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Health Q&A

Posted September 05, 2012 in Advice Column, Perry

Q: What’s all this about ‘ACO’?

A: Patients are receiving letters and information about “ACOs” they are enrolled in. ACO means “Accountable Care Organization” — and they are forming in Iowa right now. An ACO is a group of health care providers who have agreed to be accountable for the quality, cost and overall care of a group of patients.

What does this mean for you? If you are part of an ACO, expect your healthcare provider to be more proactive in your care. For instance, if you haven’t had a physical in more than a year, your healthcare provider office may be contacting you to set up an appointment. If your laboratory results have been high, you will be asked to come back sooner to make sure your medication or diet is working for you. Healthcare providers will be asking and documenting the dates of your last colonoscopy, mammogram, etc. You will be encouraged to follow care guidelines.

The bottom line is keeping patients healthier and making sure the patient is satisfied with his or her care. You will receive surveys in the doctor’s office and in the mail asking how your provider is doing. These surveys are very important to fill out and return!

You may have a lot of questions about ACOs. Please ask the receptionist at your doctor’s office for more information.

Information provided by Mercy Family Care – Perry, 616 10th St, 465-2575.

Q: Am I at risk for heart disease?

A: Did you know that heart disease has become the number one killer among American women? What a sobering statistic! Heart disease has surpassed even cancer.

A sedentary lifestyle or being overweight is a big risk factor in having a heart attack or stroke. Other risk factors include
• A cholesterol level greater than 200mg/dL.
• A resting blood pressure higher than 120/80.
• Smoking (even if it is a few cigarettes a day).
• Diabetes, regardless of whether it is Type I or Type II.
• Close blood relative such as your father or sister with a history of heart disease or stroke.

Cutting your risk starts with a visit to your physician and finding out two very important numbers. These include your resting blood pressure and cholesterol level. The key point to remember is: the lower your levels, the lower your risk.

Once you have received this information, you can then formulate a plan such as a diet that includes eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lowering or cutting out added salt or sodium and eating less saturated fat and cholesterol. You could also engage in moderate level physical activities and begin a weight management program if you’re overweight. Always check with your physician before starting a weight loss program.

Remember, keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check, eating healthy, keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight are all important in minimizing your risk for heart disease.

Information provided by 21st Century Rehab at Dallas County Hospital, 610 10th St., Perry, 465-7672.

Q: I am in my 60s and in good health? Is there any need to worry about further immunizations?

A: As we all age, it is more difficult to fight off all the viruses and bacteria that we are exposed to on a daily basis, even if we are in good health and rarely get sick.

The main purpose of the immunization is to stimulate our immune systems and to produce antibodies that fight infections. Immunizations contain killed or a varied amount of the live virus and do not make one sick after administration. You should get an influenza vaccination yearly, whenever they become available. In most cases, it is available in September so that you can prevent getting the strains of influenza in the vaccine early on.

Not only does it promote better health for you, but it also protects others who might be exposed if you get sick, and they may not be as lucky as you to have good health. Pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for all persons older than 65. Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae that can cause pneumonia, middle-ear infection or blood infection. And you should not forget about the need for tetanus and diptheria immunizations every 10 years as well.

Information provided by Medicap Pharmacy,

Q: Why should I be concerned about gum disease?

A: We often inform patients that they have gum disease, and their most common response is, “But I’m not having any pain or problems. Why should I be concerned?”

The best answer is because it is not only your gums that are at risk, but also your overall health.

Did you know that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Gum disease can contribute to various diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular disease, endocarditis and diabetes. There has been much research lately that suggests the chronic inflammation from gum disease can be a major contributor to heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke.

If your gums are inflamed consistently, then your heart and cardiovascular system are working overtime to fight off the inflammation, 24/7!   If you have a damaged heart valve, the harmful bacteria associated with gum disease can enter your blood stream and lead to an infection of the inner lining of the heart (Endocarditis). And there is a strong correlation between diabetes and your immune system, which is also weakened if it is constantly trying to fight off infection in your gums.

It may be true that gum disease typically does not cause any pain, but do not ignore this serious condition. It is a very slow process but it will result in the gums and the bone that support your teeth to recede away, and the eventual loss of the teeth as well as overall negative impact of your health.

Information provided by Dr. Rob Swanson, DDS, Swanson Dental Care, 2423 Willis Ave., Perry, 465-5170.

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