Tag Archives: Las Vegas Health

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!

Doctor-Patient Relationships Promoted in Marketing Campaign By Hartley White, Vice President, People Services and Wisdom

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In an effort to promote the close doctor-patient relationships that often develop under its Total Care Model, HealthCare Partners recently implemented the “We Are HealthCare Partners” campaign, a series of television, online and print ads featuring real HealthCare Partners physicians and patients side by side. In the six videos created for television and online viewing, these patients and their doctors relay the true stories of the tight-knit relationships they have built over years of care and the positive experiences they have shared through HealthCare Partners. The print and online ads feature the same pairs of providers and patients.

HealthCare Partners pursued this new marketing campaign after experiencing positive feedback from last year’s “I Am a HealthCare Partner” campaign, which featured individual patients and providers in separate TV ads discussing their positive experiences at HealthCare Partners. It seemed a natural progression to take this idea a step further and create TV spots featuring patients and their physicians together.

In order to provide the most compelling stories for the TV segments, HealthCare Partners helped identify physicians who demonstrated very strong relationships with their patients to go on camera. A marketing agency interviewed these doctors and patients side-by-side on camera with only a few guiding questions, allowing them to take the reins on describing their experiences and convey honest answers.

Highlighting this feature in HealthCare Partners’ advertising plays an important role with informing audiences about the organization’s Total Care Model. Under this unique approach to health care, providers strive to build strong relationships with all of HealthCare Partners’ patients, spending valuable one-on-time with patients and developing a comprehensive understanding of their medical needs. Completely unscripted, the campaign’s videos convey the relatable stories of real patients and relay the fact that they have a partner in their care through HealthCare Partners.
HealthCare Partners encourages people to view the videos online at www.hcpnv.com/stories.

Unusual Diagnosis Leads to Lasting Patient-Doctor Relationship By Dr. Stephen Portz

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Ask Nick Giorgione what he has learned about his heart condition during the past 13 years, and the 26-year-old can get very specific.The Henderson resident knows walking up stairs will leave him winded. He has experienced firsthand that sprinting on a treadmill will trigger a device in his chest to administer internal electric shocks.

Nick is also certain of something else: He has a comprehensive understanding of his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a wide-ranging cardiac disease, thanks to cardiologist Dr. David Navratil with HealthCare Partners Cardiology.

Navratil has served as Nick’s cardiologist for 13 consecutive years, demonstrating the personalized care that serves as the crux of HealthCare Partners’ Total Care Model. “On the list of people most crucial to my life, Dr. Navratil is at the top,” Nick says.

Cardiac Issues at a Young Age
At an evening football practice in 2001, Nick noticed he felt strange. The 13-year-old suddenly saw everything suddenly grow fuzzy. He woke up still on the field to paramedics leaning over him with defibrillator paddles. It was the first cardiac arrest of his life. “I just knew I was at football practice and I wasn’t supposed to be on the ground,” Nick says.

When he was transported to Desert Springs Hospital, Nick’s father, Steven Giorgione, sought the expert opinion of Navratil, an old family friend who is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases and cardiac electrophysiology. Navratil quickly diagnosed Nick with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition involves the heart muscle becoming abnormally thick, making it difficult for the organ to pump blood. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, with some patients at high risk for sudden death.

Within a week, the cardiologist surgically implanted an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) into the teenager’s chest. The device monitors his heart rate and administers shocks to the heart in response to any issues that arise. “I have fewer than a dozen of these cases in my practice, and none of them are as aggressive as Nick’s condition,” Navratil says.

The Total Care Model
Navratil was the clear choice to remain Nick’s cardiologist following his diagnosis, initiating a doctor-patient relationship that has lasted more than a decade. “I trust him because he’s seen everything I’ve gone through,” Nick says.

This ongoing continuum of care is an important component of the Total Care Model practiced by HealthCare Partners Nevada, a medical network serving more than 300,000 patients a year. The organization offers 290 primary care providers and more than 1,700 specialists across Southern Nevada.

HealthCare Partners has experienced many successful patient stories like Nick’s through the Total Care Model, a unique approach to health care focusing on comprehensive, patient-focused care. Under this approach, primary care providers, specialists and professional staff work as a coordinated team to manage all aspects of patients’ care and overall health.

Battling for Control
Nick initially struggled to accept his diagnosis. His case of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy involves high risk of cardiac arrest during physical activity. This was crushing news for Nick to hear at 13 years old, when, at already more than 6-feet tall, competitive sports were his passion.
Navratil offered a broad-minded prognosis, allowing Nick to follow his passion for sports while carefully monitoring his symptoms.

Nick learned the hard way he could never be as active as he wished, experiencing two heart attacks within a month when he tried playing competitive basketball. With Navratil’s support, Nick resolved to finding other avenues for success.“Navratil gave me the confidence that this condition wasn’t going to kill me,” Nick says.

Nick always felt free to discuss any questions with his cardiologist. Navratil has continued to meet with him throughout the years to review tests and consult with Nick following any additional incidents. The cardiologist conducted two more surgeries for Nick’s AICD. When Nick needed a hand operation at 18 and the doctor on duty casually mentioned turning the AICD off, Navratil responded to Nick’s concerns by visiting the hospital and ensuring that the device would stay on during the procedure. “I always know he’s the one who can handle anything related to my condition,” Nick says.

Looking Forward
Nick has since found many accomplishments outside athletics. He recently graduated from law school at the William S. Boyd School of Law, and he is currently studying for the bar exam. He still sees Navratil at least twice a year, he adds. He hopes one day to apply his personal experiences to support youths facing similar cardiac conditions.

Navratil commends his patient’s persistence with managing the condition throughout the years.“Nick has done very well living with a disease that can be challenging for many people,” Navratil says. “He can still enjoy most things in life.” Nick plans to continue doing so, with Navratil’s ongoing assistance. “You couldn’t pay me to go to a different cardiologist,” he says.

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.

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.

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.