Don’t Let the Flu Interrupt Your Holidays Vaccinate Now!

October 01, 2016

The one “gift” you definitely want to avoid receiving or giving this holiday season is the flu or, worse yet, pneumonia. The good news is that there are vaccines available to help protect you from catching either of these illnesses.

You’re probably familiar with the flu shot, which is safe, effective and available at any of our locations. It’s vital to get this one each year because every flu season is unique, and also because if you do happen to fall ill, it will increase your chance of getting pneumococcal disease.

Exactly what is pneumococcal disease? It’s an umbrella term that includes blood, brain and lung infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicemia. Getting infected with these bacteria is actually one of the leading causes of serious illness in children and adults worldwide, which is why it’s especially important to get vaccinated. Approximately 900,000 Americans contract pneumococcal disease each year, resulting in 400,000 hospitalizations. Nobody wants to spend their holidays in the hospital.

There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines, PVC13 and PPSV23, and together they cover 26 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria. They work by causing the body’s immune system to create protective antibodies that will fight the bacteria, and have been proven to be highly effective. Whic vaccine is best for you? In some cases, both, but it depends on your age and other risk factors that should be discussed with your primary care physician.

  • PVC13 is recommended for children younger than 5, all adults over 65, and people 6 or older with certain risk factors
  • PPSV23 is recommended for all adults 65 and older and people ages 2-64 who are at high risk for pneumococcal disease

As with the flu shot, the side effects of a pneumococcal vaccination are usually limited to mild swelling, redness and soreness at the site of the shot for a few days. Clearly worth your while when compared to the symptoms of pneumonia, which include fever and chills, cough, rapid or difficult breathing, and chest pain.

The best way to know what vaccination steps are right for you and your family is to visit one of our locations and speak with your primary care provider (PCP). You can also call AltaMed’s Nurse Advice Line (877-861-6728) for help with any questions you may have.

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Say Cheese! Retinal Eye Exams Are a Snap

January 01, 2017

Getting a retinal eye exam is as easy as posing for a photo, and for those with diabetes, it’s priceless to visual health. Instead of capturing a Kodak moment, a picture of the back of the eyes is taken so that doctors can look for any potential damage or disease caused by diabetes. If left unchecked, vision loss and blindness may occur.

Retinal eye exams should be performed once a year for all patients ages 18 to 75 who have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The test is simple, painless and takes less than 15 minutes. There are no side effects and eye dilation is not typically required.

The best part is that the exam is available at six AltaMed locations:

  • Boyle Heights
  • Commerce
  • El Monte
  • Garden Grove
  • Pico Rivera, Slauson
  • Santa Ana, Bristol

Retinal exams are likely covered by your health insurance, but if they’re not, they only cost $17 at these locations. To set up an appointment or for more information, please call our Patient Contact Center at (888) 499-9303.

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.