Dr. Liverpool in background with several of the health presentation attendees
The saying you’re never too old to learn something new rang true for a group of elders at the Marcus Garvey Senior Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn who attended a seminar on Diabetes and High Blood Pressure management organized by Soaring Eagles Community Outreach Inc., the other day.
“Exercise is important but if you used to walk to Pitkin Ave with no problems and all of sudden you have to rest halfway, something is changing. Go check it out. It’s not always age. It may be your heart,” Dr. Stephen Liverpool said.
As one of the featured speakers for the event he spoke about common illnesses particularly challenging to the African-American community such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and high blood pressure; how to identify them and the different types of medications used to treat them including ACE inhibitors and beta blockers.
Dr. Liverpool who has his own private practice and works at SUNY Downstate, recalled that one patient he treated had no feeling in their foot, which was an indication of high blood pressure; he also said excessive thirst is a sign of Diabetes.
Plus, he explained that Angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE inhibitors, usually end with the base word “pril” and that they work to lower blood pressure. For example, Fosinopril is a type of ACE inhibitor.
Beta Blockers end in the base word “prolol” and are used to treat heart conditions as well as high blood pressure. Metoprolol is a type of beta blocker.
Dr. Liverpool advised the 20 or so attendees on September 25 to pay attention to how they feel physically after they take their medication, whether it’s a new prescription or one they have had for a period of time. “For every pill you take, there is a side effect. Plus it’s treating one problem but it may be hurting another part of your body,” he said.
He concluded that proper nutrition, exercise and adherence to the dosage requirements for prescription drugs will lead to healthier life.
“The workshop was very good,” said 85-year-old Audrey Matthews, one of the attendees. “Certain things the doctor was speaking about, I didn’t know, like the heart and walking. I like to walk and one time I used to walk a lot. I’m going back that to now because I know how important it is.”
Expanding on proper nutrition requirements, in her own presentation, was Natassia Roberts, Manager, Mission Delivery from the American Diabetes Association. Ms. Roberts told the group that eating healthy does not have to be hard but it does take some creativity. She suggested cooking oatmeal with almond milk, vanilla and cinnamon, as an example.
She also showed a plate of plastic props that represented the right amount of food everyone should be eating. Those proportions broke down to half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of carbohydrates like brown rice or potatoes, and a quarter of protein like baked chicken or fish.
However, Ms. Roberts warned that favorite foods like corn and white potatoes are very starchy and can unknowingly raise glucose levels. Surprisingly, sweet potatoes-in this case the orange colored ones- do not have that same effect. “Eat the foods you love but watch the amount. I love pizza but I have to cut it in half. And green leafy vegetables are always a good thing. Eat spinach, collard greens and broccoli,” she said.
Participants like Gene Walters, 76, loved the presentation, saying, “I learned that I can eat new foods like sweet potatoes which I like a lot.”
But Mr. Walters brought up the fact that as a heart patient who takes Coumadin medication, he cannot eat too many greens.
Another senior citizen at the seminar was thankful for her new found knowledge as well.
“I learned a lot about pills,” said 73-year-old Jessie Hilliard. “I take blood pressure and sugar pills. I learned to keep myself relaxed, so I don’t get upset. Then my blood pressure goes up. I liked the food presentation. One thing I would say if you eat smoked meat don’t add any more seasoning because that puts the salt back in.”
Salt would likely cause his blood pressure to go up, he said.
Soaring Eagles Community Outreach Inc. was founded by Sicily Liverpool in 2009 to assist those in need of health and social services with resources to help themselves.
Members include Judith Douglas, Marva Duhaney and Bernadette Hokai.