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Living with Diabetes: Eye Care By: Dr. Justin Maxwell

Diabetic Eye Care
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a chronic disease that affects nearly 10 percent of people in the U.S. The unhealthy buildup of glucose caused by this condition can increase the risk for other serious health issues. Blurry vision might signal a more serious health problem in diabetic patients.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) defines diabetic eye disease as a group of problems that might arise as a result of complications of diabetes. Diabetic eye diseases include cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

A cataract is a clouding or fogging of the normally clear lens of the eye, which results in an inability to focus on light and impaired vision. Glaucoma occurs when the fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, leading to excess pressure. Pressure damages nerves, blood vessels and causes a change in vision. A person with diabetes is 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts and 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma.

The most serious eye-related disorder caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, can lead to a permanent loss of sight. The different complications of diabetes are a consequence of damage to blood vessels. If they leak or have any blockage, they’ll cause changes in the retina and affect vision. Many people who have diabetic retinopathy may only experience a mild form of the condition that never progresses to vision loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this condition is the leading cause of blindness among American adults 20 to 74 years old. Those who suffer from retinopathy may not notice any symptoms of eye damage until it is too late.

These conditions can be prevented by taking steps to control blood sugar levels and blood pressure. HealthCare Partners also encourages patients with diabetes to see their eye doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

Managing Diabetes to Prevent Complications By Dr. Chard Bubb

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects nearly 10 percent of people in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association. In recognition of National Diabetes Month, which occurs each November, the providers from HealthCare Partners Medical Group would like to share information to help millions of Americans who suffer from this prevalent disease.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects how the body uses glucose or blood sugar which serves as the main source of energy for all of the body’s cells. Type 1 diabetes occurs as a result of the body’s failure to produce insulin and type 2 diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to properly absorb the vital hormone. These conditions cause the unhealthy buildup of glucose which can cause detrimental health issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the major complications associated with diabetes include blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and even the amputation of lower extremities. Thankfully, complications related to diabetes can be prevented through careful treatment and management. Although there is no cure for the disease, it can be managed, and many people diagnosed with diabetes live long and healthy lives.

Careful monitoring of the body’s glucose levels is an important part of delaying and preventing serious health complications. Patients diagnosed with diabetes should check their blood glucose regularly as directed by their health care provider. Adopting a balanced diet and maintaining a regular exercise routine are vital to controlling glucose levels and ensuring they stay within a healthy range. Insulin treatments and medication may also be necessary for some people diagnosed with diabetes. Although diabetes is common, it affects individuals differently. This is why it is extremely important to consult a health care provider to determine the proper course of treatment.

Through HealthCare Partners’ innovative Total Care Model, patients diagnosed with diabetes can benefit from a dedicated team of health care professionals who work in tandem to manage all aspects of patients’ overall health. Beyond assisting with typical clinical matters, HealthCare Partners can also help patients with medication management and even provide a shopping list of food items to assist with diabetes management. This coordination of care also helps patients maximize their allowance of health insurance benefits, which is critically important for those who require long-term treatment.

To find out more about the benefits of the Total Care Model, or to make an appointment with a HealthCare Partners provider, visit www.hcpnv.com.

Know Your Family Health History By: Dr. Justin Maxwell

Family

When patients visit their doctors for the first time, they are inevitably asked to recount their family health history. Although this part of the doctor’s visit might seem tedious, it is an extremely important part of health examinations. Family health history is a great screening tool and vital to assessing each person’s risk for diseases. For years, it has been known that certain chronic conditions, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and rare diseases, such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, can be inherited and passed along in families. To help patients maintain their health and reduce their risk for serious illnesses, the physicians at HealthCare Partners Nevada recommend all people be informed and knowledgeable about their family’s health history.

In 2004, Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day. As families gather for this holiday, HealthCare Partners Nevada encourages people to learn about, discuss and record important details about the medical history of their family members.

Knowing a patient’s family health history is vital to HealthCare Partners’ ability to provide the highest quality of care. All HealthCare Partners patients benefit from the use of electronic medical records that can be accessed by the patient’s health care providers, including each patient’s personal and family health history. This allows for a significantly improved level of coordinated, patient-focused care and serves to reduce waste within the system.

The use of electronic medical records is a vital part of HealthCare Partners’ Total Care Model, a unique, value-based approach to health care that provides a dedicated team of physicians, nurses and other staff members who work together to manage all aspects of patients’ care and overall health, resulting in improved results and lower costs. Readily available access to medical records ensures primary care providers and specialists have the most recent and accurate information about each patient’s health, helping them work in harmony to determine the best course of care.

Taking important steps towards learning about the medical history of each member can help families enjoy long, happy and healthy lives together. For more information about HealthCare Partners and the benefits of the Total Care Model, visit www.hcpnv.com.

Dr. Justin Maxwell is a family practice physician with HealthCare Partners Nevada. He currently sees patients at the HealthCare Partners Fort Apache Clinic located at 4730 Fort Apache Road in Las Vegas. Dr. Maxwell received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Touro University and has been practicing family medicine in Southern Nevada since 2011.

Helpful Tips for Medicare Open Enrollment

Open-Enrollment

There are only a few weeks left before Medicare Open Enrollment ends on Dec. 7, leaving limited time for seniors to make important changes to their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage. Medicare Open Enrollment, which occurs annually from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, marks an important time of year for individuals older than 65. During this period each year, seniors with Medicare are able to change their Medicare coverage for the following year. For most seniors, this is the only time of year these changes can be made, which is why HealthCare Partners Nevada, a medical network with locations across Southern Nevada, encourages seniors to review their health plans and ensure they have access to a coordinated, patient-focused network of health care providers.

Seniors have many details to keep in mind during this election period. There are often changes to Medicare health plans from year to year, so it is important for seniors to carefully review their plans to identify any modifications that might affect their access to care. It is essential for seniors to consider the costs, benefits and health care provider choices available.

It is also important to distinguish Medicare Open Enrollment from other health-related enrollment periods. Some people might confuse Medicare Open Enrollment with the open enrollment period for the state and federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. These are two separate enrollment periods and are not associated with each other.

Seniors might also want to explore Medicare Advantage plans, which may fit their health care needs. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer improved access to coordinated care and protection against high out-of-pocket expenses. Some of these plans also offer personalized telephone care management, health coaching, and education and support from health care professionals. These plans also serve as alternatives to Medicare Fee-For-Service plans.

Another key detail for seniors to consider during Open Enrollment this year is whether their coverage provides access to team-based care, an increasingly prevalent approach to health care in which a full team of health care providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, work alongside physicians to promote successful outcomes for patients, instead of patients engaging solely with doctors.

HealthCare Partners has successfully utilized this team-based approach for years in an effort to provide its patients with the highest quality of care. This collaborative approach is the cornerstone of the Total Care Model, which provides patients with access to a coordinated team of primary care providers, specialists, case managers and other professionals who work together to manage all aspects of patients’ care and overall health. This includes a strong focus on prevention and assisting patients with maximizing their health insurance benefits.

HealthCare Partners encourages seniors to learn more about Medicare Open Enrollment by visiting www.medicare.gov. People can also learn more about HealthCare Partners’ services at www.hcpnv.com.

Breast Cancer Awareness By: Dr. David Pomerantz

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Breast cancer is still a leading cause of death among women in America, second only to lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the U.S. this year. Although the disease still affects thousands of Americans, death rates for breast cancer have been steadily declining since the late 1980s. This is largely attributed to improvements in treatment options and increased awareness regarding the importance of early detection.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the physicians at HealthCare Partners Nevada would like to emphasize the importance of yearly screenings such as breast exams and mammograms to safeguard the health of women throughout Southern Nevada.

According to the National Cancer Institute, a yearly mammogram can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 74. Although recommendations differ, organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society recommend women receive a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40. Screenings are a personal decision, and it is important to consider each patient’s personal situation. Remember to consult your HealthCare Partners provider to discuss your personal risk and the benefits of screening.

If detected and treated early, the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with stage two breast cancer is 93 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. This rate dramatically decreases to 72 percent for women who are diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Statistics such as these underscore the importance of regular screenings and early detection.
Aside from yearly mammograms, HealthCare Partners encourages patients to perform self-exams at least once a month and undergo regular clinical breast exams to find lumps and detect any changes in their breasts.

Many factors affect a patient’s risk for breast cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, certain factors such as obesity have been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, maintaining a regular exercise regimen and eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry and fish can greatly decrease a woman’s likelihood of getting breast cancer.

There are valuable resources available right here in Southern Nevada for patients impacted by breast cancer. Our oncology team at HealthCare Partners specializes in a wide range of cancer care therapies including medical oncology, cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy, utilizing the most advanced treatments and technologies. To find a HealthCare Partners oncologist or for more information about how to schedule a mammogram, visit www.hcpnv.com.

Senior Connections: The Benefits of Medicare Advantage Dr. Amir Bacchus

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This is a crucial time for seniors to make a health care decision that could save them money. During the Medicare open enrollment period, Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, Nevada’s senior citizens will assess their health care needs and determine whether a Medicare Advantage plan is right for them.

As a physician and chief medical officer of HealthCare Partners Medical Group, I have a great deal of knowledge and experience related to Medicare Advantage plans. Those plans can be an excellent choice for seniors who do not have private supplemental insurance. Medicare Advantage plans typically provide prescription drug coverage, known as Part D, and eliminate the need to purchase a Medigap policy. The premiums also tend to be less expensive than original Medicare, Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medigap separately.

Medicare Advantage plans offer improved access to coordinated care and protection against high out-of-pocket expenses. It’s also an alternative to what is known as Medicare Fee-For-Service for “original Medicare.” For those living with a chronic medical condition, some Medicare Advantage plans offer personalized, telephone care management, health coaching, education and support from registered nurses and other health professionals. Flu and pneumonia shots are also covered in most Medicare Advantage plans.

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, it is essential to consider the costs, benefits and health care provider choices in each plan. You should take time to learn about “in-network” providers associated with the health insurance plan. It is important to know whether the providers have a reputation for offering high-quality, coordinated care and if they have a large enough network to meet your health care needs. Finally, you should also consider access to the primary care physicians, specialists and other providers you use on a regular basis under each plan. Consistency of care has numerous benefits, especially for those who feel comfortable with their current health care providers.

When considering your coverage options this fall, pick the plan that works best for you. It’s a big decision, and I hope seniors explore their options during this year’s enrollment period.

Dr. Amir Bacchus is the chief medical officer and co-founder of HealthCare Partners Medical Group. Bacchus received his M.D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1993 and is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Help Yourself While Helping Others! Reap the Many Benefits of Volunteerism By Shari Diebold, Volunteer Coordinator, Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care

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Becoming a hospice volunteer is a great way to spread joy and cheer to patients and their family caregivers, but did you know that volunteering also yields benefits for you? Selflessly giving back to others in need in your community can, in turn, boost your own health, career, social life and mental outlook. Consider the following rewards:

A Wellness Formula: According to a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a strong relationship exists between volunteering and health. Specifically, researchers found that those who volunteered have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Volunteering has also been shown to alleviate symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease.

Jumpstart Job Skills: In a 2011 article “Why Volunteering is Good for Your Career,” author Nicole Williams points out that volunteering allows for opportunities to showcase talents and experiences, demonstrate passion and commitment and build meaningful relationships, connections and referrals. She further references research from LinkedIn that shows, one of every five hiring managers in the United States agrees that they have hired a candidate because of volunteer work experience.

Shot of Self Esteem: Helping others brings a sense of accomplishment. As you master new skills and navigate difficult conversations, you naturally bolster your self confidence and develop a sense of pride and satisfaction. Volunteering can be a fun and rewarding way to escape from your day-to-day routine. Hospice volunteers often tell us that in the end, they feel they get more than they give.

Make New Friends: If you are new to an area or would like to enlarge your social circle, volunteering can be a wonderful way to meet new people who share your interests. In addition, volunteering strengthens ties to your local community and broadens your support network.

A Family Affair: Children pay more attention to what you do than what you say. What better way to connect with your kids than to work alongside them as a volunteer? High school and college students are welcome to join the ranks of hospice volunteers. You can even bring along your certified pet therapy dog.

The Happiness Effect: Researchers at the London School of Economics have discovered that the more people volunteer, the happier they are. In comparison to people who never volunteer, the odds of being “very happy” were seven percent higher among those who volunteered monthly and 12 percent higher among people who volunteered every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16 percent said they felt “very happy.”

At Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care, volunteers come from all walks of life and across the greater Las Vegas area. Every effort is made to match volunteers with patients based on geographic proximity and on their mutual needs and interests. Schedules are flexible. No previous experience is necessary and all training is free.

To learn more about the many hospice volunteer opportunities available at Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care, call 702-870-0000 or e-mail SDiebold@solarihospicelv.com.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month By: Vikas Gupta

OCancerOvarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death in women ages 35-74, according to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). This type of cancer causes more deaths than any other type gynecological cancer. In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, HealthCare Partners would like to alert women to the risk factors associated with this disease and the ways they can safeguard their health.

Ovaries are found on either side of a woman’s uterus, and are responsible for producing eggs (ova) and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer develops when cells in the ovaries grow uncontrollably, causing the formation of tumors which put excessive and additional stress on surrounding organs.

Because there are no screenings and tests that directly detect ovarian cancer, most cases are often undiagnosed until the disease has already spread into the pelvis and abdomen. Once in these late stages the disease is often fatal. According to the NOCC, the survival rate for ovarian cancer can be as low as 30.6 percent.

In addition to the lack of tests, ovarian cancer does not have distinct symptoms which makes early diagnosis difficult. The symptoms commonly associated with this disease are often nonspecific and can include vaginal bleeding, weight loss, discomfort in pelvic area, constipation and frequent urination. Because these can be related to more benign conditions, it is extremely important for patients to know what is normal for their bodies and to keep their HealthCare Partners coordinated care team aware of any unusual symptoms that they may be experiencing. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 90 percent according to the NOCC. This is why as physicians we recommend patients be active and involved in their care.
All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, however, older women are at greater risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of those who develop ovarian cancer are women older than 40 years of age, with a greater number of cases occurring among women aged 60 years or older.

Maintaining a healthy weight through a proper diet and regular exercise can greatly decrease the risk of ovarian cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute taking oral contraceptives, pregnancy and breastfeeding can also decrease a woman’s risk.

Only physicians can determine a patient’s risk for cancer. Asking a HealthCare Partners provider for ways to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer can be an important step in preventing this disease.

Preventing Heart Disease By: Dr. Howard Broder

Heart
The heart is a muscular organ that is vital to all functions that give life to a person’s body. It is responsible for circulating blood which provides the entire body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive. Because the heart is the center of so many essential functions, taking care of this life-sustaining muscle is extremely important. The physicians at HealthCare Partners Cardiology have a few tips for patients on ways to protect this hard-working muscle and prevent heart disease.

Heart disease describes a number of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Forms of heart disease include coronary heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias and heart valve problems. Coronary heart disease is the most common form and occurs when plaque builds up in blood vessels. When blood cannot flow freely through narrowed or blocked vessels, this condition can result in a heart attack. Although heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., many forms of heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle changes and healthy living.

The risks of heart disease increase with age, this is why it is extremely important to protect the heart at an early age. There are many factors that affect a patient’s risk for heart disease, some such as genetics are uncontrollable. However, simple lifestyle changes can be made to greatly reduce a person’s risk.

Being obese or overweight can put added pressure on the heart and increase the risk for heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important step toward taking care of the heart. Physicians often use the body mass index (BMI) to calculate a healthy weight range for patients. They can also use waist and hip measurements to determine a person’s excess body fat. In addition to aiding in weight management, choosing healthy meals that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sodium can help with maintaining low cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure. Taking the time to exercise for as little as two and a half hours each week can also significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Consult a HealthCare Partners physician for advice on a healthy diet and exercise plan.

Smoking cessation is another essential step towards preventing heart disease. There are many resources available for those who want to quit smoking, HealthCare Partners physicians are a great resource for those who need information to take this step.

Following these simple steps can go a long way towards preventing heart disease. Only a physician can truly assess a person’s risk. HealthCare Partners Cardiology has several clinics throughout Southern Nevada, visit www.hcpnv.com/cardiology to find a cardiologist near you.

Flu Awareness By: Sunita Kalra

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The fall season is here and the providers at HealthCare Partners Nevada would like to remind patients that flu season is fast approaching. This season can start as early as October and last until May. Flu season has also been known to peak in the months of January and February.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by various forms of the influenza virus. According to flu.gov, approximately five to 20 percent of U.S. residents contract the flu each year. Unlike a common cold, flu symptoms can come on very suddenly. Those who are infected experience a sudden onset of fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, headaches, muscle and body aches.

The wide variety of virus strains make the flu extremely unpredictable. While most people can recover from the illness within a few days, many experience complications which can be life-threatening such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infection. Although everyone is at risk for the flu, people older than 65, pregnant women, young children and those suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease are at an increased risk for these complications.

Getting the flu vaccine is the first and most important step towards preventing the flu. Vaccines protect against three or four different flu viruses and come in various forms, including a shot and a nasal spray. The physicians at HealthCare Partners recommend that all people older than six months receive a flu shot once a year. Children younger than six months are at increased risk for flu because they are too young to receive the vaccine, this is why it is extremely important for parents and caregivers to receive the flu vaccine and lessen their risk of putting young children in contact with the virus.

Preventative actions such as avoiding contact with those who may be sick is important in halting the spread of the flu. As a physician with HealthCare Partners, during flu season, I advise my patients to wash their hands regularly, stay hydrated and rested, and use caution when coming into contact with others.

Getting vaccinated and practicing simple preventative measures can go a long way in preventing the spread of the flu. Make an appointment with your HealthCare Partners provider today to get the flu shot!