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The Benefits of an Annual Wellness Visit

The Benefits of an Annual Wellness Visit

The Benefits of an Annual Wellness Visit

Visiting your medical provider when you’re sick is an easy choice. Coming in when you’re feeling fine for an annual wellness visit, however, seems to be a more difficult decision. We get it. Life is hectic and visiting your provider when you’re not sick probably doesn’t cross one’s mind. But annual wellness exams are so essential to your health that most insurances cover the full cost of these visits. That list of insurance includes Medicare and Medicaid. A free visit with your provider is just one of several important reasons to schedule your annual wellness exam. If that’s not enough, here are a few more. 

Wellness exams help you fight illnesses and live longer. 

Important screenings that detect underlying health conditions and diseases help catch these illnesses early. Early detection increases your survivability and expands your lifespan. Your primary care provider will determine which screenings you need based on your personal and family health history, your age, and other factors like a problem detected during the physical exam portion of your appointment. Please note insurance companies do not cover all screenings. So be sure to ask before agreeing to extended testing. 

Wellness visits improve provider-patient relationships.

Ever visited a provider for the first time during acute illness and felt a little out of place or uncertain? Annual wellness visits are the opportunity to have open, honest, and candid conversations with your provider about your health and lifestyle before you’re sick. It’s as much of a chance for you to get to know your provider as it is for them to learn more about you and your health. When you visit the same provider for all of your medical needs, you establish a relationship. Good relationships between patients and providers are beneficial for the patient’s health. Providers are more likely to notice a concerning change in behavior or physical health when they see the patient on a routine basis. 

Wellness appointments help you take control of your health and healthcare.

Remember that candid conversation with your provider that we mentioned? That’s you taking control of your health. This is your chance to address concerns you have that may not be detected through a physical exam or review of your health history, like a mental health struggle. Wellness visits are an excellent time to start getting help with a problem like anxiety or depression. Primary care providers can refer you to a mental health professional for further diagnosis and can work with that professional to provide treatment. 

This is also your opportunity to discuss changes in your health like recurring headaches, increased heartburn, changes in your skin, and other symptoms that could be a cause for concern. You can then request additional testing and a referral to a specialist if needed.

Are you ready to take control of your healthcare and increase your life expectancy? Request your annual wellness appointment with one of our primary care providers here.

Six Foods You Thought Were Healthy But Aren’t

Six Foods You Thought Were Healthy But Aren't

Eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise are two lifestyle choices we heavily promote here at Mantachie Rural Health Care. Learning to eat healthy is challenging–especially in today’s world that offers an overwhelming amount of food options. Many of today’s foods, particularly pre-packaged, store-bought foods, are promoted as “healthy” choices but are actually worse than those obviously unhealthy options like soda and candy. If you’re trying to cut out unnecessary sugar, carbs, or calories from your diet, you’ll want to avoid the following six foods you thought were healthy.

Orange juice and other fruit juices.

The problem with orange juice and other fruit juices is that most of them are made from concentrate–meaning all the “good stuff” in the fruits that make these juices are stripped away and replaced with processed sugar. In fact, juices have as much sugar in each serving as a can of soda. 

Think making your own orange juice will make it healthier? Think again. The juicing fruits of orange are naturally sweet and contain very little fiber resulting in a spike in your blood sugar. The healthiest option is to switch to fruit-infused water. You can easily make your own by adding any of your favorite fruits to a pitcher of water and then refrigerating the water for several hours or overnight to allow the fruits to infuse.

Baked potato

A plain baked potato is high in calories and carbs. Start adding butter, sour cream, and other toppings and you’re adding even more junk to the mix. Opt for a sweet potato instead. 

Store-bought smoothies

Turns out saving yourself time with store-bought smoothies doesn’t actually save your diet. Even the “green” smoothies are high in sugar and low in the actual good stuff that comes from fruits and veggies that supposedly make up these smoothies. Your best bet is to eat your daily servings of fruits and vegetables and make sure you include a serving of greens with each meal. If you must have a smoothie, make your own. Your veggie portions should outweigh your fruit 3:1 and we advise adding flaxseed, chia seeds, or nuts for fiber. 

Flavored yogurt

There’s a reason healthy diets specify plain Greek yogurt instead of suggesting any yogurt on the dairy shelf. None, and we mean none, of the flavored yogurts you find at the grocery store are actually healthy. Like so many other foods that are advertised as healthy when they’re not, flavored yogurts are high in sugar. Satisfy your taste for yogurt by topping a serving of plain Greek yogurt with your choice of fresh fruit. 

Whole wheat

A few decades ago, whole wheat bread was touted as a healthy alternative to white bread. Health experts quickly found out that wasn’t quite the case, however. Actually, whole wheat contains so much sugar it raises your glucose levels faster than most candy bars. 

Dried Fruits

Much like other foods on our list, dried fruits are made unhealthy thanks to too much sugar made from the drying process. Always choose fresh fruit when you’re craving a fruity snack. 

Confused about what’s really nutritious and what’s not? You’re not alone. Our clinic has a registered dietician on staff. Contact us to make an appointment Erica Witcher, RD, CDE.

Gut Bacteria and Your Health

gut bacteria

Most of the time when our medical provider talks about bacteria and our body it’s not a good thing. When it comes to the naturally occurring bacteria in your stomach, it looks like more can be better.

Somewhere between 300 and 500 different kinds of bacteria live in our intestines, and that’s a good thing. These bacteria work with other tiny organisms to make up the microbiota in our intestines. Researchers call the gut our “second brain”.  The microbiota in our gut affects everything from our metabolism to our mood to our immune system.

Gut Bacteria Linked to Chronic Illness

Research into this gut bacteria shows differences between the types of bacteria in healthy people versus those with certain illnesses. While it makes sense what’s happening in our gut would affect chronic diseases such as colon cancer or Crohn’s disease, gut bacteria may also increase your chances for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, autism, and rheumatoid arthritis.

How to Encourage Good Bacteria Growth

What goes into our bodies affects how our bodies work. Encourage good gut bacteria by eating a nutritious diet high in fiber-rich foods. Processed foods and diets filled with red meats can kill certain gut bacteria. Having a variety of gut bacteria appears in research to be as important as having a lot of good gut bacteria.

Exercise can also increase the variety of gut bacteria so aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week. We’ve discussed the importance of exercise in controlling blood pressure, reducing heart disease and managing type 2 diabetes. All those illnesses may have some link to gut bacteria which can be affected by exercise.

Finally, only take antibiotics when your provider determines it’s necessary. Antibiotics will not help your cold or flu. Those viruses must run their course. Antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria but the good gut bacteria your body needs.

Research is on-going to determine how certain gut bacteria affect disease and what we can do to increase it in our intestines. If you’d like to learn more about gut bacteria and the research surrounding it, we found this article by WebMD to be especially helpful.

Diabetes and Heart Disease: A Deadly Duo

three women talking, diabetes and heart disease

Type 2 diabetes rarely arrives by itself. Instead, it travels with a host of additional medical conditions ranging from dry, itchy skin to an increased chance of heart disease. In fact, patients with Type 2 diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than people without Type 2 diabetes. In addition to monitoring A1C levels, your provider should monitor your risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Heart disease increases in people with Type 2 diabetes because high glucose levels can damage arteries causing them to become stiff and hard. When fatty materials build up on the inside of these arteries it can block the flow of blood to the heart or brain causing a heart attack or stroke.

Not the news you wanted to hear, we know. We’re not excited about it either. However, people with Type 2 diabetes can take a few steps to decrease both their blood glucose levels and their risk of heart disease all at the same time.

Get Moving

Whether you’re trying to improve your blood glucose levels, blood pressure, weight or energy levels, one recommendation remains a constant. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week. Break that down into ten-minute increments three times a day if needed, but get moving. Your future self will thank you.

Lose Weight if You’re Carrying Extra Pounds

Not only does obesity decrease your body’s ability to manage insulin and increase your chances of diabetes, it puts extra pressure on your heart and lungs to do their jobs properly. And truth be told, it probably makes you feel bad which can prevent you from getting the exercise you need. It’s a vicious cycle that’s not easy to break. Work with a nutritionist, your medical provider, and an exercise coach if necessary to create a routine that helps you lose the weight and keep it off.

Stop Smoking

You know you need to. Cigarettes not only increase your chances for lung cancer but they decrease blood flow to your legs and feet which prevents healing. Smoking also increases your already high chances of heart disease. If you’ve tried quitting smoking unsuccessfully in the past, it might be time to ask your medical provider for help.

Talk to Your Provider about Aspirin Therapy

Aspirin therapy isn’t for everyone but for some patients a low-dose of aspirin every day reduces the risk of heart disease. The therapy comes with its own risks so talk to your provider about whether or not it might be option for you.

Improve Your Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

Your diet, exercise, and weight affect more than just your blood glucose, but sometimes you need some extra help to bring your cholesterol and blood pressure under control. Ask your provider about monitoring these levels and whether medication would help you better control your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Eat Well

We all love eating good foods. Good foods can be healthy. With help from a nutritionist or website like diabetes.org, you can find great tasting recipes that meet the nutritional guidelines your body needs.

Diabetes may affect all aspects of your life, but it doesn’t have to cut your life short. Find renewed energy and health by focusing on just one of these strategies this month. If you do not have a provider to help you manage your diabetes and heart health, contact us. We’re happy to see you!

I don’t understand what my provider said, but I’m afraid to tell them

I don't know what my provider said

Have you ever left a doctor’s appointment more confused about your health than when you arrived? Maybe your provider prescribed a new medication or diagnosed you with an illness whose name is so long you can’t quite remember how it went. Either way, you are not alone. Nine out of ten patients across the nation have trouble remembering and understanding what their provider said. Even highly educated patients suffer from a lack of understanding about medical terms especially when they are under extreme stress or not feeling well.

Not understanding how to take your medication, how to care for an illness at home or when you should go back to the doctor can lead to serious complications and even death. If it’s so important to understand what your medical condition, what can patients do to make sure they fully understand what their doctor said?

Repeat it back

New guidelines suggest providers ask patients to repeat back in their own words what the provider said. If your doctor or nurse practitioner does not ask you to repeat their instructions back, you can offer it yourself. Simply start with, “You’ve given me a lot of information, here’s what I heard, is that right?” Then repeat back what your provider said.

Take someone with you

When your provider prescribes diagnoses an illness, it’s often hard to remember all the information when you get home. Ask a friend or relative to join you for the appointment. They might take notes or ask questions you can’t think to ask.

Ask questions

Sometimes it’s hard to remember all the questions you want to ask when you’re sitting in the crosshairs of your provider’s stare, even if they have the best bedside manner. Write a list of questions you want to ask prior to your appointment. The National Patient Safety Foundation suggests starting with these three questions:

  • What is my main problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • What is it important that I do this?

If your provider adds a medication, always ask “should I continue taking all my current medications as well?”

Record the conversation

Most clinics have notices prohibiting the use of cell phones to record or take pictures in their building. These rules are based on HIPAA to keep other patients’ information safe. Ask your provider if you can record your conversation in case you can’t remember what they said when you get home. If you are comfortable writing notes, keep a notebook strictly for medical visits. Ask your provider to spell any conditions with which you are unfamiliar.

Know your history

Either write down a list of medications you take or take a picture of the label with your cell phone. They will ask for an update of medications at the beginning of the appointment. Also, list any major illnesses or surgeries you have had or major illnesses of your parents. If the patient is a child, list any illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer or heart disease in the child’s mother or father. Bringing this list to the appointment with you saves you time when filling out forms and helps the doctor to have a complete record of the patient’s medical history.

Healthcare has changed over the last two decades. Providers have less time to spend with individual patients and patients have more access to information via the internet than ever before. Admitting you don’t understand what a provider said can be intimidating. Don’t be embarrassed. You are among the majority.

Clearing up misunderstandings will give you confidence when you need to make a medical decision and it’s shown to lead to healthier lifestyles. Start taking control of your health by ensuring you understand what your doctor said.

 

Diagnosing and Managing Malignant Hypertension

malignant hypertension

Malignant hypertension is extremely high blood pressure that develops rapidly and causes some type of organ damage. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. A person with malignant hypertension has a blood pressure above 180/120. Malignant hypertension should always be treated as a medical emergency.

Symptoms of Malignant Hypertension

The main symptoms of malignant hypertension are a rapidly increasing blood pressure of 180/120 or higher and signs of organ damage. Usually, the damage happens to the kidneys or the eyes. Other symptoms of malignant hypertension include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in the arms, legs, and face
  • A severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • In rare cases, brain swelling

Causes Malignant Hypertension?

In many people, high blood pressure is the main cause of malignant hypertension. The most common cause is missing doses of blood pressure medications. Certain medical conditions may also cause malignant hypertension. They include:

  • Collagen vascular diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tumor of the adrenal gland
  • Use of certain medications, including birth control pills and some antidepressants
  • Use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine

Malignant hypertension is rare. About 1% of people who have a history of high blood pressure develop this life-threatening condition. You are at greater risk of developing it if you are a man, African-American, or someone of lower economic status. Poor access to health care increases the risk.

Prevention

The easiest way to prevent malignant hypertension is to keep your blood pressure within an acceptable range. If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure consider the following:

Take Your Blood Pressure Medication On Time Every Time

High blood pressure drugs work best if you take them as your doctor has prescribed them. So you need to take the right amount at the right times every day.

Increase Your Physical Activity

Aerobic activity for 20-30 minutes 5 days a week improves cardiovascular health.

Practice Stress Management

Pursue an enjoyable activity or verbalize frustration to reduce stress and improve mental health.

Quit Smoking

Quitting tobacco will improve your health. The nicotine in cigarette smoke raises your blood pressure and heart rate. It also narrows your arteries and hardens their walls, and makes your blood more likely to clot.

Use a Blood Pressure Monitor

If you are concerned about high blood pressure, regular monitoring of blood pressure can help diagnose high blood pressure. Bring your blood pressure cuff and list of readings from your log with you to your appointment.

Switch to a Low Sodium Diet

A diet that restricts salt (sodium chloride) and other forms of sodium to no more than 1,500 to 2,400 mg per day can help lower blood pressure.

Underdiagnosed and untreated high blood pressure is a serious problem in the United States. Early detection and treatment can prolong the health and life of patients. As your patient centered medical home, Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc, offers care for both acute and chronic illnesses. If you suspect you have high blood pressure, schedule a Wellness Exam with us today by calling (662) 282-4226. We will be happy to discuss your concerns.

Don’t ignore these four subtle heart attack symptoms

heart attack

More than 1 million Americans suffer heart attacks each year. While we all know the famous symptoms, like chest pain, numbness in the arms and shortness of breath, there are other more subtle symptoms to consider.

Heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarctions, occur when the flow of blood is blocked in the coronary arteries by a buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol. Over time, these substances form a hard plaque. The interrupted blood flow eventually damages part of the heart muscle. In some cases, this interruption destroys part of the heart muscle. We often associate heart attacks with a dramatic scene, but this is seldom the instance. While some heart attacks can be fatal, others usually aren’t found until weeks or months after they occur.

These types of heart attacks are aptly named the “silent heart attack.” They occur more frequently in women than men, and often occur with no symptoms. In fact, if symptoms do occur, they are minimal or even unrecognizable. Signs could be as simple as a seemingly strained muscle.

We’ve compiled the four symptoms you should watch for when considering a silent heart attack.

Discomfort in the jaw, upper back or arms

While this symptom could be due to an overly vigorous workout or too much play time with the kids, discomfort in the jaw, upper back and arms could be a sign of a silent heart attack.  A problem with the heart could signal the nerves in this area (jaw, back and arms), which causes pain or discomfort. You might think you have just strained a muscle, but don’t ignore the pain without considering all of the possibilities first.

Unusual fatigue

We understand how busy lifestyles, especially those of moms on-the-go, often lead to fatigue. But if you are experiencing new or dramatic fatigue, you should consider other causes. Feeling especially tired, even after routine activities like making the bed or walking up stairs, could be a sign of a silent heart attack. Also, trouble sleeping through the night, even though you are unusually fatigued, could be another symptom.

Shortness of breath

Alone, shortness of breath could be attributed to slight weight gain or a lack of exercise. But in certain instances, they could signal a heart problem. If you are experiencing shortness of breath without exertion, when lying down or propping up or accompanied by chest pain or fatigue, you should contact your physician.

Indigestion

While not life-threatening on its own, indigestion could be a sign of heart issues. Like the triggers that signal pain in the jaw, neck, and back, indigestion could be a similar signal that something isn’t quite right with your heart. Pay attention to the foods you are eating. If you have heartburn without just cause or combined with the symptoms above, it might be time to contact your physician.

Ready to discuss these symptoms with a professional? We’re here to help! Make an appointment with us by calling 662-282-4226 today.

Resources:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Heart-Attack-Symptoms-in-Women_UCM_436448_Article.jsp#.WtN3ftPwbBI

https://www.goredforwomen.org/about-heart-disease/facts_about_heart_disease_in_women-sub-category/silent-heart-attack-symptoms-risks/

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/women-dont-ignore-3-subtle-heart-attack-symptoms/

 

Cardiovascular Disease: The Silent Killer of Women

cardiovascular women

Each year approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease. That’s one in every four deaths in the United States alone. And even more startling, cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women in America. In fact, heart disease causes more women’s deaths than cancer—including breast cancer.

So, why is heart disease so much more deadly in women than men? There’s a pretty simple answer. For many women, there are no symptoms at all. If there are symptoms of heart disease in women, they are often attributed to other conditions or even ignored. Whether you are a woman or you are reading this article for your mom, sister, wife or friend, here are a few symptoms to look for.

  • Arm, neck, jaw or back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold sweat
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping

While each of these factors can be attributed to other things, like working out, low blood sugar, or even a lingering cold, it’s important for women to know what to look for. Other triggers to look for include menopause, ovarian cysts, and even high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy.

It’s important to know that you can combat this killer. Take control of your health! Follow the next three steps to prevent or catch heart disease at the earliest stages.

Don’t ignore the symptoms

It’s easy to get caught up in our daily lives and ignore symptoms that could mean a million different things. But listen to your body. Pain and discomfort mean something, so be sure you have an open conversation with your physician if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above.

Get screened every year

Screenings are quick and easy ways to ensure your heart is healthy. Be sure you are scheduling a screening each year, even if you aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms above. Remember that some women don’t experience any symptoms, so screenings are the best way to ensure your health.

Ask questions

Your physicians and healthcare professionals are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice your concerns. It might just save your life if you do.

For more questions or to schedule an appointment or screening, give us a call!

 

New Guidelines Equal 50% Chance You Have High Blood Pressure

high blood pressureThanks to new scientific guidelines issued by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other heart health groups, nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure. The new guidelines were announced November 13.

High blood pressure used to be defined as a reading of 140 for systolic (top number) and a reading of 90 for diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. The new guidelines sets a reading of 130/80 as high blood pressure. A reading of 120/80 is still considered a normal blood pressure reading

This change results in an additional 14% of U.S adults now categorized as having high blood pressure. However only about 2% of these people will actually need medication. Weight gain is associated with increased risk of developing high blood pressure. For this reason,the new guidelines emphasize lifestyle changes for people who are found to have elevated blood pressure.

High blood pressure (a.k.a hypertension) is a  condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. Blood pressure can be affected by genetics, age, exercise, stress and other diseases like diabetes. High blood pressure often does not have any noticeable symptoms. However if left untreated, it can cause health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure consider doing the following:

Incsease Your Physical Activity

Aerobic activity for 20-30 minutes 5 days a week improves cardiovascular health. If injured, pursuing an activity that avoids the injured muscle group or joint can help maintain physical function while recovering.

Practice Stress Management

Pursuing an enjoyable activity or verbalizing frustration to reduce stress and improve mental health.

Quit Smoking

Quitting tobacco will help your overall health. The nicotine in cigarette smoke raises your blood pressure and heart rate. It also narrows your arteries and hardens their walls, and makes your blood more likely to clot.

Use a Blood Pressure Monitor

If you are concerned about high blood pressure, regular monitoring of blood pressure can help diagnose high blood pressure.

Switch to a Low Sodium Diet

A diet that restricts salt (sodium chloride) and other forms of sodium to no more than 1,500 to 2,400 mg per day.

Underdiagnosed and untreated high blood pressure is a serious problem in the United States. Early detection and treatment can prolong the health and life of patients. As your patient centered medical home, Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc, offers care for both acute and chronic illnesses. If you suspect you have high blood pressure, schedule a Wellness Exam with us today by calling (662) 282-4226. We will be happy to  discuss your concerns.

Sources:

https://g.co/kgs/5jp1PR

http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2017-archive/november/new-guideline-on-hypertension-lowers-threshold?nav=news

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/11/13/blood-pressure-of-130-is-the-new-high-according-to-first-update-of-guidelines-in-14-years/?utm_term=.f167979c22f0


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