Take Your Medicine Americans Week on October, 2017: Has Preventative Medicine for Women Declined?

Take Your Medicine Americans Week 2017. Here's What 240 Million Americans Will Have To Start Doing Next ... 240 million Americans will

Has Preventative Medicine for Women Declined?

Guidelines for some of the most important tools in preventative medicine have changed considerably in the past few months. In fact both mammograms and PAP smear guidelines were changed within a week of each other. New guidelines suggest using them less than before. Understanding the changes is important for you in terms of taking care of your health and your medical insurance.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPTF) is the group making the recommendations regarding the guidelines for mammograms. They are based on studies and scientific proof. These new basis are only for healthy individuals who are not considered high risk for breast cancer.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AGOG) is the one which has made the recommendation for less frequent PAP smears. The group is made up of specialized OB/GYNs who are chosen by their peers.

Breast Cancer Screening Changes

The 2002 recommendations for breast cancer screening was a mammogram every 1-2 years for every woman over the age of 40. The USPTF has been stating since 2002 that there is not enough evidence to recommend self exams or in office breast exams by physicians.

The 2009 recommendations include mammograms every 1-2 years for women aged 50 to 75. The recommendations for self exams and doctor exams have not changed. Multiple studies have shown no measurable benefit in terms of survival rates for those who did such exams and those who did not.

More Information

What over-the-counter medicines are good for lowering high blood pressure?

What over-the-counter medicines are good for lowering high blood pressure?

If you haven't already done this, it's also a good idea to talk with your doctor about all of the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take. Some, including common pain relievers and decongestants, can elevate blood pressure.

Research studies have shown that the following strategies can lead to modest but lasting decreases in blood pressure. The payoff is big: Healthy blood pressure reduces your risk of stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.

1. Exercise regularly. Exercise is powerful medicine. Walking briskly for 30 minutes to 45 minutes, five or six days a week, can lower your blood pressure up to 10 points. We recommend combining an aerobic activity that you enjoy – such as walking, swimming, running or biking – with some type of resistance exercise, such as lifting light weights.

During aerobic exercise, work hard enough to break into a sweat, but not so hard that you become out of breath or unable to converse. If you are just getting in shape, start with 20 minutes of aerobic activity, three times a week. Gradually build to 60 minutes daily. Talk with your physician for advice specific to your needs.

For strength training, use light weights and do multiple repetitions. Your muscles should tire after 10 to 15 reps.

Physical activity yields a two-fer benefit for your blood pressure: Exercise is great for arterial health, and it builds muscle and burns stored fat to keep you at an ideal weight.

2. If you are overweight, lose weight. Excess weight raises blood pressure. You can lose pounds, if you need to, by cutting calories, increasing physical activity and eating proper foods.

3. Eat a healthy diet. Food is another powerful medicine. Whether you need to lose weight or not, eating well can improve your blood pressure. That means eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils (such as olive and canola), foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, walnuts and flaxseed, for example) and two or three servings daily of low-fat or nonfat dairy products. It also means avoiding saturated and trans fats.

Researchers studying the effects of diet on high blood pressure created the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet. This also is a good diet to help with losing weight. Providence’s medical library offers several tips for following the DASH diet.

4. Limit your salt usage. A sudden jump in blood pressure may be a sign of salt-sensitive hypertension. Overall, about half of Americans with high blood pressure are sodium sensitive; it's particularly common in African-Americans and those over age 65. Cutting the salt in your diet can result in anything from a small to a dramatic improvement in high blood pressure, depending on your level of salt sensitivity.

Keep sodium intake under 2,000 to 2,500 mg daily (one teaspoon of salt is about 2,300 mg). That's far below the 3,300 mg per day that’s typical in the American diet. Count the salt you shake as well as the salt in restaurant meals and processed foods. You'll want to quiz the server, read package labels and emphasize natural, whole foods.

5. Drink alcohol moderately, if at all. Although moderate alcohol consumption does not reduce the risk of high blood pressure, it is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines “moderate” consumption as an average of no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Drinking more than a moderate amount increases the risk of high blood pressure.

Some other good moves

Some studies suggest that calcium and potassium supplements lower blood pressure. Because the scientific data are mixed, we can't recommend a dosage or confidently say that calcium and potassium will reduce blood pressure.

For some people, 500 mg of vitamin C and 400 to 800 mg of magnesium oxide are helpful.

Chocolate lovers can celebrate this finding: About an ounce a day of seriously dark chocolate – that’s chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70 percent – tends to improve blood pressure.

Breathing techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can relax the blood vessel walls and reduce blood pressure, too.

After you've worked on these lifestyle modifications for three or four weeks, ask your health care provider to recheck your blood pressure. Most people can expect to see clear, sustainable improvement.

An aside: We don't much like taking medications, either. But if you end up needing blood pressure medicine to achieve a healthy blood pressure, don't be discouraged. The medicines are effective and safe, and they present only mild side effects, if any. Studies comparing older and newer blood pressure medicines found that one of the oldest and cheapest classes of drugs (the thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone) was as good as, or better than, the newer, more expensive ones.

The numbers

It's great that your high blood pressure was diagnosed and that you want to act on it. About a third of Americans with high blood pressure do not even know they have it, and even among those who have been diagnosed, hypertension often remains uncontrolled. Yet it is a serious and very treatable illness.

Two years ago, the federal government revised its high blood pressure guidelines after research showed that even slightly elevated blood pressure starts damaging the arteries and increasing the risk of a heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. The new guidelines specify the blood pressure numbers that indicate when a person is considered “hypertensive,” as well as a new category for "prehypertensive" people who are at risk for developing high blood pressure. The new category is a red flag to spur Americans to make the kinds of lifestyle changes that you are interested in. The idea is to prevent the upward creep of blood pressure that tends to happen with age.

Is Japanese medicine more sophisticated than American medicine?

Is Japanese medicine more sophisticated than American medicine?

In what regards? Simple colds and over the counter medicine? Critical diagnosis and surgery? Maternity care? Emergency rooms?

I've only done basic care in Japan and America so cannot compare all levels of health care. Plus, insurance is a factor. If your job doesn't provide insurance, there is affordable national health care in Japan so there's no excuse not to see a physician. We would go for the common cold instead of getting over the counter medicine. (The meds we got felt as weak as American OTC cold stuff.) For OTC medicine though I must note that they sell a gargle for sore throats which does miracles unlike American OTC cold medicines. I've had more advanced stuff in Japan than in America but it was still low level stuff, such as blood work and Asthma care. All seemed fine, not particularly sophisticated, it just worked. Maternity care is generally 1 week in the hospital compared to American overnight or same day drop and release. Thankfully I've never had to go to the emergency room but all cold visits in Japan were not scheduled, we just showed up.

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