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Improving Patient Resilience

Tuesday, 22 Dec 2015 04:48 PM Current | Bio | Archive

One of the things I noticed when I practiced medicine was the large number of people who entered the hospital in poor medical condition — not just from the effects of their diseases, but from a lifetime of eating a poor diet, getting little exercise, and sustaining health habits such as smoking, drinking excessively, and, in some cases, using illicit drugs.

The outcome of hospitalization, especially for those in critical care units, depends a great deal on general health. For instance, studies have shown that otherwise healthy cancer patients do far better than those who suffer from chronic disease or are in poor health overall.

There is no question that people’s health is declining at an earlier age. I am appalled when I see people in their 50s looking decrepit and struggling to get around as though they were much older.

It is rare for patients scheduled for elective surgeries to be instructed by their doctor or nurse about how they can improve their nutritional status or overall health.

Yet with waiting periods getting longer for elective surgery, most patients should have plenty of time to improve their health status before undergoing a procedure.

When I was practicing medicine, one of the nurses commented on how much better and faster my patients recovered after their surgery than did patients operated on by the other neurosurgeons.

It wasn’t that I was a better technical neurosurgeon. Rather, the difference was that I spent time instructing my patients about proper preoperative and postoperative diets, and prescribed them nutritional supplements during their hospital stays.

I have had a number of patients tell me that in terms of their general well-being, they felt better after surgery than they had before.

Good nutrition before surgery also goes a long way toward preventing complications associated with surgery.

Hospital infections are caused less by poor sterilization techniques on the part of doctors and hospital staff than by poor nutrition on the part of the patients.

Diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease, smoking, autoimmune diseases, heavy drinking, and prolonged stress all severely deplete vitamins and minerals, increasing a person’s risk of infection, poor wound healing, and other serious surgical complications.

By improving glucose utilization — that is, overcoming insulin resistance — supplements such as resveratrol and quercetin dramatically improve your resistance to medical complications.

Likewise, high-dose vitamin C and supplemental zinc can dramatically improve wound healing.

Supplementation with those nutrients should be standard for all surgical patients.

It should also be understood that a great many prescription medications deplete essential vitamins and minerals, especially the B vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium.

Heart medications and blood pressure medications are notorious for causing significant magnesium depletion, which greatly increases a person’s risk of sudden cardiac death, high blood pressure and blood clots (such as pulmonary embolism).

Depletion of vitamin C and the B vitamins can occur in a matter of hours during times of severe stress, as with surgery.

Several medications deplete coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an essential molecule for cellular energy. This can worsen heart failure and increase the risk of sudden cardiac death.

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It is rare for patients scheduled for elective surgeries to be instructed about how they can improve their nutritional status or overall health.
patient resilience, vitamin C, zinc, nutrition
Tuesday, 22 Dec 2015 04:48 PM
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