Your Practice Transformation Companion

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Heart Healthy Living? Sign Me Up!


Getting woken up in the darkness of early morning by afamily member saying, “I’m having chest pain” is not the start of a good day for either party. The panic of that moment starts a rush of adrenaline and a call to action. Unfortunately, many people have been through that moment with somehaving good outcomes and others not so good. In this American Heart Month, there are plenty of ways to improve heart health inthe hopes that we never have to hear those words or say them to others.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UnitedStates. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD) which affects blood flow to the heart. CAD occurs when plaque, which is fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits, builds up in the coronary arteries and causesa narrowing of one or more of them. This plaque reduces blood flow to the heartand can cause partial or completely clogged arteries. Symptoms of a heart attack can vary, but many times there is chest pain which can feel like a tightness, pressure, or ache along with other symptoms such as fatigue,heartburn, dizziness, nausea and/or shortness of breath. Women may have symptoms to a lesser degree with jaw or neck pain, fatigue, and nausea. These can all be signs of an impending heart attack.

Healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent or treat some forms of heart disease. It is important to see your health care provider on a regular basis for physical examinations, lab studies, and medications when needed. Sometimes heart disease can be found early.

What do we have the power to control?

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) – see your health care provider regularly as high blood pressure sometimes has no symptoms, take medication as prescribed, watch the amount of salt that is consumed in your diet

  • High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) – take medication as prescribed, eat healthy with a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, watch salt, cholesterol, and fat in foods

  • Tobacco use – get help to quit smoking by using over-the-counter products or discuss with your health care provider for a prescription, avoid secondhand smoke in your home and car

  • Stress – can be managed many different ways including talking to friends/family/therapist, finding solutions to current problems, getting plenty of sleep, meditate, deep breathing, eating healthy, and physical activity (can break the symptom of stress at that moment)

  • Food choices – make dietary modifications for a healthy diet - reduced sodium, increased fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free/low fat milk products, healthy oils, lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, legumes, reduce sweets and other added sugars, DASH diet, Mediterranean diet

  • Physical activity – current guidelines aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity

  • Weight – healthy eating and physical activity will help keep weight in the healthy range

What are risk factors that cannot be controlled?

  • Age (the risk goes up as you age)

  • Family history of heart attacks

  • The risk for heart disease increases even more when heredity is combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices

Remember….

  1. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD).

  2. Some of the risk factors that can be controlled are eating a healthy diet, increasing physical activity, reducing stress, not smoking, and taking prescribed medication for high blood pressure and highcholesterol.

  3. Risk factors that cannot be controlled are age and family history.

  4. See a health care provider on a regular basis to identify health issues early.

Disparities exist when race, ethnicity, and socio-economic factors are taken into account. Community Health Workers (CHWs) have a role inhelping to close that gap. CHWs are frontline, public health workers who connect individuals and families to health care and social services. They may work in urban or rural environments and with low-income, minority, immigrant, and underserved communities. By helping to educate patients and clients on the controllable items in the risk factors, they can help reduce the chance of heart disease. CHWs are becoming more prevalent in underserved communities and even on care teams. Some of the ways that CHWs could help specifically with heart disease are:

  • Aid patients/clients obtain needed medications

  • Assist in accessing healthy food

  • Promote physical activity using resources in the patient/client’s community

  • Support a smoke-free lifestyle and assist with tobacco cessation

  • Educate the patient/client with self-management, care coordination, and stress management support

  • Navigate the health care system, including health insurance enrollment and appropriate use of services

PTI has a Community Health Worker Program that teaches the core competency skills and health knowledge needed to function as a CHW to promote healthy lifestyles. See our website for more information. https://transformcoach.org/learning-solutions/community-health-worker-chw-program/

National Wear Red Day is February 2, 2024. Wear red to helpraise awareness of this number one killer. Motivate others to protect their hearts by learning their risks and making lifestyle changes. Make time forself-care. There is no one like you. Go Red!

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/american_heart_month.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

https://www.goredforwomen.org

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/american-heart-month

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106

Monday, January 1, 2024

Cervical Health Awareness Month

 

Happy 2024! As we enter a new year, we always hope for happiness, success, and good health. Talking about good health and how it can be achieved is one of the many things we do here at PTI. Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about gynecology and, specifically, cervical health.

Cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in American women. The death rate dropped dramatically once the Pap test started being used. However, there are still more than 14,000 women in the United States diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year.  

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common virus passed from one person to another during sex. There are more than 150 related viruses with only a few being high-risk. Most cervical cancers were found to be caused by the 14 high-risk types of HPV. For most people who have HPV, it will go away on its own. But for some people, it doesn’t go away and becomes chronic. It is these chronic infections that can lead to cervical cancer in women. The HPV test is a screening test used to detect the presence of HPV virus on the cervix.

The American Cancer Society cervical cancer screening recommendations are as follows:

  • Start cervical cancer screening at age 25. People under age 25 should not be tested because cervical cancer is rare in this age group
  • Women between the ages of 25 and 65 should get a primary HPV test done every 5 years. If a primary HPV test is not available, a co-test (an HPV test with a Pap test) every 5 years or a Pap test every 3 years.
  • Women who are 65 years and older and have no history of cervical cancer within the past 25 years and who have documented adequate negative prior screening in the past 10 years, discontinue all cervical cancer screening

Note: There are some variations in cervical cancer screening recommendations between different organizations.

There are many types of cervical cancer and catching any of these early allows for more treatment options. Unfortunately, not all women get screened. Socioeconomic factors with low-income women not having easy access to health care services which includes cervical cancer screening, not being able to take time off from work, lack of or inadequate health insurance, and transportation issues are all reasons they may have not been screened. Cervical cancer may also be prevented by getting the HPV vaccine and learning ways to practice safe sex.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to schedule an annual checkup, make sure to include not only your primary doctor, but your gynecologist. Happy New Year!

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/cervical-cancer-screening-guidelines.html

https://www.nccc-online.org/cervical-health-awareness-month/

https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine-for-hpv.html

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Two Health Observances with One Goal

 


We have two health observances for the week of December 4-8. Not only is it National Handwashing Awareness Week, but it is also National Influenza Vaccination Week. Wash your hands and roll up your sleeves!

Handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections such as the cold or the flu. The CDC recommends that we teach our children the 5 steps of handwashing early. These are wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry! Easy peasy. Parents play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands from the time they are young to make it a healthy habit.

Learning the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness that are endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians is also a good idea:

  • Wash your hands when they are dirty, before eating, and after using the bathroom. Clean the back of the hands and between the fingers. Dry off hands with a clean cloth or paper towel or hand dryer.
  • Do not cough into your hands
  • Do not sneeze into your hands
  • Do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth

To reduce the risk of seasonal flu, it is important to get vaccinated every year. A flu shot can reduce the severity of the symptoms if you end up getting the flu and can speed up your recovery time. An annual shot is needed as the flu virus changes and alters itself every year. That is why the flu can be so widespread and sometimes hard to avoid. That is also why there is a new vaccine every year.

Some of the most common flu symptoms are:

  • Fever or feeling feverish or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuff nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Protect yourself and others from the flu by:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are ill. Keep your distance from others when you are sick, too. It works both ways.
  • Stay home from work or school when you are sick. This helps prevent the spread of illness to other people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Flu viruses are spread by droplets made when people with the flu talk, sneeze or cough.
  • Wash your hands often. This will help protect you from germs. Use an alcohol-based liquid if soap and water aren’t available like we did (and some of us still do) during COVID.
  • When a person touches something contaminated with germs, those germs can easily be spread if we touch our mouth, nose or eyes
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces at work or home when someone is ill

Remember that flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but caused by different viruses. COVID-19 spreads more easily than the flu and has some of the same signs and symptoms. With that information in mind, go ahead and get the updated COVID-19 shot for protection over this fall and winter, too. You’re already at the pharmacy. Why not? Just do it. Prevention is always the gold standard.

PTI send best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/handwashing-family.html

 

Monday, October 2, 2023

Back from St. Louis and the IACET 2023 Annual Conference!

 


PTI has been an accredited provider for the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) for over 15 years. We have gone through IACET’s rigorous accreditation and the reaccreditation process many times as we work to follow their standards in order to deliver high-quality continuing education and training.

This year IACET’s 2023 Annual conference was held in St. Louis, Missouri with the theme of “Accreditation in Action!” Our very own, Harmony and Yang, attended the conference and saw it as a great opportunity to connect with peers and professionals in the continuing education and training field.

The conference agenda had many exciting sessions from IACET Accredited Providers, IACET Commissioners and other industry leaders. Harmony and Yang gained insight into the power of accreditation, along with the value that it brings to an organization. They were able to hear best practices about how other accredited providers from around the world optimized their accreditation into success for their respective companies.

It was a great learning experience and they also got to see a bit of the city in the few days they were there. We can’t wait to hear more about the conference. Welcome back, ladies!


Friday, September 1, 2023

Pain Awareness Month

 

What is chronic pain? Pain is considered chronic or long-term if it lasts longer than three to six months or beyond the normal healing period for an injury. It may be mild all the way up to severe and does not go away even though the pain may not always be present. Chronic pain can take a psychological toll and cause problems like depression, stress, anger, withdrawal and anxiety. It can take a physical toll on health with fatigue and sleeplessness and can also suppress the immune system. Almost 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

Chronic pain is most often due to a health condition with some of the most common sources being:

  • Back pain
  • Pain from injury or trauma
  • Infection
  • Disease
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle or nerve pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Shoulder, neck, pelvic pain

Current evidence-based care includes non-pharmacologic treatments and non-opioid medications which show improvements in pain, function or both and are the preferred treatment for chronic pain. Treatments need to address the physical as well as psychological. Patient education, discussion and shared-decision making are important. If any complementary health approaches are decided upon by the patient, a safety discussion should be had with the health care provider. Personal health and special circumstances can affect the safety of the treatment.

Analgesics are pain killers and treat pain by reducing inflammation or by changing the way the brain understands the pain. They can be used after surgery, for an acute injury and for painful chronic conditions such as back pain or cancer. These can include anti-inflammatories and opioids. Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce inflammation or swelling at the site of the pain. Opioids work by changing the way the brain perceives the pain; opioids can cause physical dependence and are prone to abuse. All of these medications can cause side effects and complications and should not be used long-term.

Possible treatments for chronic pain besides medication and surgery include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Relaxation, stress reduction, distraction techniques, guided imagery
  • Exercise therapies such as aerobic, aquatic, resistance
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Hypnosis
  • Music therapy
  • Cannabis
  • Tai chi, qigong, yoga, Pilates
  • Healthy eating
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Lifestyle modifications such as weight loss and physical activity
  • Positive thinking
  • Dietary supplements may interact with prescription and non-prescription drugs and may cause other problems; discuss with your health care provider

Health inequities unfortunately exist for many patients including older patients, less educated people, women, and racial and ethnic minorities usually due to inadequate pain management. Patients may also believe that nothing except pain medication will help their pain.

Chronic pain can be a barrier to self-management as it can increase the risk of anxiety and mood disorders, physical and emotional disability and other poor health outcomes. There are no easy answers for pain sufferers. Research is constantly being done to find the causes and treatments of different types of pain. During this Pain Awareness Month, it is important to be sensitive to the problems connected to chronic pain that others experience.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6736a2.htm

https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/default.htm


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

National Immunization Awareness Month

 

The use of vaccinations is considered to be one of the greatest successes of 20th century public health. Vaccines have saved countless lives. In the United States many vaccine-preventable diseases are no longer common. Unfortunately, global travel can make these diseases easy to spread in unvaccinated populations.

There are many different types of vaccines that work in different ways to provide protection. Vaccines use a small amount of antigen, which is the substance that causes the body to make an immune response against that substance. The body starts remembering a few weeks later how to fight that virus if exposed to it.

Vaccines are held to very high safety standards and are tested, evaluated and monitored. They only use the ingredients they need to be as safe and effective as possible to:

  • Provide necessary immunity
  • Keep the vaccine safe and long lasting
  • Make the vaccine more efficient

Childhood vaccination is important to provide immunity before children are exposed to life-threatening diseases. Getting vaccinations “on-time” with the schedule is important. Children who are not vaccinated on the schedule are not only at risk of becoming ill themselves but can spread the illness to others such as newborns too young for vaccines, people who have a weakened immune system and other unvaccinated children and adults.

Adults need to keep their vaccinations up to date because immunity from childhood vaccination can wear off or wane over the years. They may also need other vaccinations based on their age, lifestyle, job, travel habits and health conditions. There are a few vaccinations that are only recommended for older adults such as hepatitis B, shingles and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines for PCV15 and PCV 20.

The various United States immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults are written based on age, if catch-up is needed, medical conditions and other indications, special situations and contraindication and precautions to vaccination. The current 2023 schedules can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html.

Unfortunately, health inequities, disparities and barriers to care exist in our country:

  • Linked to less overall education, lack of health information on immunizations, low health literacy
  • Vaccines and boosters may not be available at convenient locations or at different times of the day, evening or weekends
  • Parents may avoid vaccinating their children due to culture, religion, social, philosophical, medical reasons and fear
  • Racial and ethnic minorities have lower rates of vaccination for children and adults
  • People with a low income may not have access to providers, are not always able to take time off from work, have a lack of or inadequate health insurance and may have transportation issues
  • Socioeconomic factors heavily influence vaccination rates as racial and ethnic minorities with a higher income have similar vaccination rates to Whites
  • Vaccine confidence needs to be built through trusted people such as faith and community leaders and in multiple languages
  •  At-risk children include those who:
    • Are unable to visit a pediatrician on a regular basis (homeless, live in a rural area, have parents who don’t take them to the doctor unless ill)
    • Have a historical disadvantage (racial and ethnic minorities or households with lower incomes)
    • Have developmental disabilities (cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability)
    • Have special healthcare needs (lung, heart or kidney disease, immune system problems, malignancy, diabetes, etc.)
    • Live in a congregate setting (group home, incarcerated)
    • Are non-English speakers, immigrants or those with an undocumented status

With August being Immunization Awareness Month, take this as an opportunity to check the immunization schedules and see if you and your family are up to date. Many families are still behind from the pandemic. Get those kiddos caught up with their vaccines before the new school year starts.

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam/index.html

https://www.hhs.gov/immunization/basics/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html

Saturday, July 1, 2023

National UV Awareness Month

We have already had a lot of hot and sunny days for our 2023 spring and summer. For sun lovers, this is a wonderful time of year. But with July being UV (Ultraviolent) Awareness Month, this is also a good time to talk about the sun and its UV rays.

What are UV rays? They are a part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation. They are actually the strongest source of ultraviolent radiation in our environment. Certain UV rays can change the structure of skin cells. That doesn’t sound good at all and demands our attention.

The three types of UV rays are:

  • Ultraviolet A (UVA). These rays are the most common source of sun radiation on the earth’s surface and can penetrate beyond the top layer of human skin. Approximately 95% of the UV rays from the sun are UVA rays. These rays increase a person’s risk of long-term skin damage like wrinkles, but also have a role in developing skin cancer.
  • Ultraviolet B (UVB). These penetrate less deeply but can still cause some kinds of skin cancer. These are the main rays that cause sunburn. Approximately 5% of the sun’s rays are UVB rays.
  • Ultraviolet C (UVC). These rays do not pose a risk to people because they are absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere and don’t reach the ground.

If we aren’t careful about protecting ourselves, we can set ourselves up for some potentially harmful outcomes:

  • Skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma)
  • Premature skin aging
  • Eye damage (cataracts, macular degeneration, keratitis)
  • Vision problems (blurred vision, light sensitivity, excessive tearing)
  • Immune system suppression (causing a defective immune response)

What are some of the other risk factors for skin cancer?

  • Skin that burns, reddens easily, freckles or is painful in the sun
  • A lighter natural skin color
  • Persons with blue or green eyes
  • Red or blond hair
  • Certain types and a large number of moles
  • Family or personal history of skin cancer
  • Older age

There are ways we can reduce our risk of too much sun exposure if we take precautions. As time is spent outside this summer, make sure to practice these important tips for sun safety. 

  • Stay in the shade under a tree, shelter or umbrella, especially during the midday hours of 10 AM to 4 PM when UV rays are the strongest. Being outside during those times increases the risk of getting sunburned.
  • Remember that the sun is still a risk even on cloudy or cool days but is the strongest during the spring and summer in Michigan.
  • Wear clothes that protect exposed skin from the harmful effects of the sun such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts. Even a beach coverup or tee shirt can help. Darker colors offer more protection. There are lots of clothes out there now that offer UV protection for children and adults.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat to shade the face, ears, neck and head. If a baseball cap is worn, protect the back of the neck and ears by covering those areas or applying sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. These rays can reflect off surfaces such as sand, cement, water and even snow.
  • Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of at least 30 that is water resistant and offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply at least every two hours and after sweating, wiping yourself off with a towel, or being in the water.
  • Use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Certain medications can increase sensitivity to the sun and increase the risk of getting sunburn (NSAIDs, tetracyclines, amiodarone)

Being outside in the sun is a wonderful way to reduce stress, get vitamin D and be physically active. Sun protection is a good habit to keep. PTI wishes you and your family a fun and sunburn-free summer!

https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm  

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/sunexposure/default.html

Thursday, June 1, 2023

June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

 


Dementia is an overall term used for a particular group of symptoms. These involve difficulties with language, memory, problem-solving and other thinking skills. Dementia can be from a variety of causes and includes:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Lewy body disease
  • Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Hippocampal sclerosis (HS)
  • Mixed pathologies

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is a progressive brain disease that makes up 60-80% of dementia cases. These brain changes are caused from an accumulation of certain abnormal proteins and the degeneration of nerve cells (neurons.) Changes can involve memory, language and difficulty thinking. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s begins many years before symptoms are apparent.

How quickly Alzheimer’s disease progresses and what abilities are affected differ from person to person. Medication helps for varying lengths of time, but there is still no cure. As time goes by more damage occurs and more areas of the brain are affected. There are approximately 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. In Michigan, 190,000 people aged 65 and older are living with it.

There are many symptoms. These can include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life (forgetting dates/events, asking the same information over and over again)
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems (following a recipe, paying bills)
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks (problems driving to a familiar location, remembering the rules to a favorite game)
  • Confusion with time or place (losing track of dates, seasons, forgetting where they are)
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships (trouble reading, balance difficulties, judging distance, determining color)
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing (trouble following or joining a conversation)
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps (putting things in unusual places, accusing others of stealing)
  • Decreased or poor judgment (problems with handling money, less attention to grooming)
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities (problems remembering how to do a favorite hobby, changes in the ability to follow conversations)
  • Changes in mood or personality (suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious, easily upset)

People with dementia symptoms should get a formal screening and diagnosis. There are currently six medications approved to help once diagnosed. Non-drug treatment options are also available and include cognitive stimulation, psychological treatment, support groups, sensory practices, psychosocial practices and structured care protocols. Outside help may eventually be necessary for the activities of daily living.

There is a lot going on with research to help find the cause of this chronic condition and help prevent it. Basically, good nutrition, engaging in physical activity, emotional wellbeing and good sleep hygiene make for a healthy body and brain. But we can do more. One of the most interesting things to try is to build new brain pathways. Make your brain do things it isn’t used to. Learning a new language isn’t easy once you have a few years under your belt, but it makes your brain work harder and builds new pathways. Other items can be making your non-dominant hand do things it isn’t used to doing, like brushing your teeth. Learn new words. Do crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and other brain stimulating games. Keep your brain working harder. What do you have to lose? Maybe, just maybe, Alzheimer’s disease.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350453

https://www.alz.org/professionals/public-health/state-overview/michigan

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs

https://www.alz.org/abam/overview.asp

Monday, May 15, 2023

Are Your Bones Strong Enough?


Osteoporosis is a disorder characterized by bones that are weak and more likely to break. Many people with osteoporosis do not know they even have it until a bone breaks. What a bad way to find out! People at an older age are more likely to have osteoporosis. It is more common for older women to have osteoporosis, but men can also develop it. Osteoporosis affects almost 20% of women aged 50 years and older, and 5% of men aged 50 years and older. Now is a great time to learn more about osteoporosis since May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month.

Recovering from a broken bone in an older adult becomes harder and the pain from the incident may become chronic. Broken bones most often happen in the hip, forearm, wrist and spine. Hip fractures can be the worst because many people are no longer able to live on their own and may be more likely to die sooner. 

Bone is living tissue that is always being broken down and replaced with new tissue. Osteoporosis happens when the creation of new bone cannot keep up with the loss of old bone. Look at the picture above to see the difference between them.

Osteoporosis screening recommendations:

  • Recommended for women who are 65 years old and older
  • Recommended for women who are 50-64 years old and have certain risk factors such as having a parent who has had a broken hip

Screening is important to find people before they break a bone so that they can take the necessary steps to decrease the effects of osteoporosis. A bone density test determines if a person has osteoporosis. It uses a low-level x-ray called a DXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The bones commonly tested are in the spine, hip and sometimes the forearm. Having a bone density test can identify if there is a decrease in bone density before a bone is broken. It can also determine a person’s risk for broken bones, can confirm a diagnosis for osteoporosis and helps monitor current osteoporosis treatment.

A health care provider may also order a bone density test for the following reasons:

  • Losing height. People who have lost at least 1.5 inches may have a compression fracture in their spine. Osteoporosis is one of the main causes of compression fractures.
  • Fractured a bone due to fragility. A bone is so fragile that it breaks more easily than expected. It could be caused by something as small as sneezing, coughing or bumping into something.
  • Taking certain drugs. The long-term use of steroid medications like prednisone interferes with the bone-rebuilding process which can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Drop in hormone levels. Women have a natural drop in their hormones after menopause. Estrogen in women may also drop during certain cancer treatments.

Main risk factors:

  • Sex. Women are more likely to develop.
  • Age. The older you get, the greater the risk you have.
  • Race. The greatest risk is for people of white or Asian descent.
  • Family history. Having a parent or sibling puts you at greater risk, especially if your mother or father fractured a hip.
  • Body frame size. Women and men with small body frames are at a higher risk because they have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
  • Other risk factors include people with eating disorders, low calcium intake, GI surgery, long term use of steroids and medications used for seizures, gastric reflux and cancer.

How to improve bone health:

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D
  • Take supplements for any vitamin D deficiency
  • Sun exposure can help absorb vitamin D
  • Perform weight-bearing exercises regularly – walking, climbing stairs, lifting weights, using resistance bands, Yoga, Pilates, tai chi
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit alcohol use
  • If diagnosed with osteopenia, regular bone mineral density tests should be done to monitor bone health every two or three years
  • If diagnosed with osteoporosis, medication will be prescribed to strengthen bones

It is important to take steps to prevent falls as the risk of falling rises with age. Physical activity that improves strength and balance can help and so can home safety with the use of handrails, better lighting, grab bars and removing tripping hazards. Make this osteoporosis awareness and prevention month one that will help you take charge of your bones and fight the threat of osteoporosis to bone health.

https://nationaltoday.com/national-osteoporosis-awareness-and-prevention-month/

https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/ 

https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/disease/osteoporosis.htm 



Saturday, April 1, 2023

Improving Health Outcomes for Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups

 


April is National Minority Health Month and a time to raise awareness about the health disparities that affect people from racial and ethnic minority groups throughout our country and how we can improve their health.

The social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age and the forces and systems around them that shape their daily lives. These include economics, political systems and social norms and policies. The lower the socioeconomic position of the person, the higher the risk of poor health. This disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities. They experience higher rates of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity and asthma when compared to whites. Chronic conditions and the impact of these conditions can be more severe due to other health inequities that people experience, such as lack of insurance coverage, lack of access to healthcare and economic limitations. Systematic inequality exists with housing, health care, and the social and economic status within the racial and ethnic minority populations. Add in that a member of a racial and ethnic minority group may also be a member of the LGBTQ+ community and have food insecurity puts them at an even higher risk for adverse health outcomes that could affect their health and well-being.

One way to improve health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities involves providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services to help empower them. The use of community health workers (CHW) can do that.

CHWs:

  • Are members of the community who serve as advocates and liaisons to connect individuals and families to health care and social services
  • Have a strong connection to the community they serve
  • May share the same ethnicity, race, language, social-economic characteristics, cultural, spiritual beliefs and life experiences as found in the community
  • Work in urban or rural environments and with low-income, minority, immigrant and underserved communities
  • Have diverse job descriptions as well as job titles depending on the organization in which they work
  • Can help address the gaps in our health care system by working with clients in their communities to connect them to healthcare and eliminate barriers for the clients
  • Can reduce health disparities in the communities they serve
  • Build a healthier community through prevention strategies and health promotion

 A CHW sounds like a pretty important job as they can be the “bridge” to a healthier community with the wide variety of services they provide. They are on the front lines of health equity and we need to train and support them.

We have a multicultural society in America, and it is critical that there is equal access to healthcare. There must be a strong effort to overcome the economic and social obstacles and leave politics out of it. A healthier America is good for everyone. Let’s build it through education and taking real steps and real actions toward progress.

https://www.cdc.gov/about/sdoh/index.html

https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/nmhm/

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

What are You Doing for Heart Health?

 


The month of February is always one of the most depressing months of winter, especially here in Michigan. The days are gloomy and cold, so pushing people to make healthy lifestyle changes this month isn’t always easy. I just looked out of my office window. It’s dreary and raining today. An ugly day. Why did I even bother getting dressed? I’m working from home and have no plans to go out. I could have stayed in my pajamas for the whole day. Oh, well. Live and learn. But I do want to live…

February is American Heart Month and heart disease continues to be a leading cause of death in the United States. What can we do about it? Most heart disease can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes and education. I know that sitting here at my computer all day isn’t all that healthy.

There is a difference between exercise and activity. “Exercise” is a conscious effort that you make to get your heart rate going faster in order to burn calories and build muscle. “Activity” is about how much you move during each day. Do you sit at the computer working all day and in front of the TV at night? Maybe you get up and go to the bathroom or get a snack every couple of hours? That is a little activity, but not much. Most people don’t move around a lot during their workday, but they may exercise on the weekend or in the evening when they have more free time. Exercise AND a decent activity level are both important for your heart. Sitting too much without movement increases your risk for heart disease.

Everyone can make an effort to spread activity out during the day even when working from home. Walk inside or outside your house every hour. Go up and down stairs multiple times. Stand and do stretches at your desk. Get moving even if it’s just a few minutes at a time. Put a timer on your phone so you don’t forget. Get out that activity tracker that you got sick of and start using it again. 10,000 steps a day. Remember? Work on reaching that goal. Move around every hour during the workday. Chasing kids around and taking care of their needs is a good activity in the evening and on the weekends. Whew! That’s great because I sure feel like it is and want to positively embrace that it is good for me.

What about motivation? Think about what would keep you motivated right now. Are you still in-sync with your New Year’s Resolution to lose some weight and get healthier? Are you planning a trip in the spring or summer? Do you have something special to go to in the coming months like a wedding or party where you’d like to look and feel your best after being cooped up for the winter? Spring and summer are just around the corner.

Heart disease isn’t something we want. There are some risk factors we can’t change, such as our sex, age or family history. Making changes to our lives is never easy for anyone, but there are a few things we can do to prevent our risk. Give some of these a try.

  • Regular physical activity. Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise.
  • Strength training at least twice a week. Think about alternative ways on how you can gain strength at home if you can’t get to a gym.
  • Eat healthy to help your heart, improve your blood pressure, cholesterol and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

    • Fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes
    • Lean meats and fish
    • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
    • Whole grains and other foods that are fiber rich
    • Healthy fats
    • Limit salt, sugar, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, saturated fats
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Manage your stress
  • Make appointments for your regular health screenings
  • Take medications as directed by your health care provider

Think about February being American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day being right in the middle of the month. A coincidence? I don’t think so. “Hearts” are everywhere for the whole month. Whether it’s a sweet message to a special someone or flowers for yourself (because you deserve them) on Valentine’s Day, look at those “hearts” in a variety of ways. Get your red clothes out and participate in National Wear Red Day on Friday, February 3 to end heart disease and stroke in women. Promote the hearts and think about your own. Take charge of your heart health. Note to self: Go to the gym after work.  

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm

https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502

 

 

 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

 

January 2023 blog


Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and vision loss in the United States. There are close to 3 million people who currently have glaucoma in our country. Half of them don’t even know they have it because glaucoma has no symptoms in the early stages. By 2030, it is predicted that 4.2 million people will have this eye disease in the United States. A very scary thing. That is one of the reasons that Healthy People 2030 has an objective focused on prevention of vision loss due to glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a chronic and progressive eye disease caused by damage to the optic nerve. A major risk factor is increased eye pressure due to an abnormality in the eye’s drainage system. The optic nerve is damaged due to the excessive pressure, although glaucoma can develop in someone with normal eye pressure. It is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam where your eyes are dilated with special eye drops. The doctor can see the back of the eye and the optic nerve clearly. While your pupils are dilated, the doctor will examine the optic nerve to look for the signs of glaucoma and any other eye problems.

One of the first signs of glaucoma is the loss of peripheral vision, especially the vision close to your nose. Since it happens slowly, many people can’t tell their vision has been affected in the beginning. As it progresses, glaucoma affects your central vision so driving and reading can become a problem.

Although there are different forms of glaucoma, the most common one is called primary open-angle glaucoma. It can affect one or both eyes, does not have symptoms and is hereditary. If it isn’t found and treated, it can lead to complete vision loss and blindness. Although there is no cure, early treatment can help protect your vision and sometimes stop further damage with medication, laser treatment or surgery.

People who are at higher risk for glaucoma include:
  • Anyone over 60 years of age, especially Latinos/Hispanics
  • African Americans who are over 40 years of age
  • People who have a family history of glaucoma
  • People who have diabetes, hypertension or a previous eye injury

What can you do for healthy vision?

  • Get regular comprehensive dilated eye exams every one to two years
  • Know your family’s eye history
  • Wear sunglasses when outside
  • Wear protective eyewear
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be physically active
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Quit smoking

If you are at high risk for glaucoma, please make it a New Year’s resolution to get a dilated eye exam in 2023 by an eye care professional. Protect yourself. Early treatment and diagnosis can save your vision.
www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma
https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/glaucoma-awareness.html

Thursday, December 1, 2022

December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month

 

The big December holidays are upon us. Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! This month is the largest gift giving and gift receiving month of the year. What will the children we love want for 2022? It is such a joy to see their eyes light up with excitement when they open a gift. Their reactions are priceless. As we search for the most popular or most imaginative or most fun toys, it’s important not to forget about toy safety. Ask yourself if the toys you are choosing are age-appropriate and safe.

Toymakers have toys recalled every year due to safety concerns. These recalls and other helpful information can be found on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website. The CPSC is an independent federal regulatory agency that works to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths from products out in the market. They closely monitor and regulate toys. Any toys either made in the United States or imported into the United States after 1995, must follow the CPSC standards.  https://www.cpsc.gov/.

Toy-related injuries and emergency room visits happen year-round. But this time of year, is the most problematic. We need to take our own precautions as we shop for our loved ones.

The following advice can be helpful:

  • Check the age, skill level and abilities on a toy before you purchase it to make sure it is a good match for the child you are buying it for
  • Avoid buying toys that have parts that fly off, especially if there are younger children in the household
  • Toys shouldn’t have any sharp or pointed edges
  • Sports equipment gifts should have protective equipment given along with them
  • Don’t give toys that heat up or have ropes, cords or straps
  • Inspect toys your child receives as gifts
  • Stuffed toys should be able to be washed
  • Toys that are made from fabric should be labeled flame retardant or resistant
  • Be especially cautious of toys for infants and children under the age of three
  • Make sure markers and crayons are listed as nontoxic
  • Supervise your children when they are playing, especially young children
  • Don’t give toys with small parts to young children who may put everything into their mouths, due to a choking risk. Choking hazards can also include small balls, broken balloons and marbles. Button batteries and magnets can cause serious injury or death if ingested.
  • Keep children safe from toys that contain lead. Be a smart consumer and learn about lead exposure and its symptoms. Painted toys must use lead-free paint.
  • Older toys passed down in the family might not meet current safety standards
  • Make sure toys aren’t too loud for your child. Toys can damage hearing, especially if a child holds it directly to their ears.
  • For children with special needs, choose toys that can appeal to their different senses. Think about their abilities as you choose.
  • Look for a label from the ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) on toys you are purchasing. It proves the toy meets certain consumer safety standards.

Whatever holidays you celebrate in December, all of us here at Practice Transformation Institute wish you and your families a wonderful and injury-free holiday season.

 


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Two for One This Year: Flu Shot and COVID-19 Booster

 


Woo hoo! It’s a big year. Get two immunizations with only one trip to your pharmacy, health care provider office or health department for fall 2022. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu and Covid-19 booster are safe to be given at the same time. One in each arm.

We were doing rather well with flu when everyone was wearing masks. Now that most people are not wearing masks, we can welcome flu back. Never had the flu, never want it. As we anticipate more flu this year and into 2023, it is a good idea to get the flu shot along with the new and improved COVID-19 booster with the omicron subvariants (BA.4, BA.5.). Both shots together provide protection against severe illness. They also increase the likelihood of fewer disruptions in life for you and your family over the next few months.

The flu vaccine is updated every year after scientists have monitored flu strains from around the world. The data is then used to update the annual flu vaccine for the fall. It isn’t always perfect because, as we have seen time and time again, viruses change. It’s the nature of the beast. Viruses modify themselves as they drift and shift around the world. It’s science. If you didn’t know that about the flu, you have been given a real-world lesson about change since COVID-19 has been with us.

The same concept that is used for the annual flu vaccine was used in the updating of the COVID-19 booster. This new COVID-19 booster was designed to target both the original coronavirus strain and the omicron subvariants (BA.4, BA.5) that have been with us for the last few months. As we have seen, the original COVID-19 vaccines were effective at preventing death and severe disease in most people. However, breakthrough infections and reinfections are becoming more common as the virus continues to evolve.

The link below is a great comparison between the flu and COVID-19 and covers the following:

  • Similarities and differences
  • Signs and symptoms
  • How long symptoms appear after exposure and infection
  • How long someone can spread the virus
  • How it spreads
  • People at higher risk of severe disease
  • Complications
  • Approved treatments
  • Vaccines

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm

It is looking like we may have an annual COVID-19 booster, just like our annual flu shots. As we jump into fall, have your COVID-19 plan ready. Keep some over-the-counter tests (still free through many places) ready at home in case you need to know if it’s COVID or not, keep extra masks on-hand and keep up to date on vaccines. It is very easy to schedule these immunizations at a time convenient for you. Help protect your family and friends as we enter a new season.