Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacist Healthstyles

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacist Healthstyles

Article excerpt

A chain pharmacist from Tennessee is remarkably typical. He rated his health as "very good" and said he watches his diet, gets regular check-ups, doesn't smoke, exercises occasionally, and drinks rarely. But here the plot thickens.

"I am moderately overweight," he added, "and under a great deal of pressure on the job." And although he is generally free of illness, his stress-related symptoms read like the Physicians' Desk Reference. He suffers from headaches, sleeplessness, fatigue, nervousness, stomach distress, and depression -- all, he believes, related to stress.

Pharmacists devote their lives to improving the health of their patients. But how well do they care for their own health? This and other questions on personal habits and lifestyles were asked of 671 chain store and independent pharmacists across the country. Their responses reveal how well -- or poorly -- R.Ph.s manage their own health. They also uncover some surprising approaches to controlling stress, choosing medications and diet supplements, and just generally taking care.

Like the pharmacist described above, most respondents gave themselves high grades when it came to general health (see box at left). But also like him, many pharmacists expressed concern about specifics such as weight and stress control. On the whole, these health-care professionals do what they can to manage their health and life's stresses. But the road to a healthy lifestyle can be paved with obstacles.

Just checking: One valuable travel aid, of course, is the routine checkup. More than half of all pharmacists have yearly eye exams, complete medical checkups, and cholesterol tests (see box, page 43). But many pharmacists, especially males, consult physicians only when a problem appears. Some important procedures are therefore neglected.

Blood pressure monitoring, for example, should probably be done far more routinely, considering the stress most pharmacists are under. One independent pharmacist cited a busy schedule as the main roadblock here. "Where would one find the time for this?" he asked.

Weighing in: Weight control is probably the most common gripe for Americans, and pharmacists are no exception. Although the majority of pharmacists say they exercise often or sometimes, for example, three out of five rate themselves as overweight (see box, page 43). Male pharmacists and those over 50 years of age reported being overweight more often than did females and younger pharmacists.

Some pharmacists blamed the demands of pharmacy for their weight problems. "There's no time to plan meals," a New York pharmacist complained. Because of an overloaded schedule, "I'm on a coffee and candy bar diet," he added. But for most, the main stumbling block to a trim figure is lack of willpower.

More than half of all pharmacists watch their fat, cholesterol, salt, and caloric intake. But as a chain pharmacist from Maryland said, "When they make carrots and lettuce taste like steak and potatoes, I'll be thin." Another pharmacist summed up his weight problem in one word -- "beer."

Some have tried just about everything to lose weight. A frustrated pharmacist from Washington reported that she is moderately overweight. Her physician prescribed appetite suppressants, but they just made her jittery and didn't cut her appetite. She also tried a popular meal-replacement product, she said, but gained rather than lost the pounds. A staff pharmacist in South Carolina lost weight on a fasting diet but gained it back very quickly on returning to a 1,200-calorie maintenance diet.

Others, though, have had more success. One pharmacist, for example, proudly reported that he lost 85 lb. in only six months, using an organized diet plan. Respondents seem to agree that the most successful weight-reduction method by far is one that combines diet and exercise.

"Pharmacy is a high-stress job," wrote an independent from North Carolina. "When dealing daily with the demands of employers, customers, the phone, the computer, the sales reps, the paperwork, etc. …

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