Prevention

Prevention is Key- Part 1

Hello Health Care Transformation Tribe!

Today I’d like to chat about one of the most important things you can do for yourself in order to have the best health at the lowest price and that is PREVENTION! Prevention means stopping something from happening in the first place.

Many expensive and painful diseases are actually caused by ourselves, not our genetics. For example, obesity due to overeating and lack of exercise causes us to have diabetes and heart disease. Smoking causes lung cancer. Excessive alcohol drinking causes a myriad of body problems including liver disease, GI problems, and osteoporosis.

So as you can see, it is actually very much in our control to keep ourselves healthy now so that in the future we don’t have to deal with a crappy, painful, expensive disease.

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So what are my key tips for staying healthy and preventing disease?

Let’s start with healthy eating. Some of my key recommendations that I practice are below and you can find more in My Health Care Transformation Handbook:

  • Grocery shop on the periphery of the grocery store. I steer clear of aisles as much as possible! (But also be sure to steer clear of the bakery…)
  • Eat foods that are found in nature, not made in a factory. Carrots are found in nature. Cheetos came from a factory.
  • Go to your local farmers market or utilize a market delivery service. My favorite fresh local delivery service is Grubmarket in LA but I love to head over to the Brentwood Farmer’s Market any Sunday that I can.
  • Don’t store foods from the “avoid list” in your home. For example, I don’t store any desserts in my home. If I want a dessert then I need to walk out of the house and get it. And then guess what. I hardly ever eat desserts 😉

Now second to healthy eating is exercising. Here are some of my key recommendations that I practice and, again, you can find more in My Health Care Transformation Handbook:

  • Incorporate exercise into your day as much as possible. For me, I make sure to walk or bike anywhere that is within a few miles. I bike to the office. I take the stairs up and down whenever it’s less than six flights. Stay active!
  • Sign up for a workout class at the beginning of the week – then you can’t bail out that day when you are feeling tired! For me, I plan all my workouts, whether that is running, dancing, yoga, HIIT class, at the beginning of the week so that it is already scheduled and I make my plans around working out.

Also of extreme importance is taking care of your mental health. Having a happy, healthy mental state will help you achieve balance in your nutrition and exercise and vice versa. My key recommendations on how to achieve your best mental health, with more being available in My Handbook:

  • Document what brings you joy and then manage your time to ensure you are making room for these things. For example, I know that the top things that bring me joy are building relationships and friendships, exercising, being outdoors, and, of course, educating people on health care. So I make a concerted effort to make plans with friends as much as possible, exercise and be outdoors daily, and work on Health Care Transformation as much as possible.
  • I highly recommend setting some goals and then thinking through any mental barriers you are creating to achieving those goals of living your happiest best life.

And finally, practice healthy habits. Limit your alcohol intake and I don’t think I need to tell you that smoking is bad for you… But I will… Smoking is bad for you.

Now that we have talked through the basics of prevention, take some of these recommendations, set some goals for achieving your best health, and we will chat more about prevention soon!

Cheers to Health and Happiness!

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Prevention

Warning: This Drug May Kill You

Hello Health Care Transformation Tribe,

Last week, the Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams made an official announcement with recommendations to address the opioid epidemic in the U.S. He recommends more individuals keep the opioid antagonist, Naxolone, on hand in order to save someone from dying who is currently overdosing as well as provides recommendations to the general public and health providers about Naxolone and how to identify an overdose.

Let me give a quick recap on the epidemic and then I’ll give you my two-cents on the announcement along with some recommendations for you to follow in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Opioid Epidemic: Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, etc. Opioids have killed more than 250,000 people in the last decade, including more than 42,000 people in 2016 alone. That equates to one person dying every 12.5 minutes due to opioid overdose. Opioids kill an individual by depressing their respiratory function so the individual literally chokes to death because they cannot get enough oxygen to their brain and other organs.

Sadly enough, this problem is very unique to the U.S. in comparison to other countries:

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Now you might notice a really interesting fact: many opioids, which lead to addiction and death, are actually prescribed to a patient by a doctor. The data show that most physicians lack confidence in their ability to prescribe opioids safely and to predict and discuss potential future drug abuse with their patients. And, in fact, large proportions of doctors are actually very concerned about opioid addiction and death.

My disappointment with the announcement is that there is such a focus on Naxolone, which is an expensive and often not readily available solution that doesn’t actually get at the root cause of the problem. The root cause of the problem is that doctors are prescribing high dosage and frequency of opioids to patients who unknowingly will get addicted and could have otherwise received a different pain intervention such as exercise, massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, etc. Unfortunately, once addicted patients turn to pill-seeking amongst different doctors to game the system and ultimately turn to getting heroin off the streets.

Therefore, it’s important that we stress the importance of educating physicians and patients on how to navigate this drug altogether to gain any potential benefit without wreaking havoc on an individual and their family.

For more background, I highly recommend the HBO documentary “Warning: This Drug May Kill You”.

The documentary will shake you to your bones but it will visualize for you how opioids can kill anyone from good kids to good mothers. 

Doctors can prescribe opioids on anything from knee surgery to a c-section. So how can you protect yourself and your loved ones?

When prescribed a pain-relieving medication, ask the following questions:

  1. Is this medication an opioid?
  2. Is there another option instead of taking a drug?
  3. Is there a non-opioid pain-relieving drug I can take instead?
  4. Is this the lowest possible dose I can take?
  5. Can I have fewer pills?
  6. How is it best to taper off the drug?

Be sure to discuss your health history, family history, and risk of addiction.

For the healthcare professionals, I recommend the following:

  • Pull your analytics on prescribing patterns of doctors so you can intervene on high prescribers.
  • Pull your data on dosage by patient so you know which patients are at risk of addiction and overdose.
  • Use these guidelines to establish protocols and procedures for your institution in order to intervene where possible.

Yes, Naxolone has the potential to save an individual who is overdosing and going into respiratory failure, but we need to start addressing the root of the problem, which begins with developing clear guidelines and operational support to physician prescribers and patients.

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Prevention

Get Your Flu Shot!

Hi Everyone! Welcome back to Health Care For the People.

‘Tis the season! The flu season that is! And it’s time to roll up those sleeves…

Now, what do you and your family need to know about the flu? Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is our leading agency that conducts and supports health promotion, prevention, and preparedness activities in the United States, has to say!

“Fun” Flu Facts:

  • The flu is contagious! It is spread when someone who is infected has droplets from their nose or mouth that then gets into your nose or mouth. (Think sneezing, coughing, hand-to-hand touching and then touching your face)
  • You may be able to pass on the flu to someone before you know you are sick or while you are sick. Some seemingly healthy people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Typical symptoms include fever, chills, achy muscles, cough, runny or stuffy nose, headaches or a sore throat.
  • Depending on the health state of the individual, the flu can cause mild to severe illness and can even lead to death.
  • Each year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized for respiratory and heart conditions illnesses associated with the flu virus.
  • Each year, between 12,000 and 56,000 people die from flu-related complications. These are typically patients who are already sick with a chronic condition such as heart failure or pulmonary disease.

Now let’s address all the silly myths and excuses that people make for not getting the flu shot!

Debunking “Fun” Flu Myths:

  • No, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot! The vaccine you receive is inactivated so the typical symptom you may get is soreness in the arm. And let’s be honest, any symptoms people have from the flu vaccine are much better to deal with than the symptoms caused by the actual flu illness.
  • If you do get flu-like symptoms, it wasn’t because of the vaccine! You may have already been sick when you got the flu shot. Also, you may be sick with another bacteria or virus that is not the flu or is not the strain from the vaccine.
  • The flu vaccine is safe and effective! For more than 50 years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received seasonal flu vaccines.

So now it’s time– I’ve gotten my flu shot. Have you gotten yours?!?

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Let me know if this article was helpful and please write any additional comments or questions below!

Cheers to Health and Happiness! 

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