Monday, February 2, 2015

Keep a Happy Heart, Be Heart Smart

A healthy heart is a cheerful heart.  Keep your heart smart and happy with this quick, easy to understand information.

Check your heart list:
___Heart and vascular exam by health care provider
___Blood pressure, pulse, weight, height

For further evaluation, especially if symptoms are present, and/ or if there is a strong family history of heart and vascular disease see a cardiologist.

Tests may include:
___Doppler echocardiogram (checks heart valves, size, etc.)
___Stress test - nuclear, doppler or exercise (heart function)
___Heart MRI scan (artery disease)
___Interventional studies like cardiac catherization, angiogram (checks artery blockage, valve function)

Heart health habits:
  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Eat healthy small portions.
  3. Exercise regularly - every little bit counts! Just do it regularly.
  4. Keep blood pressure under control.
  5. Keep stress level low.
  6. Get adequate sleep.
  7. Take an aspirin a day if in a high risk group. Check with your health care provider.
  8. Love, laugh, and let go!
Have a happy, healthy heart! Best health and love!

J.L. Richardson, MD, family medicine, is the author of the award winning Patient Handbook to Medical Care: Your Personal Health Guide.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How You Can Save on Health Costs

Rising health care costs are one of the biggest reasons many people refrain from getting medical care when they need it.  Medical care costs deter many from doing what is best for their health. The following suggestions will help you spend your health dollars more wisely.
  1. Eat proper foods. This is more healthy and less expensive especially if dining out or ordering in is eliminated.  Deleting junk food reduces expenses as well.  Home cooking is better for you and less costly.
  2. Keep weight stable. It is the healthy thing to do. This will save on grocery and clothing expenses as well as long term savings on medical expenses.
  3. Get prescription medicines in bulk quantity of 100 versus thirty day supply especially if you are paying outright. Buy nonprescription medication in bulk when on sale. You will be amazed at your savings when you buy a six to twelve month supply on sale. This tip is also effective for emergency preparedness.
  4. Talk with your doctor by phone, fax, and email to save on the cost of an office visit payment. Just think about the number of office visits you have been to where all you did was talk (after waiting for a long while). This will save your time and money.
  5. Monitor blood pressure at home.  Call in, email, or fax your readings to your health care providers. Many doctors will discover that your blood pressure is actually stable when the stress of the doctor's white coat is absent. For diabetics, a home glucometer is very useful for monitoring blood sugar.
  6. Maintain healthy lifestyle changes long term.
  7. Do routine health maintenance check-ups and testing.  Prevention and early detection have proven cost effective and good for overall health.
Invest in your most important asset - YOU. Maintaining your good health is one of the best ways to prosper into longevity.  Best health!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Screening for Cancer

Screening tests save lives. Talk to your doctor and do your own research on tests you need and how often. What the guidelines suggest and what you need may be different.

Common screening tests for cancer include:
  • mammogram and/or MRI for breast cancer
  • PAP smear & HPV test for cervical cancer
  • stool check for blood (fecal occult blood test, FOBT); colonoscopy, baseline at 50 for colorectal cancer
  •  chest X-ray and or CT scan for lung cancer
  • complete physical exam, and routine blood tests
Be sure your doctor goes over the test results with you and explains everything. Get all of your questions answered! Timely follow up with your doctor is important to prevent any delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Get a copy of your test results. This will help you understand your diagnosis and make sure all is accurate.  Research your results and diagnosis. Getting a second and sometimes tiebreaker third opinion (because you were told different things by each doctor!) is a reasonable and smart thing to do.  This offers more alternatives and insight enabling you to get the right treatment for you based on facts.

Cancer screening is a healthy thing to do.  If cancer runs in your family, get checked for it early.  Many may dissuade you based on clinical guidelines and cost. Guidelines are recommendations.  The cost for your health is priceless.  Since you are paying for it, get what you deserve and need based on your individual medical history.  The cost of prevention is usually far less than the cost of treating and living with cancer.

Best health!