Protect your Children: Get them Vaccinated

By Gail Burke, DO, Family Medicine Physician

GettyImages-532334752.jpgWith a new school season starting, many parents are making lists to make sure their child has everything to begin the school year prepared. Protecting your child’s health should be number one on your list.

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One of the best ways to keep your children healthy is to get them vaccinated. From newborn to college age, you can protect your children from 16 serious diseases, including polio, meningitis, diphtheria, flu, rotavirus and tetanus. Vaccinations work! Some terrible diseases that ravaged human beings for centuries were eliminated with the discovery of vaccination, such as the dreaded small pox virus, which the World Health Organization declared globally eradicated in 1979.

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Vaccinations save lives

Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as polio, measles and whooping cough. Those same germs exist today; because most children are vaccinated, we don’t see those diseases as often. Vaccination not only protects your child; it also protects the other children in the classroom and school, by something known as “herd immunity.” Germs can travel quickly through a community, such as your child’s classroom, and make a lot of children sick. If enough people get sick it can lead to an outbreak. But when enough children are vaccinated against a disease, the germs can’t travel as easily from person to person and the whole group is less likely to get the disease. That is “herd immunity!”

As a very busy parent, you’ve got enough to keep track of with your child’s multiple school and afterschool activities.  Keeping track of a vaccination schedule is one less thing for you to worry about, because your child’s doctor will do this job.

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Well-child visits and immunizations

Vaccinations are designed to be given automatically during well-child visits. Your family doctor or pediatrician will schedule these well-child visits and keep track of your child’s vaccinations and give you a health record with the history of your child’s vaccinations. This record is often required by your child’s school and other programs to ensure the health of all the children. And don’t worry. If your children have missed any vaccines, your doctor can use a “catch up” vaccination schedule to get them back on track.

There are free resources to help parents such as the CDC charts, “2018 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth through 6 Years old” and the “Recommended Immunizations for Children 6 years old through 18 years old.”

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Vaccination safety

Some parents are confused and worried about vaccinations. They’ve heard that vaccinations can cause autism or long-term neurologic problems. Moms and Dads want to do what’s in the best interest of their children. All parents, and children, deserve the best science-based information on this topic. The CDC and many scientific groups have done extensive research on vaccine safety; their studies continue to find there is no scientific basis for this claim. Based on these major research findings, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Medicine support vaccinations for all children, infancy through college age. You are encouraged to bring your questions and concerns to your family doctor.

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Additional benefits of vaccinations

There is another important benefit for parents who vaccinate their children. Their children are less likely to develop the childhood illnesses which require time off school for kids and time off work for parents. It also cuts down on need for doctor’s visits, and with very sick children, the need for hospitalization.

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Programs that can help

Vaccinations can be expensive and many families cannot afford to pay for vaccines on their own. If you are unable to afford vaccinations for your child or if the vaccinations are not covered by your health insurance, do not let this stand in the way of protecting your child. He or she may be eligible for programs such as the Vaccines for Children program, a federal program established in 1998.

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Finding your ‘Medical Home’

When you register as a patient at the UMC/LSU Family Medicine Clinic, this becomes your “Medical Home,” for you and every member of your family, no matter his or her age. One of the key beliefs of family medicine is disease prevention! We are dedicated to promoting your child’s health, through vaccinations and lifelong education on healthy lifestyle. We believe that vaccinations are one of the best lifelong strategies to prevent serious life threatening diseases and keep you and your loved ones healthy.

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Dr. Gail Burke is a board certified family physician in the UMC/LSU Family Medicine Clinic. To learn more about Family Medicine at UMC, visit http://www.umcno.org/familymedicine or call (504) 962-6363 to schedule an appointment.

Essential Immunizations for Adults

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

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Vaccines

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

Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you get sick, you may risk spreading certain diseases to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take.

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Babies, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick.

You can help protect your health and the health of your loved ones by getting your recommended vaccines.

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The good news is that getting vaccinated is easier than you think. Adults can get vaccinated at their primary care doctor’s office, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics and health departments.

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines—a call to your insurance provider can give you the details.

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What vaccines do you need?

All adults should get:

  • Annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu
  • Td/Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)

Some additional vaccines you may need (depending on your age, health conditions and other factors) include:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal
  • Pneumococcal
  • Shingles

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Traveling overseas?

There may be additional vaccines you need depending on the location. Find out here. 

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Still not sure what vaccines you may need?

Take this short quiz.

Be a Good Sport: Tips for Preventing Youth Sports Injuries

Author: Patricia Clesi, RN, UMC Trauma Services Coordinator

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Youth participation in organized sports offers excellent benefits socially and physically, including reducing the risk of childhood obesity.

However, almost 1/3 of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related.

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In fact, high school athletes account for about 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said knee injuries, ankle sprains and concussions are among the most common outcomes in studies identifying risk factors for sports-related injuries. One study from the National Health Interview Survey even showed that sports, on average, account for 14 percent of all emergency department visits for life-threatening injuries, the majority of which (32%) come from those 18 and younger.

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Despite the scary statistics, more and more American children are participating in youth sports in recent years.

To make sure you or your child are not part of the numbers and prevent injury, consider these 5 simple, but potentially lifesaving, tips during this National Youth Sports Week:

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1. Warm Up

Time should always be set aside for warm up and stretching before playing sports. This will help prevent injury to muscles during play.  All major muscles groups should hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

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2. Gear Up

Appropriate and properly fitted sports gear should be used always. Helmets should be well maintained, age appropriate, and worn correctly.  There are no “concussion proof” helmets, however, it will help prevent skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries.

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3. Hydrate

Hydration before, during and after practice and games are very important to prevent dehydration, especially in the summer months.

Water is the best option to hydrate athletes.

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4. Rest

Overuse injuries are common, especially in youth playing on multiple teams of the same sport at the same time. Rest will help avoid these injuries.

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5. Report

Players should be encouraged to report any pain, injury or illness to their coaches and parents.

For more child safety tips, visit http://www.umcno.org/injuryprevention.

Know Your Numbers

Authors: Alan Gatz, MD and Kendria Holt-Rogers, MD, UMC Primary Care Physicians

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Today,  many people are aware of the need to focus on the effect of risk factors and life choices on overall health and wellness. Health professionals speak to patients about cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, BMI (body-mass index), and hemoglobin A1c, but many individuals become overwhelmed and do not totally understand all of the information as presented.

Here’s a condensed and simplified description of the above mentioned health determinants.

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Cholesterol

This term actually should be changed to lipids, which includes the entire family of proteins sub-divided into three major subcategories:

  1. LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol
  2. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and
  3. Triglycerides (TG).

The two numbers the majority of people need to remember are their LDL and HDL levels.

A simple way to understand the concept of reducing heart and vascular disease is to keep the low low and the high high. LDL level above 150 mg% increases the risk of developing blood vessel blockage while HDL above 50 mg% helps protect against the development of this problem.

High triglycerides also can affect a person’s health including development of pancreatic disease.  Any intervention – including lifestyle changes and medications –  that will improve the overall cholesterol readings will also improve the total TG.

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Interventions to improve the cholesterol numbers and reduce risk of cardiac disease:

  • Exercise – 30-45 minutes 3 times per week
  • Diet – increase fiber, reduce fat and sugar
  • Weight loss – even 5 pounds will affect the level
  • Medication – effective but comes with risk of side effects

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Blood sugar (Glucose)

Important in the proper functioning of most all body systems, if the blood level is too high, many of the major organs can be damaged irrevocably, most notably the heart, kidneys, circulatory system and eyes. Normally, people think of getting a blood sugar reading by having their finger lanced to obtain a drop of blood.  This “spot” reading will give an idea of current glucose level but the Hemoglobin A1c (Hgb A1c) is much better at allowing us to determine average blood sugar level over several weeks.

Without getting too scientific, the higher the average blood sugar, the higher the level of Hgb A1c.  In general we strive to get the level below 7%.

Ways to improve Hgb A1c :

  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Prescribed exercise program
  • Improve diet and control your weight

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Body Mass Index

This number is determined by a patient’s height and weight.

The ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 25.  Below 18.5 is considered underweight with 25-30 being overweight.

Those individuals above 30 are classified obese.  The importance of BMI lies with the effects of stress on the heart, circulatory system, joints, muscles and metabolism.  Severe obesity with BMI greater than 36 increases the individual’s risk for hypertension, myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, diabetes, degenerative arthritis, decreased independence.  Obviously we cannot affect the BMI by growing taller but anything we can do to reduce weight will improve the BMI.

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Blood Pressure

The measurement of blood pressure is important in determining the stress the heart experiences pumping the blood through the thousands (approximately 60K) of miles of blood vessels in the body. Like a body builder the heart, if faced with greater weight (pressure), will grow to meet the challenge.  But, also like the body builder, there can be too much growth (the heart becomes muscle bound) which results in the heart failing to “lift the weight”. The result is heart failure which many times causes permanent disability and death. 

We don’t have the time or space to discuss the effects of blood pressure on the kidneys,  but suffice it to say untreated blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney failure and need for dialysis.

Remember these numbers – Systolic 135, Diastolic 80. 

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If your readings fall above these numbers you should seriously consider speaking with your health care provider about intervention.

Interventions to improve blood pressure:

  • Reduce weight
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Reduce salt in the diet
  • Exercise with emphasis on aerobic activity
  • Adequate rest – sleep 6-8 hours/night
  • Stress reduction – yoga, meditation, therapeutic massage

Hopefully, this primer will help you manage your health with greater confidence and purpose.

Dr. Gatz and Dr. Rogers look forward to being your partner in wellness. To schedule an appointment, call the clinic at 504-962-6120. Visit www.umcno.org/primary-care to learn more about UMC’s Primary Care Center and its services.

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A Healthy Plate is a Happy Plate: 20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits & Veggies

Author: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff registered dietitian nutritionists

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Building a healthy plate is easy when you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great way to add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber. All this is packed in fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and fat. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal.

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Try the following tips to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day:

  1. Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.
  2. Mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.iStock-485076210.jpg
  3. Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.
  4. Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite low-fat salad dressing for dipping.
  5. Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
  6. Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges.*
  7. Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Ready-to-eat favorites: red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.
  8. Place colorful fruit where everyone can easily grab something for a snack-on-the- run. Keep a bowl of fresh, just ripe whole fruit in the center of your kitchen or dining table.iStock-832079576.jpg
  9. Get saucy with fruit. Puree apples, berries, peaches or pears in a blender for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, or on pancakes, French toast or waffles.
  10. Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
  11. “Sandwich” in fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumber and tomato as fillings.
  12. Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
  13. Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and with low-fat cheese.iStock-140256741.jpg
  14. Microwave a cup of vegetable soup as a snack or with a sandwich for lunch.
  15. Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.
  16. Make fruit your dessert: Slice a  banana lengthwise and top with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.
  17. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables to steam or stir-fry for a quick side dish.iStock-530627641.jpg
  18. Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with low-fat dressing.*
  19. Fruit on the grill: Make kabobs with pineapple, peaches and banana. Grill on low heat until fruit is hot and slightly golden.
  20. Dip: Whole wheat pita wedges in hummus, baked tortilla chips in salsa, strawberries or apple slices in low-fat yogurt, or graham crackers in applesauce.

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*See “Color Your Plate with Salad” at www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets for more tips on creating healthy salads

For a nutrition consultation with our dietitians, please call (504) 702-5700 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

To learn more about healthy lifestyle choices, visit our new Primary Care Center at 2003 Tulane Avenue or www.umcno.org/primary-care.

 

 

For information about the UMCNO Cancer Kitchen, which happens every other month at Simplee Gourmet, email Laura Kerns or call her at (504) 702-3691.

 

 

 

Out With the Old: Why It’s Important for Seniors to Get Moving

Author: Maryann Vicari, UMC Physical Therapist

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How do we age well and gracefully? This question has been on the mind of human beings for ages. We have all been searching, to some extent, for the fountain of youth or a way to slow down the aging process. Unfortunately, that fountain has yet to be discovered, and no scientist has come up with a formula that will keep time from aging the body.

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Nevertheless, there is some good news. We, as humans, can improve our aging process and increase the number of “healthy” years by doing something that humans have been doing for centuries – MOVE! That’s right, moving the body is one of the best ways to age well and to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and obesity, which are a few of the main causes of death and poor aging among older adults.

Evidence has shown that regular physical activity is safe for healthy and even frail older adults (ages 65 and older). 

This physical activity can range from low intensity walking to more vigorous sports and resistance exercises, depending on the individual’s preference and physical ability.  Basically, for older adults, some form of physical activity is better than nothing at all or a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), older adults need at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity (think brisk walking) every week, which is about 30 minutes a day, and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hip, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

This may sound like a lot, but please do not be discouraged; you don’t have to start here.  If you have never worked out before or have been inactive for some time, you can safely work your way up to this point by joining a local wellness center or YMCA.  There, you can find trained professionals that can help you work towards your goal of achieving a healthy and physically active lifestyle.  As always, you should consult your physician before beginning any sort of exercise routine, especially if this is new to you or if you have a pre-existing heart or metabolic disease, such as diabetes and hypertension.

To make an appointment for a consultation with one of our primary care physicians, click here.

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Keep this in mind: If you want to improve your health or if you want to maintain the level of health you have for years to come, your best bet is get or stay as active as you can.  The more active you are as you age the less likely you will be to develop debilitating diseases, which can only work as catalysts to age you beyond your years.

So, get out there and move your bones!

 

References:

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

McPhee, J., et al.  Physical activity in older age: perspectives for healthy aging and frailty.  Biogerontology. (2016). 17: 567 – 580.

Preventative Care: An Old Resolution for the New Year

Author: Kendria Holt-Rogers, MD, UMC Primary Care Physician

Santa’s coming soon, so you know what that means: The end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 is near.  For many people, the new year will mean making a fresh list of New Year’s resolutions — some may want to spend less money, others will decide to become more organized or maybe spend more time with family.

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Whatever the resolution, it’s all about becoming a better you. 

The most common New Year’s resolutions often focus on becoming healthier.  We plan to lose weight, stop smoking or eat less fast food. Why are these changes important to us?  Because we know that when we maintain a healthier lifestyle, we can increase our longevity and overall happiness, and become more productive citizens of this little planet we call home.

As a primary care physician, my goal is to partner with you, the patient, and other healthcare providers involved in your care to keep you as healthy as possible. A primary care physician may be an internal medicine physician, family medicine physician or pediatrician. Healthcare providers may include specialist physicians, nurses, social workers, dietitians, or physical therapists. We all work together to create a patient-centered home focused on sustaining your well-being.

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How do we maintain a healthy you?  It begins with preventative care. 

The goal of preventative care is to avoid disease and illness through means such as screening exams and vaccinations. The first step is to visit your primary care physician (PCP) once a year for a wellness exam. This should include:

  • A physical exam
  • Medical history
  • Blood work
  • Vaccinations

Your PCP will recommend screening tests based on your age and gender, as well as discuss general healthy measures to incorporate into your daily life.

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Most findings on physical exam are usually normal. However, your primary care physician may detect abnormalities during your exam, such as a heart murmur, high blood pressure or an enlarged thyroid.

This is the purpose of the exam: to find abnormalities early so we can treat them if needed. Sometimes, these findings are innocent, will not cause any harm and can be monitored by your physician. Other times, you may need further testing, medications or to see a specialist.

If there is an abnormal finding during your exam, be sure to ask your physician to explain why this is abnormal and what needs to be done next. We don’t mind taking the time to explain.

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Not all screening services and vaccinations are appropriate for all patients. Be sure to discuss what is right for you with your doctor.

In general, important numbers for everyone to know are your:

  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)

Screening tests are very important in preventing diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cancer. Screening exams may include a colonoscopy, hepatitis C blood test, or Pap smear. We use the results of these tests, along with family history, and medical history to determine which patients are at risk for developing certain diseases or to find diseases in their earlier stages when they are easier to treat or even cure.

Also, keep in mind that mental health is as important as physical health.  In some cases, depression screening may be appropriate.

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You will often need vaccinations during your wellness visit. Vaccinations significantly reduce the risk of several viral and bacterial infections. This helps to keep the population as a whole healthy.  More importantly it protects the most vulnerable in our community from illness including children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. So the next time your PCP asks you to get a flu shot, say yes knowing you are helping others!

Lastly, your primary care physician should discuss general healthy practices. These may include wearing a seat belt, exercising most days of the week, wearing sunscreen, not smoking, wearing a helmet when biking and yearly physicals.  These measures have been shown to increase longevity by preventing, injury, illness or disease.

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Now that your primary care physician has armed you with all of the resources and guidance you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the next steps are up to you.

You are the ultimate key to becoming a better you in 2018.

I and other primary care physicians here at UMCNO are here to help you along your journey.  Please visit us in the New Year — we will be glad to see you.  Hopefully, we can help you end the year a healthier you than you began it.

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Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year!

 


About Dr. Rogers

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Dr. Rogers specializes in internal medicine. After earning her degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she completed residency at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Rogers is a member of the American College of Physicians and is an FMCSA-certified Medical Examiner. She looks forward to the opportunity the UMC Primary Care Practice will provide to improve the overall health and well-being of the surrounding community through patient education and preventative care.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rogers, please call (504) 702-5700.