Monthly Archives: July 2014

Effects of Heart Disease in Women Signs, Symptoms and Prevention By: Dr. Pamela Ivey

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Although it is traditionally thought to be more prevalent in men, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, out numbering the number of women who die of breast cancer. In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), more women die of the disease than men, with one in three women dying of heart disease each year. Because the number of women diagnosed with heart disease each year continues to rise, there are ample opportunities to develop preventive strategies aimed at identifying and treating women with heart disease.

The most common presenting symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women can include crushing chest pain that radiates to the jaw or arms, but women don’t always experience typical heart attack symptoms . Women can experience alternative symptoms demonstrates as shortness of breath, fatigue or gastrointestinal upset.

Because heart attacks can be more difficult to diagnose in women, it is extremely important for patients to know the particular symptoms that they may experience. Although some do feel chest pain, women can experience different symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:

• Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
• Shortness of breath
• Right arm pain
• Nausea or vomiting
• Sweating
• Lightheadedness or dizziness
• Unusual fatigue

It is especially important for women to pay close attention to their health and involve their physician when they experience any of these symptoms.

Traditional risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, tobacco use, hypertension and obesity and post-menopausal status. Diabetic women are at a significantly higher risk for developing a heart attack and their overall mortality is higher compared to men. New risk factors for heart disease in women are emerging and include chronic inflammatory states such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Ongoing research will hopefully yield important information in the future to help guide our therapies and target women who are at the highest risk for developing heart disease.

Women can decrease their risk of heart disease by first identifying their risk factors and treating them aggressively. Annual evaluations of risk factors during a visit with your doctor can identify women who are at the highest risk for heart disease. Modifying risk factors to reduce the risk of heart disease can include treatment of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Other lifestyle changes in diet and physical activity also play key roles in preventing heart disease. It is essential for women to take the time to develop exercise plans with their doctors’s guidance and engage in physical activity five days a week. Regular exercise can significantly improve a person’s quality of life, leading to a noticeable feeling of revitalization while strengthening physical and mental health.

As a cardiologist with HealthCare Partners Cardiology, I advise all women to remain aware of their bodies. Ask your physician about routine cholesterol and blood pressure tests. These can help identify risk factors by offering clues about your heart health. Talk to your physician if you have any developing symptoms and consider visiting a HealthCare Partners cardiologist.

Protect Your Skin for Fun in the Sun By Dr. Jasper Liu

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Spending time outdoors is always tempting on a sunny day, especially in Southern Nevada where we experience sunshine most of the year. HealthCare Partners Medical Group encourages people of all ages to take precautions when they are enjoying the outdoors for prolonged periods, as ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun can raise potential health risks. UV radiation directly causes damage to the DNA in skin cells. When cells can’t repair this damage, DNA can undergo mutations, heightening the risk of skin cancer.

However, spending a limited amount of time in the sun is an important component of staying healthy. Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, increase bone density and reduce the risk of fragile bones.
Prolonged exposure to UV radiation is harmful to the skin. In addition to raising the risk of skin cancer, skin damage such as sunburns and tans also accelerate the aging process, causing wrinkles, uneven skin tones and a rough texture much earlier in life.

It is always important to take appropriate precautions before spending time outdoors. Preventing sun damage is a simple matter of applying sunscreen on any skin that isn’t covered by clothing. Health experts recommend using the highest SPF sunscreen available, as most people don’t use enough sunscreen to achieve its full protective effect. People should apply one ounce of sunscreen before any prolonged exposure to the sun, including sitting in the car for a long commute while sunshine streams through the windshield.
It is important to reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours. Sweating and swimming causes sunscreen to wear off faster, so it is beneficial to reapply sunscreen every hour in those conditions.

Indoor tanning can be more dangerous than sunbathing outdoors. Tanning beds offer the option of increasing the lamps’ intensity, escalating the amount of UV radiation an individual receives. In addition, people can utilize indoor tanning year-round, resulting in regular exposure to UV rays. Even in constantly sunny regions like Southern Nevada, most people will take a break from outdoor tanning during chilly winter temperatures and intense summer heat, reducing their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays.

For those who have already dedicated time to basking on beaches or inside tanning beds, there are simple ways to monitor for signs of skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone practice monthly head-to-toe self-examinations to identify any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. Basic warning signs of skin cancer include a skin growth that increases in size, and that might appear pearly, black, brown or multicolored. People should also be on the lookout for a mole, birthmark, beauty mark or brown spot that alters in any way, including changing color, increasing in size or thickness, changing texture, becoming irregular in outline, growing larger than 6 millimeters or appearing after age 21.

Other signs can include a spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab and bleed, or an open sore that doesn’t heal within three weeks. When an individual recognizes these symptoms, it is important to see a physician, preferably a dermatologist. HealthCare Partners’ physicians are always happy to answer any questions about precautions for skin health.

Back-to-School Immunizations By Dr. Blair Duddy

Back to School Shots

With the school year quickly approaching, it is important to ensure that all students are up to date on their immunizations.

Under state law, children are only exempt from vaccination requirements if their parents or guardians have submitted a written statement to a school’s governing body indicating their religious beliefs prohibit immunizations. Medical exemptions are also permitted.

Proof of immunization is a prerequisite for enrollment in all Nevada public schools for children who are not exempt. Immunizing your child is extremely important, especially when they are preparing to enter a school environment where they will be exposed to a large population of people and face a greater risk of contracting harmful diseases that could cause serious health issues.

As your children head back to school, make an appointment with your pediatrician to ensure they receive the necessary immunizations required by our state.

A child can receive up to 24 vaccinations by the age of 2. These are targeted to ensure children are protected against as many as 14 different diseases at an early age. Although this may seem like a lot for a young child, a vast amount of experience with this regimen and scientific research supports the fact that the immune system is very capable of handling the vaccines. The human immune system is exposed to billions of organic and inorganic substances, or antigens. With this in mind, 24 vaccines in two years is not a burden to the system. These vaccines are necessary because the immune systems of young children are not fully mature, which leaves them more susceptible to infections. Immunization schedules are developed by physicians and public health experts to provide the most complete protection for children. Most immunizations are recommended until the age of 18. It is important to consult your pediatrician or family practitioner for the most current immunization schedule.

The physicians at HealthCare Partners Pediatrics recommend the following immunizations for all children up to 6 years old:

• Hepatitis B
• Rotavirus
• Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
• Haemophilus influenzae type B
• Pneumococcal
• Poliovirus
• Influenza
• Measles, mumps, rubella
• Varicella (chickenpox)
• Hepatitis A
• Meningococcal (for certain high-risk groups)

Immunizations serve to protect your children and the community from the spread of infectious diseases. Preventing diseases is much easier and more cost effective than treating them. This is why vaccines serve such a vital role in safeguarding public health. A recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that immunizations prevent 42,000 early deaths and 20 million cases of disease, with a savings of $13.5 billion in direct costs and $68.8 billion in total societal costs in the U.S.

Vaccines are biological preparations that stimulate the immune system to create antibodies that fight off a particular bacterial or viral infection before it can make you sick. They contain an agent that resembles the disease-causing microbe or are made from a weakened or killed germ. Once stimulated, the antibodies circulate through the bloodstream and attack the infectious agent. Through this mechanism, immunizations are usually able to fight the onset of a disease or reduce its severity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. achieved measles elimination in 2000, meaning the disease no longer spreads year-round in this country. However, this year at least 539 people across 20 states have been infected with the measles virus. The CDC found that cases have been driven by unvaccinated people who obtained the virus in other countries, brought it back to the U.S. and subsequently spread it in their communities, where many others were also not vaccinated. Pertussis, another vaccine-preventable disease, has spread widely in our neighboring state of California. As of June 27, 4,558 cases of pertussis were reported in California since the beginning of 2014.

The re-emergence of these diseases has been attributed to the anti-vaccination movement, which centers on the myth that vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. This myth gained popularity as a result of a medical study published in 1998. The study has since been retracted, and the physician who led the study has had his medical license revoked. However, dangerous misinformation about vaccines still persists.

A report published on July 1 in the official journal of the AAP screened more than 20,000 scientific titles and 67 papers on vaccine safety, and the report showed once again that there is no evidence that immunizations cause autism. Furthermore, the report indicated serious and harmful reactions from vaccines are extremely rare. Time and again studies have consistently shown us that vaccines are safe, and their benefits far outweigh any risks.

I am grateful that we have vaccines to prevent infections that I saw children die from 20 years ago. My children, and the children of every pediatrician I know, are fully vaccinated. As someone whose professional career is devoted to the health of children, I would never recommend something I wouldn’t do for my own children.

Although closely following the immunization schedule is essential, it is never too late to immunize children to protect them from potential outbreaks of infectious diseases. If your child’s immunizations have been delayed for any reason, it may be difficult to figure out how to catch up. The CDC has developed a useful tool to help parents create immunization schedules. Parents can access this resource by visiting Be sure to consult your doctor to ensure vaccines are administered on schedule.

Disease prevention is a key component of our philosophy at HealthCare Partners Pediatrics. Our mission is to ensure that our youngest and most vulnerable patients are immunized and protected. The HealthCare Partners Durango Pediatrics clinic recently received the Silver Syringe Award from the Southern Nevada Immunization and Health Coalition, an honor celebrating the clinic’s outstanding immunization rates.

HealthCare Partners also participates in the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. This program helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians might not be able to afford them. To find out if your local HealthCare Partners provider participates in the VFC program, or to consult a pediatrician about immunizations for your child, visit

Preventing Falls Among Seniors By Dr. Sunita Kalra

Many seniors experience falls throughout the year that can result in significant health issues. One in every three adults over the age of 65 falls each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those individuals, 20 to 30 percent suffer injuries such as cuts, fractured hips or even head trauma.

HealthCare Partners Medical Group is committed to helping seniors live active, healthy lifestyles. As a family physician with HealthCare Partners, I encourage seniors to take important steps in preventing falls around the home.
Useful precautions for avoiding fall-related injuries include:

• Engage in regular exercises that strengthen the lower body muscles and improve balance, such as dancing, walking, stretching or pilates

• Closely monitor medications for drugs that can cause dizziness or sleepiness

• Install grab bars in the shower and place night lights in hallways and bathrooms

• Clear walking areas of tripping hazards such as telephone cords, rugs, papers and clothing

Prevention is a key component of the Total Care Model that HealthCare Partners practices. Under this innovative approach to health care, we provide patients with a network of primary care providers, nurses and specialists who oversee all aspects of their health care.

Firework Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

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We hope everyone has a happy and safe Fourth of July tomorrow! According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 200 people will visit emergency rooms with firework-related injuries every day in July.

If you choose to set off sparks this Independence Day, taking precautions goes a long way towards keeping you and your loved ones safe. Keep these safety tips in mind:

Keep Kids and Pets Away
Children should not light or handle fireworks, even after they’ve been used. Used fireworks can still be hot and active.

Be Prepared
A spark can land somewhere it’s not supposed to. Be ready with a hose, a fire extinguisher or buckets of water; the seconds you’ll save by being prepared could be the difference between a minor burn and major destruction.

Location is Key!
Here’s what firework companies say about picking the safest location to light your fireworks:

•Light Fireworks on a Hard Surface. The best surface for lighting fireworks is one that is hard, flat and level. You want to “ensure the stability” of the firework so it doesn’t fall down and change directions.

•Don’t Light Fireworks on the Grass. Grass isn’t a stable surface. If you must light fireworks on the grass.

•You Need a Clear, Open Space. If there are buildings, vehicles, trees or other overhead obstructions nearby, it’s not a safe place to set off fireworks.

Men’s Health Awareness Month By Dr. Jud Fisher

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In 1920, men and women had the same life expectancy. Since then, the life expectancy gender gap has grown, with women outliving their male counterparts by an average of five years. With June being Men’s Health Awareness Month, HealthCare Partners suggests that men take on a more proactive approach to their health, rather than a reactive one.
There are many reasons for this. Men are more at risk than women for a plethora of illnesses: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic lower respiratory disease, HIV, cerebrovascular disease, stroke and depression. A higher percentage of men also do not have health insurance. They are more likely to be employed in high-risk occupations such as mining, construction and firefighting. Men are also less likely to visit their doctor for prevention screenings unless urged by a family member or when they’re not feeling well.
Instead of waiting for symptoms to show or being pushed by a family member, HealthCare Partners encourages men to take initiative and schedule check-ups with their doctors on a regular basis. By doing so, doctors can provide patients with the advice and treatment needed to live long, enjoyable lives.
As men get older, they need to be more vigilant of specific diseases. For men in their 20s and 30s, they need to be aware of their weight and body mass index (BMI). This is also the time when men should take a look at their family history. Some people are at higher risk for a disease if someone in their family has had it.
In addition in to maintaining the habits developed during their 20s and 30s, men in their 40s should be aware of their risk for Hepatitis C and diabetes. Men should pursue routine cancer screenings in their 50s, while testing the arteries should occur in their 60s and 70s.
Many diseases are treatable with early prevention, and taking the proper steps to ensure that diseases are discovered early can go a long way in extending one’s life. HealthCare Partners’ innovative Total Care Model can help patients manage their health care and ensure screenings are completed at an appropriate time. Don’t waste any time, schedule an appointment with a provider today to start taking a more proactive approach to maintaining your health.