Have A Heart, Take Care Of Your Heart!

February is the season of love, making it the perfect time to focus on your heart.  Having a healthy heart is important to having a healthy body. Each year, 1 in 4 Americans die of heart disease each year. In the state of Texas, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the state.   Heart disease can also complicate other medical conditions such as colon cancer, diabetes and obesity.  

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease describes a range of conditions that impact your heart.  These conditions involve narrow or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke.  Many mistakenly view heart disease is limited to older adults, but heart disease is diagnosed in adults of all ages. To prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its effects, Dr. Ahmad and Associates is proudly participating in American Heart Month.

The good news is that heart disease is largely preventable when making healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Add color to your diet: A good rule of thumb is to eat the colors of the rainbow.  Eat foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium. 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight: Obesity is inextricably linked to heart disease and a shortened life span.  Obesity is also linked to hypertension, increasing risk for heart failure.
  • Exercise Consistently:  Regular physical exercise reduces the risk of many aging-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease.  The American Heart Association recommends adults get 40 minutes of moderate physical activity 3-4 times a week.  
  • Avoid tobacco products: Smoking is the largest preventable cause of heart disease and 30% of heart disease deaths are caused by tobacco use.  It’s never too late to stop smoking.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Heavy alcohol intake increases the number of fat cells in your blood.  It can also lead to high blood pressure and obesity which can increase your risk your risk for heart disease.  

6 Questions to ask yourself in 2019

six questions to ask yourself when getting healthy

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get serious about getting healthy in 2019.  Countless American’s list getting healthy and/or weight loss as their #1 resolution for the new year.  However if you want to be successful, there are a few questions you need to first ask yourself. 

How serious are you about your health?  
Before you start making changes to your health, start by asking yourself is “what is your mindset”? Are you willing to make your health your top priority? Do you have time in your schedule to exercise, eat healthy, and sleep?  What obstacles from preventing you from accomplishing these goals?

What are your goals?
What goals do you have for 2019?  Most resolutions fail because they are wishes more than goals, so setting a goal of getting healthy or losing weight is doomed to fail.  Use SMART goals to ask yourself:

  • Is it Specific?  (i.e. – lose 10 lbs. vs. lose weight)
  • How is it Measured? (how the goal is quantified:  minutes exercised, lbs. lost)
  • Is it Attainable? (are you capable of accomplishing this goal?)
  • Is it Realistic?(is the goal realistic based on schedule, life stage, etc.)
  • Is it Time-based?(how long will it take you to accomplish this goal?)

What support system do I have to help me succeed?
Most American’s ditch their resolutions by mid-January because they are trying to succeed using will power alone.  Accountability is key!  Success is found in fit-friends and family who are committed to helping you stick to your goals.  Find people who will go to the gym with you when you don’t feel like exercising or keep you accountable for the foods you eat. Which people do I need to avoid right now as I make changes to my health.  

What’s your plan of attack?
Ask yourself how are you going to achieve your goals?  When are you going to exercise?  When do you have time to go to the grocery store?  What do I need to change to get 8 hours of sleep?  Treat your health like a priority because without your health you can’t work, take care of family or have good quality of life.  This means making time in your schedule to exercise, eat healthy, going to the doctors (and physical therapist) and sleep. Treat these times like appointments on your calendar that can’t be missed or rescheduled. 

When and how are you most stressed?
We don’t always have control over our lives but you can certainly control your responses?  Ask yourself – “When do I feel most stressed” and just as importantly, “how do I react to stress?” If your tendency is to eat sugar when stressed, it’s time to develop a new coping mechanism like taking a walk or deep breathing exercises.  The good news is adding exercise, nourishing foods and sleep will also help your body’s ability to cope with stress.  

How are you going to celebrate success?   
American’s love to plan for failure, but it’s equally as important to plan for and celebrate success both when you accomplish your goal but as you achieve milestones along the way.   Before you start working on your goal, find something (non-food/alcohol) to motivate you. Ideas may include a massage, a new gadget, a vacation or even a day off of work.  


What To Do When You Experience Gallstones

Gallstones are something that people all over the world experience everyday. Although many people with gallstones never know it, they can cause significant health problems over time if left untreated.

Gallstones are a result of bile, which is the substance that assists with fat digestion and helps with the absorption of some vitamins. The liver makes the bile, and then it is carried to the gallbladder where it is stored. Gallstones are solid lumps that occur when the stored bile becomes crystallized.

When someone finds out that they have gallstones, it can be very scary. They have a well-deserved reputation for being painful to deal with, and most people chose to get them taken care of as soon as possible. Here are a few considerations to read up on if it feels like there may be a gallstone in the picture.

Most Gallstones are Tiny
It’s important to remember that the vast majority of gallstones are much too small to cause any problems. Many people have gallstones and never know it because of their tiny size. These gallstones are known as “silent” because they don’t usually cause any issues.

A trip to the doctor for unrelated symptoms will often result in the discovery of a gallstone. Doctors can recommend that best treatment for a gallstone, and their recommendation is usually based on the size of the gallstone in question.

Main Symptoms
Smaller gallstones may cause no symptoms at all. But if the gallstone grows and becomes lodged in a duct within the body, then it may cause blockage to occur, and the person experiencing the gallstone well definitely feel it.

Pain is the most common symptom that alerts individuals that they may be inflicted with a gallstone. The pain is usually sudden and intensifies quickly. The upper right part of the abdomen is where the pain usually comes from, but it can result in a number of places on the body. Pain at the center of the abdomen, between shoulder blades, or on the right shoulder can all be symptoms caused by gallstone blockage.

Methods of Treatment
Most doctors only believe a gallstone should be treated if it is causing adverse symptoms in the patient. If someone who repeatedly experiences pain associated with a gallstone goes to the doctor, then the recommended treatment is most often removal, which is called a cholecystectomy. There are a few options here that can be pursued.

Unfortunately, all of the options require surgical procedures of some kind, but some of the options require surgery that is much more invasive than other options. Historically, the surgery usually requires a five-inch incision in the patient, and that came along with a week’s stay in the hospital. Now the operation can be completed with a procedure called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This is a surgery where the doctor removes the gallbladder with instruments inserted through small incisions in the patient’s skin.

Anyone who is experiencing the painful symptoms associated with having a gallstone should seek expert medical advice immediately. Although a trip to the doctor for a gallstone can be scary, the other options are much worse, and modern medical procedures have come a long way.




Tips For Working Out In Warmer Weather

The dog days of summer are upon us.  Between the heat and humidity, it can be tough to get a good workout.  When you workout, the sweat your body creates helps create a natural cooling system.  Factor in humidity, and the sweat sticks to your skin making it harder for your body to cool off.  During summer months, don’t jeopardize your health when working out.  Take advantage of these tips to exercise in warmer weather.

Start Slow:
Begin your workout with a warm-up such as a slow jog.  This allows your body to better acclimate to the heat.  You’ll know that you are warmed up when your body begins to sweat.

Change your routine(Whenever possible):
Parks, beaches and trails are filled with trees that provide natural shade that can keep your body cool when you workout. Working out at the beach or in the pool are also great alternatives to keep your body cool in warm weather. It is also better to workout in the early morning or afternoon to avoid peak heat.

Stay Hydrated (and keep drinking water):
We can’t stress the importance of drinking water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.  The more you sweat, the more water you need to consume.  A good strategy is to drink small amounts of water throughout the day to replenish the fluids in your body.  If you are participating in strenuous exercise, you may also need to consume electrolytes.

Protect your skin:
Before you start your workout, apply sunscreen to your arms, legs, and face. You should also avoid wearing tight fitting clothes, that keep sweat trapped on your body.  Instead wear loose fitting shirts and shorts that will wipe away moisture.

Know Your Body
Know your limits, and know when you need to stop.  Be aware of the signs of heat stroke, which is where your body temperature rises to 115 degrees or higher.  Signs can include seizures, dry skin (body doesn’t sweat), confusion, rapid or weak pulse and unconsciousness.


Spring Into Action: Tips for Weight Loss For Morbidly Obese Patients

If you are 100+ pounds overweight and want to start losing weight, congratulations, this is a huge step blankin the right direction.  Diet, movement and mental outlook all play a role in contributing to your weight loss success.  Weight loss can be more complicated when a person has considerable weight to lose.  Even if you are considering weight loss surgery or the gastric sleeve, these habits will help you keep the weight off over time.

Not all workouts are created equal.  Before you commit to a gym or a workout routine, it’s important to do your research.  Exercise can be hard on your joints.  Look for workouts and classes that are low intensity and low impact.  You may even want to enlist the help of a personal trainer.

Even 30 minutes a day of exercise can be effective.  Workouts in the water or on a spin bike are great workouts to try.  You can even divide your workout into two 15-minute sessions.  Once you’ve lost 10% of your body weight, you can up the intensity, working out longer and using weights.

Changing your diet:
Did you know that cutting 500 calories in your daily food intake can result in losing 1-2 pounds per week.  Adding a lean protein and veggies to every meal can be effective way to get the nutrients your body needs.  Your doctor can help determine your body’s exact caloric needs.  Logging your food will also keep your nutrition on track.

blankFind a good support system:
Weight loss is most effective when you have a group of people to support you along the way.  Accountability is extremely important, especially when you are changing your exercise and nutrition habits.  A good support system can also help guard against depression and/or giving up when you are discouraged.  Finding a therapist can also be helpful in keeping you on track.

Final thoughts — A person who is morbidly obese is also at risk for serious health complications so before you join a gym, start a new workout routine, or commit to a new nutrition plan always consult with your doctor first.


Healthy Smoothies to Help You Lose Weight

blankStruggling to lose weight?  Eating vegetables are a great way to help you achieve your weight loss goals.  For some, getting your daily dose of greens can be a challenge.  Other people don’t like the taste of vegetables making it hard to get the nutrients your body needs to lose weight.

Smoothies are the perfect solution.  In a single drink, you can get a nutrient dense drink with relatively low calories.   Smoothies can also help you feel full faster so you aren’t tempted to eat excess meals.   But be aware, not all smoothies are created equal.  Ingredients such as juices and some fruits are high in sugar which are high in calories and can spike your blood sugar.  Check out some of our favorite smoothie recipes to help you lose weight!

Berry Pie Smoother

  • 1 Cup frozen berries
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 Cup of coconut milk
  • ¼ cup of walnuts
  • ¼ cup of rolled oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together in a blender. One serving.


Cinnamon Roll Smoothie:

  • 1 Cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 Large apple peeled and cubed (red apples work best)
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Stevia
  • 1/4 Cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 Cup of ice
  • 1 Scoop of vanilla protein powder (whey protein powder only)

Mix ingredients together in a blender. One serving.


Berry Banana Smoothie

  • 1 Cup of almond milk
  • 1 Cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1 Cup spinach
  • ½ tsp of vanilla
  • ½ banana
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (whey protein powder only)

Mix ingredients together in a blender. One serving.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Smoothie

  • 1/2 Frozen banana
  • 1/4 Cup of frozen spinach
  • 1 Scoop of chocolate protein powder (whey protein powder only)
  • 1/4 Cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup of rolled oats
  • 1 Cup of almond milk
  • 1/4 Tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Tsp of cinnamon

Mix ingredients together in a blender. One serving.


Spinach Avocado Smoothie:

  • 1 avocado, pitted
  • 1 Cup fresh or frozen spinach
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter or PB2
  • 1 Cup almond milk

Mix ingredients together in a blender. One serving


Preparing for Weightloss Surgery: 6 Steps to Make Your Weight Loss Results More Successful

Did you know that preparing for weight loss surgery will actually make you more successful over the long run?  It will also minimize your risks of complications, reduce stress and increase the overall amount of weight you will lose over time. Preparation for surgery should start at least 6 months before your surgery date and involves reversing poor habits.  Weight loss surgery cannot be effective if you don’t change your habits, so start know so you are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for the journey ahead.

Here are the habits you need to start adopting before surgery:

#1: Change Your Eating Habits:
After weight loss surgery, you will eat much smaller portion sizes.  Start now by  start eating smaller portion sizes and a diet that is rich in vegetables and proteins.

#2: Start taking a multivitamin:
After surgery, it is harder for your body to absorb nutrients and you are consuming less food.  A multivitamin is needed to help supplement your body with the nutrients needed for your body to be healthy.

#3: Start moving:
Movement is essential to weight loss surgery because it reduces the risk of complications.  Find an activity you enjoy and exercise at 20-30 minutes each day.

#4: Drink more water:
Start increasing your water intake an additional 64oz. each day.  Water will help you fill fuller faster and also help flush out your digestive system.

#5: Stop any alcohol or tobacco use:
Studies show that both alcohol and tobacco use can cause complications to your recovery after surgery.  Alcohol is absorbed at a much faster rate into your blood stream causing intoxication at a much quicker rate causing patients to give into cravings at a much higher rate.  Tobacco use can cause clots in your blood stream complicating your recovery after surgery.

#6: Seek Out Support:
Connecting with others who have been through weight loss surgery is critical to your own weight loss success.  Find a support group that can help you before and after the surgery because they can provide advice and support that your family and friends cannot provide.

If you are considering weight loss surgery and need more information, don’t hesitate to give us a call or check out our frequently asked questions!

What To Expect From Laparoscopic Colon Surgery

So, you’re considering laparoscopic colon surgery for your gastrointestinal disorder. That’s great news! Well, as great as surgery can be. Laparoscopic is a minimally invasive approach to complex colon surgeries. Unlike traditional surgical approaches that require large incisions, laparoscopic surgery uses advanced technologies and techniques, and micro tools to perform surgical procedures via 4 or 5 small incisions (about a quarter inch in length).

During laparoscopic surgery, a tiny camera is used to view the surgery site instead of a large, open incision. The camera captures high quality imaging of the patient’s internal organs and magnifies them on a monitor for the surgeon’s reference.

The most noteworthy advantages of having laparoscopic colon surgery instead of traditional surgery is reduced pain and recovery time. In many cases, patients are able to go home within a few days, and may be able to return to solid food more quickly. Laparoscopic colon surgery also produces less scarring and allows patients to resume work and activities much sooner.

In fact, a 2010 study of laparoscopic colon surgery in patients with colon cancer found that even in high risk patients, the procedure was highly effective. Likewise, a 2012 study involving 85,712 patients found that (in general) laparoscopic colon surgery had better outcomes than open colectomy.

Are You a Candidate for Laparoscopic Colon Surgery?

Laparoscopic colon surgery may not be suitable for individuals with certain pre-existing conditions, including:

  • Obesity
  • Dense scar tissue from prior abdominal surgery
  • Bleeding problems
  • Large tumors
  • Low organ visibility

To determine if laparoscopic colon surgery is a viable option for you, you must first schedule a consultation with your physician. During your consultation, a thorough medical history will be taken as well as a physical exam. Two tests may be recommended to reach a diagnosis:

1)    Colonoscopy: A soft, flexible tube with a tiny video camera that is inserted through the anus into the large intestine.

2)    Barium enema: A white fluid is flushed into the rectum while being observed via X-ray and other screening methods.

Pre Laparoscopic Colon Surgery

In preparation for laparoscopic colon surgery, you may undergo blood work, a chest x-ray and electrocardiogram (EKG). A blood transfusion or blood products may also be prescribed depending on your condition. You will be asked to shower and drink a special fluid to clean out the bowels before surgery. The cleaning out of the bowels may require several days of drinking clear liquids, laxatives and enemas prior to surgery. You may also be prescribed an oral antibiotic to help fight infection.

It is extremely important you refrain from eating or drinking anything 12 hours prior to surgery. You will also be required to stop taking aspirin, blood thinners, Vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory medications several days before your operation.

Post Laparoscopic Colon Surgery

Following post operative instruction is critical to your recovery. Your surgeon will instruct you to resume activity the day after surgery to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Because your digestive system will be healing, you will not be permitted to eat solid food right away. Instead, you will be placed on a clear liquid diet, and instructed to slowly work your way back to solid food over the span of a couple weeks. Within 1 to 2 weeks, you may resume normal activity, including working, showering, driving, walking up and down stairs and sexual intercourse. A follow-up appointment is customary at least two weeks after surgery to check incision sites and ensure your body is healing properly.


As with all types of surgery, certain risks or complications are possible, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Leaking where the colon was reconnect
  • Injury to surrounding organs
  • Blood clots

If you are interested in learning more about laparoscopic colon surgery for your gastrointestinal condition, contact a licensed and experienced laparoscopic surgeon. He or she will conduct a full evaluation of your condition before deciding if this minimally invasive approach is right for you.


The Complete Guide To What’s Causing Your Hernia

Hernias are bulges or tears in the abdominal muscle. They occur when the inside layer of the abdominal wall becomes weak. A small, balloon-like sack can form and a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue may push into the sac, causing pain. In some cases, hernias can be so serious, they require emergency surgery. No matter the degree, a hernia will usually not heal on its own and frequently results in some type of surgery.

The 5 Common Types of Herniation

Ventral Hernia

Ventral hernias occur when a section of the intestine protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Weak spots can be the result of a tear, hole, or abnormality in the wall and can affect both men and women. If the weakness is due to an incision made during a prior surgery, the condition is referred to as an incisional herniation.

Incisional Hernia

After abdominal surgery, incision site(s) are indefinitely weakened, even after completely healed. That’s because the original muscle and tissue is replaced with scar tissue that can thin over time. Incisional hernias occur in these areas because the abdominal wall can be pushed through. Incisional hernias occur after 2 to 10 percent of all abdominal surgeries.

Umbilical Hernia

The point at which the umbilical cord connected to the abdomen is inherently weak and susceptible to herniation. Umbilical hernias most commonly occur in infants and babies under 6 months old, and are observed in about 15 to 20 percent of all babies born in the USA. They manifest near the belly button and (contrary to the above-mentioned) are the only type that may go away on their own. If the hernia doesn’t resolve itself by the time the child is two years old, surgery may be performed to correct the issue.

Adults may also develop umbilical hernias, usually because of injury or unusual weakness of the abdominal wall.

Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal hernias result when part of your stomach pushes up into your chest through your diaphragm (a wall of muscle that contracts to aid in breathing and separates organs in your chest from the rest of your body). More common in patients over the age of 50, hiatal hernias will likely cause acid reflux.

Inguinal Hernia

About 70 percent of all hernias are inguinal, which occur when the intestines breach a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall (usually within the inguinal canal, located in the groin area). Inguinal hernias are more common in men because, shortly after birth, the testicles drop down through the inguinal canal. The canal should fully close behind them, but in some cases, it doesn’t. This creates a weak spot susceptible to herniation. About 25 percent of men and 2 percent of women will develop an inguinal hernia in their lifetime.

Common Causes

In most cases of childhood herniation, the culprit is congenital. Children are born predisposed to a hernia, and the condition may or may not resolve itself as the body grows. In adults, the cause is usually abdominal weakness paired with some degree of muscle straining. But several factors can contribute to the development of a hernia:

Smoking: Incisional, inguinal and recurrent inguinal hernias are more common in smokers than non-smokers for two reasons. First, smoking creates wound complications and prevents connective tissue from healing well. Second, smoking leads to laborious coughing, which can create excessive pressure on the lower abdomen.  A 2005 study revealed that smokers are 4x more at risk for developing an incisional hernia.

Obesity: Obesity can contribute to the development of abdominal wall hernias, including inguinal, ventral and incisional, because carrying excess weight places strain and pressure on the lower abdomen.

Poor Nutrition: Poor nutrition is often a contributor to the development or painful symptoms of a hiatal hernia, but it can also cause obesity or excessive weight loss and malnutrition, which causes weak muscles and can contribute to abdominal wall hernias. Individuals with a hiatal hernia should avoid large meals that cause a spike in the body’s production of acid, as well as foods rich in fat.

If you have a hiatal hernia, or suffer from acid reflux, steer clear of:

  • Citrus
  • Chocolate
  • Fried foods
  • Garlic/onion
  • Spicy food
  • Peppermint and spearmint
  • Tomato
  • Coffee/alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Dairy
  • Oil/butter

To prevent the development of a hernia and maintain healthy weight, eat more:

  • Fruits: especially bananas and apples
  • Vegetables: especially green beans, peas, carrots and broccoli
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat, fat free or skim dairy
  • Lean meats
  • Healthy fats in moderation, such as: nut butters, coconut oil, avocado

Respiratory Issues:

Respiratory issues such as pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis can also contribute to the development of a hernia. Pulmonary disease is any condition that impacts the blood vessels between the lungs and heart. Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disorder of the exocrine glands wherein, excessive mucus is produced. In both cases, chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath can result, which creates unnecessary pressure on the abdomen.

Straining or Poor Lifting Technique:

Constipation, an enlarged prostate (that causes you to strain while urinating) poor lifting technique and/or sudden movement can cause any of the above hernia types to manifest. A high fiber diet will soften the stool and reduce straining during bowel movement. When lifting, you should always keep a wide base, squat down, lift with the legs and maintain good posture. Use a back brace to help take excessive pressure off your abdomen and hold the load close to your body to reduce strain.

Pregnancy may also contribute to the development of a hernia, as weight gain and fetal growth will place excess pressure on the abdomen.


Surprisingly, umbilical hernias are observed 8x more frequently in African American babies than in white or hispanic. While not considered genetic (meaning a parent will pass it on to their child) umbilical hernias do tend to also run in families.


As we age, the enzymes (which are proteins found in all living cells) that help control the natural building and repairing of our muscles and body tissue can become imbalanced. When this occurs, weak spots may develop, especially in the groin area. This can lead to a higher risk for developing an inguinal hernia. According to one study, inguinal hernias are most common in men between the age of 40 to 59 years old. In women, groin hernias tend to occur between 60 to 79 years of age.


Congenital herniations aside, there are many things you can do to prevent a hernia, beginning with your overall health. Quitting smoking is a big part of prevention, as is adjusting your diet. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and lean meats will help nourish muscles and tissues to promote better healing, greater stability and weight management. If you perform a lot of heavy lifting, wear a back brace and make sure you are implementing proper lifting technique. Lastly, whether it’s related to chronic constipation, respiratory issues, urinary problems, etc, refrain from straining and seek treatment for the underlying issue.

If you believe you may have a hernia, contact a specialist right away. There are several treatment options, including minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures that minimize pain and scarring.