Piedmont Athens hospital offers new procedure for carotid artery disease

Over 30% of strokes in the United States each year are caused by untreated carotid artery disease, which occurs when plaque builds up in the two main arteries between the neck and the brain. It’s diagnosed annually in over 400,000 patients but some are considered too high risk for treatment by carotid artery surgery. Now there is another option. Piedmont Athens is the first hospital here to offer the TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) procedure. TCAR is a minimally invasive, clinically proven procedure that provides a safer alternative to surgery. The procedure temporarily reverses the blood flow in the arteries which allows plaque to safely disperse away from the brain. In order to decrease the likelihood of a stroke, a stent is also placed inside the artery. 

Medicare Advantage Plans Expanding in 2020

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are private insurance plans offered as an alternative to the original Medicare. These one-stop plans tend to cover hearing, vision, dental, prescription drugs, and other services that Medicare doesn’t usually cover. Recently, MA plans expanded to provide coverage for home modifications like wheelchair ramps and shower grips. In 2020, those plans will continue to expand, covering supplemental benefits such as home meal deliveries, transportation options, and even house-cleaning in some situations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) explains that these new benefits “have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” in the lives of those enrolled. Taking benefits beyond medical services allows the CMS to better assist those with chronic diseases.

Parkinson’s support 

Those individuals and their families impacted by Parkinson’s Disease now have various outlets for support. On the first Friday of each month, there’s a group that meets at the UGA Presbyterian Student Center, 1250 S. Lumpkin at 1 p.m. For more information, contact Gayle Noblet at gpnoblet@bellsouth.net. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. there’s a Parkinson’s specific boxing class at Keppner Boxing, 1550 Lexington Rd. And last year, a closed Facebook page for women with Parkinson’s was created by Wendy Paulsen. Just Like You – PD Women has around 30 women who participate. For more information, wendy.paulsen@gmail.com. 

The Dangers of Ultra-Processed Foods

A recent study by JAMA Internal Medicine links diets made up of a high percentage of ultra-processed foods to a high risk for early death. Any food that is “ready-to-eat” or microwaveable is considered an ultra-processed food, including chicken nuggets, candy, sodas, and even bread. Not only are these foods low in nutrients, they have high levels of salt, sugar, and saturated fat, which contribute to  chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

Researchers recommend limiting your intake of these unhealthy foods, as well as scanning food labels while shopping to avoid products with too many food additives.

Just a water, please – I want to lose weight

Recent studies have found even more evidence that drinking more water not only improves a person’s health, but it can also help them to lose weight. A survey conducted by the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that those who drink more water daily tend to consume fewer sweetened beverages, and have lower intakes of sugar, fat, and cholesterol. The smallest change in habit can have significant health impacts: the researchers discovered that drinking an additional 1-3 cups of water each day resulted in a decrease of consumed calories.

The 4 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor

AARP Magazine lists four questions you may want to ask at your next doctor’s visit.

  1. Ask to Hear It Again

Don’t be ashamed of asking your doctor to repeat themselves when explaining your treatment. Ask your doctor to walk you through something as many times as you need to fully understand it. Make sure that you are comfortable with all the important information, especially when it comes to new prescription dosages or side effects. 

  1. See it in Writing

Ask your doctor to provide you with some written material about your diagnosis. Whether it’s a stack of pamphlets or a list of websites, it will help to have that information accessible whenever you need it. You should also ask if there is a secure patient portal you can use to confidentially ask questions from home.

  1. Request to Speak One-on-One

Don’t be afraid to ask for a moment alone with your doctor. It’s often a good idea to ask for some privacy when asking questions, especially when discussing a tough, personal, or awkward topic.

  1. Be Honest

If your doctor recommends a treatment plan you know you won’t be able to follow, let them know right away so that they can propose an alternative option. It’s always in your best interest to be honest with both yourself and your healthcare provider about what you can and can’t do, rather than receiving a treatment plan that ultimately won’t be beneficial. 

How to Put Your Best Foot Forward

Foot and ankle problems are not life-threatening, but they are a threat to lifestyle. According to AARP, about 24% of people older than 45 have foot pain, and by age 70, that percentage is somewhere around 50%. While foot pain is a normal part of aging, it is also a frequent trigger of musculoskeletal issues like knee, hip, and back pain, and can even contribute to loss of mobility. There are a variety of contributors to foot-related issues: nerve sensitivity in the feet declines with age, making those 70 or older twice as susceptible to falling. Blood flow also decreases with age, which will make any preexisting problem even worse. Those who are active often begin to suffer from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions, or other muscle or skeletal issues. Even a lack of hygiene can lead to athlete’s foot, fungus, nail trauma, all of which will exaggerate any other problems someone is having with their feet. 

But there are solutions. First, make sure your shoes fit; shoe size increases with age due to the collapse of ligaments and tendons. Be active and get on your feet. Walk around barefoot in your home and engage in barefoot exercises such as yoga. Finally, rolling your foot across a golf ball for five minutes a day will improve both your stability and your mobility. When in doubt, however, be sure to see a podiatrist: foot pain can sometimes be the result of hip or knee issues.  

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