The importance of colon cancer screenings

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For most adults, screening for colon cancer starts soon after turning 50. This because the chances of getting colon cancer increase as you get older. According to the CDC, 90% of cases occur in people 50 years or older. However, this doesn’t mean that adults younger than 50 can’t develop colon cancer and it’s important to know if you are at risk.

A history of colon cancer in the family means it could be genetic. If a close relative, generally your parent, sibling or child, has had colorectal polyps or colon cancer it is important to get screenings at a younger age. This risk is even higher if that family member was younger than 45-years-old when they were diagnosed with cancer, or if more than one close relative is affected. Additionally, if you have inflammatory bowel disease, your risk of colon cancer is increased.

Colon cancer forms when abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum. These polyps can mutate into cancer and spread throughout the colon. Thankfully, screening tests like a colonoscopy can find the polyps and your physician can remove them during a colonoscopy before they turn into cancer.

Colon cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer and there are a number of lifestyle factors that you can be aware of to actively reduce the risk of getting colon cancer. These include getting the recommended amount of physical activity, eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy body weight and watching your consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

Even without inflammatory bowel disease or a family history of colon cancer, it is vital to listen to your body. If you think something is wrong, make an appointment with your doctor.

Fun with fiber!

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Fiber has many wonderful characteristics! Fiber can lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol and may even help prevent colon cancer. But few people are getting enough! Women should get about 25 grams each day, and men at least 35-40 grams. However, the average person only gets about 15 grams per day.

Many people rely on whole grains and salads to provide their daily fiber intake, which is definitely a good start. But, lettuce alone isn’t enough. In fact, iceberg lettuce only has about 0.5g per cup! Try adding some artichokes, which provide about 10.3g, or avocado, which provide 6.7g per half, to your salad. Additionally, adding beans to your meals also helps increase your fiber intake. One cup of white beans is about 12g of fiber, while one cup of black beans is about 15g.

If you’d rather get your fiber from a dessert, try black bean brownies. It may sound odd, but you can’t taste the beans, and the brownies contain more than 22g of fiber total.

You can also try incorporating flaxseed into your diet, by adding this to your oatmeal, smoothies or yogurt. A two-tablespoon serving of flaxseed contains 3.8g of fiber, and also gives you a dose of omega-3 fatty acids! Chia seeds offer 5.5g of fiber per tablespoon and are great for thickening smoothies or puddings, and for replacing eggs in most baked good recipies!

Some other high fiber foods include corn (2g per ear), brown rice (3.5g per cup), lentils (15.6g per cup), pears (skin intact, 5.5g per pear), and broccoli (5g per cup).

Eating your recommended daily amount of fiber can be fun! Push the limits and try some new fiber filled recipes! Your colon will thank you!

Sleep training your baby

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Typically, when your baby is about six-months-old, their circadian rhythms stabilize and they start to wake up less and less during the night. This is a great time to work on sleep-training, or trying to get them to learn to fall asleep on their own and stay asleep during the night. There are a variety of commonly used methods, however, one that worked for your friend or coworker may not work for your baby.

 

The most common are:

Pick-up-put-down: this is a gentle technique that is exactly what it sounds like. When a baby is fussy and it’s time to go to sleep, pick them up and comfort them until they’re calm and drowsy, but not yet asleep. Put them back in their crib to sleep, and repeat until they’re finally asleep. This requires a lot of patience, and not every baby will like this method. For some, it’s overstimulating and can make them fussier, rather than coax them to sleep.

Fading sleep: this method consists of helping your baby fall asleep by rocking or feeding, but shortening the amount of time you rock/feed each night, which allows your baby to do more to get themselves to fall asleep. This also requires a lot of patience, but this works very well for families who want to minimize crying.

Chair method: This method doesn’t involve picking up your baby at all. Begin with your normal bedtime routine and put a chair very close to the crib while your baby falls asleep. The goal is to reassure baby that you’re nearby, but you don’t help them calm down or give them any attention after you’ve put them to bed. Each night, you move your chair farther and farther away until you’re right outside the door and no longer need the chair at all. This method can be very difficult on parents and baby, but for some, it can work well.

Ferberizing (check and console): This technique allows you to check the baby at timed intervals while allowing them to learn to console themselves. Your goal is to reassure baby that you’re nearby while reassuring yourself that they’re ok. When you check on baby, don’t pick them up, simply tell them that they’re ok and pat or rub their back for two-three minutes before leaving. Over time, increase the amount of time between checks. Start with 10 minutes between checks and increase by five minutes each night. This method helps baby learn to fall back asleep in the same environment they wake up in each night.

Cry it out (sleep extinction): This is the most commonly known method. The idea is you do your normal bedtime routine and put the baby to bed, but do not check on them again, instead of letting them fall asleep on their own. This can be hard for parents to not console their child when they’re crying, but the idea is that if you go in after a certain amount of time, your child will expect you to do that every night.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” method of sleep training. You may find a hybrid of these methods works best for you, or something that’s not listed here at all. If you need help finding a way to sleep train your baby, or talking through some of the ideas listed here, talk to your pediatrician. They can offer some helpful suggestions about what to try and what might work for you and your baby.

 

 

Coronary artery disease treatments and prevention

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Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition where plaque filled with cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels of the heart. As a result, your heart does not get enough blood flow and oxygen, which leads to a variety of conditions ranging from angina to heart attacks. The biggest risk factors for developing CAD are smoking, diabetes and family history. Hypertension, high cholesterol levels and poor lifestyle habits, like lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet, are also risk factors.

The best treatment of CAD is prevention. Quit smoking, control your diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You want your LDL (bad cholesterol) to be low, and you want your HDL (good cholesterol) to be high. This can be achieved with diet, exercise and medications.

 

Symptoms of CAD can be vague. Chest pain is the most common symptom, but it can also present as jaw pain, neck pain, arm pain, back pain, shortness of breath or fatigue. Early recognition is key. Contrary to popular belief, women over 55-years-old carry a higher risk than men of the same age. The risk in younger men is higher than in older men.

There are various ways to treat CAD. Medications, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, controlling your diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as stents or bypass surgery. A stent is a device that looks like the spring of a ballpoint pen, which keeps arteries open. These are life-saving in situations of a heart attack. Nowadays, open heart bypass surgeries are reserved for extensive blockages in multiple areas of the heart, and/or when the blockage is in a critical part of the heart, which is not suitable for a stent.

The latest in stent technology is bioabsorbable stents, which disappear after their job of keeping the arteries open is done. These are currently being used by myself and other Michigan Heart physicians. If you have questions about CAD, please talk to your primary care physician or cardiologist.

 

 

Blood Pressure Machines

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If you think you have high blood pressure and want to check your blood pressure often, those free machines at local pharmacies are tempting. But just how accurate are they?

There are two types of blood pressure monitors. The first is the one you’re probably most familiar with, manual blood pressure monitors. These consist of an arm cuff, squeeze bulb, gauge and a stethoscope. This is most likely what your doctor or nurse practitioner uses when you go into the office for a visit.

 

There are also automatic monitors, much like the one in your local pharmacy and home usage. These are powered by batteries, usually a pump, and have a cuff that attaches to your upper arm. These monitors are easier to use. The only monitors that are recommended are upper arm models and wrist models should not be used. The machine at your local pharmacy may be tempting, but according to a study from The Journal of Family Practice, the machines at local pharmacies aren’t calibrated as often as they should be. It’s also possible the cuff won’t fit you, meaning your reading isn’t accurate.

If you want to monitor your blood pressure at home, you should purchase an automatic upper arm model for about $60-80. Models that have been shown to be accurate are made by Omron and HoMedics. Be sure to place the cuff on your arm and sit for 3-5 minutes to obtain an accurate reading. If you do not rest before the readings, the measurements will be TOO HIGH. Also, remember that blood pressure is very variable and you will see some high and some low readings, which is normal. Write down the readings and share these with your physician.

This article was originally published on December 15, 2014, and was updated on February 2, 2017.

Five ways to beat the winter blues

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Winter can be a rough time for many. The days are short, temperatures are low and sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of bed. Here are five ways to help lift your spirits and help you feel happier.

1. Utilize light. People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (a form of depression that begins as weather gets cold and days get shorter, and fades as the weather warms up) may feel depressed, irritable and have trouble waking in the morning, especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, which causes the lights in your room to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed. Additionally, sitting next to a light box (10,000 lux) for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication.

2. Listen to music. Does an upbeat song ever make you feel happy? A 2013 study from the University of Missouri confirms listening to upbeat music can significantly improve your mood in both the short term and long term.

3. Stay active. A 2005 study from Harvard suggests exercising every day for about 30 minutes improves symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

4. Eat smarter. Certain foods, like fresh fruits and omega-3 fatty foods, can help boost your mood, whereas carb-heavy and caffeine-heavy foods can impact your mood negatively. There are plenty of seasonal produce available in the winter like cranberries, oranges, winter squash and kale.

5. Laugh. Laughter helps stimulate processes in your brain that counter depression symptoms and blood pressure. Your local library should have plenty of comedy movies and TV shows to help you laugh.

Five Winter Activities that Double as Exercise

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This time of year is primed for turkey, pumpkin pie and cookies. We often spend as much time baking cookies as we do shoveling snow. So how do you work in a workout? Good news! Some common winter activities can double as workouts. So gather the family and be prepared to work up a good sweat:

Shoveling snow. This necessary evil in winter can help you burn more than 250 calories an hour. Just make sure you’re lifting with your knees, not your back, and using an ergonomic shovel to minimize stress on your back.

Sledding. Remember how tired you got as a kid running up the hill with your sled in hand? Try it as an adult. You’re guaranteed to have fun heading down the hill at top speeds, and if you last for 30 minutes you’ll burn about 200 calories.

Ice skating. You don’t have to be as skilled as Nancy Kerrigan or as agile as Brian Boitano. Just 30 minutes of light skating will burn upwards of 200 calories.

Playing in the snow. Building a snowman, snow angels and snowball fights have always been winter classics, but did you know they also help you burn calories? If you play in the snow for at least an hour you can burn between 200-350 calories.

Skiing and snowboarding. If you’re looking for a more intense workout, while still being outside in the snow, skiing and snowboarding is your best bet. Depending on your fitness level, and your skills, you can burn upwards of 300 calories per hour.

Make sure to bundle up, stay hydrated and have fun.

This article was originally published on December 20, 2014, and was updated on December 12, 2016.

Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room

We’ve all been there as patients; sick on the weekend, trip and twist an ankle. What do you do if your primary care doctor is gone for the day or weekend?

Non-life-threatening emergencies can be treated at an urgent care. If you’re having a life-threatening emergency such as chest pain or a serious head injury, a trip to the emergency room is in order.

What is considered an emergency?

  • severe chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • compound fracture (bone protrudes through skin)
  • convulsions, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • fever in newborn younger than 3 months old
  • deep knife or gunshot wounds
  • moderate to severe burns covering a large area of the body
  • poisoning
  • severe head, neck or back injury
  • pregnancy-related problems
  • severe abdominal pain
  • signs of a heart attack (chest pain lasting longer than two minutes)
  • signs of stroke (loss of vision, sudden numbness, weakness, slurred speech)
  • suicidal or homicidal feelings

What is considered a non-life-threatening urgent medical condition?

  • accidents and falls resulting in extremity or minor head injury
  • sprains and strains
  • back pain
  • breathing difficulties (mild to moderate asthma)
  • bleeding/cuts (requiring sutures)
  • eye irritation and redness
  • fever or flu
  • vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
  • severe sore throat or cough
  • minor broken bones and fractures (fingers, toes)
  • skin rashes and infections
  • urinary tract infections
  • mild to moderate allergic reactions
  • seasonal allergies
  • headaches

If you’re in doubt, get it checked out. Sometimes you may feel fine after a trip or fall, but could/will feel worse the next day when inflammation and pain set in.

IHA Call Center Triage Nurses and Office Triage Nurses can be utilized to assist in decision making on where to go. Call us first: 734.995.2950

IHA has three urgent care locations and one after hours location, all open after normal work hours and on the weekends, with slightly altered hours on holidays. Click here for a comprehensive service list for our locations.

Locations

IHA After Hours Care – Brighton

IHA Urgent Care – Domino’s Farms

IHA Urgent Care – Livingston

IHA Urgent Care – WestArbor

This article was originally published on September 29, 2014, and was updated on November 18, 2016.

Recipe: Herb Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans

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Together with St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor’s Executive Chef, Ryan Kendall, we’re bringing you a delicious and healthy side dish that would be perfect for Thanksgiving, or any time of the year: Herb Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans.

Butternut squash are rich in antioxidants, low in fat, high in dietary fiber, with significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6. With a one-cup serving, you get nearly half the daily recommended dose of vitamin C!

To choose a butternut squash, look for one that’s unblemished and seems heavy with a matte skin. Uncut butternut squash can be stored in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) for up to three months.

When you’re ready to cook the Herb Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients and materials:

large knife
spoon
wide vegetable peeler
cookie sheet
mixing bowl
sheet pan
3 large butternut squash
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh sage
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh rosemary
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Start by cutting off the top and bottom ends to make them both flat. Then cut the squash lengthwise into halves. The seeds will be in the bottom, use a spoon to scrape them out and discard.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel each half. Usually a downward motion, away from you, is the easiest. Slice the halves into ½” to 1” chunks, as uniformed in size as possible.

On a separate tray, spread out the pecans and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, toss squash with olive oil and add herbs and seasonings. Coat pieces will.

Place squash on sprayed or oiled sheet pan in the oven and roast for 25-45 minutes (depending on the size of your squash pieces) until tender.

Remove from sheet pan and place in serving dish. Toss lightly with pecans and drizzle with agave nectar. Serve warm.

This article was originally published on November 21, 2014, and was updated on October 27, 2016.

Flu Vaccine Updates

 

We strongly encourage you and your family be vaccinated! For ease of convenience, we’re offering all flu shots to be scheduled online, or by calling your office directly. When scheduling them online, please schedule one person per appointment time. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your physician’s office.