Don’t Let Fear Get in the Way of Your Health

March 01, 2017

Ask yourself this: Would you rather risk having a life-threatening cancer or undergo a simple procedure? The answer seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? Despite this basic truth, only one in three adults are actually getting screened for colon cancer, which, when discovered early, is highly treatable. 

Cancer of the colon or rectum is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death, taking more than 50,000 lives per year. Here’s the good news—there are currently more than one million survivors living today thanks to tests such as a colonoscopy, a simple and safe procedure that only needs to be done every 10 years. There is also a stool test which can be done at home and mailed to our lab or dropped off at your AltaMed location. It’s that easy. Check with your provider to see which one is best for you.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 140,000 cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed a year. Because its physical symptoms are often silent, many of these individuals were completely unaware of the changes taking place in their bodies. That’s why screenings that can detect polyps are essential. You should contact your primary care physician immediately, however, if you experience persistent stomach pains, aches and cramps, unexplained weight loss or blood in your stool. 

Six out of 10 deaths could be prevented with proper testing, so pay attention to the following risk factors and talk to your PCP to see if it’s time for you to get screened: 

  • 50 years of age or older (90 percent of cases)
  • Family history of polyps or colon cancer
  • Diet high in red meat and fat, low in calcium, folate and fiber, and low in fruits and vegetables
  • Inactive lifestyle (daily physical active can reduce risk by 5 percent)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

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Get to the Heart of Heart Disease

February 01, 2017

We can fill, warm, break, change and give our hearts, but perhaps the most important role of a heart to have is to be a healthy and it’s up to us to make sure it is. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, with one in four deaths caused by heart disease. February is dedicated celebrating not only the metaphorical purpose of a heart, but also its physical purpose. 

In honor of American Heart Month, AltaMed wants to make sure you’re aware that heart disease, which includes cardiac arrest and stroke, can be easily prevented. To make sure your heart is in the right place, you can start by making some healthy lifestyle choices, and by talking to your PCP about how to manage conditions that could put you at risk.

Here are a few quick and easy changes you can begin today! 

 

Don’t Pass the Salt

  • Choose fresh (e.g., fruits and veggies) over processed (e.g., frozen and canned) foods.
  • Pay attention to nutrition labels and opt for items with a daily sodium value of 5 percent or less.
  • Use spices like garlic or onion powder, chili or herbs instead of salt, to add flavor.

 

Get Moving

  • Make physical activity a part of your daily life; obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Start with 15 minutes of brisk walking at least 3 to 4 days a week.
  • Work up to at least 2 ½ hours of exercise a week.

 

Know Your Numbers

  • Maintain a healthy weight—losing just 10 pounds, if you are overweight, can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: at most, one drink a day for women, two for men.
  • Keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure, and talk to your PCP about how to lower both.

 

Alter Your Patterns

  • Switch to non- or low-fat dairy products.
  • Opt for fish, chicken without skin, and lean cuts of beef or pork.
  • Quit smoking. It’s the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. 

 

It will take commitment and dedication to follow through on these changes, but the benefits far outweigh any costs. Get your family involved to help you stay motivated, and watch as everyone’s health improves. Also, be sure to wear red not just on Valentine’s Day, but also on February 3, as part of National Wear Red Day, which aims to raise awareness in women about the importance of heart health.  

 

Spring Into Action!

March 01, 2017

With colder weather and rainy days, winter can turn the best of us into couch potatoes. Which is why it’s good not to just give your home, but also your body, a good spring cleaning. 

There is, however, a right and a wrong way to do this. Don’t just dive in head first—your body has settled into a more sedentary lifestyle so it’s important to take it slow and work up to a healthy weekly exercise schedule. 

Pre-Check All Systems

Spring is also a great time of the year to make your annual physical appointment. You’ll be able to get things like your blood pressure and cholesterol checked out to make sure you’re ready for take off. It will also give you a chance to talk to your PCP about any questions or concerns you might have, and what he or she thinks is the best way for you to get back into a physical routine. 

Be Equipped

Check the soles and overall condition of your athletic shoes. Worn out shoes can lead to injury, so be sure to replace them on average about once a year, more often if you clock in extra mileage.  

Fuel Up

You can’t drive your car without gas and the same applies to your body. This means avoiding processed foods and eating plenty of healthy proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Staying hydrated is also really important—the more you sweat the more water you need to drink, about four to six ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise.

Walk Before You Run

Take it slow and start off with a brisk walk 10 minutes a day, at least three to four times a week. Once that feels comfortable, increase by five-minute intervals weekly until you’re up to about 30 to 40 minutes. A month of conditioning will build up flexibility and endurance, which is necessary before moving on to more strenuous activities.

Stretch It Out

 It’s just as important to cool down as it is to warm up. Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles and can help prevent post-workout soreness. Once your heart rate has slowed down after cooling off, you’ll want to stretch the muscles you just used. Hold every stretch for at least 30 to 60 seconds, two to three times. For intense stretches go no longer than 15 seconds. If you did overdo it, practice RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. 

Stick to a Plan

Set realistic daily and weekly goals for how long and how often you’d like to be active. It’ll make it harder for you to give up if you get a family member or friend on board, too. Remember, just the fact that you’re making an effort to get moving a few times a week is great.