Here at 24/7 Healthcare, our Downtown team wishes Team #28 a warm welcome as we look forward to cheering on our new neighbors in 2022!
Having grown up in England, I have been advised that I should take this opportunity to talk about football in St. Louis. That’s right, football (That’s ”soccer” for you lot. Insert London accent here), also known as “the beautiful game”.
Personally, not only do I not miss that other football team that we magically rid ourselves of, I’m excited for our community and its ever-increasing football/soccer fan base. Good news like this deserves congratulations and celebration — Well done! We already have the best baseball and ice hockey teams, so I have every faith that we will soon have one of the best football/soccer teams in the world.
Not only is the sport exciting, football/soccer has a lot of health benefits too. Whether you’re a fan of the game already or not, you may want to consider getting out to play in one of our various intramural leagues here in The Lou, or just getting the neighborhood together for a pickup game.
Football requires very little equipment, and I can easily see more people playing games in our local parks now, or just about any open stretch of green in the entire Midwest. When I was at high school, we just used two articles of clothing for goal posts, using just one goal, and we’d divide up into two teams with a neutral goalie. Just like that, we’d have a game going! I have to say, and I do believe I speak on behalf of most Brits, that whenever I see a beautiful open flat field of lush cut green grass, I am stunned as to how there’s nobody around playing a perfectly good game of football on it.
But back to the health benefits. Along with increasing one’s aerobic capacity, football can also condition your general cardiovascular health. It lowers body fat, improves muscle tone, and builds strength, flexibility and endurance. Because of the shifting between walking, running and sprinting, it’s a natural form of HIIT (High Impact Interval Training), which is arguably the best cardio solution ever, if you ask me.
If you’re not looking to go pro and are worried about sustaining injuries, you should know that unlike boxing, hockey and American football, football football is typically a non-contact sport. I mean, of course there will be barges and body-checks, but with far less frequency than other contact sports.
Football also teaches coordination and improved balance, and it promotes teamwork and helps increase concentration and persistence. Plus, whether you’re playing or spectating, is also a great way to meet people and exercise with friends. It creates an outlet to reduce both anxiety and depression, and it enhances confidence and self-esteem. So yeah, it’s basically the greatest game ever.
With how easy it is to learn and play, it’s no wonder it’s the number one sport internationally. Why not try it out? I hope you will and that you get to experience the fun of forging new friendships with people from all over the world (while getting a damn good workout too). Like music and mathematics, football/soccer is practically a universal language, well, global anyway!
Football, or soccer (OK, there I said it) is a great sport for maintaining health, fitness, strength and endurance. I for one am thrilled that it’s "coming home" to St. Louis, making it even more my chosen home.
Sonny Saggar, MD
Not many things can make physicians shuffle uncomfortably in their seats (we've seen it all) but weed?...It's not just the politicians and the public who harbor mixed feelings about this plant and the validity of its medicinal value.
What are all these hang-ups? Here are some of the questions we doctors and researchers have, and which are often shared by the general public:
Cannabis, THC, and CBD
The cannabis of medical marijuana has more than 100 active ingredients, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the one that causes the so-called “high” feeling that we've heard about. CBD (cannabidiol) however, results in no altered consciousness. Even without the high however, there is considerable anecdotal evidence reporting many benefits from CBD, such as relief from anxiety, insomnia, pain and seizures.
Cannabis also appears to ease a lot of neuropathic pain, including that from multiple sclerosis, which is great news because all the other options are little better than drinking cat's urine (which I am not recommending by the way). Being able to live a fully functional daily life is key for patients who are either disabled from lack of pain relief, or sedated from too much old-school pain relief. Cannabis to the rescue. There are reports of its usefulness in fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis and other conditions that make most physicians groan and moan, myself included, when we see it on the patient's chart before we walk into the room. We groan because it's so difficult to treat and we feel almost powerless at being anything better than a kindly listener!
The number one use for cannabis is indeed pain control and, although it's not strong enough for the most severe pains (such as a fractured femur or neck, or recovering from major surgery), it has been found to be rather effective for a lot of chronic pain, especially with advancing age.
Cannabis is categorically safer than opiates and it's a good substitute for over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, if people can't take them due to ulcers or kidney problems. You can't overdose on cannabis and it's arguably far less, if at all, addictive, compared with many other drugs, legal or not.
Cannabis also appears to serve as an effective muscle relaxant as well as remedy for reducing tremors, such as in Parkinson's disease.
Being an appetite stimulant, nausea and chemo-related weight loss also seem to be qualifying conditions for cannabis.
Patients with PTSD also report dramatic improvements in their symptoms and this condition may be the biggest lobby for federal decriminalization which, in my opinion, is inevitable because elected officials seem to support things that will gain them votes, and the mental health of our veterans is important to the majority of people.
Muscle wasting in HIV and AIDS also seems to be helped by cannabis, as does IBS and Crohn's Disease.
The State of Missouri has declared other “chronic conditions as a qualifier for physician certification, which seems to be rather an interesting blanket description.
Given all the above reports and claims however, the real tests of effectiveness can only really be proven after a few years of well-controlled scientific studies, so my physician friends should behave more as clinicians rather than scientists. As you're aware, we were advising people to quit smoking tobacco long before the studies proved any harm. A clinician has that liberty to make recommendations, whereas a scientist does not, the latter waiting for compelling proof before he is willing to make any bold announcements. I do understand that some, if not most, doctors need measurable and substantial proofs before making any recommendations for treatment or management plan. However, it may behoove us to remember that many of our patients cannot wait years for this proof to finally appear.
Patients, Please Talk With Your Doctor. Doctors, Please Talk With Your Patients.
Reminiscent of when Viagra first came out, a lot of patients really want to know more about the medicinal uses of cannabis, but are afraid or embarrassed to raise the matter with their doctor. It may even be more taboo than erectile dysfunction was (I still remember the ads on the radio encouraging men to speak with their doctor about it). This won't happen with cannabis of course, until it's federally legal, because you can't advertise federally illegal drugs on TV.
Unfortunately, there are some in the medical community who are either in disagreement with the benefits of cannabis or consider it unscientific or unethical in some way without any scientifically-derived reason. One’s ethics will of course be dictated by which belief system one holds dear, if any.
Patients are afraid of being scolded, criticized, chided or judged, so there are some who won't even tell their doctors.
My approach is that honesty is the best policy. Don't hesitate to have the conversation with your doctor for fear of their reaction in knowing you are using cannabis, or that you’ve been wondering if it might be useful for your condition. They may surprise you and be extremely supportive. If you also tell them that quite frankly, you consider the use of cannabis as part of your medical regimen, and that at the very least, you expect your primary care physician to have studied it enough to discuss it and make a recommendation, I don't think you'll get much push-back if any.
My unsolicited words of advice for my fellow physicians is that, whether you like it, love it, hate it or just don't know enough about it, your patients are either using it already or they will soon. Get yourself educated on it, keep an open mind about it and don't judge your patients. They're trusting you to be an oracle of wisdom with regard to their health. If you judge or dismiss, you really are letting them down. If you are utterly against cannabis, tell your patient that you're not ready to prescribe it and that perhaps they should look for someone who is. Otherwise, it's just going to be awkward for both of you when they next visit.
Maintaining the trust from our patients requires us doctors to be honest with them, just as we expect them to be honest with us. The doctor-patient relationship is sacred and our patients' lives hinge on this relationship being very open and clear, without anyone having any problem discussing anything. If we consider it our professional duty to willingly discuss sexually transmitted disease, alcoholism and erectile dysfunction, and the various managements for those issues, then surely a condition that might benefit from cannabis, even just anecdotally, shouldn't be any different.
It is true that we don't [yet] have sufficient scientific evidence to recommend medical marijuana to our patients, but it is also true that we doctors should always be willing to discuss any issue with our patients.
The Benefits of Health Screenings
Regular health screenings, or preventive exams, are important components of employee health and wellness. They are the foundation of employee health improvement, and are performed to determine the possible presence of a disease or other health problems. Health screenings can be conducted routinely as preventive measures, or may be administered when suspicion of a specific health issue arises.
Early detection of the risk factors for certain health problems can lead to lower disease rates, reduced employer health care costs, reduced absenteeism, enhanced job satisfaction, and increased productivity. When participants are equipped with good information, it not only provides actionable results, but directly impacts companies and helps them achieve a healthier work culture.
Types Of Screenings
24/7 Healthcare offers multiple types of evaluations, such as biometric screenings which can be conducted at either of our centers in Downtown St. Louis or Creve Coeur, or on location at your offices (for an “on-site clinic”). Other screenings include body fat percentage tests, and prostate and diabetic screenings upon request. Healthcare screening, combined with our integrated wellness programs, health assessments, and health coaching can help improve overall wellness and reduce overall costs associated with an unhealthy workforce. In addition, you have the option of scheduling an annual physical for employees who work evenings, nights, or weekends, and might not otherwise be able to make it to the day-time clinic hours.
Improving Health Awareness
Biometric screenings are evaluations intended to identify past, current, and potential medical problems and are a critical component in any of our wellness programs. Our 24/7 Healthcare health specialists use them to identify individuals who might have risk factors for metabolic syndrome, which could lead to heart disease and diabetes. Biometric screenings are an effective method in identifying health risks due to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, and can provide the necessary information and data to utilize intervention strategies and preventive measures to reduce these risks.
These results are shared with each individual on a confidential basis and include recommendations on how to reduce risk factors, which may include follow-up care or lifestyle changes. For some employees, a timely biometric health screening can have a tremendously positive impact on their health, productivity, and well-being. When aware of these findings, employees are more likely to take a proactive role in their health and lifestyle changes.
Because of our versatility, you'll have the option of scheduling biometric screenings at your 24/7 Healthcare on-site clinic or at our locations in Downtown St. Louis and Creve Coeur.
Each biometric screening will measure these essential health factors:
If at least three of an individual's measurements lie outside the normal range, they'll be identified as "at risk" for future diabetes or heart disease. "At risk" individuals will also receive a list of recommendations for lowering their risk, which may include follow-up care or lifestyle changes, such as diabetes self-management. A 24/7 Healthcare health specialist may recommend a wellness intervention, such as a retreat program or health coaching, which can be accessed online or in-person.
We maintain strict privacy and confidentiality guidelines, and do not share employees' individual results with you, the employer. After the screening results are processed, your employees will receive a confidential report that indicates which, if any, of their measurements are normal and which, if any, are outside the normal range.
Return on Investment
Implementing health screenings and facilitating a comprehensive wellness program—one that encompasses various aspects of employee health (physical, mental, social, financial, etc.) will benefit your company beyond cost savings, but as a whole; you can expect to see reductions in employee absenteeism, staff turnover, improved morale, and greater employee engagement. More than just another cost on the balance sheet, we encourage you to consider health screenings as a valuable investment in your people.