associated with obesity. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are the same as type 1.
Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, loss of sensation in the legs, leg amputation, an inability to fight infections and a higher likelihood of dying of a heart attack.
Dr. Travis illustrates what happens in the pancreas of a non-diabetic body and how the cells become resistant to insulin in the body of a person with diabetes.
Dr. Lisa discusses gestational diabetes during pregnancy and the risks it poses.
ABCs of Diabetes Management
A - Hemoglobin A1C is a long-term glucose test that measures your blood sugar over time and determines how well the diabetes is being controlled.
B - Blood pressure should be at or below 120/80
C - Cholesterol: LDL (bad cholesterol) should be kept below 100 if you have diabetes and HDL (good cholesterol) should be above 40 or 50 to help prevent heart disease.
Living a healthy life can help prevent the onset of diabetes in many people. "Just by getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day and losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight if you're overweight, you can reduce your chance of diabetes by 58 percent," Dr. Jim says.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person's weight and height to determine the overall fitness of an individual. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but is used as a diagnostic tool to identify potential obesity problems, which can lead to diabetes. Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon explains that a healthy body mass index (BMI) is between 19 and 24.
• Learn more about diabetes.
Genital herpes, also known as herpes simplex virus 2, is the most common sexually transmitted disease. One out of five men and one out of four women have it.
Herpes is caused by a viral infection, but can be an elusive disease as symptoms are not always present. The virus is very contagious and is spread through skin-to-skin contact and sexual fluids. There is no cure, and once the virus is in your system, it hides in the nerve cells. Outbreaks can occur as seldom as once per year or so often that they seem continuous. What triggers these outbreaks is unknown, but stress is often considered a contributing factor. Doctors can prescribe anti-viral medications such as Valtrex to help control the outbreaks.
Dr. Lisa explains that, for women, herpes can cause complications during pregnancy which may lead to delivering via C-section and passing the virus to the baby.
Doctors can screen for herpes with a blood test, but it is not always accurate. Another way to test is through a viral culture performed by a doctor, if an outbreak is visibly present.
If you have an outbreak, do not engage in sexual activities, even if using a condom. You and your partner should always get tested together before starting a sexual relationship.