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.

Here Comes the Sun! By Dr. Victoria Guerra Farley

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Summer is here again! This time of the year can be especially harsh in Southern Nevada, with temperatures often reaching the triple digits. Although many people enjoy the outdoors during the summer months, the heat and sun can pose a wide variety of risks to your health. Before you head out for some fun in the sun, remember the following tips from your HealthCare Partners physicians to keep you and your family safe this season.

Hydrate:
Drinking water is important year-round, but it is particularly essential in the summertime. When temperatures are high, it is very easy to become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough fluids to replace what is lost when you sweat. Dehydration can cause headaches, weakness, confusion and even unconsciousness. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water regularly, even when you are not thirsty.

Sun Exposure:
Sunlight can be extremely harmful, excessive exposure to the sun is a major cause of skin cancer. You don’t have to avoid the sun altogether, however. Always apply sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The physicians at HealthCare Partners recommend products with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher. In fact, the higher the SPF you can find, the better and don’t forget to re-apply throughout the day if you will be outdoors for prolonged periods of time. Also remember to wear a shirt, hat and sunglasses for extra defense. Hats and clothing with SPF embedded in them are also extra handy and will help you stay protected.

Heat Illness:
During hot weather, our body temperatures can reach dangerous levels. Typically, your body cools itself by sweating. When you are exposed to too much heat, however, sweating is just not enough, and heat illnesses such as heat rash, heat exhaustion and even life-threatening heat stroke can occur. Be familiar with the signs of heat illness, including red, dry skin, excessive sweating, nausea and a fast heartbeat. Stay safe by remaining in the shade whenever possible and hydrating often.

Outdoor Activities:
Limit your time spent doing strenuous outdoor activities during hot days to avoid heat illnesses and overheating. Try to avoid going outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the time of day when it is hottest and UV rays are most intense, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Schedule activities such as running, biking and lawn work early in the morning or later in the afternoon when temperatures are cooler.

Swim Safety:
Swimming and water sports are especially enjoyable in the summertime. Experiencing these activities with a partner makes them safer and even more fun. Always remember to supervise children whenever they are in the water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Remember to stay vigilant as signs of drowning are not like what we see on TV or in the movies. People who are drowning are physiologically unable to call out for help or wave their arms. Being alert around water is extremely important, but the most vital precaution is learning to swim.

There’s plenty of fun to be had this season. Just remember these simple tips from your providers at HealthCare Partners to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer!

National Cancer Survivors Day Highlights Ongoing Battle Against Disease By Dr. Xiantuo Wu

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Communities around the world this spring participated in honoring those who have won the battle against cancer. June 7 marked the 28th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day, an international effort to recognize individuals who have survived cancer and to support those still fighting the disease. This occasion serves as a crucial reminder of cancer’s prevalence and the importance of focusing on cancer prevention, research and treatment.

Approximately 14 million people around the world each year learn they have cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, more than twice as many people die from cancer than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. By 2030, cancer will become the No. 1 killer in the U.S., according to a recent report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The types of cancer diagnosed most frequently in the U.S. include melanoma, lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

There is hope for many facing this disease. Thanks to ongoing advancements in diagnosis and treatment, survival rates for the more than 100 forms of cancer are increasing. Two of every three people diagnosed with cancer today survive for at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society.

Preventative efforts and early detection are keys to improving cancer survival. Health experts recommend a variety of steps to help reduce the risk of getting cancer and improve the chances of survival if diagnosed. Simple lifestyle modifications and vaccinations have been proven very effective. Avoiding tobacco products is strongly advised, with smoking linked to several types of cancer, including lung cancer, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer and pancreatic cancer. An active lifestyle and healthy diet with limited alcohol and fat intake are also believed to help with prevention of certain types of cancers. Vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV) can help prevent cervical cancer, as well as head and neck cancers. Hepatitis B vaccination can also effectively reduce the risk of liver cancer.

Some cancers can also be found early before they have a chance to grow and spread, dramatically increasing the likelihood of beating the disease. The American Cancer Society recommends specific screening guidelines for adults, including yearly mammograms for women 50 to 74 years old, a pap smear with HPV tests for sexually active women, colonoscopy screenings for men and women over 50 years old, and prostate-specific antigen screenings for men older than 50. For more information about cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, visit www.cancer.org.

HealthCare Partners Medical Group Oncology/Hematology strives to educate patients about cancer prevention, early detection and comprehensive treatment. The leading medical group provides patients with a broad range of therapies for cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted molecular therapy, clinical trials, radiotherapy with image-modulated radiation and high-dose brachytherapy. In addition, patients have access to special services, such as a full-service laboratory, genomic testing, nutritional counseling, genetic counseling, financial counseling, a specialty pharmacy and state-of-the-art treatment centers.

To learn more about HealthCare Partners Medical Group Oncology/Hematology, visit http://www.hcpnv.com/oncology-hematology-health-clinic-las-vegas.

Physical Well-Being for Seniors By Dr. Elron Mighty

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Physical health for seniors encompasses more than just the absence of disease. It also involves maintaining an active lifestyle to improve physical and mental well-being. HealthCare Partners is committed to helping all of its patients lead healthy, active and fulfilling lives.

As we age, the level of care needed to stay healthy changes. Our providers recommend the following activities to help seniors stay in shape:

• Walk at least three days a week for 30 minutes per day. You can gradually work up to walking five days a week.
• Keep up with daily activities, such as gardening and cleaning.
• Set goals and visualize yourself reaching these goals to stay motivated and improve exercise performance.
• Exercise with a friend or family member to encourage each other to live a better lifestyle.
• Join an exercise group or try water aerobics at a local gym or recreation center. These venues provide an air conditioned place to stay out of the heat during the summer months.
• Strength train to help improve balance and strengthen the knees and back. This can assist in preventing falls by keeping your body strong.

In addition to helping seniors stay healthier longer, physical activity comes with several other benefits which include:
• Weight Control
• Reducing the risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and some Cancers
• Strengthening bones and muscles
• Improving the ability to do daily activities and maintain independence
• Lowering blood sugar and blood pressure
• Increasing chances of living longer

At any age, it is important to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise or diet plan. The physicians and care coordinators at HealthCare Partners are available to create a routine that is specifically tailored to your needs. Talk to your health care provider today about how you can start increasing your physical activity.

You Said, We Did

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Many patients have provided feedback in surveys or focus groups on ways to improve our services provided to every one of our HealthCare Partners and we turned these into improvements for 2014. We are granting you with more ways to get involved with your own health care, understand your medical records and track your health; 2014 is about you! Here’s what’s in store for you in 2014: 

Make a Payment Online
Patients can now easily make a payment online! You can access our payment link on our website, hcpnv.com, or through our online patient portal, Follow My Health. We accept a variety of credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. When making a payment online your account number is required which is provided on your statement. The new online payment system is available 24/7 for your convenience.

PAL (Patient Access Line)
If you need to speak with someone from HealthCare Partners after hours or on week-ends or holidays, our new PAL is there to help. When you call your clinic phone number after hours, you will be greeted by a HealthCare Partners teammate specifically trained to assist you. You can change appointments or check on needed medication refills. Or, if you have a medical issue, we have trained, licensed Registered Nurses to answer any of your questions. These HealthCare Partners Nurses have full access to your Electronic Health Record and can walk you through most any question you need answered. 

Televox Appointment Reminders
Patients can now receive appointment reminders, treatment information and other important information regarding their account through our new Televox system. We’re now providing text alerts, courtesy calls and e-mails to patients that sign-up! Speak with a staff member to sign-up for Televox today! 

Urgent Care Certification
We know medical issues typically arise at the most inopportune moments. When an immediate medical need arises after clinic hours, HealthCare Partners Nevada is still here to help. With 15 convenient urgent care locations, we offer licensed and specialty trained providers for your immediate needs. All urgent care locations are open seven days a week and the Wynn Clinic is available 24 hours a day.

Follow My Health
Coming in the Summer of 2014, patients will have access to their medical records online through our new Follow My Health patient portal. Through this new patient portal, patients can now track their medications, review their allergies and recent immunizations, view test results, schedule appointments and much more, all within the convenience of your own home.

Open Houses
Visit your clinic for a special open house to meet your doctors and care team! We’ll be holding open houses at select clinics across the valley in 2014 allowing you to learn more about our Total Care Model. Patients will also receive information on how they can manage and track their care from home starting in 2014!

Allergy Tips & Awareness

SpringAllergies_ShutterPreventative medicine is at the core of HealthCare Partners’ Total Care Model. Each year, nearly 35 million Americans suffer from springtime allergies, with the most common trigger being pollen. Pollen consists of tiny grains released into the air by grasses, weeds and trees. It can also travel for miles, leaving in its path countless watery eyes, runny noses and scratchy throats.

Consider implementing the following tips to help you deal with springtime allergies:

  • Keeping pollen in check
    Quite often, Mother Nature greets Southern Nevadans with high winds. On those days, we recommend to stay indoors. The best time to go out, for those with allergies, is on calm days or after a rainstorm, which greatly reduces the amount of pollen in the air.
  • The cleaner, the better
    There are several ways to tame pollen within the household such as washing bedding once a week in hot water. Since pollen can accumulate in one’s hair, showering before bed is recommended. When possible, keep windows closed to prevent pollen from entering the house. Wash items that can collect pollen, such as towels and throw rugs, on a regular basis. And, vacuum at least twice a week.
  • When outdoors
    When pollen counts are high, it’s best to stay indoors. But when that’s not possible it’s best to delegate gardening chores or lawn mowing to avoid stirring up dust and pollen. Or, wear a mask when doing so. Remove clothing worn outside and shower to remove pollen from the skin. Monitor local media for each day’s pollen count and avoid outdoor activities in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
  • The great indoors
    Keeping the air as clean as possible inside the home is key. It’s impossible to keep all allergy triggers from entering the home but they can be reduced. Use the air conditioner, and if possible, use high-efficiency filters and keep them maintained. Using a dehumidifier to help keep the air dry is also recommended.

Allergies affect everyone differently, which is why HealthCare Partners recommends consulting a physician to determine your best course of care. For someone with asthma, spring is often a difficult time to manage asthma symptoms. Grass and pollen from trees and flowers can trigger an asthma flare-up. Click here for a list of asthma triggers & tips:  Spring Focus on Asthma.

 

Osteoporosis Awareness and Fall Prevention

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May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month and an important time to remind you of the risk factors associated with low bone density.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeletal system classified by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. The condition commonly leads to an increased risk of bone fractures in the wrist, hip and spine. Many of these injuries come as a result of falls.

It is extremely important for seniors and caregivers to know about all of the issues that could put your health at risk. At HealthCare Partners, we provide you with comprehensive coordinated care that can help you learn how to stay safe and avoid potential dangers like a bad fall.

Studies indicate nearly one in every three adults over the age of 65 falls each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20-30 percent of seniors who fall suffer injuries like cuts, fractured hips or head trauma. These injuries can make it harder for seniors to live independently and continue their day-to-day routines.

One of the most effective ways you can minimize your risk of falling is to maintain a regular exercise schedule. The CDC recommends adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Walking, stretching, yoga and pilates are also great options for increasing balance and coordination. Remember, no matter how old you are, everyone can benefit from regular physical activity.

Environmental factors around the home can also impact the likelihood of falls. Make sure bathrooms and hallways have safety features like grab bars. Any area rugs in the home should be secure.  You should also try to avoid shoes with thick soles and opt for non-slip shoes instead.

Closely monitor medications because certain drugs may cause dizziness or sleepiness which increases the risk of falls. HealthCare Partners’ unique Total Care model provides senior patients with a team of doctors, nurses and care coordinators that can oversee all aspects of a patients’ health and ensure proper use of medications.

HealthCare Partners Nevada is committed to helping you lead a healthy, active and fulfilling life. Our patients currently have access to a network of nearly 300 primary care physicians and 1,700 specialists throughout Las Vegas, Pahrump and Mesquite.

Mental Well-Being & Your Health

Mental HealthPeople with depression are at double the risk of developing diabetes. Treatment for depression helps people deal with managing diabetes and makes following their diet and medication plan easier.

There is more to health than preventing disease and sickness. Mental health is important to living a long productive life. Well-being includes positive emotions and moods, the absence of depression and anxiety, positive functioning, and satisfaction with life.

Health promotion is the process of taking control over improving your own health. Overall, health improvement includes physical and mental well-being. Beyond diet and exercise, individuals can increase their focus on social relationships, resiliency, positive emotions, and independence.

Depression often occurs with serious illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. It also occurs with social and economic difficulties, and with major life changes. If left untreated, depression can delay recovery or worsen the outcome of other illnesses.

Depression is a common problem among older adults especially after the death of a loved one or moving from one living situation to another. After a period of adjustment, many people regain their emotional balance. For others, depression is a long term ailment.

Many people are not willing to talk about their feelings of sadness or grief, however, your health care provider offers a safe place to express these feelings. Through open conversation, your doctor can help determine the best treatment and in turn better treat physical ailments.

Remember physical and mental well-being are both important to caring for your whole self. Help your doctor to help you by discussing your feelings openly.

Facts about Urinary Incontinence

UrinaryUrinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine from your bladder. This can mean an occasional leakage whenever you sneeze or laugh, or having an urge to urinate that is so strong that you cannot get to the bathroom in time. Incontinence can be an extremely distressing problem, and it can seriously impact the quality of life of those affected.

If you experience incontinence, you are not alone. According to the Urology Care Foundation, more than 15 million American men and women suffer from incontinence, many of whom suffer needlessly because the condition can be managed and treated quite effectively.

There are three types of incontinence: stress, urge and overflow. Stress incontinence may occur during physical activity such as exercising, sneezing or laughing. The activity causes the sphincter muscle, which normally holds urine in the bladder, to weaken and release urine. Urge incontinence occurs when you have a strong need to urinate, which causes you to lose control of your bladder. Finally, overflow incontinence happens when you do not completely empty your bladder when you urinate, causing you to lose urine even after you have gone to the bathroom.

Oftentimes, incontinence is the symptom of an underlying medical problem, such as kidney stones, a urinary tract infection or an enlarged prostrate. Because many sufferers are embarrassed to talk about this problem, larger health issues can go undiagnosed. Therefore it is extremely important to discuss any instance of incontinence with your HealthCare Partners provider.

During your visit your physician will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your daily habits, including what you typically eat and drink, and any medications or supplements that you take. Your doctor will also ask you which type of incontinence you are experiencing and how long you have gone through symptoms.

Although urinary incontinence can seem like an embarrassing matter to discuss with your provider, it is extremely important that you do so. Incontinence can be effectively managed or treated, and the sooner you seek help from your doctor, the earlier you will be able to alleviate the problem. There are a variety of treatments and medications available to manage urinary incontinence, so please remember to talk to your HealthCare Partners physician to discuss your options.