Aging in Metro Detroit: Reaching Your Physical Peak in The Power Years

Why taking better care of yourself from ages 34-48 can make all the difference
Dr Vieder Dr Chulder - power years
Doctors Sanford Vieder (left) and Angel Chudler

Your mental and physical health should be at their peak in the power years. So here is how to make the most of ages 34-48 and not wear yourself out.


Q&A: Sanford Vieder and Angel Chudler

Doctors Angel Chudler and Sanford Vieder work as emergency physicians at the Emergency & Trauma Center of Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills. This year, the duo is honored with an Excellence in Care award for their performance of a nearly-unheard-of feat. The duo executed a medical miracle when they resuscitated a 20-year-old victim of near-fatal electrocution, bringing him back from the edge of death. Read more about the honor, here.
Hour Detroit: Why do you choose to work in emergency medicine?

Angel Chudler: Every day I walk into work with the thought that I could truly save a life.

Have you experienced something that solidified your passion for this work?

Sanford Vieder: Early on in my career, I cared for a teenager who fell into a frozen lake. After more than an hour of active rewarming, my team was able to regain vital signs and the patient survived. Something like that provides the energy to keep going, because you never know when a similar patient will need your skills again.

It sounds like work can be stressful?

AC: It can be stressful due to the fast-paced work environment, increased volumes of high-acuity, patients, and sometimes limited resources at any hour of the day or night that we work. But it is also very rewarding.

What is your favorite thing about the work you do?

SV: The opportunity to help kids. They, and often their parents, are scared. It’s rewarding to help both get through difficult moments.

What is the hardest part about working in your industry?

SV: Definitely relaying bad news. I understand how life-changing a single discussion with a physician can be — especially when unexpected.

What emergencies do people in the power years — ages 34-48 — most often experience?

AC: Illnesses and injuries related to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cell phone use while driving, or abuse of drugs and alcohol. Many of these could improve or be eliminated if people took better care of themselves. This includes eating healthily, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and spending fewer hours with electronics.

— AW

There’s no cure, but an early diagnosis in the power years can make all the difference

“In medicine, there’s an old saying: ‘except the infectious diseases, there’s no cure for any condition,’ ” says Dr. Alireza Meysami. This saying is especially true for Meysami, a rheumatologist at Henry Ford Medical Center’s Novi and Detroit locations who often treats autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid, arthritis ankylosing spondylitis, vasculitis, and systemic sclerosis in his patients ages 34 to 48. It’s unclear what causes these autoimmune diseases, but Meysami says factors may include stress, anxiety, genetics, exposure to infections, and poor dietary choices.

Patients in their mid-30s to late 40s may have problems with insurance, limiting the medicine they can afford and affecting medication compliance. The complications from autoimmune diseases Meysami’s patients seek treatment for include losing functionality of bones and joints, increased risk of infection while on immunosuppressive medicines, and long-term decline of the kidney, liver, and blood count, he says. If complications are severe enough, they could limit the patient’s ability to work and cause some,  particularly those with bone and joint conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis, to have difficulties performing simple tasks such as holding utensils, writing, or zipping up clothing.

It’s critical for patients to get diagnosed and begin medication as soon as possible to avoid significant complications. In patients who aren’t diagnosed early enough, Meysami has seen damage that can’t be undone. “The sooner you find these patients, and the sooner they can be diagnosed and referred to rheumatology, the better prognosis and long-term outcome they have.”


Careers and technological temptations are making it hard to hit the hay

At the Henry Ford Medical Center in Detroit, Dr. Luisa Bazan sees firsthand how factors like one’s career and technology can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Bazan, who also serves as the director of the hospital’s Sleep Medicine Fellowship, shares that  patients ages 34 to 48 years old come to her for help with two main complaints: either they are tired and fatigued, or they have a hard time falling asleep.

Metro Detroit workers earning advanced degrees often suffer from sleep interruption as they balance multiple jobs or academic work with other responsibilities like child care, Bazan says. “In the Detroit area, you see people who work night shifts, go home for three hours, go do something else. Then they sleep for two hours,” Bazan says. “Also, they have very interrupted sleep because of those few things they do in the middle of the day. Financially, they’re trying to grow, and they sacrifice sleep for that.”

Among her patients in the mid-30s to late 40s, sleep apnea and insomnia are common conditions. In this age group, technology can be a burden for on-call supervisors,  managers, and workers who need to be available for work.

“At this age, they use cell phones very frequently, they do their work, they email for work or they’re texting friends on their cell phone,” Bazan says. “A lot of them sleep with cell phones on the nightstand, because it’s also their alarm, but that also makes it a temptation to take a look at the last-minute emails.”

By the time patients come to see her, their sleep problems have caused them to fall asleep in meetings, easily forget things, struggle to concentrate, or have affected their mood, Bazan says. In addition to analyzing underlying sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, Bazan advises her patients to create a quiet sleep environment, with technology out of reach and without caffeinated treats, beverages, or supplements. She adds that children, ideally, be put to bed on time so that parents can sleep.