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The Importance of Keeping High Blood Pressure Under Control

You’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, now you’re wondering what the risk is and what you should be aware of with this new diagnosis.  High blood pressure isn’t something to ignore. In fact, you should be vigilant about keeping it under control and at a safe level. Below is a list of 7 things that can happen as a result of high blood pressure if left untreated.

 

Bone Loss

Those with high blood pressure or hypertension tend to excrete more calcium through their urine resulting in low bone density leaving them susceptible to bone breakage and poor dental health.

 

Sleep Issues Relating to OSA

Those who are overweight and snore due to obstructive sleep apnoea tend to also have high blood pressure.  

 

Sexual Dysfunction

High blood pressure can result in sexual dysfunction in both men and women.  Men can experience erectile dysfunction and women will experience vaginal dryness.  Both men and women can experience low sex drive as a result of high blood pressure.

 

Kidney Failure

When arteries and blood vessels narrow and harden due to high blood pressure, it reduces flow to the kidneys making them unable to function properly.  Without proper blood flow, the kidneys are unable to flush toxins out of the body and remove excess water. The inability to function properly will result in kidney failure.

 

Artery Damage

Sustained high blood pressure causes extra force on the artery walls.  This exertion on the artery walls can cause damage to your arteries making them susceptible to plaque which can both harden and narrow the arteries.  When this hardening occurs, blood flow to organs in the body can be interrupted.

 

Damage to Eyes

When blood pressure is uncontrolled, it can cause damage to the eyes by causing the blood vessels in the eyes to thicken and narrow resulting in reduced delivery of oxygen to the retina.  The result can be bleeding in the eyes caused by burst retinal veins. If left untreated, hypertensive retinopathy can result which can lead to blindness.

 

Damaged Brain Cells

Blood clots can develop in arteries as a result of high blood pressure causing a decrease in oxygen in the brain.  This causes brain cells to die resulting in dementia or stroke.

 

Risk of Stroke

If you are able to lower your blood pressure, you are also lowering your risk of stroke.  If left untreated, high blood pressure can weaken the blood vessels found in your brain causing them to leak, rupture or both.  Additionally, high blood pressure can cause blood clots in your arteries which can block blood from being delivered to the brain which can also cause a stroke or even dementia.

 

Now that you know what can happen if you don’t keep your blood pressure under control, it’s time to do something about it.  There are some things you can do right away to start making a difference in your blood pressure and your overall health. Check out our list below.

8 ways you can naturally keep your blood pressure under control:

  1. Drop excess weight
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Eat a healthy diet
  4. Reduce salt
  5. Limit alcohol consumption
  6. Quit smoking
  7. Reduce caffeine intake
  8. Reduce stress

 

Final Thoughts…

Should you be diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension, it is imperative for you to be under a doctor’s care.  They will closely monitor you and make suggestions of how you can control your blood pressure. In some cases blood pressure will be treated with medication while in others, blood pressure can be controlled with lifestyle changes.  Your doctor or cardiologist will advise you of what is best for your individual diagnosis.

To your continued health!

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What Is The Real Cost of NOT Having Health Insurance?

By now we all know the ramifications of not having health insurance during 2018, especially when tax season comes around.  For the 2018 tax year, the penalty for not having health insurance is $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.  That’s a hard pill to swallow (no pun intended). But, is the tax penalty the only penalty you or your family will pay for not having health insurance?

 

Without having health insurance available to you and your family can be a costly oversight.  Let’s say, during the summer, one of your kids break their arm. What would be the total cost to you, with or without insurance?

 

With Insurance:

Typical non-surgical initial treatment for a broken bone: $2,500

Let’s say your deductible was $1,000, you would be responsible for that amount plus any copay amounts your plan requires per doctor visit, treatment requirements, x-rays,  or follow-up appointments.

 

Without Insurance:

Typical non-surgical initial treatment for a broken bone: $2,500

Without insurance, you would be responsible for paying for the initial treatment as well as items such as:

  • Doctor visits/follow up visits: $250 per visit
  • X-Rays: $1,000
  • Cast/Splint Application: $239

Suddenly, the $2,500 initial treatment for the broken bone jumped to a total of $3,989…and that’s on the conservative side.  

 

What if the medical attention you needed was more critical?  What if you had an acute onset of appendicitis? What would your medical bills look like then?  

 

Using the same scenario of insurance with a $1,000 deductible you can expect your appendectomy to cost anywhere between $10 – 35,000.  Again, you would be responsible for your deductible of $1,000 and any copays following the procedure.

 

Without insurance, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 – 35,000 or more depending on how the procedure is done.  The price for the procedure can jump depending on things like the type of procedure performed if there were complications, and length of hospital stay.  With so many variables, it is hard to pinpoint what the total cost would be. But, just to give you a ballpark amount, the national average for an appendectomy is $13,199 according to LendingPoint.com.

 

No one can predict the future.  Unfortunate and unexpected accidents happen all the time.  Without the proper measures and insurance in place, you could place yourself into a huge hole of medical debt.  Don’t risk your financial health and your well-being.  Take the time to explore your health insurance options and get the coverage that works best for you and your family.  The open enrollment period for 2019 is not too far away. It begins November 1, 2018. Now is the perfect time to get prepared.  I can help answer any questions you may have about things like:

  • Affordable health insurance options
  • Subsidies and how you can apply for them
  • What your deductible will look like should you need to use your health insurance
  • The best insurance plan for you and your family

 

Once you truly understand the risks involved in not having coverage and how the benefits of health insurance outweigh the risks, you will have peace of mind.  Contact me today to discuss your options: (813) 391-3448


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Just How Sad is the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet)?

It’s no secret, the United States is one of the fattest countries in the world and our population is ridden with lots of diseases and illnesses that are a result of a poor diet.  The food we consume causes our nation to suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, some cancers, some autoimmune diseases, and the list goes on. The saddest part about the “SAD” diet our country participates in, is that our children are suffering the most.  Never before have we seen young children morbidly obese and needing medications for things like type 2 diabetes. The fat epidemic in our society begs the question of “How did we get here and how did we let it get so out of control?”

After a recent trip to the far east, I took notice of how our American diet is vastly different from the Asian diet.  It seems our food priorities in the United States are a little out of whack. While visiting the far east, I noticed a major difference in the types of food choices available.  The food choices available in Asia were mostly plant-based, fresh, no preservatives and lean protein options like fish and poultry compared to our heavily processed, sugar-laden, high carbohydrate, mass-produced, convenient, “on-the-go” food options.  When I think of the brightly colored, fresh food I experienced in Asia compared to the food choices available in the United States, I began to think that our convenient food options barely represented food at all. Then the question popped into my head…”How did we get so used to the “non-nutritional food options available in the United States?”  The answer really boils down to accessibility, marketing, and advertising. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a stalk of broccoli on a billboard, advertised on tv, or easily available through your favorite drive-through? Probably never.

In my opinion, here is a short list of where we need to make changes in order to change the dietary health of our country:

  • The education system and the lunches we provide
  • Nutrition information/classes in our schools
  • The government approved “food pyramid” (its foundation is bread, grains, and carbohydrates which all convert into sugars once digested by our bodies)
  • Fast food options on every corner
  • Super-sized sugary drinks
  • The abundance of overly processed foods and snacks
  • Our obsession with eating every 2 – 3 hours
  • The amount of “snacks” we feed our children throughout the day
  • Our craving for sugar

To really understand the impact food, sugar, and carbohydrates have on our bodies and why my “short list” above contains the items listed above, I have included a list of documentaries you should consider watching.  You will be amazed at what you will learn when it comes to the quality and type of food you eat and how it directly impacts your health:

  • Cowspiracy
  • Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
  • Fed Up
  • Food, Inc
  • Food Matters
  • Forks Over Knives
  • The Magic Pill
  • Super Size Me

 

When you make a conscious effort to drastically reduce sugars, sodas, and processed food and start selecting fresh, non-processed food, fruits, and vegetables, you will start to see a difference in your health.  The first steps in this process are educating yourself and consulting with your physician to make the best, informed decisions about your health.

To your health!


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Captain Health’s Guide To First Aid Kits

For many years my first aid kit consisted of a couple of bandages and maybe a bottle of expired pain relief medicine stuffed in a medicine cabinet in my bathroom.  Looking back on it, it wasn’t a first aid kit at all. As a matter of fact, it was more like a “last” aid kit – meaning, I was probably the last person on earth you would come to for first aid help.

That type of mentality changes greatly when you come to realize how important first aid kits are.  The realization usually hits when someone you love gets hurt at home, you have kids, you are on a vacation, in the car, or even if you have pets and an accident happens!

In this blog post, we are going to explore the different types of first aid kits you should have on hand.  Accidents don’t always happen at home. Wouldn’t it be nice to have peace of mind knowing you are prepared when an accident happens – having the items you need on hand until help arrives?  Use my guide below to help you be the best prepared!

Before you get started building any of the kits listed below, prepare the following:

  • Choose an appropriately sized container to hold all the items listed in each kit
  • Select a designated area where your kit will be kept and make sure your household members and key people know where to find it
  • Always check with a medical professional first if you have questions about administering any of the suggestions listed below

At Home

They say the most dangerous room in the house is the kitchen.  I believe it! In that one room you can slip on wet floors, cut yourself, get burned, eat contaminated food and the list goes on.  Below is a list of items you should have in your first aid kit at home:

  • Aluminum finger splints
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antiseptic solution or wipes
  • Calamine lotion
  • Cough drops
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Disposable CPR shield
  • Disposable ice packs
  • Eye shields, pads, and bandages
  • First aid manual
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Medicine syringe, cup, or spoon
  • Pain reliever
  • Protectant medical gloves
  • Sterile eyewash
  • Sterile gauze pads and medical adhesive tape
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

On The Road

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antacid
  • Bandages
  • Blanket
  • Bug repellant
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Disposable CPR shield
  • Gauze
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Medical tape
  • Moistened towelettes/baby wipes
  • Motion sickness bags
  • Pain reliever
  • Sanitary pads/tampons
  • Single-use cold packs/cold compress
  • Snakebite kit
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers

What’s In Your Bag? (Purse, Gym, Backpack)

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antacid
  • Bandages
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pain reliever
  • Sore muscle and joint cream (gym bag)
  • Tissue
  • Tweezers

In The Baby Bag

  • Baby wipes
  • Baby pain reliever (ask your doctor for recommendations and directives)
  • Bandages (ouchless)
  • Blanket
  • Cotton balls
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Hand sanitizer (adult use)
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Medicine dropper
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Thermometer
  • Tissues

On Vacations

  • Aloe/after sun care
  • Antacid
  • Bandages
  • Cough drops
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Motion sickness medication (ask a doctor for type, dosage, and directives)
  • Pain reliever
  • Pocket tissues
  • Sunscreen
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • Wipes
  • Wound cleaner

Four-Legged Friends

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Benadryl (ask a veterinarian for dosage and directives)
  • Blanket or towel
  • Copy of vet records and shots
  • Cotton balls
  • Disposable gloves
  • Extra collar and leash
  • Gauze
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ice/heat packs
  • List of emergency numbers (vet, after hours animal hospital, poison control)
  • Oral syringe
  • Penlight
  • Saline eye solution
  • Towel
  • Tweezers

In Your Desk At Work

  • Antacid
  • Bandages
  • Cough drops
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pain reliever
  • Tissues
  • Wipes

Pro Tip:

Every quarter, take a few minutes to make note of the items you are running low on and replace expired or outdated items.


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Why You Should Get Your Blood Pressure Checked Monthly

Knowing what blood pressure is will help you to understand why it should be checked on a regular, if not monthly basis.

In a nutshell, blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your heart is working to circulate blood and oxygen around your body. If your heart is not exerting enough pressure, blood and oxygen will not be able to travel to all the places it needs to in the body. To determine how hard your heart is working, medical professionals measure blood pressure. Blood pressure is determined by two sets of numbers. Systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The average or goal for adults is somewhere in the range of 90/60 and 120/80.

Understanding the Readings…

Systolic pressure:
Systolic pressure or the top number measures the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. When this number is high, it signals that the heart is working too hard and is over-exerting itself and should be monitored closely by a medical professional to help prevent heart damage, heart attack, or stroke.

In some people, it is natural or considered baseline for the systolic pressure to be low, under the range of 90. If the systolic pressure drops suddenly and is not a normal reading/baseline reading, it could be a sign of the heart not being able to work hard enough to get blood to the body and organs. This can be extremely damaging to the body and should be taken care of immediately by a physician.

Diastolic pressure:
Diastolic pressure is the bottom number. This number measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. If this pressure is high, it could signal an increased risk of a cardiac event and you should seek the assistance of a medical doctor immediately.

If the diastolic pressure is low, it could be an indication of a serious medical disorder and you should seek medical attention right away.

Warning signs.
Both high and low blood pressure has subtle or no symptoms. It can creep on slowly over time making the symptoms harder to identify. Or, a change in blood pressure can come on suddenly. Both indicate changes that need to be seriously looked at. Below are some symptoms of high and low blood pressure that you should be aware of:

High blood pressure or hypertension symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart attack
  • Chest pain

Low blood pressure symptoms:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration

Extreme low blood pressure known as hypotension can result in life-threatening conditions. Signs and symptoms to look for in this case include things like:

  • Confusion, especially in older people
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Weak and rapid pulse

The best way to monitor your blood pressure and understand what your baseline or normal range is, is to get is checked monthly. Many drug stores and grocery stores have blood pressure machines available for you to use whenever needed. If you are concerned about the accuracy of those machines, consider investing in a personal machine for your home. These types of machines are small, portable, and easy to store.

Regardless of the type of machine you choose to use, it is best to follow these tips:

  • Check blood pressure monthly
  • Record readings each time
  • Remain calm during the reading
  • Note extreme changes and call your doctor immediately
  • Be consistent in the time of day you take your blood pressure
  • Follow and understand the instructions of the blood pressure machine before attempting to get an accurate reading

Remember, symptoms can be difficult to detect which is why many call heart disease and cardiac events a silent killer. Be proactive. Download my blood pressure tracker to help stay on top of any changes that may occur with your blood pressure.

Download my blood pressure tracker HERE.


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9 Things You Didn’t Know About Short-Term Health Insurance

Before you sign on the dotted line, know what you are in for when it comes to short-term health insurance. It may be a seductive option when you begin to explore it, but when you begin to dig in and get a flavor for what it will taste like, you may be a little surprised. Number 5 may shock you!

1. NO Guarantees…
Did you know? When applying for short-term health insurance, acceptance is not guaranteed. That means, there is a possibility that you could be turned down.

2. Got pre-existing conditions? Know this…
Short-term health insurance does NOT cover pre-existing conditions. That means if you have already been diagnosed with something like cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or, you are pregnant before you sign up for short-term medical insurance, your condition will not be covered.

3. Caps on procedures
Congrats! You signed up for short-term health insurance and it’s just in time for your routine colonoscopy. Imagine going to the hospital for the colonoscopy and when you are discharged you are slapped with a bill that you didn’t expect. How could that be? You were covered, weren’t you? Not necessarily. If the procedure cost above and beyond the cap put in place, you could be footing the bill.

4. Caps on tests and lab work
Just as with the procedure scenario mentioned above, the same thing can happen with tests and lab work. If you are participating in short-term health insurance, know what will be covered when it comes to tests and lab work.

5. Annual cap of policy payout
Read the fine print of any policy before you sign. Understand what the policy caps are. You may be surprised just how much or little your policy will payout each year.

6. Not guaranteed renewable
Did you know? Come the end of the year and when it is time to renew, it is not guaranteed that the short-term health insurance provider you selected will renew your policy.

7. Limits on Doctor visits
Another fine print detail to search out when considering short-term health insurance is how many times will you have a co-pay to see the doctor? There are limits or caps put in place when it comes to co-pays for doctor visits.

8. Per day limits on hospitalization
Another surprise you may not be expecting with a short-term health insurance is the amount of days they cover for a hospital stay. Should you need hospitalization while covered under the plan, you may want to investigate if there are any limits on how many overnight stays you can have when in the care of a hospital or how much they pay per day.

9. Can have high deductibles
Another area to consider before electing for short-term health insurance is the deductible cost. Short-term health insurance can have higher than average deductibles.

When considering short-term health insurance, take the time to really understand what the plan is saying, what it is covering, how much it is covering and what payment responsibilities you will have or could potentially have should you need medical care and treatment.

Do you need help making an informed decision? I am happy to help! Schedule a FREE consultation with me by calling: (813) 391-3448


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When Should You Go to the ER? And, If You Do, Will You Be Stuck With the Bill?

You are experiencing excruciating pain in your abdomen.  You know there is something really wrong. Your first instinct is to rush to the hospital, it could be appendicitis but you are not sure.  It’s best to let the experts tend to you, right?  After all, they are doctors and you aren’t.  

The above scenario seems logical right?  

But it may not seem like the best course of action according to your insurance company.  

In the article titled: “An ER visit, a $12,000 bill — and a health insurer that wouldn’t pay” (link) describes a similar story and the insurance company didn’t agree that the symptoms, the pain and the final diagnosis weren’t severe enough to warrant an emergency room visit.  In fact, the insurance company deemed the ER visit in appropriate and denied the claim which caused the hospital to demand payment for treatment and tests.  In some cases, insurance companies have begun charging their clients with “penalty fees” for inappropriate ER visits. While some of the more draconian rules have not come to Florida yet, they are in other states and the number of states is growing.  The article suggests: “All of these policies suggest a new and controversial strategy for reining in health care costs: asking patients to play a larger role in assessing their own medical condition — or pay a steep price.”  It is unreasonable to expect patients to self-diagnose and do it accurately.  

What is being done about insurance companies denying emergency room claims?  Congress is getting involved and asking questions.  Specifically, the articles sites that Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent Anthem a letter stating, her concerns that Anthem is requiring its patients to act as medical professionals when they are experiencing urgent medical events.  Emergency room physicians are also taking a stand.  They are exploring options that allow them to push back to insurance companies like Anthem who have ER policies in place like the one explained here. It doesn’t stop there.  Hospitals are engaging with patient advocacy groups, asking pertinent questions, pressuring legislators to take notice of what is happening in the system and demanding better solutions.

Review your policy to make sure you understand what your policies emergency room coverage is.  If you are unsure what your policy states, get in touch with the insurance company so they can go over it with you.   If you have any questions on it please reach out to me anytime.

To read the entire article referenced in this blog post from Vox, click here.