Although other substances get much more attention both from the media and the public, a report just out from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) starkly reminds us that the most problematic and costly substance in our culture is without any question alcohol.
Among the many near-term dangerous problems associated with alcohol abuse, there are these obvious ones: much higher levels of being involved in homicides, suicides, accidents (in the workplace, at home, and of course, on the road), poor judgement decisions (unsafe sex, and use of other dangerous substances, for example), mood changes, and a host of others.
As for the long-term costs of alcohol abuse, the huge list includes outstanding ones such as much higher levels of cardiovascular disease, psychological changes, liver disease, sleep disorders, and cancer since alcohol use (even at low and moderate intake levels) has been linked to a higher risk of a host of cancers including esophageal cancer and breast cancer.
And those long-term consequences don’t even address the other awful long-term negative effects that alcohol abuse delivers to a drinker’s family, workplace, community, and country (the incredible cost of dealing with alcohol abuse).
Bottom line: a little bit of alcohol might lead to some positive health effects and might improve some social situations (I can’t really picture going to certain parties unless I could nurse a glass of wine throughout) but anything beyond that carries potential significant health risks.
Dubbed as the “silent killer,” hypertension or high blood pressure is a growing health issue in Canada. Almost a quarter of Canadian adults are living with the condition which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and death.1
As part of World Hypertension Day on May 17th, 2017, London Drugs is joining Hypertension Canada – Canada’s national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and control of hypertension, and blood pressure monitoring BIOS Diagnostics to remind Canadians that a simple blood pressure check could be lifesaving.
I know, I know, I know: Like most of you, I too wake up some days thinking summer will never arrive in western Canada again.
But smarter people than me assure me that this is wrong: Summer will eventually arrive and when it does, if you’re anything like me, you will rush outside to spend some time bathing in that big, beautiful, hot sun.
So let me play my standard role of parent and warn you all ahead of time that while some time in the sun is necessary for good health – sunshine acting on our skin helps our bodies produce vitamin D which we all very much need – too much sun is clearly linked to poorer health both in the short term which leads to problems such as sunburns and sunstrokes, and especially in the long-term through much higher risks of skin cancer, especially the most serious form known as malignant melanoma.
So here’s the advice that you really need to heed in the coming months: 10-20 minutes of sun exposure several days a week is OK but
Check out our full selection of suncare solutions here.
London Drugs Pharmacists Offer Tips on Minimizing Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
For the 20 to 25 per cent of Canadians who are affected by seasonal allergiesi, there are now more relief options available over-the-counter without a prescription.
London Drugs pharmacist Jason Chan-Remillard recently appeared on CTV Morning Live Calgary to talk about these relief options, and to share his tips for spring allergy season. Watch the full interview here.
One new option for relief is Flonase Allergy Relief, which was approved for over-the-counter use in Canada in August of last year, making this the first spring allergy season where Canadians will be able to access the medication without a prescription. The intranasal corticosteroid spray relieves common symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose and throat, nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes as well as management of sinus pain and pressure.
With many over-the-counter options available for specific allergy symptoms, London Drugs pharmacists are encouraging patients to ask for assistance in selecting the right medication. Pharmacists can provide information about new relief options, help patients understand how to use medications safely and identify potential side effects or drug interactions.
“The therapy of choice will depend on your symptoms, the severity of your symptoms, your past response to medications, and other medical conditions that you have, if any says pharmacist Chan-Remillard. “There may be new or better options available to treat your specific symptoms or that target specific allergens. We can help pinpoint which product will work best for you, whether it’s using an antihistamine, decongestant, nasal spray or eye drops, for instance.”
Remillard recommends prepping the medicine cabinet early. Sometimes starting allergy medication two weeks prior to the beginning of the season allows the medication to enter the system and be in full effect by the time allergy season officially hits.
“Being proactive can help to minimize symptoms before they intensify. Don’t wait until your eyes are itchy and you’re sneezing continuously before seeking relief,” advises Remillard.
Since respiratory problems associated with seasonal allergies are initially caused by pollen and dust in the air, the best prevention method is allergen avoidance.
“Avoidance may mean changing your habits like staying indoors during high pollen times. If the allergen is something you can’t completely avoid, like dust mites, there are other steps you can take. These may include removing household décor that collect dust, using central air conditioning during high pollen times, reducing air humidity with a dehumidifier and using HEPA filters.”
Remillard says that most people with seasonal allergies know they have it, although it can sometimes be confused with the common cold. Before any over-the-counter antihistamines or allergy relief products are taken, patients need to ensure the allergies aren’t something more severe.
Allergy Asthma Information Association of Canada. Available at http://www.aaia.ca/en/media_statistics.htm Accessed April 2017.
It can be discouraging setting your fitness New Year’s Resolutions and not being able to keep them by the time spring arrives. You feel motivated to start but somewhere along the way you lose energy, can’t keep up with your exercise routine and don’t have anyone to hold you accountable.
Here’s 4 ways to stay on a track with your fitness resolutions:
At the start, you’re motivated to make your health a priority but tend to overexert yourself. You’re willing to implement a new meal plan and exercise 4 times a week. Eating well and exercising multiple times a week are both realistic lifestyle changes, however, when you begin, it’s important to stay realistic.
Tip: Look at your current schedule and plan 1-2 fitness activities for the week. Once you feel comfortable and consistent with those days, add another class. This will allow you to ease into a new routine and make sustainable positive changes.
Doing an exercise routine that feels like a chore, limits your ability to achieve your goal. Exercise comes in many forms and can even include activities such as gardening, playing with your kids or going for a walk.
Tip: Brainstorm a list of activities that get you moving and you enjoy, or think you might enjoy, and schedule them in your calendar.
Not only should you set realistic goals and enjoy what you do, you should find the right support group or partner that will hold you accountable throughout the year. Kevin O’Connor, a competitive road runner and coach, relies on his support team to get through the rainy cooler months in Vancouver, BC. “Training through the colder months, I think it’s very important to find a group. If you can’t find a group then try and find a training partner so you know that when it’s cold, wet and miserable, someone’s going to be there and you’re accountable.”
Tip: Sign up for a weekly fitness group or pair up with a friend. Exercising with a group or friend will be more enjoyable and you can keep track of each other’s progress.
Increasing your physical activity may leave you feeling too sore to continue and increase your chances of giving up on your goals all together. Your recovery process is an important part of your fitness routine and should not be avoided. Stretching, hydrating, eating a balanced diet and supplementing with the right joint health product, allows you to regain your energy and support your joint health and mobility.
“As a running athlete, I find SierraSil Joint Formula14 and Pain Relief Topical Spray enables my recovery from the same hard workouts that I ran 17 years ago when I was at my peak. Taking SierraSil products has assisted greatly in my training with confidence after hard workouts and now I’m running almost as well as I was in 1994 and 1996.” – Kevin O’Connor
SierraSil, a clay-mineral that aids in easing joint and muscle aches, reduces delayed onset muscle soreness and calms inflammation. SierraSil has allowed many to get back to their regular physical activities without experiencing chronic pain and stiffness.
Tip: Pick up a bottle of Joint Formula14 at your nearest London Drugs to help you ease into your fitness routine.
For more advice on joint health products such as SierraSil, speak to a London Drugs pharmacist today.
When it comes to trying to convince people to be more active to lower their health risks, one of the most frustrating things for doctors is that the people who tend to listen to this advice most are usually those people who are already somewhat active, not those who are most sedentary.
But the studies show over and over and over again that the biggest gains from making a bit of a positive adjustment in activity level actually come to those who are the least active to start with.
For example, in a huge study which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, researchers set out to examine the effect that genes confer on heart health and whether or not living a healthy lifestyle could offset any negative contribution to life expectancy from inheriting “bad” genes.
And their happy conclusion is that yes, healthy living can indeed offset “bad” genes.
More encouragingly, perhaps, even if you inherited a higher risk of heart disease from your ungenerous parents, you don’t have to do all that much in terms of trying to live a healthy lifestyle to counter the effect of those genes.
In this study, the researchers concluded that even a small upward tick in healthy living – some exercise but not necessarily 5 times a week and not necessarily very vigorous workouts, eating some veggies and fruit but not necessarily 10 servings a day, maintaining a decent body weight even in the mild overweight category – significantly lowered the risk of dying from heart disease that “bad” genes confer.
Or to put this in the words of the study’s authors, “the biggest protective effect by far (on life expectancy in this study) came from going from a terrible lifestyle to one that was moderately good.”
In other words, the people who are likely to gain the most benefit are those who manage to finally get off the couch, even if it’s only to walk around the block to start, not those who go from jogging a half-hour a day to running faster and longer.
So the great news is that genes are not destiny.
The bad (sort of) news is that you do have to do something about it, however.
Healthy Heart Clinics Offer Critical Screening to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease: Leading Cause of Death in Canada
Nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke
Despite the fact that almost 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through healthy behaviors, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women and the second leading cause of death among men in Canada. Research shows that nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
As part of Heart Month in Canada, London Drugs is encouraging Canadians to take preventative action by attending a Healthy Heart Clinic running February 6th to March 23rd at 68 London Drugs locations.
Many Canadians miss the signs of heart disease that often precede a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Prevention ultimately starts with knowing your risks as there are often no symptoms until the underlying disease has progressed.
London Drugs’ Healthy Heart Clinics involve a one-on-one 45 minute screening and evaluation with a Patient Care Pharmacist. They take a measurement of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, random glucose and blood pressure and assess risk factors such as family history, age, level of exercise, diet, smoking history and high blood pressure. Next they focus on minimizing these risks. This might include a discussion of changes to diet, fitness routines or lifestyle. Habits like eating healthy, being active and living smoke-free, have a big impact on health. The appointment is collaborative and customized for each patient and pharmacists can contact physicians to recommend further medical intervention or changes to medication.
For more information about London Drugs’ Healthy Heart Clinics or to book a clinic appointment visit: http://www.londondrugs.com/healthyheart
A complete list of clinic dates, times and locations can be found here: https://pharmacy.londondrugs.com/pdf/Heart_Health_Clinics_2017.pdf
 Public Health Agency of Canada