High Blood Pressure

One in 3 American adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk for serious health problems, including stroke and heart attack.

Get your blood pressure checked regularly starting at age 18 – and do your best to keep track of your blood pressure numbers.

What puts me at higher risk for high blood pressure?

Your risk for high blood pressure goes up as you get older. You are also at increased risk for high blood pressure if you:

  • Are African American
  • Are overweight or have obesity
  • Don’t get enough physical activity
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Don’t eat a healthy diet
  • Have kidney failure, diabetes, or some types of heart disease
  • Have a family history of hypertension

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries when your heart pumps blood. Arteries are the tubes that carry blood away from your heart. Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood through your arteries to the rest of your body.

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Choose Your Screening.

Early diagnosis of colon cancer is the key to surviving the disease. When detected in its early stages through screening tests, 90% of colon cancer cases are preventable, treatable, and beatable.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following tests for colorectal cancer screening: colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and at-home stool testing.

Stool-Based Tests

Stool-based tests are non-invasive colorectal cancer screening options. No special bowel preparation (no laxatives or enemas) is required for a stool-based test. However, if the test does show abnormal signs of blood or a possible cancer or pre-cancer, a colonoscopy will be needed to confirm the result, and possibly to remove any abnormal findings or polyps. It’s important to remember the cause of an abnormal result may be a non-cancerous condition, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids.

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Get Screened!

Recent studies have shown that up to 70% of Americans WITH insurance are not up-to-date on their colon cancer screening. This number includes people who are of eligible screening age and have not been screened as well as those who were screened once but have not done the necessary follow-ups or are due for another test.

Often times the hardest part of the screening is picking up the phone to make the call. Here are 5 reasons to make that call now.

  1. You can prevent colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the country. But it doesn’t have to be! A colonoscopy can detect and remove colon polyps before they become cancer, preventing the disease from occurring.
  2. Think of your family. Imagine you could have stopped colon cancer, but you didn’t. Your family needs you now and in the future. Schedule your screening, and then talk to your family about the results. Family history matters!
  3. Early stage colon cancer may not have symptoms. There is a 90% 5-year survival rate when the disease is caught in early stages. That number drops to about 10% when it is diagnosed in late stages. Only 40% of patients nationwide are diagnosed with early stage disease.  GET SCREENED!
  4. Treat your body better than your car. A colonoscopy screening is good for 10 years! If your colonoscopy shows no polyps you don’t need to go back for 10 years. If you could find a car maintenance plan that efficient, wouldn’t you sign up on the spot?!
  5. You’re covered. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover screening colonoscopies. Take advantage of your coverage!
  6. (consider it a bonus) One day of prep beats months (or years) of treatment! Ask any colon cancer survivor and they will tell you that picking up the phone and making the appointment and the prep required for a colonoscopy is nothing compared to recovering from invasive abdominal surgery followed by chemo and radiation treatments. You have no excuse. MAKE THE CALL!

 

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American Heart Month

Join Together To Protect Your Heart and Celebrate #OurHearts During American Heart Month

Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is that we’re more successful meeting our health goals when we join forces with others. To underscore this point and mark American Heart Month this February, NHLBI is launching the #OurHearts movement, to inspire people to protect and strengthen their hearts with the support of others.

Here are some facts, how-to tips, and resources to inspire you to join with others to improve your heart health.

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Catalyst Care Team and Services

North Hills Family Medicine is a proud member of the Catalyst Health Network, which allows us to maximize our ability to provide you with high quality efficient care and the following added benefits to you:

  • Chronic Disease Support: We have a team of RNs and care coordinators who will work closely with you and your family to help you understand chronic disease states, manage referrals and be the voice for you between your appointments with us.
  • Thrive Pharmacy: A clinical pharmacist will contact you directly to help ensure that your medications are appropriately prescribed and cost-effective. They will help to coordinate medication lists between us and specialists and set up delivery of your medications in a convenient package delivered to your doorstep every month.


WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?

If you have been referred to one of our care team services, you can expect a phone call from a care team member shortly after your appointment to discuss your physician’s plan of care.

WHO IS THE CARE TEAM?
The care team is comprised of Pharmacists, Care Coordinators, Care Managers (RN) and Referral Coordinators who work directly with your NHFM physician.

HOW MUCH DO THESE SERVICES COST?
These services are free of charge.  We believe our patients should have access to resources that empower them to manage their healthcare needs.

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Well-Woman

Schedule a well-woman visit with your healthcare provider every year. The well-woman visit is an important way to help you stay healthy.

Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:

  • Services, like shots, that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
  • Screenings, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
  • Education and counseling to help you make informed health decisions

What happens during a well-woman visit?

Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:

  1. Documenting your health habits and history
  2. Getting a physical exam
  3. Setting health goals
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Prostate Cancer Awareness Month!

September is prostate cancer awareness month.

Prostate cancer is the most common among men in the United States.  According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 3 million men living with prostate cancer in the United States and an estimated 11% of men that will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. Therefore, it is vital to start talking with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of screening and when to start screening.

Because prostate cancer is often a very slow growing cancer, it can remain asymptomatic for several years.  Although every patient is different, it is important to know potential symptoms to watch out for and alert your provider of right away.  Symptoms may include: weak or interrupted flow of urine, sudden urge to urinate, frequent urination, pain or burning while urinating, trouble starting the flow of urine, and trouble emptying the bladder completely. Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, as well as blood in the urine or semen, can also be indicators.

Risk factors can be another key factor.  Although prostate cancer is more common in older men, it can occur in those younger, especially if some of these risk factors are present: race, genetic factors, smoking history, and family history. Men who have a relative with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease as those with no family history.

A simple blood test known as the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) is used to screen for prostate cancer.  An elevation in this could indicate potential disease, although elevations may be caused by numerous other factors.  Only a biopsy of the prostate can diagnose prostate cancer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force considers the decision to undergo periodic PSA screening to be an individual choice for men over 55, stating that they should have the opportunity to discuss its potential benefits and drawbacks with their provider. The reason for this is because the PSA screening offers a potential benefit of reducing the chance of death from the disease in some men, but also carries potential risks, such as false-positive results, over-diagnosis, and overtreatment.

Men’s health and prostate cancer screening really comes down to having an open conversation with your provider.  If you have any concerns regarding prostate cancer and its risks, symptoms and screening, have a discussion with your provider.  Call today to schedule your annual physical and discuss necessary screenings.

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Your Pregnancy: Protecting Your Baby Starts Now

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder everyone needs vaccines throughout their lives.

From the moment you found out you were pregnant, you started protecting your baby. You might have changed the way you eat, started taking a prenatal vitamin or researched the kind of car seat to buy. But did you know that one of the best ways to start protecting your baby against serious diseases is by getting flu and Tdap vaccines while you are pregnant?

The vaccines you get during your pregnancy will provide your baby with some disease protection (immunity) that can last during the first months of life after birth. By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can pass antibodies to your baby that may help protect against diseases. This early protection is critical for diseases like flu and whooping cough because babies are at their greatest risk of severe illness from these diseases in their first months of life, but they are also too young to get the vaccines against these illnesses. Passing maternal antibodies during pregnancy is the only way to help directly protect them from flu and whooping cough (pertussis).

In cases when doctors can determine who spread whooping cough to an infant, the mother was sometimes the source. Once you have protection from the Tdap shot, you are less likely to spread whooping cough to your newborn baby.

When it comes to flu, even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to have a severe case of the flu if you catch it. If you catch the flu when you are pregnant, you also have a higher chance of being hospitalized. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your baby.

You can rest assured these vaccines are very safe for you and your baby. Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years and CDC continues to monitor safety data on flu vaccine in pregnant women.

The whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) is also safe for you and your baby. Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the whooping cough vaccine is important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.

You should get your whooping cough vaccine between your 27th and 36th week of pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of that period. You can get a flu shot during any trimester. You may receive whooping cough and flu vaccines at the same time or at different prenatal care visits. If you are pregnant during flu season, you should get a flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine is available, by October if possible.

If you want to learn more about pregnancy and vaccines, talk to your ob-gyn or midwife, and visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/pregnant-women/index.html.

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Vaccines are Not Just for Kids

You want to pass on certain things like family traditions, a grandmother’s quilt or dad’s love of books—but no one wants to pass on a serious illness. Take charge of your health and help protect those around you by asking about vaccines at your next doctor’s visit.

Vaccinating our children is commonplace in the United States. But many adults don’t know which vaccines they need, and even fewer are fully vaccinated. Every year, thousands of adults in the U.S. become needlessly ill from infectious diseases. Many adults are hospitalized and some even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you get sick, you may risk spreading certain diseases to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take. Babies, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick. You can help protect your health and the health of your loved ones by getting your recommended vaccines.

The most common, recommended vaccines for adults include:

  • All adults should get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu. Some people are at high risk of serious flu complications and it is especially important these people get vaccinated. This includes older adults (65 and older), children younger than 5, pregnant women and people with certain long-term medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Every adult should get one dose of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) if they did not get Tdap as a teen, and then receive a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine every 10 years.
  • Adults 50 years and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine.
  • Adults 65 and older are recommended to receive both pneumococcal vaccines. Some adults younger than 65 years with certain conditions are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.
  • Adults may need other vaccines (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV) depending on their age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received or other considerations.

All adults should talk to their health care professionals to make sure they are up to date on vaccines recommended for them. The specific vaccines adults need is determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, risk conditions, locations of travel and previous vaccines. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines—a call to your insurance provider can give you the details.

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Do you have a Preteen or Teen? Protect their Future with Vaccines

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder we need vaccines throughout our lives.

Taking them to their sports physical, making sure they eat healthy and get plenty of sleep…you know these are crucial to your child’s health. But did you also know your preteens and teens need vaccines to stay healthy and protected against serious diseases?

As they get older, preteens and teens are at increased risk for some infections. Plus, the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so preteens need an additional dose (booster) to extend protection. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still around and causing serious illnesses. The vaccines for preteens and teens can help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community and other family members.

There are four vaccines recommended for all preteens at ages 11 to 12:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra ®), which protects against four types of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but serious disease that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and blood (septicemia). Since protection decreases over time, a booster dose is recommended at age 16 so teens continue to have protection during the ages when they are at highest risk for getting meningococcal disease.
    • Teens and young adults (16- through 23-year olds) may also receive a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (Trumemba ®), preferably at 16 through 18 years old.
  • HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that most commonly cause cancer. HPV can cause future cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women and cancers of the penis in men. In both women and men, HPV also causes cancers in the back of the throat (including base of the tongue and tonsils), anal cancer and genital warts.
  • Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Tetanus and diphtheria are uncommon now because vaccines have worked so well, but they can be very serious. Whooping cough is common and on the rise in the U.S. It can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks, but it is most dangerous — and sometimes even deadly — for babies who can catch it from family members, including older siblings.
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine, because even healthy kids can get flu and it can be serious, all kids, including your preteens and teens, should get a flu vaccine every year.

You can use any health care visit, including sports or camp physicals, checkups or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need. Talk with your child’s health care professional to find out which vaccines your preteens and teens need. Vaccines are a crucial step in keeping your kids healthy.

Want to learn more about the vaccines for preteens and teens? Check out https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/diseases/index.html

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