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Turkey Day Tips for Heart Health

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Turkey Day Tips for Heart Health thanksgiving_plate_turkey_dinner Think about the foods you eat on Thanksgiving. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is decadent and delicious and full of butter—probably not the healthiest options. But a little careful planning and portion management can allow you to enjoy your holiday meal without damaging your cardiovascular health in the process. In general, it’s often best to enjoy your holiday meal with your family and friends, but make a point of not overeating. With the span of the holidays (Thanksgiving through New Years), the  effects of overeating can really add up. Try to limit yourself to one serving during each holiday meal. If you take a break after you eat a plateful, you likely will be full and not want seconds. This will lead to better sleep and feeling much better the next day. Also limit alcohol to one drink to prevent heart rhythm problems and overeating. It is possible that the average person to rack up 2,000 calories in a single Thanksgiving sitting (that does not even include leftovers). 2,000 calories is the recommended number of calories for most adults for an entire day. Here's a breakdown of turkey day's goodies:

  • Not surprisingly, vegetables are the heart-healthiest part of the big Thanksgiving meal. Items like green beans, carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes balance their calories with plenty of heart-helpful vitamins and minerals.
  • The worst part for your heart? It's the gravy. Typically made from the high-fat, high-calorie greasy drippings of the cooked bird, gravy is very high in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol. It's been shown that a single high-fat meal can damage your arteries. But again, portion size is the key.
  • If the cranberry relish is homemade, using real cranberries, it can be heart-healthy. If it's out of a can, it's likely to be very high in simple sugars which can worsen diabetes and raise triglcyerides (fats) in the blood.
  • If you're nibbling on dark meat or, far worse, the turkey skin, you're ingesting even higher levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. Try not to do that, or just take a taste and stop.
Adjusting your Thanksgiving recipes can make a big difference in their relative heart-healthiness. For example, you use yogurt instead of sour cream, or maybe just egg whites? Using light, unsalted butters and margarine also can lower levels of saturated fat without sacrificing much taste. Even gravy, Thanksgiving's highest fat recipe, can be made in a healthier way. If you plan to try the healthy route and you're not doing the cooking, consider making half of your Thanksgiving plate should consist of fruit and vegetables, with a fourth devoted to light turkey meat (minimum gravy), and a fourth to starches like sweet potatoes or whole grain bread. If you're having pie, limit the serving size to a small taste – and again resist that second helping. Eat smaller portions and try to eat lighter. This will help you feel much more healthy during your Thanksgiving celebration.

Why it’s important to know your family history

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Why it’s important to know your family history. family health history Most of us are asked on health forms or in the doctor’s office about their family history, but why is it important to know? Most of us know that we can reduce our risk of disease by eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and not smoking. But, did you know that your family history might be one of the strongest influences on your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer? Even though you cannot change your genetic makeup, knowing your family history can help you reduce your risk of developing health problems. Family members share their genes, as well as their environment, lifestyles, and habits. Everyone can recognize traits such as curly hair, dimples, leanness, or athletic ability that run in their families. Risks for diseases such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease also run in families. Everyone’s family history of disease is different.  The key features of a family history that may increase risk are:

  • Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10 to 20 years before most people get the disease)
  • Disease in more than one close relative
  • Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male)
  • Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer, or heart disease and diabetes)
If your family has one or more of these features, your family history may hold important clues about your risk for disease. People with a family history of disease may have the most to gain from lifestyle changes and screening tests. You cannot change your genes, but you can change unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, inactivity, and poor eating habits. In many cases, adopting a healthier lifestyle can reduce your risk for diseases that run in your family. Screening tests (such as mammograms and colorectal cancer screening) can detect diseases like cancer at an early stage, when they are most treatable. Screening tests can also detect disease risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which can be treated to reduce the chances of getting a disease. If you don’t know your family history, it’s a good time to chat with your doctor about other options to find out about your family health or genetic traits.  

Family Caregivers Are Important!

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Family Caregivers Are Important! caregiver November is Family Caregivers Awareness month, a time to honor family caregivers. Those who take care, every day, not just on occasion. A very tough job, filled with love and honor.  A growing number of states are recognizing the valuable role caregivers play.  So far, 30 states have passed laws similar to help recognize caregivers the CARE Act, an act which holds hospitals accountable for recording the name of the family caregiver in the patient’s EMR, informing them when the patient is to be discharged and often providing education and instruction of the medical tasks he or she will need to perform for the patient at home. As a caretaker, the demands can be challenging for an already exhausted clinical staff. According to AARP, organizations are stretched thin, and providers need help reaching patients and their circle of care. According to a 2012 article in the Annals of Family Medicine, the average primary care physician has about 2,300 patients under his or her care. Yet each physician would have to spend 21.7 hours per day to provide all recommended acute, chronic and preventive care for a panel of 2,500 patients. Family or at-home caregivers can help bridge this gap. When these caregivers are properly trained and educated, they extend  the care team, keeping patients healthy at home and reducing preventable readmissions. Yet, educating family or at-home caregivers takes time too. Luckily, technology can help. When designed effectively, technology can be a powerful tool to extend the reach of the care team and enable them to have an ongoing conversation with patients – and their caregivers. Technology can help solve both patient engagement and caregiver education. Because technology can also collect key information for providers— like whether people still have questions around new medications, if the patient has new symptoms or side effects, or a patient with heart failure has gained weight — it can help providers know when specific patients and their caregivers need more help, enabling them to focus their limited staff resources on the people who need it most. If done right, patients will be empowered to take control of their own health, and their circle of care will be educated and accounted for—all without exhausting staff resources. It is important to focus on family and at-home caregivers, as they provide value and play a critical role in a patient’s optimal recovery. Caregivers not only monitor medication, provide transportation and prepare meals—they also give the patient encouragement and emotional support. Are you a caregiver and need some advice? We can help. Talk to your doctor.  

Why is Healthy Skin Important?

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Why is Healthy Skin Important? skin health   Everyone wants healthy, clear skin, but do you realize how amazing this organ really is? It’s the organ that comes into contact with the rest of the world. It holds body fluids in, preventing dehydration, and keeps harmful microbes out—without it, we would get infections.  Your skin is full of nerve endings that help you feel things like heat, cold, and pain. If you couldn’t feel these things, you could get badly hurt and not even know it. Why is Healthy Skin Important? According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), your skin plays such an important role in protecting your body, you should keep it as healthy as you can. This will help you keep from getting sick or having damage to your bones, muscles, and internal organs. Skin is actually your body’s largest organ by size. Your skin helps keep your body temperature even. If you get too hot, blood vessels near the surface of the skin, called capillaries, enlarge to let the warm blood cool down. Your skin also makes vitamin D when the sun shines on it. Vitamin D is important for the health of your bones and other parts of your body. Your skin can be injured.  It’s not too hard to injure your skin. So be careful when you’re doing anything that might injure it (like using sharp tools, working in the yard, or playing a sport). Cuts, bumps, and scrapes are a normal part of life. It wouldn’t be much fun if you tried to avoid them completely. But it’s smart to wear the right protective equipment, like gloves, long sleeves, knee and elbow pads, or helmets. Be very careful when you’re around anything hot that can burn your skin. Burns, including sunburn, can be very painful and can take a long time to heal. Burns can also get infected easily. Sometimes, burns leave bad scars and permanently damage your skin. If you’re helping out in the kitchen, make sure you use hot pads or wear oven mitts to protect your hands when you’re grabbing something hot. If you do get a cut or scratch, clean it right away with soap and warm water and put on a bandage to protect it while it heals. This keeps dirt and germs from getting into the wound and causing an infection. If you come into contact with a plant like poison ivy, wash your skin and clothing right away. If you develop a rash, ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines. For severe rashes, you might need to see your doctor. Have additional questions about your skin? Talk to your doctor.  

Diabetic Eye Disease – What is it and how can you tell if it’s being caused by diabetes?

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Diabetic Eye Disease - What is it and how can you tell if it’s being caused by diabetes?  eye disease Diabetes is on the rise in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 84 million US adults—over a third—have prediabetes, and 90% of them don't know they have it. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States (and may be underreported). Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5%. Did you know that diabetes can cause additional ailments including eye disease? Diabetes is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide, and, in the United States, it is the most common cause of blindness in people younger than 65 years of age. The signs and symptoms of diabetic eye disease, also known as retinopathy, encompass a wide range of other eye problems, for example:

  • Diabetes may cause a reversible, temporary blurring of the vision, or it can cause a severe, permanent loss of vision.
  • Diabetes increases the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
How can you tell if diabetes is affecting your eyes? 
  • Some people may not even realize they have had diabetes for several years until they begin to experience problems with their eyes or vision.
  • Diabetes also may result in heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and circulatory abnormalities of the legs.
  • The American Diabetes Association estimates that 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 8.1 million people additional people went undiagnosed. (This population is unaware that they have diabetes.)
  • In the United States 1.5 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year.
  • In the US in 2012, the total annual cost of diagnosed diabetes was 2.45 billion.
  • Eighty-four million people in the US have prediabetes, and 9 out of every 10 don't know they have it. Of the 84 million people with prediabetes, without lifestyle changes 15% to 30% of them will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
  • Lifestyle management has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes by at least two-thirds. It can also slow or halt the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.
How can I protect my eyes from diabetes?
  • People can try to avoid the problems associated with diabetes, including those that affect the eyes, by taking appropriate care of themselves by the following:
    • Maintain a normal level of weight
    • Watch your diet, especially limiting unhealthy types of fats and substituting complex carbohydrates for simple carbohydrates.
    • Participate in an exercise program. Try to exercise for least 30 minutes, five days a week or more. There are many ways to accomplish this without any expense. Go for a walk after lunch or dinner, ride bikes with the kids, plan an activity with a partner or friend, or rent an exercise DVD. Always check with your health-care professional before starting any exercise program.
    • Don't smoke or quit if you do.
Are you experiencing eye disease with your diabetes? Talk to your doctor today.  

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

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Tips for a Healthy Halloween halloween safety tips Halloween is just around the corner, and while kids love to dress in costumes and cause mischief, parents may not feel as excited about Halloween celebrations.  Halloween is actually a great time of year to begin practicing balance and mindfulness when it comes to eating, since it's the official kick-off of the holiday season. Remember, it's alright to indulge in treats, just don't forget to practice moderation. Here are a few important tips for keeping you and your children extra healthy this year.   Wait to buy Halloween candy. Purchase Halloween candy the day of, to avoid temptation. Buy less than what you think you will need to avoid leftovers and, if you really don't want to indulge at all, purchase candies that you do not like. If you still have leftovers, place them out of sight. If you really have a hard time with temptation choose to pass out non-candy treats such as bouncy balls, spider rings, pencils, erasers, bubbles or stickers. Eat before you trick or treat. Serve a healthy family dinner before the fun begins, so the kids will not be tempted to eat candy along the way. After trick or treating, offer a cup of warm, low-fat milk with just one treat to ensure that blood sugar is stable before bedtime. Be aware of calories. Weight management is always a challenge but more so during most holidays. The secret to success is calorie intake, which means choosing appropriate portions and remembering that extra bites add up. It takes only 100 calories a day more than what you need to lead to an extra 10-pound weight gain at the end of the year. Stick to your diet and limit your calorie consumption during Halloween. Stay active. Halloween is surprisingly based around a great physical activity for you and your kids: walking. Take a long walk around your neighborhood while trick or treating and enjoy all the creative decorations and costumes. Practice portion control. After trick or treating, sort the candy and set boundaries on an amount to be eaten over the next week. Keep in mind that there are many low-calorie candies that can satisfy a sweet tooth. Always choose fun size candy bars based on the least amount of fat and calories per serving and try and choose healthier dark chocolate versions. Bargain. If you're left with an overwhelming amount of candy, bargain with your kids and ask them to trade some of their stash for a favorite nonfood "item," such as a chance to stay up just a little later on a school night. Keep it in perspective. Let your kids enjoy themselves, with a few small rules of course, and you will be back to healthy, nutritious meals before you know it. Keep it healthy. Have a safe and happy halloween. 

Bone and Joint health: Steps to ensure strong, healthy bones and joints.

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Bone and Joint health: Steps to ensure strong, healthy bones and joints. joint health It's important to make sure you're on track for good health. As you get older, bone and joint problems can occur for both men and women. Simple wear and tear can lead to osteoarthritis, and the weight gain that often comes with age puts even more stress on joints.  For women, though, the story is more complicated. To begin with, a woman's bone mass is generally lower than a man's. And the decrease in estrogen that comes with menopause brings a higher risk for weak bones from osteoporosis. Additionally, mechanical differences in the way women's thigh, hip and butt muscles are engaged — in combination with the angle between the hip and knee — puts them at a higher risk for injuries than men, especially injuries to the knee cap and anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. In midlife, women are also at higher risk than men for overuse injuries, such as stress fractures and tendonitis. Tips for better bone and joint health: Keep moving. Exercise is key. A well-designed exercise program including aerobic exercise, stretching and lifting weights can help you avoid injuries. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking, jogging and dancing, can help keep bones healthy. The secret is to begin slowly with an easy activity, such as walking, and build up to more strenuous exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity — either all at once or 10 minutes at a time — on most days of the week. But if it's been a while since you’ve been active, talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program to ensure you don't have any health problems that might make exercising risky.   Eat a bone-healthy diet. Calcium is the most important nutrient for bones, and vitamin D helps the body absorb it. In addition to finding both in dairy products and fish, some foods and beverages, such as orange juice, are fortified with calcium, and it’s in some green vegetables. The amount of calcium and vitamin D  you need varies with age, so make sure you’re getting enough — but not too much — at each stage of your life.    Taking a proactive approach to prevention  Have a baseline bone density test, or DEXA scan, for all women at age 65, or earlier if you are at high risk for developing osteoporosis. This allows you to start treatment as soon as necessary. Have additional questions about bone and joint health? Talk to your doctor about how they can help.

Healthy Lungs – Tips for keeping them strong and healthy.

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Healthy Lungs - Tips for keeping them strong and healthy. healthy lungs Staying fit and exercise are important factors in staying healthy, but did you realize that this recommendation goes well beyond achieving a healthy physique and moves into lung health? You might not think about lung cancer as a daily ritual, but maybe you should. After all, your lungs help you live the life you love every second of every day. Your lungs allow your body to take in oxygen from the air and clear carbon dioxide (a gas than can become toxic) from your body. This gas exchange is an essential part of breathing, which is a vital function of your life.  When thinking about lung diseases, lung cancer is often the first thought, but there are many other diseases and conditions of the lungs that can be prevented or better managed with these lung health solutions. Some include pneumonia, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and a pulmonary embolism (PE).   Here are 10 simple tips for keeping your lungs healthy and prevent lung disease.

  1. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, too.
  2. Be mindful of your environment’s air quality. Test for pollutants or contaminants if you are concerned and discuss it with your doctor. 
  3. Prevent common colds and respiratory illnesses by washing your hands frequently with soap and water (or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner if not available). 
  4. Avoid large crowds during the flu season, or when you get wind that some other respiratory illness is going around. 
  5. Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading colds and respiratory illnesses to others. 
  6. Get your annual flu shot and encourage others in your household to do the same. 
  7. Get regular cardiovascular exercise to boost lung fitness and overall health.
  8. Practice deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, exercises.
  9. Stay on top of your dental health and oral hygiene to prevent harmful bacteria from traveling from your mouth to your upper airway.
  10. Get regular check-ups from your primary care physician and discuss any concerns about your lung health, including any symptoms of lung cancer, and family history of lung disease. 
  If you’d like more information about how to protect your lung health, our primary care physicians are here to guide you with expert care. 

Mental Health: The Effects of Bullying on Children

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Mental Health: The Effects of Bullying on Children bullying Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.   Kids Who are Bullied According to “Stop Bullying”, Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.   Kids Who Bully Others Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:
  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
  • Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity
  • Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults 
  • Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
  Bystanders Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:
  • Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
  • Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Miss or skip school
  The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide Media reports often link bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors.    Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.   Think your child is being bullied? We have resources on how you can help. Talk to your doctor about the situation for help.  

Breast Cancer in Men

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With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to highlight the men that are affected by breast cancer and provide information about male breast cancer. male breast cancer   All people, whether male or female, are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. Even so, male breast cancer is pretty rare, especially compared to the cases of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.  Breast Cancer Types in Men Of the men who develop breast cancer, the vast majority of those cases are Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), which means cells in or around the ducts begin to invade surrounding tissue. Very rarely, a man might be diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, or Paget disease of the nipple. Signs & Symptoms Male breast cancer can exhibit the same symptoms as breast cancer in women, including a lump. Anyone who notices anything unusual about their breasts, whether male or female, should contact their physician immediately. Survival rates and treatment for men with breast cancer are very similar to those for women. Early detection of breast cancer increases treatment options and often reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer. If you or your loved one thinks they may have male breast cancer, speak to your doctor right away.