Captain Health USA

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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.


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You Have Health Insurance, Now What?

Now that open enrollment is over, you have picked a plan, what is your next step?  Your next step is to use the plan you selected! Make sure you take full advantage of your health care coverage.  

Getting A Checkup…

Getting a checkup is something you must schedule on your calendar every year!  A checkup helps to create a baseline or a range of normal that is specific to you and your overall health.  Our healthcare system is designed to offer preventive care.  Preventive care is a proactive approach to healthcare where you and your doctor work together to identify potential issues before they become major problems.  

Below is a list of preventative care that is covered for adults.  When you visit your doctor, it is a good idea to ask them to address these screenings during your visit.

  1. Abdominal aortic aneurysm one-time screening for men of specified ages who have ever smoked
  2. Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  3. Aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease for men and women of certain ages
  4. Blood pressure screening
  5. Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk
  6. Colorectal cancer screening for adults over 50
  7. Depression screening
  8. Diabetes (Type 2) screening for adults with high blood pressure
  9. Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
  10. Hepatitis B screening for people at high risk, including people from countries with 2% or more Hepatitis B prevalence, and U.S.-born people not vaccinated as infants and with at least one parent born in a region with 8% or more Hepatitis B prevalence.
  11. Hepatitis C screening for adults at increased risk, and one time for everyone born 1945 – 1965
  12. HIV screening for everyone ages 15 to 65, and other ages at increased risk
  13. Immunization vaccines for adults — doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:
  14. Lung cancer screening for adults 55 – 80 at high risk for lung cancer because they’re heavy smokers or have quit in the past 15 years
  15. Obesity screening and counseling
  16. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling for adults at higher risk
  17. Syphilis screening for adults at higher risk
  18. Tobacco Use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users

Please note that these services are free only when delivered by a doctor or other provider in your plan’s network.

Planning regular checkups and working together with your doctor is the best way to take proactive action when it comes to your health.

Do you have questions about your health plan and what it covers?  Schedule a FREE consultation with me by calling:  (813) 391-3448


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What is a Catastrophic Plan and are you Eligible?

When selecting health insurance during open enrollment, you may decide to select a “Catastrophic Plan.”  To do so, you must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for this type of plan.

Defining a Catastrophic Plan

Catastrophic health insurance plans have low monthly premiums and very high deductibles. They may be an affordable way to protect yourself from worst-case health scenarios, like getting seriously sick or injured.

Most routine medical expenses are paid by you if you elect this type of plan.

You are only eligible for this plan if:

You are under 30 OR you are of any age and you have a hardship exemption or affordability exemption. These exemptions are based on Marketplace or job-based insurance is unaffordable.

What’s Covered?

  • Catastrophic plans cover the same essential health benefits as other Marketplace plans.
  • Catastrophic plans cover certain preventive services at no cost.
  • Catastrophic plans cover at least 3 primary care visits per year before you’ve met your deductible.

How much do they cost?

  • Monthly premiums for this type of plan are usually low,
  • Deductibles:  Deductibles are the amount you have to pay on your own for most services before the plan starts to pay anything.  These can be very high for this type of plan.  For example, the deductible for this plan during 2017, for all Catastrophic plans is $7,150. After you spend that amount, your insurance company pays for all covered services, with no copayment or coinsurance.

This can be very confusing and it may be difficult to make the best choice for you and your family.  The good news is, I am here to help!  Let me help guide you through the open enrollment process this year so that you can make an informed decision.

Schedule your FREE consultation by calling:  (813) 391-3448