Answers About Heart Health
By Houston Mooney, MD
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., where 1 in 4 people die from heart-related conditions. With so much conflicting health information available, it’s hard to know what to believe when it comes to your heart. Here are some common questions I get from patients.
What type of diet is healthiest? Nutrition is the single most important factor in reducing your heart disease risk. Stick to foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and high in fiber. I am a big proponent of the Mediterranean Diet, which is full of “superfoods” like berries, broccoli, and almonds, all of which are high in heart-healthy nutrients. Most of your food should come from fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates like quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”), brown rice, and whole oats. For protein, fish and seafood are best, followed by poultry, eggs, and cheese. Maintaining this type of diet decreases your cholesterol and blood pressure while helping you drop extra weight – all important factors for a healthy heart.
Is coconut oil good for your heart? Coconut oil is about 80 percent saturated fat, which increases your cholesterol, so I don’t’ recommend it. Instead, eat mono-unsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. They all have cardio-protective properties, meaning they protect your heart from disease.
Is it true that red wine is good for your heart? Too much wine—more than one glass per day—can weaken your heart. For those who drink, moderate amounts of red wine can be beneficial. It can increase your HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and contains antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation in your body. For non-drinkers, keep in mind that you can get the same benefits from red grapes.
Is “inflammation” related to heart disease? Inflammation is at the root of almost every chronic disease, including heart disease. It’s your body’s reaction to an infection or injury, and can also be caused by stress. Your diet can help reduce inflammation. The biggest culprits are simple carbs and sugar, so sticking to the Mediterranean Diet is a good way to reduce inflammation. Avoid food that comes in a box or bag, which contain high amounts of sodium and artificial ingredients, which can lead to inflammation. “Shop the perimeter” when you’re at the grocery store, where you’ll find fresh, rather than processed foods.
Houston Mooney, MD, is a board-certified clinical cardiologist with Baptist Medical Center Nassau. For more information or to make an appointment, call (904) 261-9786.
A Holistic Approach to Living Well
By Lorraine Aiken
Wellness is defined as the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal. As senior citizens age, adopting a healthy lifestyle is imperative to overall well-being, and it is achieved by adopting a holistic approach to wellness.
Wellness is more than merely working out and eating healthy food. It’s a dynamic process of change and growth comprised of emotional, intellectual, social, and physical health, as well as balanced nutrition, each of which should be a focus of your daily activities. Make sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new regimen to ensure it’s a balanced part of your wellness plan.
Emotional, intellectual, and social wellness go hand-in-hand to create a social atmosphere where individuals can connect with others, learn new concepts, and improve overall emotions. Focusing individually on emotional wellness can help us cope with the challenges that life brings and share feelings we may be having. Intellectual wellness gives us the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences, which can be applied to personal decisions, group interactions, and community betterment. Social wellness gives us the ability to relate and connect with other people in the world, helping us establish positive relationships and new connections with friends, family, grandchildren, and peers.
When thinking about wellness, most people think about physical well-being, which ensures your body is healthy and able to perform daily activities. Physical wellness is adopting behaviors that have a positive impact on our body, including routine check-ups and exercise, such as running, walking, biking, swimming, or yoga. Avoiding negative physical activities destructive to your health, such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, also keeps you in good physical health.
Balanced nutrition is an essential part of your physical well-being. Providing the right amount nutrients from food and drinks that turn it into energy helps your body to function correctly. To maintain proper nutrition in your diet, you should be consuming the majority of your daily calories in lean proteins, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Seniors should be consuming around 1,600 – 2,000 calories per day, while drinking on average eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
By following some basic guidelines, anybody—at any age —can improve their quality of life.
Lorraine Aiken is Director of Social Media for Senior Living Communities, LLC. For more information, contact Osprey Village at www.Osprey-Village.com.
One Way to Get Younger
By Dr. Tony Stubits, O.D.
One of the harbingers of getting older is our eyes. Sometime in our forties, someone hands us something to read and no matter how far we hold it out, we can’t bring it into focus. This means you have officially entered the world of presbyopia, which literally means “old man eyes” in Latin.
Presbyopia is caused by loss of elasticity in the crystalline lens in our eyes. The crystalline lens is our zoom lens, and in conjunction with the ciliary muscle, allows us to focus on things up close. Because the crystalline lens is made up of modified, transparent skin tissue, like the rest of our skin, it loses elasticity as we grow older and makes our vision get worse.
As we get even older, the crystalline lens continues to lose elasticity, affecting our distance vision as well as our near vision, and then it starts losing clarity. This loss of clarity is called a cataract. There are different kinds of cataracts, but all of them affect the quality of our vision, causing glare at night, glare in bright light, and dim or foggy vision in general.
Cataract surgery is the most common type of surgery in the U.S. today, with about three million people undergoing the procedure each year. It is an out-patient procedure and only takes about 8-10 minutes to perform. Previously, the goal of cataract surgery was to get rid of the cataract and put a monofocal implant in the eye, leaving most people in need of glasses afterward. But with the advent of laser-assisted cataract surgery, combined with the development of multifocal lenses to correct presbyopia and toric multifocals to correct astigmatism, most people will not need glasses after this kind of cataract surgery. The patient can even be checked on the operating table with the new ORA system to verify the power of the implant is correct once placed inside the eye. Replacing our old lens generally stops our eyes from getting worse, since the lens doesn’t deteriorate over time.
With careful testing and the right treatment, farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia can be corrected. Sometimes the hands of Father Time can be stopped or reversed. Cataract surgery is one of the few ways you can actually get younger.
Dr. Stubits is an optometrist with Coastal Vision Center, located at 6 South 14th Street in Fernandina Beach. For more information, call Coastal Vision Center at 261-5741.
An Abnormal Mammogram: What Now?
By Dr. Gaelyn Scuderi
You’re a conscientious woman who actively pursues optimum wellness. You know that breast cancer is common, but treatable, if it can be diagnosed early. So you get your screening mammogram, and… it’s abnormal. Now you face a diagnostic mammogram, breast ultrasound, and a biopsy if needed. Now the questions start. What is a diagnostic mammogram? Why do I need an ultrasound? Don’t only people with cancer need biopsies? Do I have cancer?
To answer these questions, it is important to understand the screening mammogram. The screening mammogram is a set of images designed to give the most information about the breast tissues in the smallest number of pictures. If there is a change since the previous mammogram, a diagnostic breast imaging workup is recommended. On average, about 1 in 10 women will be recalled for a diagnostic exam.
Unlike the screening exam, the diagnostic breast imaging workup is an individualized exam that starts with additional mammographic pictures. Magnification views are another kind of technique used in the diagnostic setting to characterize findings with maximum detail. A breast imaging radiologist physician interprets these diagnostic mammogram views immediately and determines the next steps in the evaluation.
Often a breast ultrasound is recommended. A breast ultrasound is a powerful adjunct to the mammogram because it helps characterize masses as solid or cystic and provides another layer of detail. Most diagnostic breast imaging exams are complete after the customized mammography and ultrasound images are performed, but occasionally an MRI is recommended.
It is a common misconception that most diagnostic breast imaging exams result in a recommendation for a biopsy and a subsequent cancer diagnosis. Only 17 percent of women are recommended for biopsy, meaning the great majority of diagnostic breast imaging evaluations end up being assessed as negative or likely benign. When a breast biopsy is needed, women should know that breast imaging physicians are obliged to biopsy any finding that has a greater than 2 percent risk of malignancy based on its appearance. Of those women recommended for biopsy, only about 30 percent will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
In summary, an abnormal screening mammogram is not a definite cancer diagnosis. But a more personalized evaluation is necessary to ensure your optimal health and exclude the presence of an early, potentially curable breast cancer.
Dr. Scuderi is Director of Imaging at Ackerman Cancer Center. She is board certified in Diagnostic Radiology and completed a fellowship in Breast Imaging and Intervention. For more information, visit AckermanCancerCenter.com.
Four Dental Myths Debunked!
By Dr. Paul Miller, D.M.D.
While good oral care can be achieved through just a few minutes of effort each day, the wrong practices can do more harm than good. Here are four common misconceptions that can undermine good oral health.
First, brushing your teeth harder makes them cleaner. Not true, so take it easy! Dentists often see the effects of brushing too hard or brushing with bristles that are too firm. Gum recession, erosions of enamel, and tooth sensitivity can all be caused by excessive force or abrasiveness when brushing. Stick to soft or extra soft bristles, using a light circular motion around your gums. Better yet, get an electric toothbrush and make things even more effortless!
Second, gum disease is only a problem for your mouth. Not true. People with periodontal (gum) disease are more likely to have health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers related to chronic inflammation, in addition to low birth weight and premature birth in pregnant women. A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth. Gum disease commonly leads to tooth loss, which affects what you can eat, how you speak, and even the shape of your face.
Third, you don’t need a dental check-up if nothing is bothering you. Again, not true. It is better to find a problem early and resolve it quickly before it worsens. By the time symptoms appear, you may need a root canal or a tooth extraction that may have been prevented if the problem was caught earlier at a routine checkup. Cavities and gum disease are easier and more affordable to treat when diagnosed early.
Fourth, the dentist’s office is too scary for me. Have no fear! Dentistry has come a long way since the time when most baby boomers were young. Many patients tell me about a bad experience they had when they were kids, and dentists understand that this can keep people away. Dental offices now offer many ways to keep patients satisfied with their dental experience, like TVs in treatment rooms, dental chairs with massaging capability, warm hand and neck towels, and great music to keep patients comfortable and coming back. In addition, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or conscious sedation with a happy pill are options for patients who might need an extremely relaxing visit!
Dr. Paul Miller is a general dentist with Amelia Gentle Dentistry. For more information, call (904) 277-8500 or visit www.AmeliaGentleDentistry.com.
Medicare’s Unexpected Costs
By Dunnon McLucas
While most individuals now understand that Medicare charges premiums and has costs associated, they might not know about some of the less common costs many people will incur.
First, Medicare Part A is only premium-free if you have paid into the program for a minimum of forty quarters (ten years). Medicare Part B always has a premium. Also, if you had a high annual income (as determined by Medicare) in the past two years, your premium for Part B could go as high as $428.60. We call this an Income Related Medicare Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Part D premiums also increase if you are receiving an IRMAA. Even electing not to receive Part B or D when you are first eligible will cost you more in premiums later.
Parts A and B differ in out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Part A generally covers most bills associated with a hospital stay. Deductibles play their part: Part A beneficiaries must pay $1,340 for the first sixty days of hospitalization. Part B covers subscribers’ outpatient doctor visits and medically necessary procedures, for which they pay a $183 deductible first. Part B then covers eighty percent. Most importantly, Medicare stands apart from individual or group health insurance plans by having NO out-of-pocket spending limits. Excess Charges can add up very quickly. Explained simply, Excess Charges add a 15 percent allowable charge to the Medicare assignment. (In health insurance, the “assignment” would be like the “negotiable price.”) These charges pass directly to the consumer when they apply.
What about the infamous Medicare Part D Coverage Gap (donut hole) that opens when Initial Coverage ends before Catastrophic Coverage begins? For 2018, you reach the coverage gap when your total drug cost equals $3,750 for drugs covered by your plan. You languish in this coverage gap until your out-of-pocket costs reach $5,000.
But all is not lost! Despite the gaps, Medicare shines at a time when health insurance premiums are at unrealistic levels. However, Medicare comes with unexpected costs that you must be aware of before making critical decisions. With an educated review of your current and future health needs, you can develop a plan to conserve your hard-earned funds. Work with an expert who will educate you on the Medicare program, review your options to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and, most importantly, limit your total exposure with maximum out-of-pocket protection.
*All figures in this article represent the 2018 calendar plan year.
Dunnon McLucas is a Licensed Insurance Agent at Compass Group Insurance. For more information, call (904) 746-4648.
Change your Health? Change Your Perspective.
By Dr. Kevin Lin
Do you want to change your health? It starts with your perspective. No, I’m not going to offer you mantras or affirmations, or tell you to think positively. But what I will do is point out something which guides how we make decisions about our health, but which we don’t often stop and critically evaluate.
Right now, the conventional approach to health is pathogenic. In other words, it’s about the factors that cause disease. This method has very distinct characteristic and principles. In a pathogenic mindset, you are either healthy or sick. The attention is on the specific diagnosis of the specific disease of the patient. Attention is also focused on the risk factors of the disease being considered. The starting point is the disease or problem.
Now let’s try a new mindset. The Salutogenic mindset. The word Salutogenic comes from the Latin salus = health and the Greek genesis = origin. A Salutogenic approach to health focuses on what makes us healthy rather than what causes disease. In this approach, you are not either healthy or sick. Instead, you are on a continuum, in which you are moving towards health or towards being sick. The attention is focused on the overall state of the health/illness of a person. Rather than just looking at the risk factors of the particular disease, the focus is on where the patient is on the health spectrum.
The starting point in this approach is the health potential of each patient instead of the patient’s disease or problem. A pathogenic approach is reactionary. Decisions are made in response to signs and symptoms of the disease. By definition, a Salutogenic approach is a proactive approach. Decisions are made to enhance each patients overall well-being.
Exercise, eating well, and taking supplements are all examples of a Salutogenic approach. Another familiar example is brushing your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly. Taking care of your spine and nervous system would be a less familiar example, but it can be essential in helping you realize your fullest health potential.
The next time you make any decision about your health, ask yourself: Am I being reactive or proactive? Am I focused on the disease, or am I focused on creating health? This change in your mindset can make all the difference.
Dr. Kevin Lin is a doctor of chiropractic and owner of Precision Chiropractic. For more information, please call (904) 310-0064.