June 2018 Newsletter

Spotlight for June

In light of Brain Injury Awareness month we are spotlighting someone who has beat her odds and surprised her doctors in how far she has come. 

Michelle Bartlett was working successfully in the insurance world and on her way to obtain her Fellow Life Management Institute (FLMI) designation when her life took a complete turn. She had a virus that attacked her heart causing damage to it. Shortly after this, she and her husband decided it was the right time to have children. In order for them to do this safely, her doctors told her she would need to have open heart surgery to repair one valve and replace another one that had been damaged from the virus. The surgery went well, however, 2 days later is when her life had completely changed. 

For reasons they were never able to explain, her heart stopped, causing anoxia, which is loss of oxygen to her brain. It took them a great amount of time to stabilize her and she slipped into a coma. Michelle remained in a coma for 10-12 days and the doctors decided it was time to send her to palliative care. Her family had lost hope and thought they would be planning her funeral until a friend of hers got a response from her as she was brushing her hair. 

She slowly came out of the coma. When she did she had to be put into a neurological unit and rehab to re-learn how to do everything. The few minutes her brain had lost oxygen caused severe damage to her brain. Michelle said ‘At age 36, I was like a baby. I couldn’t eat, talk or walk. Everything had to be re-learned.’ 

The Next Chapter

After several weeks of rehabilitation Michelle was able to return home. Intense speech, physical and occupational therapy was required.  It took well over a year for her to regain her new normalcy. Her memory, left side of her body and eye sight were affected. According to Michelle, ‘Having a traumatic brain injury requires your brain to cognitively take everything step by step. Things such as: walk to the car, press the button to unlock the door, get in car, now put the key in the ignition and so on. The automatic switch doesn’t happen anymore.’

This makes your brain work much harder than someone who hasn’t had a brain injury. It requires more time for them to do things we would normally take for granted and causes a lot of fatigue. Per Michelle, ’Think of your brain as a battery. A normal person is able to continually recharge theirs throughout the day. Someone with a brain injury has no battery recharge.’ This makes her day harder and limited in what she can do. 

Michelle has come further than any medical professional ever expected. They all thought she would be in a nursing home. She now volunteers and advocates for the Brain Injury Association of Canada, a peer support group for people recovering from a brain injury. This group was started by Cecile Proctor, who has also been affected by traumatic brain injury when her mother was involved in a car accident.

Cecile’s mother had her accident in 2008. She found that individuals with traumatic brain injuries need more mental health resources. Per Cecile ‘A lot of people fall in the middle. They don’t qualify for inpatient services but they can’t work either’. Michelle agreed indicating ‘I was left with a lot of deficits but when you look at me, you don’t see it. You only get services if there is a physical disability, not a cognitive one’. 

Awareness

Per Cecile ‘People with traumatic brain injuries still have something to give’. She has focused on bringing new outlets such as art to help them express themselves.  But more services are needed, especially in New Brunswick where Cecile and Michelle reside. 

According to Brain Injury Canada, a brain injury is the number one cause of death and disability worldwide among children, youth and individuals under the age of 44. Over 1MM Canadians suffer the effects of traumatic brain injury. (1) About 50% of all brain injuries are from falls or car accidents Nationwide. (2). If you would like to learn more about this support organization or how you can help, please contact Cecile: biacnb@icloud.com.

(1) Brain Injury Canada: https://www.braininjurycanada.ca
(2) Brain Injury Canada: https://www.braininjurycanada.ca/acquired-brain-injury/ 

 

Statistics On Traumatic Brain Injury: Including The Work Place

 

Brain injury has been reported to be one of the most dangerous injuries you can suffer. In Canada, it’s more common than spinal cord injury, breast cancer, and HIV/AIDS. The occurrence rate is higher than all of those combined. 

At least 165,000 serious brain injuries have been reported each year in Canada. That’s 452 people per day, and 1 person every 3 minutes. 

The leading cause of death or disability for Canadians under the age of 40 is a brain injury. This is especially true for those who are involved in physical sports or rigorous activities. 

The leading causes of brain injury in Canada are as follows: 

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Injuries in the workplace
  • Sports, activities, or physical altercations/assault 
  • Medical conditions 
  • Poison or toxins

By 2020, it’s estimated that traumatic brain injury is going to be one of the leading causes of death and disability 

Many people who experience serious traumatic brain injuries aren’t able to return to full- time employment. In Ontario alone, 92% of men and 100% of women suffering from a brain injury never return to full time work. 

According to the Northern Brain Injury Association, ‘The horrifying reality is that 90% of all of those injuries would never have happened to begin with, if we had simply invested money into education and prevention’.  

They state the only known cure for brain injury is prevention. Even a minor brain injury, like a mild concussion, can lead to recurring issues. This can turn into more serious issues if it doesn’t go away on its own. 

For employers, educating yourself and your employees is key. Know what can cause a brain injury, what the symptoms are and get treated immediately. 

http://nbia.ca/brain-injury-statistics/ 

http://www.bist.ca/facts-about-abi/ 

 

Health Benefits To The Approaching Summer

 

We can feel the sun on our face and it brings excitement and joy every time we realize that summer is almost here.  It is by far my favorite season.  Being able to shed winter layers for flip flops and shorts is what I look forward to every single year.  Some of the great things about summer are of the many but high on that list are the health benefits it offers.  Below we have shared some of those:

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – Doesn’t it seem like we associate winter with heavy, comfort food?  But when summer approaches and we start to shed the extra layers, heavy meals suddenly don’t seem as appetizing but the colorful fruits and vegetables do. That is because the summer heat drives our hunger down as our bodies do not need to expend as much energy to keep us warm.  It tells our minds we only need something lighter to sustain us.  

Fruits and vegetable look so much more vibrant in the summer.  I am more apt to grab a piece of fruit as a snack now than I would in the winter based on esthetics alone.  It’s also time for the local Farmer’s Market’s to open back up with vendors presenting their organic, wholesome, fresh food.  While some are open during the winter, the summer months present more excitement and color.

More Opportunities for Exercise – There is nothing worse than sitting behind a desk and staring outside to the beautiful sun shinning, envious of those out there enjoying it.  The sluggish feeling of winter fades and we are suddenly energized making us more productive, even at work.  This also affects the way we exercise.  

People naturally want to be outside.  Summer gives us more options on how and where to exercise.   Not everyone is a gym rat.  That can seem like a daunting, monotonous task but summer opens doors to activities that people love to do.  Things like gardening, mowing the lawn, hiking/walking, riding a bike, playing a game or sport with our children/grandchildren or swimming.  And what happens when you are in the sun and exercise or work outside?  You sweat!  Sweating detoxifies your body, which is another excellent health benefit. 

More Vitamin D – Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in our body for optimal health.  It strengthens our immune system, can play a role in cancer prevention, strengthens our bones, speeds up metabolism and improves the overall emotional health.  The easiest way to get a significant amount of Vitamin D is through the sun.  We are meant to get 80% there and only 20% through diet. 

 When exposed to the sun, our Vitamin D is replenished and stored.  

Over the years, with more awareness of the dangers of too much sun, we have been taught to block the rays out with sun screen.  People are also working more hours keeping them indoors and shielded them from the rays.  Due to this, many now suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency.  

Having a Vitamin D deficiency can cause you to have bone pain, muscle cramps, stooped posture, loss in height and weakness and tingling.  During the summer months it is easier to store up on your Vitamin D.  After coming off Melanoma Awareness Month we wouldn’t suggest you to disregard the yields to applying sun screen, but newer research has shown that exposing your body to a little bit of sunshine can actually be good for you.

Overall Feel Good Attitude – Have you ever wondered why you instantly feel good when you see the sun? That is because it boosts your level of serotonin, which is the body’s natural happy hormone. 

  Summer time offers us longer days and more opportunity for the sun to shine.  Having the extra daylight gives us more time to be outside and possibly get outdoor exercise in.  This can produce the happy endorphins more so than if you exercised indoors.  Regular sun has also been known to halt moderate depression.  There are individuals that have an illness called Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), which is normally present during the fall and winter months.  Once summer arrives, it magically disappears.

Vacation! – Nothing rejuvenates your spirit and mental health like a vacation.  Taking a vacation, whether it’s a quick 3-4 day weekend get-away or a week off, can be beneficial to your overall well-being.  Summer presents more time for people to take time off work and spend it with their families.  Studies have shown over and over that stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.  Making the time to take a vacation not only gives you a break from the normal stressors of daily life but it can strengthen your relationships by spending quality time together.  

Summer is often a short lived season in Canada.  Make the most of it by watching less TV, putting the devices down and getting outside to explore all of the wonderful things available to us. A little bit of sunshine can go a long way!

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

 

 

5 BS facts about medical tourism that people think are true

Medical travel can be rewarding and complicated at the same time. On one hand, you can get treated and feel better faster, on the other, you have to manage all the logistics and risks. Below are the untrue medical tourism facts and why they are such. You can make an informed decision about your health.

I have to fly across the globe to get a surgery

This one is really your choice. You can fly across the globe – let’s say from Canada to India if that is what you find to be the best possible care at the best possible price for you. However, we advise doing a thorough research of the procedure.  While it is true that some countries far away excel at a certain surgery, you will most likely find a similar, if not lower price within 4h flight from you. In fact, many Canadians can drive to a facility to receive private health care. Hiring a medical facilitator will pay off if you chose an agency with transparent pricing policy to do the job for you.

My doctor will be mad at me for going someplace else

According to our experience, it is highly unlikely. Most, if not all, Canadian doctors are aware of the waitlist situation and are sympathetic. In fact, Canadian physicians are encouraged to take steps to minimize the risks that medical tourism may present. The guidelines to follow from Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) are as follows:

  • Physicians should respect patients’ autonomy in seeking out-of-country procedures and other decisions regarding their healthcare.
  • Where appropriate, physicians should try to address to the best of their ability and knowledge questions from patients who are considering care abroad. They can also help patients minimize health risks associated with travel to certain countries.
  • Doctors should keep the lines of communication with patients open. For example, you could ask them to provide information about the medical treatment abroad, including their foreign medical record, and ensure the transfer of records is complete.
  • Be mindful of the patient’s need for follow-up care upon returning to Canada, including emergent care. Physicians should consider the urgency of the treatment required and their ability to provide information and follow-up care to the best of their ability and within the limits of their clinical knowledge.

 

I will not get the same quality of care as I can at home

This could not be further from the truth. Many surgeons and doctors working abroad were trained in the U.S., and have returned to their home countries to provide care to both local populations and medical tourists. However, depending on where you are going, you may have to do more research.

The USA and Canada follow very similar medical school and training requirements.  They are in fact the only two countries where an MD from USA and Canada can establish practices in either country without undergoing a re-certification. It is a unique arrangement and speaks highly of both countries’ medical education.

If you venture beyond those two countries, you will have to do a bit more research. Ensure that you check the doctor’s education and certifications as well as hospital accreditations. We wrote a blog on how to select your medical doctor and facility and encourage you to read it to get a better understanding of what is involved.

 

I have no legal recourse if something goes wrong

Any civilized country will have a law when it comes to pursuing legal action against a medical facility or doctor if something goes wrong. You are probably only familiar with the law in your country. The medical malpractice law in a country states who makes the decision, how you will be compensated and who will be paying the legal costs. A couple of things to mention:

  • Litigation costs in the US are twice those in other countries. Half of US payments go to legal costs rather than compensating patients
  • Other than the US, few other countries allow cases to be decided by jurors. Most use judges or administrative procedures to determine liability.
  • Canada and the United Kingdom impose caps on pain and suffering awards.
  • Most European countries prohibit contingency fees. The United States uses contingency fees.
  • Canada, Europe and Australia all have loser-pays provisions in their medical malpractice systems. The US does not.
  • Sweden’s average award for 2004: $22,000. US median award for 2005: $400,000 with 21% of awards being more than $1 million.
  • Internists in Canada pay between $1800 and $3200 per year for malpractice insurance. Internists in Cook County and Madison County, Illinois pay more than $41,000 per year.

The discussion of various countries malpractice laws is beyond the scope of this short blog. However, we can say that there are resources available to you if you have the time and desire to learn more.

My personal medical information is not safe

Medical facilities must follow a medical and personal information law in their country.  The nations of the Western world have similar perspectives toward privacy rights. In the US, that is HIPAA, and it is a very strict law when it comes to your records. European Union’s (EU’s) Directive on Data Protection and Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) regulate patient records and other sensitive information. If you are unsure about the privacy laws in the country of your intended travel, ask your medical facilitator.

If you are curious about traveling abroad for a procedure or surgery reach out to us. We offer a complimentary 1h consultation. Toll free 1877 344 3544 or info@healthvantis.com

Turning 50? Read This!

Who said 50 is old? Probably some 18-year-old who has little idea of how fulfilling, peaceful and wonderful life can be after all the turmoil of younger age is over.  Below are some points to ponder if you have been thinking about your big birthday coming up. Turning 50 can be fun!

Life expectancy rise in Canada

In Canada, life expectancy has moved up by 24.6 years in 1921 to 81.7 years in 2011. Most of this move occurred before 1951 and is due to reduced death rates of ages-0-4 (the improvements in infant care and vaccinations). However, the second group that gained the most was ages 5-74 and is due to reductions in deaths from circulatory system diseases, such as heart disease.  If we look at the life expectancy in 1980 it was 75.4 years and in 2013 it was 81.9 years.  That is 5 years more to see the sunrise and hang out with the grandkids.

Switching Jobs and Turning 50?

Yes, it is happening! According to a University of Michigan Study “about 40% of Americans who were still working when they turned 62 had moved to a new occupation sometime after age 55. There are lower earnings associated with the switch.  Yet according to the researchers it “may reflect strategic decisions on the part of workers who may be willing to trade earnings for work hours flexibility or part-time work.” In other words, it may be the “work less and enjoy life more” attitude that drives people over 50 to have a real work-life balance!

In Canada, a 2012 TD Economics Observation reports that since the jobs recovery began in mid-2009, individuals aged 60 and over have accounted for about one-third of all net new job gains — a striking figure considering they represented just 8% of the workforce.

In fact, the TD study shows that this trend applies not only to people in the 60-65 age range but also to those over 70. Employment for these individuals has surged by 37% in the same period.

Starting your own business?

Many boomers are also leveraging their skills and experience to start their own businesses. A 2012 CIBC study found that individuals 50+ made up the fastest growing age group for start-ups in Canada, accounting for approximately 30% of the total number of start-ups in the country. Since 1990, the rate of entrepreneurs 50+ more than doubled, and the trend continues to rise.

For the USA, The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation reports that people ages 55 to 64 now represent 29% of America’s entrepreneurs.

Shifting attitudes towards age

Many people, especially women, are changing their attitude towards aging. What was considered middle age 20 years ago no longer feels right.  Women have children at and after age 40, and the idea of keeping youthful attitudes sticks. Women over 50 feel younger and often times share the same taste in clothes as teenagers. Tight jeans and converse sneakers are to name just a couple of multigenerational pieces. Julia Roberts was named the World’s Most Beautiful Woman in 2017 by People’s magazine, 26 years after she first made the list.

Gina Pell coined a term “perennial”. She defined it as “ever-blooming, curious people of ALL ages who know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology and have friends of all ages. Perennials have always understood that age is not a limiting factor.” We all have friends that are perennials. They are energetic, always ready to lend a hand and are optimistic and enthusiastic, without fear to voice their opinions. In other words, 30, 40, 50 or 65 – it is the attitude and curiosity that make the difference. Long gone are the days of river cruises and Rotary clubs. Women over 40 today take on tasks that are engaging, challenging and exciting, much like they did when they were in their 20-ies, but with a lot more experience and relationships to lean on.

How do you view yourself in years? Let us know, we would love to hear from you.

 

 

Fast and Successful Recovery After Surgery Abroad – Value of Physiotherapist

Physiotherapy can help you recover from surgery abroad faster

Fast recovery after surgery is something people undergoing surgery really wish for. If we can shorten the time it takes your body to heal we can get back to “normal” and live our lives in a more fulfilling manner. Physiotherapy can do that.

Physiotherapy is a primary health profession that is based on the use of therapeutic exercise to help either rehabilitate individuals back to health following injury, surgery or to prevent or slow the progression of a disease. We at Health Vantis are big advocates of physiotherapy as a vital tool in your post-op recovery.

Why Hire a Physiotherapist After Your Surgery Abroad

There are certainly lots of free resources available online that provide exercise programs or advice.  The biggest advantages to working with a physiotherapist are the expertise in the use of therapeutic exercise in regards to pathology and the peace of mind knowing you’re working with a regulated health profession. These days there are many “experts” that provide advice on exercise. It’s important that your exercises are chosen based on your given condition. A person may recommend an exercise that helped their low back pain to everyone that suffers from low back pain; however, the exercises that are prescribed for disk-related pain are very different than those for spinal stenosis. So what might help one person may hinder another.

A physiotherapist can help provide the expertise needed to guide patients through their individual recovery. Working with a physiotherapist also provides a level of peace of mind and security for patients as it is a regulated health profession.  It is held to strict standards by provincial colleges that exist to protect the public from substandard or unethical treatment.

Physiotherapy after Knee or Hip Replacement

Generally, the most difficult surgeries to recover from would be a brain, heart, or spinal surgery. These are very complex and often require long periods of rehabilitation and present a significant challenge in the rehabilitation process. However, if we look at surgeries that are more common, such as a total knee replacement or ACL repair, it can be quite challenging.

The knee is a joint that is heavily impacted by the structures surrounding it.  There is often a period of time prior to the surgery where a person experiences significant pain.  As a result they become weaker and less mobile. Then the rehabilitation after the surgery is complicated by the fact that the muscles are already weak to begin with and that individual may be in poorer overall health. From a physiotherapist’s perspective and experience, it’s important for patients to have realistic expectations about how they will feel after surgery. Many people may feel that once their surgery is complete they’ll be pain-free.   Often there’s quite some time before that is the case.  Be sure to discuss with your physiotherapist or health care team about appropriate pain management strategies.

Tips for Faster Recovery After Total Joint Replacement

Having realistic expectations following surgery is important. It will help you to keep a positive attitude and not to get too down or depressed if it feels like you aren’t progressing. Each day can be different but overall it’s important to think week to week instead of day-to-day. Today might feel worse than yesterday but usually today is better than last week.

Secondly, preparing for your post-surgery period of time is important. Considering things like who will look after you, can you drive, will you be able to be home alone, will you be able to use the washroom, can you make food, etc.  Preparing for these things can make the rehab process go much more smoothly and reduces stress.

Lastly, it is very important for someone that is preparing for surgery to try and get their muscles as strong as possible.  Staying as active as possible will make the rehabilitation process more successful. Swimming or biking can be great ways to perform exercise in non or reduced weight bearing positions if that is a problem.  This will allow for better strength and overall health. Individuals with successful outcomes following surgery are generally those that stick to their post-surgery exercise programs.

 

Information Credit: Stephen Richey, Physiotherapist, CBI Health, Bedford, NS

May 2018 Newsletter

Newsletter, May 2018

May Spotlight – Stephen Richey, PT

Hello everyone, we are here today to talk about the value and vital role of physiotherapy in a recovery after surgery. We at Health Vantis have high regards for the service. We are here today with a wonderful and very kind physiotherapist Stephen Richey. Stephen has been helping Canadians recover, get their mobility and life back for 9 years. He currently works with CBI Health group and is able to come to your home for therapy sessions.

Stephen, Could you tell us a little bit about your profession, how long have you been practicing and why you chose physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a primary health profession that is based on the use of therapeutic exercise to help either rehabilitate individuals back to health following injury, surgery, or to prevent or slow the progression of a disease. I graduated with my Masters of Science in Physiotherapy in 2009 and have been working ever since. I chose physiotherapy because when I was young I had a love of sports and always saw the value in an active lifestyle and the role it plays in overall health. So when I saw the opportunity to work in a profession that is based in exercise and active living I knew it was a good fit!!

What are the main advantages of working with a physiotherapist (as opposed to following exercise in an instructional video or hospital discharge documents)?

There are certainly lots of free resources available online that provide exercise programs or advice. The biggest advantages to working with a physiotherapist are: the expertise in the use of therapeutic exercise (in regards to pathology) and the peace of mind. The latter is due to the fact that you know you’re working with a regulated health professional.

These days there are many “experts” that provide advice on exercise but it’s important that your exercises are chosen based on your given condition. A person may recommend an exercise that helped their low back pain to everyone that suffers from low back pain. However, the exercises that are prescribed for disk-related pain are very different than those for spinal stenosis. So what might help one person may hinder another.

A physiotherapist can help provide the expertise needed to guide patients through their individual recovery. Working with a physiotherapist also provides a level of peace of mind and security for patients as we are a regulated health profession.  It is held to strict standards by our provincial colleges that exist to protect the public from substandard or unethical treatment

What are the toughest recovery surgeries and what are your experiences in helping people to feel better sooner?

Generally, the most difficult surgeries to recover from would be the brain, heart, or spinal surgery. These are very complex and often require long periods of rehabilitation, and present a significant challenge in the rehabilitation process.

However, if we look at surgeries that are more common such as a total knee replacement or ACL repair it can be quite challenging. The knee is a joint that is heavily impacted by the structures surrounding it. There is often a period of time prior to the surgery where a person experiences significant pain and as a result becomes weaker and less mobile. Then the rehabilitation after the surgery is complicated by the fact that the muscles are already weak to begin with and that individual may be in poorer overall health.  From my experience, it’s important for patients to have realistic expectations about how they will feel after surgery. Many people may feel that once their surgery is complete they’ll be pain-free but often there’s quite some time before that is the case. Be sure to discuss with your physiotherapist or health care team about appropriate pain management strategies.

Could you give us 3-5 recovery tips in helping those that are getting ready to go through a surgery?

Having realistic expectations following surgery is important. It will help you to keep a positive attitude and not to get too down or depressed if it feels like you aren’t progressing. Each day can be different but overall it’s important to think week to week instead of day to day. Today might feel worse than yesterday but usually, today is better than last week.

Secondly, preparing for your post-surgery period of time is important. Considering things like who will look after you, can you drive, will you be able to be home alone, will you be able to use the washroom, can you make food, etc. Preparing for these things can make the rehab process go much more smoothly and reduces stress.

Lastly,  it is very important for someone that is preparing for surgery to try and get their muscles as strong as possible and to stay as active as possible to make the rehabilitation process more successful. Utilizing things like swimming or biking can be great ways to perform exercise in a non or reduced weight bearing position if that is a problem, allowing for better strength and overall health. Individuals with successful outcomes following surgery are generally those that stick to their post-surgery exercise programs.

You do house visits – how can people find you? 

 If someone had questions regarding home visits in my area they can contact me at CBI Health Bedford at 902-423-6666 or directly via email at srichey@cbi.ca

You can watch the full interview HERE.

 

Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness month. We, unfortunately, have to report that incidence rates of melanoma have increased in both males – by 2.1%, and females – by 2% over the last decade(between 1992-2013).

2017 lifetime probability of developing melanoma: 1.8%

There are estimated to be 103,100 new cases of cancer in males in 2017. Of these, 3.9% are estimated to be melanoma. In 2016, there were estimated to be 102,900 new cases of cancer in MALES, 3.6% of these being melanoma. There are estimated to be 103,200 new cases of cancer in females in 2017. Of these, 3.2% are expected to be melanoma. In 2016, there were estimated to be 99,500 new cases of cancer in FEMALES, 3.1% of these being melanoma

Although skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it is also one of the most preventable forms of skin cancer. Each year in Canada over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed and more than 5,000 of those are melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma causes more than 900 deaths every year. Early diagnosis is the key to positive outcome as it can be cured if it is diagnosed and removed early.

Prevention and early detection are keys to avoiding and successfully treating melanoma.  Avoiding skin damage from UV rays is the most important thing we can do. The damage that leads to adult skin cancers starts in childhood and teenage years, as people are likely to receive about 80% of their lifetime sun exposure during the first 18 years of life.

No tan is a safe tan – according to Save Your Skin Foundation and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. If you are still visiting a tanning salon we strongly advise you to stop. You are basically paying for a potential of getting a deadly illness.

Who is at risk?

According to Canadian Dermatology Association, some people are more likely to develop melanoma.

Those who have:

  • Fair, sun-sensitive skin that burns rather than tans; freckles; red or blond hair
  • Many moles — more than 50.
  • Moles which are large or unusual in color or shape.
  • A close family history of melanoma or a personal history of melanoma.
  • Had excessive exposure to UV from the sun or sunbeds.
  • A history of severe sunburns.

The risk can be multiplied if you have several of these risk factors, for example, if you have unusual moles and a family history of melanoma.

What can you do to prevent skin cancer?

  • Put on sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection. Minimum of 30 SPF is needed if you are outdoors even on a gray day.
  • Stay in the shade when outdoors, especially between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is the brightest
  • Keep your kids out of the direct sunlight
  • If your skin is starting to redden, get out of the sun!
  • Wear protective clothing with long sleeves, hats and sunglasses
  • Wear protective clothing with long sleeves, hats and sunglasses
  • Check your body for changes in moles, new moles and see your doctor immediately if anything is suspicious
  • Do not use tanning beds

What can you do to detect suspicious skin spots?

Get to know your skin and be aware of any changes. Self-checkups for yourself and your loved ones are recommended once a month.  Below are the guidelines from Canadian Dermatology Association:

  • Using a mirror in a well-lit room, check the front of your body -face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs and lower legs.
  • Turn sideways, raise your arms and look carefully at the right and left sides of your body, including the underarm area.
  • With a hand-held mirror, check your upper back, neck and scalp. Next, examine your lower back, buttocks, backs of thighs and calves.
  • Examine your forearms, palms, back of the hands, fingernails and in between each finger.
  • Finally, check your feet – the tops, soles, toenails, toes and spaces in between.

What does melanoma look like?

Melanoma can develop in weeks or months, or take years. It can appear as a new mole or freckle-like spot on the skin, or develop in an existing mole. Melanomas are usually dark in color – browns and blacks, although some show a mixture of colors, including blue, grey and red.

The most common location for melanoma in men is on the back and, in women, the leg. It can also appear on the arm, scalp or face. While less common in darker-skinned people, melanoma can appear on the soles of the feet, toenails and palms of the hands.

The ABCDE of melanoma will help you to detect this disease. Look for these features:

Asymmetry – The shape on one side is different from that on the other side

Border – The border or visible edge is irregular, ragged and imprecise

Color – There is a color variation, with brown, black, red, grey or white within the lesion

Diameter – Growth is typical of melanoma. It can measure more than 6 mm, although it can be less

Evolution – Look for a change in color, size, shape or symptom, such as itching, tenderness or bleeding

One last thing to mention: you can get melanoma in your fingernail. It is pretty rare but would show up in the form of a dark line.

 

May 13th is Mother’s Day!

Wishing all of you mothers out there a fabulous day filled with joy and happiness. It is not easy to be a mother, and we as women put our kids first and sometimes forget that we need to stay on top of our health and wellness. We are listing a general guideline to examinations and testing. Please visit your doctor to have a more detailed conversation on what your health needs may be.

The recommendations below are for healthy adults. If you have risk factors or a chronic disease, you may need different tests or you may need a test more often. Ask your doctor what schedule is right for you, but here are conditions many people should be screened for:

  • High blood pressure – start at age 18
  • Cervical cancer – PAP smear at age 25 (at age 21 in the US!)
  • Cholesterol – start at age 40. If you have risk factors start earlier
  • Diabetes – at age 40
  • Breast cancer – at age 50, although if risk factors are present start at 40
  • Colon cancer – both men and women, at age 50
  • Osteoporosis (weakened bones) – all women, at age 65
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (enlarged blood vessel) – at 65, one-time ultrasound test

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at info@healthvantis.com or call toll-free 877 344 3544.

Medical Travel and Comfort, 4 Tips To Create Yours !

Comfort for medical travel is one of the small but quite important things. Traveling for medical reasons can be filled with stress and anxiety. This puts you in a place where you do not want to be for your recovery after the procedure. We have talked about the impact of stress on the recovery in one of our blogs and there are ways to manage it. Traveling to get a surgery is not the same as traveling for pleasure.  How do you adjust and make it easier on yourself? Below are the points we make to our clients to help them make the best out of their medical journey.

Establish trust in your doctor and facility

Crucial to your overall sanity, the trust you build during the preparation and research stage of your medical journey can help alleviate a large portion of your nervousness and anxiety.  If you can talk to your doctor, voice your concerns, have many questions answered before you go, you are doing the right thing. We advise that you chose a doctor that feels like a friend, less like an outsider.

To do that, establish clear and available lines of communication with the facility. Ask them about the best way to get to know your doctor. We all know doctors are a busy bunch, but it is reasonable to ask for a video session or a phone call. Prior to the conversation do your homework so that your time is spent on you asking relevant and important questions: Read up on the doctors reviews (although do remember it is an open wide web, and sometimes things get out of control and may not necessarily reflect the reality), verify their Board Certification, write down the questions you have and don’t forget to ask about the number of surgeries performed, success, complications and infection rates for your particular procedure.

As for the facility, ensure they are located in a safe place of town; ask them about accommodations nearby and the transportation to the hospital as well as their infection and re-admission rates. If this is a surgical facility ask the question of what hospital they use in case of emergencies.

Get complications insurance

Complications happen to the best of the hospitals and doctors. Protect yourself from incurring the cost of treating a complication with insurance. Please note it is NOT the same as the regular travel insurance.   That only protects you from new and emergency conditions, and doesn’t cover anything pre-existing.

Bring some comforting things from your home with you

If you have a favorite candle, book, or anything else that you find comforting – a pillow, a blanket, a card from your kids or grandkids take it with you and set it up in your hotel room where you will be recovering. Another great stress reliever is music. Many music streaming services are available nowadays and you can create a favorite relaxing mix.

Stay Connected

Ensure that you have access to your family and friends via phone, video or email.  Even if you have a companion with you, a conversation with a friend before or after the surgery may help you talk through your anxiety.  It can also provide comfort as another opinion or insight.

If you have any questions or would like to tell us how you created comfort during your medical travel experience, please comment below or get in touch by email info@healthvantis.com or toll-free 877 344 3544.

Avoid Running Injuries – Yes, Stretch!

 

May is the perfect month to get some outside running under your belt. Multiple health benefits of running have been established. However, runners are prone to injury. Common running injuries vary in intensity and severity from blisters to iliotibial band syndrome and may include the following:

  • pulled muscles
  • chafing
  • runner’s knee
  • ankle sprain
  • patellar tendinitis
  • shin splints
  • plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendinitis.

If you are training for a marathon or just casually running in your neighborhood keep these tips in mind as you go through your training

Stretch to avoid running injuries

Some of you may think – “thank you captain obvious”, but in practice, stretching can be daunting for a runner as it is slow and unpleasant. However, never rush through this hugely important step.  Spend about 10 min slowly stretching your calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads after each run. Hold stretches for 30 to 90 seconds.

Hydrate and eat a well-balanced diet

Ensure you are well hydrated by drinking 16-20 oz of fluids 2 hours prior to training and another 8-10 oz after. The best foods every runner should include in his or her meal plan are bananas, oats, peanut butter, potatoes, broccoli, whole grain pasta, yogurt and dark chocolate.

Include strength training in your running program

Strength training helps bones, ligaments and muscles endure the grunt of running. It improves your overall athleticism and reduces muscle fatigue that leads to poor performance and injuries. Runners will benefit from a program of 2-3 strength training sessions per week. Make sure to include the exercises that train your lower body, upper body and core.

Increase your distance gradually

Give your body a chance to prepare gradually to handle the workout stress of running.  Slowly build up the amount of training and intensity. It should be a staircase progression in volume and intensity, with periods of reduced volume and intensity at certain times during your training.

Invest in a good pair of running shoes

Find a good local running shop and have them analyze your running style. A good running shop specialist will be able to help select a pair for your particular foot type and style of running. Use orthotic inserts if you need a correction specific to your foot structure.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com