Health Notes


Have you had a good dose of : laughter today? Seriously. Laughing may not add years to your life, but itcan add life to your years. It seems laughter is not only contagious, but also beneficial, as an increasing number of health professionals are discovering.

Dr. J. Donald Smiley, director of the Arthritis Center at Presbyterian Hospital, is quick to attest to the therapeutic values of humor in working with patients involved with an unusual or complicated treatment.

“Humor is a tremendous tool,” Smiley acknowledges. “If you can getthe patient to laugh and unwind a little bit, then often you get a patientwho has a very positive attitude toward you and a sense of trust inwhat you’re trying to do. The compliant patient will often succeed where the patient who remains bitter, frustrated and hostile may not. In chronic diseases you’re really dealing with that kind of problem. Most of our patients come to us very depressed. We can break up that depression sometimes by giving them hope. And we can also break up that depression by giving them a sense of humor. You can’t solve every problem that is brought to you, but you can help a patient see the situation in a different light.”

Teesky Rowell, director of the Views of Health program for the Community Education division of Humana Hospital Medical City Dallas, describes laughter as “internal jogging.” When delivering her “Laughter is the Best Medicine” presentation to Dallas senior citizen gatherings, Rowell relates how laughter can double the heart rate for up to three to five minutes, and that even 20 seconds of laughter can double the heart rate for a short time.

“When we physically jog, we are trying to raise our heart beat because this increases our metabolism,” states Rowell. “So if you look at laughter in a positive way, you’ll realize that laughter is a wonderful form of exercise. Muscle tension magnifies pain. As we laugh, our muscles are activated and when we stop, these same muscles relax, diminishing pain.”

Quick to stress that one must look for laughter, Rowell explains, “You can’t just say, ’I’d laugh, but nothing funny ever happens!’ It’s something you must cultivate. Even forced laughter will work like a key in an ignition. It will turn us on to laughter and our bodies will automatically take over. But the big thing is that if you don’t use it, it’s just like everything else – you lose it.”

The rejuvenating effects inherent in a hearty “ha ha!” are available to anyone willing to look at life with a sense of humor. In fact, maintaining a true state of wellbeing takes a balanced daily health routine that includes proper nutrition and moderate exercise – and increasingly, a hearty dose of humor.


When it comes to rehabilitative services for chemical dependency or even eating disorders, the philosophy of “dual diagnosis” deserves careful consideration.

Carol S. Kleinman, director of outpatient services at Green Oaks Resource Center describes the goal of a dual diagnosis program as one that “assists patients in stabilizing their mental health, understanding the role that substance abuse plays in intensifying their psychiatric illnesses.”

Kleinman says the first step in the treatment process is to identify substance abuse as a separate disorder, requiring abstinence as treatment, but in addition, looking at ways to treat the psychiatric component.

“People want to say that you’re depressed because you’re taking drugs, but that may not be the case,” Kleinman warns, “Maybe you’re taking drugs or alcohol because you’re depressed.”

Many psychiatric units in hospitals are set up as straight chemical dependency units, not dual diagnosis units. For those in need of such rehabilitative services, the dual diagnosis philosophy of treatment could make the difference between permanent and temporary success.

For further information and referral resources contact the Dallas Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at 4525 Lemmon Ave., Suite 300, Dallas, or call (214) 522-8600,


Dr. Charles Pak, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas, has developed a slow-release pill form of sodium fluoride that has been found to increase bone density in the treatment of osteoporosis. Pak heads the Dallas Area Osteoporosis Study and Management Group which is involved in a study of the new drug and its use in specific patient cases. The study is in its third year.

Osteoporosis is a failure of the bones to properly retain minerals, making them brittle and easily broken. One in every three women develop osteoporosis, compared to one in every ten men. This disease frequently cripples the elderly, but early detection and therapy can prevent most of the usual disability. Osteoporosis screening programs like the ones at Irving Women’s Imaging Center, Baylor University Medical Center or Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas are serving in the detection and monitoring of this degenerative bone disease.


“Osteoporosis: The Silent Thief,” by William A. Peck, MD and Louis V. Avioli, MD, contains some of the most up-to-date and authoritative information available on the treatment of osteoporosis. Published by AARP Books, it’s currently available through the Dallas office of the American Association of Retired Persons. (214) 361-3060.


Heart disease is the country’s leading cause of death and disability, but the good news is that deaths due to heart disease are declining, having decreased 30 percent over the past decade.

In 1985, heart and blood vessel diseases killed nearly one million Americans, almost as many as cancer, accidents, pneumonia and all other diseases combined. In 1987, in Dallas County, more than 3,800 people died from heart disease, representing more than 41 percent of all deaths. The economic impact of heart disease is estimated at more than $61 million annually in Dallas County.

The decline in heart disease is reported to be partly due to education and awareness of preventable risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels.

The American Heart Association’s American Heart’s Food Festival will be September 11-17 This week-long nutrition awareness program will focus the public’s attention on cholesterol and its role in cardiovascular disease. The association will be conducting seminars and taste testings on nutrition in supermarkets, businesses, hospitals and schools. For more information call the American Heart Association, (214) 748-7212.


A survey completed by members of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons notes that the top cosmetic procedure performed today is suction-assisted lipectomy, commonly called liposuction, closely followed by breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (surgery of the nose) and rhytidectomy (facelift).

Liposuction is the surgical removal of fat by inserting a tube underneath the skin to suction out fatty deposits. When liposuction first arrived in the United States after being performed in France, safety was the main concern. Today, surgeons have become experienced in the technique and the instrumentation has been perfected.

The best protection against complications is choosing the right doctor. Doctors advise prospective patients to seek board-certified surgeons who have admitting privileges at reputable hospitals.

The “Sandwich” Generation

Sandwiched between the responsibilities of raising children and caring for parents, America’s aging population is increasingly concerned with the issue of long term care. In 40 years, when the post-war “baby boom” generation matures, one-third of our nations’ population will be over 55. Studies show that within the next 30 years, one in four of Dallas’ residents will be 65 or older.

The future of healthcare is, unquestionably, eldercare. And thousands of Dallas families are already faced with the reality that for many of our elderly, home is where the care is given. Complicated by the fact that today, our society is a mobile one, those with ailing relatives living at a distance have many difficult questions and issues to address. The thought of having to identify community resources can be overwhelming.

To get in touch with services available on the local level contact Dallas’ Aging Information Office, and for a wealth of books, pamphlets and audio-visual materials addressing every aspect of aging on the national level, contact the Area VII Office of the American Association of Retired Persons.

Aging Information Office

2121 Main St., Suite 500

Dallas, TX 75201

(214) 741-5244

AARP Area VII Office

8144 Walnut Hill Lane

Suite 700, L.B. 39

Dallas, TX 75231



The U.S. Patent Office has granted patents to ophthalmic surgeons, Wesley K. Herman, MD and Bradford B. Pazandak, MD, for special designs used in cataract surgery.

Having established the EyeCare & Surgery Center of North Texas, a specialized practice and ambulatory surgery center devoted to providing cataract evaluation and operation, both doctors are quick to say that the patents are “just a small part of the whole picture in our overall goals of perfecting cataract surgery.”

Dr. Herman’s patent is for a specially designed intraocular lens -the piece that actually replaces the human lens. Herman states, “I hope this design will set a new standard for stability and function within the eye while providing the most normal optical properties possible.”

The patent attributed to Dr. Pazandak is for a specialized design of an instrument used during cataract surgery.


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