Childhood vaccines - no relation to autism, Dr. Christian Heesch says

In the recent past, I asked Dr. Christian Heesch about the rumors that there may be some connection between autism and vaccination against common childhood diseases. This is his view:

“Concerns regarding this possible connection have been surfacing for some time now, and such concerns are not based on any facts. Quite the opposite, all the available evidence has shown, over and over again, that the childhood vaccination programs available to us here in the United States are safe, do not cause autism, and prevent much harm and suffering”, Dr. Christian Heesch told me.

“I am certainly not a pediatrician, or anybody with a background in vaccine development,” Dr. Christian Heesch continued. “However, I have had the opportunity to see what happens when children are exposed to common childhood diseases in places where those vaccine programs we take for granted here in the United States are not universally available to all. Many parents do not know that common childhood diseases can lead to complications and even death – measles is an example for this. The most important person to discuss the vaccination needs of children is the pediatrician attending to the individual child.”

“Clearly, parents want to make the best decisions for their child, and they need to be provided with the best information out there,” Dr. Christian Heesch believes. In that regard, he highly recommends that parents review the information put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/vaccines A nice and short overview on vaccine related concerns is provided by the Mayo Clinic at www.mayoclinic.org/healthy.../infant-and-toddler-health/.../.. For those interested in a historical overview of the controversies that have shaped the vaccine policies in this country, Dr. Christian Heesch recommends a recent Wall Street Journal Article that is available at www.wsj.com/.../the-return-of-the-vaccine-wars-...,

Dr. Christian Heesch - Risk factors leading to Cardiovascular problems.

Medical research continues to identify habits and conditions that increase our risk for heart and blood vessel disease. We recently interviewed Dr. Christian Heesch, an internist and cardiovascular specialist, asking him about simple lifestyle changes that can decrease our chances of becoming cardiac patients.

“Choose your parents well”, Dr. Christian Heesch told us. “That’s an old humorous saying in medicine, emphasizing the importance of genetics in the development of heart disease, and, at the same time, our inability, at least at present, to do anything about it. Other risk factors, however, can be easily changed for the better, and anyone should be able to substantially improve his or her cardiovascular risk by adhering to a few, common sense, principles.”

“Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is tailored to your needs”, Dr. Christian Heesch continued. “Many people will find that exercising three to four times a week, each session lasting 30-60 minutes, is an easily achievable goal. Good cardiovascular disease involves a sustained increase in heart rate.”

“Other steps you can take include weight loss, if needed, smoking cessation, if you are a smoker, a reduction in psychosocial stress, and the control of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. “ Dr. Christian Heesch concluded: “Your personal physician knows you and your health problems. Schedule an appointment to discuss lifestyle changes that may well prevent cardiovascular problems before they occur.”

Author: Robert Strong

No travel to West Africa without malaria prevention, according to Dr. Christian Heesch

Most malaria-prone countries world-wide have reported chloroquine-resistant falciparum malaria, says Dr. Christian Heesch. Effective malaria prophylaxis for people planning travel to West Africa could include doxyxycline or Mefloquine (Lariam) or Atovaquone/Proguanil (Malarone), he told us. Each of these drugs, according to Dr. Christian Heesch, has important side effects and contraindications, and consultation with a physician is needed prior to taking any of them. For good general information on malaria prophylaxis, Dr. Christian Heesch suggests visiting http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/ and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/malaria-prevention-guidelines-for-travellers-from-the-uk

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Vaccines and autism – is there anything to worry about? Dr. Christian Heesch answers

For quite some time now, parents have been expressing concerns over the safety of vaccines routinely used to prevent common childhood diseases. Such vaccines include those directed against diphtheria, polio, tetanus, measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and many other infectious conditions. In particular, for years a rumor keeps resurfacing on the internet that there may be a causal relation between vaccines used to prevent childhood diseases and autism. Moreover, there seem to be some who hold the erroneous belief that it may not be bad to let children suffer from childhood diseases, since this is ‘harmless’ and may strengthen the child’s immune system. We addressed these issues with Dr. Christian Heesch.

“Before anything else”, Dr. Christian Heesch told us, “I would like to make it clear that I am neither a pediatrician, nor a specialist in infectious diseases. However, I have taken care of a number of children in situations where there was no pediatrician and no infectious disease doctor around. This experience was obtained in an area where routine childhood vaccinations had simply not been available for a large portion of the population. With that background, I can tell you that ‘routine’ childhood diseases are potentially dangerous and lead to unnecessary suffering. As an example, I once attended to a young mother and her infant child, both of which had presented with measles. The mother and the child both died, and it was a devastating experience for everybody. ”

“Anybody talking about these childhood diseases should know that they can have a course that is anything but ‘routine’ or ‘benign’. In fact, some of them can have severe complications, and can even lead to permanent disability of death”, Dr. Christian Heesch emphasized. As examples, mumps can lead to meningitis and orchitis. Some childhood diseases have potential complications such as permanent nerve damage with hearing loss or even pneumonia. There is a long list of possible poor outcomes. The good news is that, ever since routine childhood vaccinations have been introduced, millions of cases of childhood diseases, and thousands of cases of such poor outcomes have likely been avoided”.

In reference to the autism rumors, Dr. Christian Heesch emphasized that “There is no credible evidence to show that there is any causal relationship between childhood vaccines and autism. Of course, autism can on occasion be diagnosed around the time when a child just received a vaccination, but this is coincidence. Similarly, children can get hurt in traffic accidents the day after they happened to get vaccinated, yet no reasonable person would suspect a connection between these two events.”

Dr. Christian Heesch also said: “Many parents nowadays look for medical information on the web. In doing so, we need to ensure that we get such information from reliable sources, and not from websites that contain sensationalist and unsupported information. Dr. Christian Heesch recommends that interested people visit the vaccine information posted by the Centers of Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/vaccines” Articles of interest for laypeople also include www.mayoclinic.org/healthy.../infant-and-toddler-health/.../.. and www.wsj.com/.../the-return-of-the-vaccine-wars-..., both of them address the autism myth.

Author: Robert Strong

Dr. Christian Heesch addresses the vaccine-autism myth

Given the ongoing discussion in various internet forums whether vaccines have anything to do with the development of autism in children, I asked Dr. Christian Heesch, a general internist and cardiovascular specialist whether there is any foundations to such rumors. Here is some of what he said:

“Absolutely not! Vaccines do not cause autism in children, and parents do not need to be afraid of such a connection – it does not exist”, Dr. Christian Heesch told me rather categorically.

“Of course, I am neither a pediatrician nor a vaccine specialist”, Dr. Christian Heesch continued, “but I have worked in areas where common childhood vaccines are not routinely available to many children, and I have seen much needless suffering due to that. I personally have taken care of many children with measles – this is not a benign disease at all, and children can actually die from it. Routine childhood vaccinations work wonders.”

Dr. Christian Heesch emphasized: “Parents have the best intentions, but they need good sources of information to do the right thing for their children. Such good information can be obtained at www.cdc.gov/vaccines Useful information of interest to parents in this regard can also be obtained from www.mayoclinic.org/healthy.../infant-and-toddler-health/.../.. .Lastly, a nice historical discussion of the vaccine-autism myth is provided at www.wsj.com/.../the-return-of-the-vaccine-wars-...,. “

Author: Robert Strong

No connection between childhood vaccinations and autism, according to Dr. Christian Heesch

Some parents opt to not have their children undergo routine vaccinations against common childhood diseases out of fear that such vaccinations may cause autism. I asked Dr. Christian Heesch whether such concerns have any basis.

“Vaccination programs such as those in existence in the United States to prevent common childhood diseases do not cause autism”, Dr. Christian Heesch told me categorically. “If your child’s pediatrician recommends a vaccine, it is in your child’s best interest to take it”, he continued.

“Let me be clear, I am neither a pediatrician nor a vaccine specialist”, Dr. Christian Heesch added, “but I have treated many children for common childhood infectious diseases in areas where those vaccines we take for granted are not available to some children. With that background, I can tell you with certainty that much suffering could have been prevented, had those children received the vaccines we routinely provide in the United States. We need to keep in mind that common childhood diseases do take a benign course in many children, but they can have serious complications in others. I have personally attended to a young mother and her infant child that both presented with measles – both died. It was a devastating experience.”

“Many of the concerns some parents have are based on rumors and sensationalist misinformation that exists on the internet”, Dr. Christian Heesch said. “We need good and solid information to make good informed decisions. In that regard, I highly recommend the vaccine information available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines. There is also a good overview of the issue, geared towards concerned parents, at www.mayoclinic.org/healthy…/infant-and-toddler-health/…/.. Lastly, a good historical perspective on vaccine concerns in this country I found in the Wall Street Journak, at www.wsj.com/…/the-return-of-the-vaccine-wars-…,”

Author: Robert Strong

Five easy ways to reduce heart attack risk. Interview with heart specialist Dr. Christian Heesch

We recently sat down with internist and heart specialist Dr. Christian Heesch, to discuss lifestyle changes any of us can make to reduce our risk of heart attack and stroke. This is what he had to say:

“First, do no harm to yourself”, Dr. Christian Heesch started. “If you smoke, stop. If you do drugs, stop. Obviously, you may need professional help. Ask for it if you need it.”

“Second”, Dr. Christian Heesch continued, “try to make aerobic exercise an important part of your daily routine. Most of us will find the time if we make an effort. Also, you may need to change your dietary habits. Many of us consume too much meat, too much sugar, and not enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Fish is an excellent addition to our diet, especially saltwater fish. Special dietary rules apply to pregnant women, and they should check with their physicians on changes they may have to make.”

“Weight reduction is another important part of the puzzle”, Dr. Christian Heesch added. The number of obese people in the United States keeps climbing, a reflection of poor dietary habits and lack of exercise. Obesity will significantly increase your risk for heart disease and many other health conditions, including cancer. If you have a weight problem, you need to work on it.”

“Lastly, if you have chronic health conditions, especially hypertension and diabetes, make sure that they are optimally controlled. This may again involve regular exercise, dietary changes, and changes in your medical regimen”, Dr. Christian Heesch concluded. Your personal physician is the best person to discuss any changes you may have to make to ensure that underlying health conditions do not put you at increased risk for a heart attack.”

Author: Robert Strong

Can our individual risk profiles for heart disease be modified? We spoke to Dr. Christian Heesch

“One of the few cardiovascular risk factors that, at present, defies easy modification is the influence our genes have on diseases that we may develop later in life”, Dr. Christian Heesch told us. “That may well change in the future. There are, however, plenty of things we can do to ensure that we reduce our chances of ever suffering from heart disease, stroke, or blockages in the arteries outside the heart and brain.”

“Obviously, it is important that we don’t contribute to our own risk profile”, Dr. Christian Heesch said. “If you smoke, you should stop immediately. If you can’t, talk to your doctors about getting help. Smoking hurts not only the heart and the lungs, but pretty much every other part of your body.”

“If you have other health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, you need to ensure that they are under optimal control. Weight issues need to be addressed, if present.” Dr. Christian Heesch emphasized to us: “Exercise is a wonderful way to reduce weight, help control diabetes in some patients, reduce blood pressure, and help reduce stress, another important risk factor for heart disease. You should talk to your personal physician about an exercise program that is suited to your personal health history and situation.”

Author: Robert Strong