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2017 – Spring Forum: Ask The Doctors


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Ask The Doctor – Dr. Isserow

Ask The Doctor – Dr. Goldenburg

If I had known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.
– Eubie Blake


One hundred and twenty people arrived at the Peretz Centre on Sunday May 7th to attend the Jewish Seniors Alliance Spring Forum “Ask The Doctors”. Dr. Saul Isserow and Dr. Larry Goldenberg were the featured guests and were ready to answer the many anticipated questions.

President of JSA, Ken Levitt, in welcoming the crowd, thanked them for giving up a sunny gardening day to attend the workshop and support the JSA. Levitt presented the new logo-Seniors, Stronger Together, saying that in joining together and striving for common causes, we are stronger together.

Gyda Chud, Co-Convener of the workshop, acquainted us with our first speaker Dr. Saul Isserow who is currently the Director for both Cardiovascular Health at VGH and Cardiology Services at UBC Hospital. He is also Director Sports Cardiology BC at VGH. Dr. Isserow received the People’s Choice Award for Clinical Excellence in 2007 and became the Medical Director of Healthy Heart Programme for Vancouver Coastal Health.

Chud went on to introduce Dr. Larry Goldenberg, who co-founded the Canadian Uro-Oncology Group as well as the renowned Vancouver Prostate Centre, the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation and VPC Supportive Care Program. Currently Dr Goldenberg is a Professor in the Department of Urologic Sciences at VGH and Director of Supportive Care, Vancouver Prostate Centre.  Dr Goldenberg was recognized for his contributions by being invested in the Order of British Columbia nd Canada’s highest honour of merit: the Order of Canada.

Dr. Isserow, immediately eased our hearts by naming his topic “How to Stay Away from the “Chevra Kadishe” ( the Jewish Burial Society) and saying that the audience member who asks the best question will win a finger up his ‘Toches’ by Dr. Goldenberg. Humour was used throughout to make hard facts more palatable—as we age, our health deteriorates since our arteries harden with the progressing years. Showing slides to illustrate his points, Isserow stated that hardening of the arteries starts when young. He likened the process to a bagel which hardens on the perimeter. When the blockage reaches the centre of the ‘bagel’, that is when the heart attack occurs. But as he stated ‘Life is a sexually transmitted disease with 100% mortality’.

Slides showed us the many risk factors: age, obesity, genetics, hypertension and smoking. Isserow strongly suggested that diet and exercise can halt or reverse immediate risks. Unfortunately there are no discernible warnings as heart attacks come out of the blue. An study of bus drivers and bus conductors was cited; the conductors, by virtue of the fact that they walked up and down the bus, were healthier. A similar study illustrated that the same was true of letter carriers vs letter sorters since the carriers walked door to door.

Movement is strongly encouraged. Just walking 10 minutes a day is a start. Sitting and watching TV increases the risk of diabetes and obesity. Walking one hour a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 35%. The Mediterranean diet of fresh vegetables and fruit, healthy fats and whole grains can improve health by 27%. 

Isserow presented studies which showed that aspirin reduces heart disease significantly. Further studies indicate that one pill containing more than one medication is far better than a massive dose of just one medicine.

Although statins may be necessary, there are possible side effects such as aches and pains. In Scotland half the patients were given smarties, the others were given statins; the statins group did benefit from the medication.

Isserow ended his talk by saying that health is up to the individual: walk once a day; eat well; and take medications as required only when the risk is high.

Citing  Dr. Seuss, a family favourite of many, Dr. Larry Goldenberg stated that men die 4.4 years younger than women usually because of the Dr. Seuss  ‘I will not, cannot, Sam I am’ – syndrome. Male unwillingness to listen, stop their drinking, smoking and bad eating habits. Doctors are increasing awareness with the slogan of Precision, Prevention and Pre-Emptive. The government is trying to develop expertise in communicating effectively with men about their health, connecting with them in a way that creates the space, freedom and encouragement for positive changes in their health awareness, attitude and behaviours. Precision and Personalized Communication in telling the men what you want them to hear. Get males to engage in their health discussions was suggested.  

On November 30 2011, Justin Trudeau announced in Ottawa that ‘Men are more than a penis and a prostate. Dr. Goldenberg’s initiative of has brought about 72% participation. Examples of small changes: 1/2 salad and 1/2 fries; walk an extra block; park the car further away.

Dr Goldenberg has taken the first steps in proposing a Canadian Institute of Male Health as the government seems to take less interest in male health than in women’s or children’s health.  

The big three killers of men are cardiac attacks and strokes, suicide and motor vehicle accidents. Aside from biological factors, male deaths occur as men just naturally appear to take more risks and sign on to riskier jobs. Some actually die from stubbornness. Canadian Men’s Health Foundation encourages changes and have had athletes and hockey stars voice their encouragement and health advice as this seems to be an effective way in reaching males. is another way of assessing yourself by answering 30 questions. He spoke of “Manopause,” with aging being a big factor and a lower level of testosterone which leads to a lower libido level, crankiness, fatigue and the onset of heart and bone disease. Low T has an impact on the body but there is no consensus as to solutions. Doctors need to monitor any symptoms that seem worrying. Men need women to guide them, and to emphasize that their behaviour CAN be changed.


An active and varied question period then followed, depicting the keen interest of the audience.

Q: What can be done about blood clots?
A: Aspirin can reduce clotting as well as diet and exercise.

Q: What can be done about peaks of high blood pressure in an otherwise healthy 80 year old?
A: If the person is well, nothing as no set number fits all.

Q: What can be done if you are doing all things right but your cat scan shows calcified plaque?
A: Secondary prevention- back to diet exercise and statins.

Q: Beta Blockers – Fight or Flight – Can they inhibit or enhance exercise?
A: They can and do cause a slow down because of a reduction of blood flow and that can cause fatigue.

Q: Can having sex help?
A: Dr. Goldenberg said – Yes as his father had been sent home to do ‘his homework ‘ since sex is healthy for overall wellbeing.

Q: What causes daily fatigue even though healthy?
A: Sleep disturbance, low mood, loneliness could be contributors, but check heart health.

Q: Is it procedural to have a base line test for prostate when young?
A: There should be a base line for everything: PSA, colonoscopy, and check on family history.

Q: Is stress management important?
A: Critically important and can be related to all things – mental, physical well-being and reduction of cholesterol.

Q: How many eggs are OK to eat?
A: 2 a day, they really don’t make a difference.

Loud applause of admiration and gratitude demonstrated what the audience was feeling as the session ended.  A feeling of well-being that permeated the room due to the incredible presentation by two outstanding doctors whom the audience was reluctant to allow to leave.

Larry Shapiro in  presenting the doctors with small tokens of appreciation and continuing with the prevailing humour that had been present that afternoon – said ‘VIVE LA DIFFERENCE’ referencing the many differences mentioned between men and women and their approach to health. 

Gyda Chud said she had seen a sign in the Weinberg Pavilion saying “Never live in a community where there are no doctors”  and she wanted to add – ‘a community without Drs. Isserow and Goldenberg’.

Kudos to the JSA staff and volunteers for setting the stage and producing this phenomenal workshop; to Stan for his videography; to Gala for their delicious delectables served by our JSA members and enjoyed by all. 

With physicians like Drs. Saul Isserow and Larry Goldenberg- we will surely live to 120, THRIVING as was our theme for all sessions this year.

Here’s to life lived well – Seniors, Stronger Together.

Binny Goldman – a proud JSA board member



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