At Heritage Medical Associates, we believe that preventing diseases is as important as treating them. Preventative healthcare includes regular physicals, routine preventive procedures and emphasis on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We understand that many things cannot be prevented, but in these cases, early detection is crucial to preventing advanced or chronic disease.
Tobacco and Alcohol Use:
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires eating healthy, staying active and avoiding habits that can lead to health complications. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol use are examples of habits that can be harmful to your health.
Tobacco use has been strongly linked to lung cancer, throat and oral cancer, cardiovascular disease (heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke) and peripheral vascular disease. If you smoke, please visit SmokeFree.gov to learn more about quitting smoking. You can also talk to your doctor about tools available to help you quit tobacco use. There are medications that can help, such as chantix or zyban, so please talk to your doctor if you are interested in quitting.
Similar to tobacco, alcohol use has been strongly linked to many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, liver disease, stomach ulcers, depression and nutritional deficiencies. If you drink alcohol regularly and are worried that your drinking may be contributing to your health problems or that you may have a problem, please talk to your doctor about getting help. To learn more about drinking and how to know if you are at risk, please visit ReThinkDrinking.gov.
Another habit that can be harmful to your health is exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Skin cancer, the most common cancer form of cancer in the US, appears to be linked to exposure to those UV rays. To protect yourself while outdoors, we recommend wearing protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen SPF 15 or higher with protection against UVA and UVB. The most hazardous sun exposure is usually between 10am-4pm so it is particularly important to seek protection in the shade during those hours. Tanning beds and sunlamps expose you to the same UV rays and are equally hazardous and in general, we recommend avoiding indoor tanning.
Overweight and Obesity:
One of the most common risk factors for chronic diseases and health problems is being overweight or obese. Having a diagnosis of obesity, which is classified as a body mass index (BMI) over 30, can put you at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, joint problems, sleep apnea, acid reflux. Being overweight (BMI 25-29) also increases a person’s risks for health problems. To calculate your BMI, click here.
Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight requires a balance of regular exercise and an appropriate diet. You should get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times per week in addition to your normal daily routine. A healthy diet needs to be limited in red meat, fried food, fast food, foods high in salt and trans-fatty acids. It should be high in fresh vegetables and fruit, lean meat (white meat chicken and turkey) and fish. To learn more about healthy eating habits and tips for weight loss, click here. You can also contact your physician about a referral to a nutritionist if you would like dietary recommendations tailored for you and your health. Another great resource for creating a personalized diet plan is ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Tools for Prevention and Early Detection:
Listed below are some of the tools available that have proven benefit for prevention and/or early detection of disease. These guidelines are generalized and should be tailored for individual patients based on their individual needs and risk factors.
- Pap smears for cervical cancer screening: every 3 years starting at 21 years of age through 65 years of age
- Mammograms for breast cancer screening: every 2 yrs starting at 50 years of age unless there is a family history of breast cancer, then it may be sooner
- Colon cancer screening: colonoscopy recommended starting at 50 years of age unless there is a family history of polyps or colon cancer, then sooner. Frequency usually 5-10 yrs until 75 years of age depending on results and risk factors
- Osteoporosis screening: women aged 65 years of age or younger who have risk factors should have bone density scan performed
For more information regarding common health issues and preventive health, please visit ACPOnline.org. Sponsored by the American College of Physicians, this site provides updated information on guidelines, recommendations and diseases.
When you are planning to take a trip, we recommend checking with your physician about vaccines or medications you may need before you leave. For some destinations, you may simply need to be up to date on your tetanus shot, but for other destinations you may need several vaccines and maybe even prophylactic medication against malaria or other infections. Depending on your destination and planned activities, you may need to take with you insect repellant, sunscreen and sun-protective clothing. If traveling outside the US, please visit the CDC website.
Travel-related vaccines we can provide in our clinic are:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Oral typhoid
- Polio (***For yellow fever vaccine, you will need to visit a specialized travel clinic)