A Lifetime of Healthy Living

Six local health professionals offer advice on living the highest quality life possible.

Mammogram Myth Busters
By Baptist Health staff with Dr. Trishna Patel, MD

Annual mammograms lower a woman’s chance of death from breast cancer by 30 to 40 percent, according to the American College of Radiology. Beginning at the age of 40, women should get a mammogram every year, says Dr. Trishna Patel, MD, a radiologist at Baptist Health, earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer. Here are seven myths that could be standing between you and this all-important annual screening.

I don’t need a 3D mammogram. 3D mammograms are more accurate than traditional 2D mammograms, allowing physicians to examine breast tissue layer by layer. “Studies show that 3D mammography exams reduce the need for additional imaging by up to 30 percent,” says Dr. Patel. “Increased accuracy helps expedite care.” In addition, 3D mammograms are better at finding breast cancers than 2D mammograms.

I need a referral from my primary care physician. You do not need a referral from your primary care physician to get a mammogram. You can set up an appointment on your own.

I don’t have a family history of breast cancer, so I don’t need a mammogram every year. Thirty percent of breast cancers are found in women with a family history of breast cancer, meaning that 70 percent of breast cancers are found in women with no family history. Even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, your risk is still high.

Radiation from mammograms can cause cancer. The radiation you get from a mammogram is a very low dose, about the same amount as you would get from the sun over a three-month period.
Mammograms hurt. Mammograms can cause some discomfort, but there are ways to minimize it, says Dr. Patel. Schedule a mammogram for the middle of your menstrual cycle, when your breasts are not as sensitive. Stay calm and trust that the mammography technologist is there to help you get the best pictures with minimal discomfort.

If my lump doesn’t hurt, it’s not breast cancer. Until a doctor does a complete evaluation, which may include a biopsy, there’s no way to know that a lump is harmless. Not all breast cancers hurt. “A patient should never assume it’s benign,” says Dr. Patel.

I can tell whether I have dense breasts by how they feel. Dense breast tissue can hide cancer from X-rays. High breast density also slightly raises your risk for breast cancer. Breasts are dense if they have more fibro-glandular and connective tissue, which doesn’t correlate to how they feel. A radiology/X-ray finding is needed, which is even more reason to make sure you have your yearly mammogram. 

For more information, call (904) 202-2222 or visit Baptist Health’s website to schedule a screening mammogram at Baptist Medical Center Nassau.

Digital Advances in Cosmetic Dentistry
By Dr. Paul M. Miller, DMD

Advances in digital dental technology are allowing dentists to perform a variety of procedures in ways that are minimally invasive to our patients. Procedures ranging from chairside cosmetic veneers to total tooth replacement with dental implants can be planned and performed using a combination of digital scans, photography, and computer imaging. This technology achieves precise, high-quality results and enhanced patient comfort.

One emerging cosmetic option is digitally designed composite chairside veneers for treatment of teeth that are worn, chipped, or discolored. Digital scanning technology can allow us to quickly design first a 2D smile makeover for our patient to see, followed by a 3D plan for mock-up veneers. This allows our patients to experience for themselves what their smile makeover could look and feel like directly on their own teeth before the final veneers are done.

After patient and dentist approval of the smile design, a single 2 to 3 hour appointment for placement of 4 to 10 composite veneers can be performed with minimal, if any, adjustment of the patient’s natural tooth structure. Due to additional advances in dental biomaterials, these veneers can be shaped and polished to give an incredibly natural appearance.

Cosmetic porcelain veneers are an ideal option for cosmetic improvement, and they also benefit from a digital workflow in smile makeover design. Porcelain allows for the best combination of esthetics and strength for long-term use. Evaluation of the existing teeth, bite, and desired smile makeover outcome, in addition to patient preferences in appointment duration and cost, are all factors which are considered when deciding between the two types of cosmetic veneers.

In addition to veneers, missing tooth replacement with dental implants has become more streamlined thanks to advances in digital dentistry. From single tooth replacement in esthetic areas to full arch replacement/reconstruction, the digital workflow has significantly increased patients’ satisfaction, comfort level during treatment, and final results. Cone beam CT imaging allows dentists to see the exact location of critical jaw anatomy while planning procedures, which optimizes implant location and minimizes discomfort after surgery.

Significant esthetic improvement to one’s smile has been shown to increase self-esteem and confidence. For many patients, it can be a life-changing improvement. The team at Amelia Gentle Dentistry can provide a satisfying dental experience using the latest in cutting edge digital technology to improve your smile.

Dr. Paul Miller is a general dentist with Amelia Gentle Dentistry. For more information, call (904) 277-8500 or visit www.AmeliaGentleDentistry.com.

Finding a Geyser of Youth
By Andy Parker

If you’ve seen an advertisement offering water that promises to turn back the aging process and restore youthful years of long ago, I recommend saving time and money by not clicking the “Purchase Now” button.

However, there is a fountain of information available detailing how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which by the way, can result in a slowing down of the aging process while restoring muscle density, flexibility, and mental acuity.

With so many expert recommendations, popular routines, and faddish diets floating around, it can be a little overwhelming. Focusing on a singular component of wellness is a poor strategy when seeking optimal results. The body is an ecosystem, housing complex functions and actions, interwoven throughout all parts of the body. For the best results, it’s important to adopt a comprehensive, all-inclusive approach.

Osprey Village, Amelia Island’s oceanside independent living retirement community, incorporates wellness in its award-winning lifestyle, leading to longer, healthier, happier lives. Based on innovative direction from industry leaders and decades of experience, the community applies an ensemble of life-enriching components, all rooted in the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental, and occupational wellness. The Weller Life, as it’s called, touches every part of life, enhancing the lives of members though focused programming and implementation.

Here’s how the Seven Dimensions of Wellness work together: the physical dimension is purpose-based wellness that includes aquatic aerobics, exercise, and tai chi, along with healthy habits, nutrition, and sleep; the emotional dimension entails individualized care, support, and attention to well-being and mental health; the intellectual dimension provides cognitive stimulation through mind exercises, trivia contests, and book clubs; the social dimension means relational growth and support though shared hobbies, clubs, day trips, and exploration; the spiritual dimension means relaxation and meditation, building and maintaining relationships, and support of beliefs and principles; the environmental dimension includes peaceful interactions with nature, living spaces, and people through outdoor walks and exploration; and the occupational dimension works to maintain and expand skills and talents important to the individual.

Simplifying wellness down to the rule of eating light, moving right, and sleeping tight, ignores the real-world difficulties and pains of cooking, cleaning, shopping, and exercising, while minimizing the efforts involved. At Osprey Village, the freedom, fun, and peace of mind of having a community of dedicated professionals providing upscale services, amenities, personalized dining services, home maintenance, individualized care, and social and wellness programming may be the closest thing to the mythical fountain of youth.

Andy Parker is Creative Director at Senior Living Communities.

Keeping It Simple
By Dr. Kevin Lin

In the current climate, it is hard to find the answers about how to be healthy. With all the information that is available online, you can always find competing ideas and opinions on every subject and issue imaginable. If you go to “Dr. Google” to look for a simple and concise answer to a health problem, you are more likely to be overwhelmed by the information you find and leave the site more confused and frustrated.

In addition, there is also the question of authority, and whether any institution has gained and earned our trust. So not only is it difficult to sort through the information available, but it is also harder and harder to trust those who are distributing the information. Moreover, the Covid pandemic has created a greater sense of urgency about our health.

Have you noticed that people are paying closer attention to their physical well-being? I have. This actually might be the silver lining of the pandemic. The reprioritization of our health is an important development. So where does this leave us? I believe there is hope.

Sometimes the simplest answers are the correct ones. In our dizzying information age, it is more important than ever to remember the basic foundation of good health. Eat good foods. Drink water. Exercise daily. Sleep well.

Take care of your body by being proactive. Too often, we get consumed and distracted by disease and what might go wrong. It is more worthwhile to focus on what makes us healthy. Focus on improving your heart rate variability, a measure of your body’s adaptability. Measure your body composition. Track and measure your resting heart rate. Buy yourself a fitness tracker.

It is not very sexy or earth-shattering to say you need to eat a well-rounded diet or to exercise routinely, but it is nevertheless essential. The answers are simple, so keep it simple. Doing the next right thing over a long enough period of time will get you the results that you are looking for.
Keep it simple for as long as possible!

Dr. Kevin Lin is a Doctor of Chiropractic, a Diplomate of CranioCervical Junction Procedures, and the owner of Precision Chiropractic in Fernandina Beach. Dr. Lin focuses on an area of Chiropractic called Upper Cervical Care and has been in practice for 13 years. You can reach Dr. Lin at precisionchirofl.com or (904) 310-0064.

Dry Eye is a Common Condition in Older Adults
By Dr. Gerald Koss

Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. People with dry eyes may experience irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes; a feeling of something in their eyes; excess watering; and blurred vision. Advanced dry eyes may damage the front surface of the eye and impair vision.

With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, and wash away foreign matter in the eye, keeping the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.

Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water and mucus. Each component protects and nourishes the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop.

People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality: Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions, or as a side effect of certain medicines. Environmental conditions can also decrease tear volume due to increased tear evaporation. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.

The most common form of dry eyes occurs when the water layer of tears is inadequate. This condition, called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is also referred to as dry eye syndrome. Some causes of dry eye disease can be genetics, various medical conditions, age, gender, medications, or environmental conditions, including staring at a computer screen.

Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Treatment for dry eyes with an eye care professional can restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health.

Dr. Gerald Koss is a board certified optometrist with Amelia Eye Associates. For more information, please call Dr. Koss at (904) 321-1333 or visit www.ameliaeye.com.

Managing Your Health As You Get Older
By Dana McCoy

Aging offers many challenges. All of us want to live the highest quality life for as long as we possibly can. To achieve this goal, it is important to recognize the things in our life that we can control, such as maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, getting regular exercise, maintaining social connections, managing stress, and staying mentally active. All of these things are controllable with a little help. Just as important is recognizing those things that you can’t control and getting the help you need.

It is important to know when you may need help. A healthcare support company like Amelia Care Management focuses on the factors of aging that you can’t control. With 15-plus years of experience and longtime relationships with community resources, Amelia Care Management can provide the support and strategies you need.

Many things effect your health as we get older that are beyond our control; they are simply a result of aging or genetics. One example is knee and hip replacement. The surgery and recovery need to be managed. Managing will include following pre-surgery guidelines and following inpatient and outpatient physical therapy recommendations. In many cases, patients only do part of their therapy and do not get full mobility back and end up in ongoing pain with limited mobility, and possibly even damaging other parts of their body. By not properly managing this process, they have caused themselves future issues.

A second example is a spouse who becomes the primary caregiver for a partner who is declining. Caring for their spouse can dominate their life and, in turn, their health starts to break down. With both partners in decline, the entire situation can spiral out of control. The key to managing this type of situation is to bring in help early in order to maintain the health of both people. An in-home caregiver can allow the caregiving spouse to maintain their friendships and hobbies, and just to get a mech-needed break. By managing this process with an additional caregiver, you can extend the quality of life for the one being cared for and the caregiver.

These are just two examples, but there are many other situations where people face more than they can handle. It is important to take care of the things you can manage, recognize the things you can’t, and turn to proven, professional resources when you need help.

Dana McCoy, RN, CMC, is administrator of Amelia Care Management. For more information, call (904) 206-0217 or visit www.ameliacaremanagement.com.