House Calls

House Calls Started This Year

House calls are meant for patients who are temporarily or permanently home bound, or for other good reasons can't make it into the office.

To schedule a house call: Tel (203) 853-1919; email istaw@drstaw.com

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Office Hours & Those Little Helpers in Yogurt

To My Patients, 

Emailed 3/4/2022


Hope all is well. Winter is more than half over, but March sometimes has snowy surprises. 

I'll be out of the office during the week of March 13 (that's Tuesday 3/15 and Thursday 3/17), back in the office the following week, usual schedule. We'll be enjoying the company of our Colorado gang that week. 

Janine will be in the office during our regularly schedules hours "to check on things." I will take messages, emails and do necessary telemed virtual visits while away from the office. Please plan ahead, especially if you'll need medication renewals while we're away from the office. 

Please give us a call at 203-853-1919 if you need an appointment

A few brief medical notes, first COVID, then non-COVID 

COVID.
Things appear to be easing a bit. I won't go into detail and the various controversies, but please don't fall into complacency. Whenever you're in a COVID-suspect environment, wear a mask (preferably N95, even if not required), keep your distance, and make sure you've been fully vaccinated. 

Probiotics.
The beneficial effects of probiotics are well known (although sometimes overstated by retailers). They may play a significant role in alleviating symptoms of digestive conditions such as traveler's diarrhea, antibiotic-related diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. They are generally available as live microbes (fungi and bacteria), but there are major differences in makeup, potency, and efficacy. So, if you have a condition that you believe may benefit from probiotic treatment, contact the office, I may have specific recommendations. 

Remember that yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, and Greek yogurt containing live organisms, preferably organic, is one of the best. 

Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are the food source for the probiotic bacteria and fungi. They are familiar to most of us as the fiber and nutrient loaded foods you hear about every day - the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This is a short list of the best ones (some will surprise you): apples, bananas, avocado, onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks, chicory root, oats, and, not to forget: Jicama root and dandelion greens. And that's only a start… 

Alzheimer's?
It is estimated that approximately 6 million Americans aged 65 or older have Alzheimer's disease dementia (AD) today. We also know that there are many beneficial lifestyles that can delay the onset of AD, including physical activity/exercise, eating abundant amounts of fruits, vegetables and nuts, using olive oil and eating fish - especially the fattier fish (essentially the Mediterranean Diet), having enough mental stimulation (talking to friends, doing puzzles), and keeping medical conditions under good control. 

But are you, genetically or otherwise, predisposed to AD? There is intense ongoing research to develop and recognize biological markers to indicate predisposition to AD. Two easy-to-obtain markers today are blood tests for homocysteine and the enzyme APOE. People with an elevated homocysteine are predisposed to AD and also to a variety of cardiovascular diseases. People with the APOE enzyme are thought to be 2-12 times more predisposed to AD, depending on whether they have the one- or two-version of the enzyme. Having an increased risk of AD doesn't mean you'll get it, but if you do have the increased risk, it's a good time to emphasize the lifestyles that will reduce the chances of getting it. 

Give us a call at 203-853-1919 if you need a more info or an appointment

Until next time, exercise, eat healthy food and stay well. Just do it! 


Igal Staw, Ph.D., M.D.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Latest on COVID and Something About Green Tea

 To My Patients, 

Emailed 1/24/2022

Happy, healthy, and safe new year to all of you, your families, and friends! 

If you thought of making new year's resolutions, I learned that the best resolution is to make no resolutions, just do the right thing! 

COVID is still with us, and in full force. While we're still on a COVID-limited office schedule of Tuesdays and Thursdays AM, I spend most of the remaining time dealing with COVID-related issues and other medical issues that can be handled by telemedicine. 

Please give us a call at 203-853-1919 if you need an appointment

Most, but not all, new COVID cases are Omicron. The more serious variety, mainly Delta, is still with us. 

Fortunately, in our practice most patients were fully vaccinated against COVID-19; some were not, for a variety of reasons - some justified, others not. To my knowledge, none of our recently COVID-infected patients became sick enough to require hospitalization. 

It is well known now that the vast majority of severely ill COVID patients are those who have not been fully vaccinated. Severely ill patients who were fully vaccinated are mainly the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, COPD, kidney disease, and the immune compromised patients. 

There has been a lot of talk about the possibility that the Omicron variant will bring about herd immunity and, as a result, eradicate itself. That's an "iffy" possibility; I still would like to see us get herd immunity by vaccination rather than by virtue of having the disease. So, just do it, and don't forget to wear the N95 mask (better than the surgical mask, and much better than the cloth), and distance yourself from risky situations. 

But life is not only about COVID, and there is no reason to neglect our wellbeing just because of it. The most prevalent medical conditions in the US are related to lifestyle, including hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, COPD and many types of cancer. 

Even during COVID, there's a lot we can do to preserve our health. Don't be tempted to start smoking again just because you're working remotely from home. You can exercise at home without going to the gym, the Canadian Royal Mounted Police exercises is just one example (look up https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/12-week-fitness-program - it's detailed). You don't have to increase your food intake just because you spend most of your time at home - keep yourself busy doing non-eating tasks… 

Need Help With Your Exercise Program?
Give us a call at 203-853-1919 or email today!

And don't forget, you can help your physician take care of you by telemedicine or in the office: If you have diabetes, make sure to measure your blood sugar regularly, and report it. If there's a high blood pressure problem, make sure you have a blood pressure machine, or BP cuff, at home (and bring it with you next time you're in the office to check it for accuracy. It's important to know your wakeup BP as well as your PM BP. For many reasons, it may be wise to have a finger-tip oxygen meter (known as "pulse oximeter") on hand, especially if you have bouts of wheezing/shortness of breath (a pulse-ox device is not expensive, available in pharmacies and online). Again, just do it! 

  1. What's the relationship between Alzheimer's Disease and the level of homocysteine in the body?
    It is well established that the level of homocysteine in the body reflects the functional status of three Vitamin B levels (Vitamin B12, B6, and folate). A Consensus Statement by a panel of experts finds that an elevated level of homocysteine, is a risk factor for the development of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease. Of course, this is not the only risk factor, but it's modifiable, usually corrected by taking vitamin B supplements. If there's a suspicion of dementia, it's worth checking the homocysteine level. It's a simple blood test.

  2. Should I get a screening lung scan for early lung cancer detection?
    The criteria published by the CDC recommend that one should get a low-dose screening CT of chest if you:
    • Have smoked cigarettes the equivalent of 20 pack-years or more (example: one pack a day for 20 years; 2 packs a day for 10 years, etc.)
    • Are between 50-80 years old, and 
    • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years. 

    The test may have to be repeated yearly. Insurance usually covers the test. 

  3. What's the advantage of Green Tea, if any?
    Green tea Has some advantages over the usual "red tea" or "black tea." Its main advantage is a greater amount of catechins, a type of flavonoid, and antioxidants, all of which provide beneficial health effects. It also contains caffeine, more than regular tea, but less than a regular cup of coffee. Caffeine-free versions are available, mostly with fewer antioxidants. But not all green teas are made equal. According to Consumerlab.com (a reputable online publication), some of the best choices include:
    • Jade Leaf Organic Japanese Matcha (in powder form) 
    • Trader Joe's Organic Green Tea (brewed) 
Feel free to ask questions, I'll answer those of general interest. 

Until next time,
Stay well, see you in the office or online, 

Igal Staw, Ph.D., M.D.

Twitter / Dr. Staw