Dangers in Medical Travel

Dangers in Medical Travel

In the past few months you might have seen an increase in articles in the media warning about the dangers of Medical Travel to Mexico or Dominican Republic /or against traveling to Mexico or Dominican Republic for medical reasons.  This includes a recent warning from the CDC not to have surgery in a specific region and hospital in Mexico and Dominican Republic.  While there is a cause for concern, the results can be different, if you select a facility based on knowing what to watch out for.   There can be dangers in Medical Travel but if you ask the right questions and verify the given information, those can be avoided.

Dangers To Avoid

  • The facility does not have a US, Canadian or JCI Accreditation 
  • You cannot verify the surgeons credentials and what they are certified to perform in, that they are up to date and what their actual training was in
  • The facility doesn’t publish their infection rate
  • There is no procedure in place if there is an emergency or something goes wrong during the operation 

But It’s Cheaper

While cost is important it should not be your deciding factor.  Many people think, it’s just breast implants or a simple hernia surgery.  They do these every day.  What could go wrong?  If the right standards are not met, A LOT!  Sometimes you get what you pay for and your health should not be compromised to save a few dollars.  

Having a safe, successful surgery should be your number 1 priority.  That can be achieved if you gather all the facts.  This can be incredibly time consuming but well worth the effort.  Hiring a Medical Facilitator that does all of this for you will ensure no detail or question is left unanswered.  It also gives you a guide through the entire process.  If you are in need of such knowledge and expertise, contact Health Vantis today!  

Health Vantis




Private Bunion Removal Surgery

Bunion is a bony deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. The deformity could be due to wearing uncomfortable shoes that are too small or too tight, genetic pre-disposition, or because of the arthritis.  Bunions can be very painful, making walking an unpleasant experience. Your doctor may recommend wearing comfortable, or orthotic shoes, or using splints to correct the positioning of the big toe. If that doesn’t help, surgery may be considered to correct the issue.

The type of surgery will depend on the severity of the deformity. Your doctor will request an Xray of your foot to help diagnose the condition. Many types of surgical procedures exist when it comes to removing the bunion. The type of recommended surgery will depend on the current size of bunion and how it developed.

The wait times for bunion surgery vary depending on the province you reside in. In Nova Scotia, it will take about 466 days to get in for a consult with a surgeon and then additional 359 days to wait for surgery – close to 2.5 years altogether. In Alberta, wait times for foot and ankle surgery are not much better, with most people getting surgery within 46.8 weeks or 327 days.  The wait time to see a specialist is not published.

Health Vantis works with private medical facilities that can accommodate bunionectomy within 2 weeks. The pricing starts at USD $4125. It is a day surgery and does not require overnight stay in a hospital. If you or your loved one are interested in finding out more about private bunion removal surgery, please give us a call toll free at 1 877 344 3544.

Private MRI and Private CT Scan

Private MRI and Private CT Scan Clinics in Canada

Private MRI and private CT Scan clinics in Canada have long been a source for debate.  It is a concept many Canadians are opposed to because the provincial health plans cover the cost should you need one.  The downside to this is the unbelievably long wait list to get one.

What is an acceptable amount of time to wait to have a MRI?  That is all relative to your situation.  If your wait time is causing you intolerable pain, stressors over a potential diagnosis, time off work or your aliment is keeping you from day to day living, considering a private MRI or private CT Scan is a viable option and most likely a good investment.  You will have answers quicker and speed up your wait time in getting to a specialist should your results require one.

Let Health Vantis find a private MRI or private CT Scan clinic closest to you!

Health Vantis




End Of the Year – Top 5 Things To Do Right Now!

It is hard to believe, but the end of the 2018 year is just a month away. Thinking about what to do before its over? Here are our top 5 suggestions to make you a happier and, therefore, healthier person!

Check your spending on supplemental health insurance and health spending account

There may be some physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist money left. Make an appointment to tend to your sore muscles or unaligned bones. Another good one to check is your vision program. Yearly eye exams and a pair of glasses or contacts are usually covered to a certain amount.

Plan a trip!

According to this study planning and anticipating a trip actually bring your happiness levels up. We live in a climate where winters are real, and sometimes just thinking about a nice beach and picturing yourself getting some warm sun gives us the strength to deal with snowstorms and freezing temperatures.

Make time to connect with those that have supported you and made you feel special

Even though we all get so busy before and during the holidays, a morning coffee or a special phone call matter to those that care about you. If you moved around a lot on your life, use Skype to connect and see your friends faces and smiles! It will keep both of you engaged and looking forward to the future – something we sometimes forget to think about when we are facing everyday routines. After all the holiday hustle and bustle is gone you will have something real to lean n – friends and family, your true fans!


Giving up your time for a bigger cause can be very rewarding. You can step outside your usual routine, meet new people and be part of a new organization or simply help your child’s school serve pizza or make classroom materials. Whatever the cause is, stay committed, even if it is an hour a month. Your valuable time contribution can change a person’s life for the better– how great is that?

Celebrate you

Feeling that you do not have time for yourself? Forgot when you were able to relax and stay in bed for an extra hour or took a nice mid-afternoon nap? Do it! Schedule the time in your calendar and treat yourself to the luxury of sleep, pampering or whatever else you have been thinking of these past 6 months. In order to do this successfully a little planning is needed. Your to do list needs to be taken care of and the rest is able to wait till you come out of your You-zone without feeling guilty of taking some time to yourself.


World Mental Health Day Oct 10, 2018

Today is World Mental Health Day.  Worldwide statistics say that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children experience mental health issues.  In Canada, 1 out of 5 Canadians experience mental health challenges.  One in 5 of those are children, 1 in 10 will have chronic issues, however, only 1 in 3 will actually seek out treatment.

Mental health problems make up 70% of disability costs in the workplace.  According to the Mental Health Commission, this can cost the Canadian economy upwards of $50 billion dollars. Many companies do not provide access to mental health services and create an unapproachable environment to discuss mental health.  This can lead to absenteeism, lack of productivity and high costs for the employer.

Mental health has been a squeaky wheel within the health care system in Canada for a long time.  Under the current guidelines for mental health, many services do not meet the eligibility requirement of what is deemed ‘medically necessary’ creating a gap.  Most psychological services must be paid for out of pocket by the patient, leaving something critical for well-being untreated.    When the burden of cost is left up to the individual, it’s easy to see why their mental health gets shoved aside.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a vow to provide more support with regards to de-stigmatization and increased public spending for mental health but this will be a long and slow process.

How To Have Access To Affordable Treatment

  • Have your General Practitioner treat you or ask them to refer you to a Psychiatrist.  This should be covered by your Provincial Health Care.
  • Ask your employer if there is an employee assistance program. Find out if there are counseling services available to you or if they cover additional costs included with your benefits.
  • Look for mental health organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, and Schizophrenia Society of Ontario.  Services like this can direct people to the right place for treatment.
  • Try the Beacon app.

For Children

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only national helpline for young people between the ages of 5 and 20. It offers:

  • 24-Hour confidential and anonymous support.
  • Professional counsellors and counseling options.
  • Online resources that provide tips and advice on the challenges that young people face.

Call 1-800-668-6868 to speak with Kids Help Phone. You can download the Always There app.

This information is provided by the Government of Canada.

If you are experiencing feelings of hurting yourself, call 911 or contact one of the crisis centers that are available 24/7.

Health Vantis




Phrenic Nerve Reconstruction

Health Vantis recently visited a facility that addresses one of the less common yet very difficult to treat conditions. It is phrenic nerve damage. We connected with the administration of the medical facility and are now proud to say that we are happy to help those that may need this type of surgery. There are only a few surgeons in the world that are qualified and experienced to perform phrenic nerve reconstruction.

What is phrenic nerve?

Phrenic nerve is not a household name and many people probably have not heard of it. Yet it keeps us alive as we breathe. The nerve controls the diaphragm muscle, which controls the breathing process. It is in charge of voluntary and involuntary breathing, such as during sleep, by transmitting signals from the brain and spinal cord to the esophagus. We breathe without making much effort and it is all due to the phrenic nerve. Its primary function is to carry out our breathing without us having to think about it or tell our body to do so.

Phrenic nerve is a twin nerve. It begins in the brain and continues down to the first few vertebrae of the spine. Then it splits. The two nerves go down through each side of the body. The right side comes in contact with the windpipe and heart while passing the lungs. The left side also comes in close contact with the heart, with both sides eventually ending up in the diaphragm. Because of its location and proximity to both the lungs and the heart, the nerve can be impacted if there are specific conditions in either of these organs. If either of the nerves is damaged and signals between the brain and diaphragm are interrupted, normal breathing may be prevented.

What are the symptoms of phrenic nerve damage?

People with phrenic nerve injury experience difficulty breathing.  Depending on the severity of the injury, they may become winded after climbing a flight of stairs or even tying their shoes. For some, difficulty in breathing while lying down can interfere with sleep, causing insomnia. Symptoms can include lethargy, headaches and blue-tinged lips or fingers.

The most severe impact of phrenic nerve damage is diaphragm paralysis, which prevents the patient from being able to regulate breathing on his or her own.

Why does it get damaged?

The most common causes of phrenic nerve injury are surgical complications and trauma. Phrenic nerve damage may occur after a major operation such as neck dissection for head and neck cancer, lung surgery, coronary bypass surgery, heart valve or other vascular surgery and thymus gland surgery. After the surgery, sometimes scar tissue forms in the neck, which compresses the nerve. Injuries can also result from epidural injections or other types of nerve blocks, as well as chiropractic manipulation of the neck, which can disturb the roots of the spinal nerves.

What can be done?

There has been little hope for individuals suffering from this condition until recently. Treatment options for phrenic nerve injury have been limited to either nonsurgical therapy or diaphragm plication, neither of which attempts to restore normal function to the paralyzed diaphragm.

Advances in nerve decompression and transplant allow reconstructive plastic surgeons to reverse diaphragm paralysis.  The techniques used are derived from the procedures commonly used to treat arm or leg paralysis, which have allowed surgeons to restore function to previously paralyzed muscle groups. The doctor either corrects or transplants the nerve in order to restore function.

The rarity of the condition makes it difficult for patients with a phrenic nerve injury to find treatment.  The condition is often misdiagnosed or viewed as insufficiently severe enough to require corrective surgery.

Patients who have undergone phrenic nerve surgery report improvements in their physical and respiratory function, and a reversal of the sleeping difficulties related to diaphragm paralysis.

If you or a loved one suffers from phrenic nerve injury, it is likely you have been told by your physician that you must learn to live with this deficit. Well, that is simply not true. Contact Health Vantis to get connected to the world-class board certified surgeon who will help you or your loved one.

Who Is To Blame For The Opioid Crisis In Canada?

 The opioid crisis is real and rampant throughout Canada.  With an increase in overdose, how can it not be?  But who is to blame for the opioid crisis?

Opioid addictions are no longer present in just your stereo typical drug abuser on the streets.  It has made it’s way into our homes and no longer discriminates.  Our parents who are prescribed it after surgery, our children taking unused pills out of our medicine cabinets or even our grandparents that are in pain because of a chronic condition.  

Who’s To Blame for Opioid Crisis?

We discussed in our August newsletter that there are many theories such as blaming the drug companies for the marketing of opioids.  Fingers have been pointed in many places.  The truth of the matter is that Canada doesn’t have the proper, consistent tracking of opioid addiction and overdose nationally.  The data and statistics are fragmented and left up to each individual province.  

What we do know is that the rate of prescribing opioids increased by 203% in the years 2000-2010.  This is a staggering number of how much is being distributed.

Could Long Medical Wait Lists Be A Factor?

To date, no one has suggested another possibility for the increase in opioid addiction could be from the sky high wait times.  At least not that we’ve come across.  Opioids are meant to be short-term solutions, not long term ones. Studies have shown an addiction can start within 5 continuous days of taking an opioid.  

If you need a knee replacement, the pain may be unbearable. The doctor might put you on an opioid to manage it.  What happens if you have to wait 9 months before you can have your surgery though?  Nine months is not short-term.  Most people are going to believe that if the doctor put them on a medication, then it is the best treatment.  You can still develop a dependence, even if the opioid was legitimately prescribed by the doctor in an appropriate manner.

If you find yourself in a position of requiring long-term solutions because you are on the wait list for your surgery, reach out to us for other options.  We can provide private health care solutions so you don’t have to endure months of pain or risk creating additional health concerns.

Health Vantis




The Benefits of Dancing

The Benefits of Dancing For Physical and Mental Work Out

Dancing with the Stars has become a popular, well-loved show that has inspired others to get moving.  Dancing not only provides entertainment for a person but can also be a great outlet for stress relief and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  It is being utilized in gyms such as the ever so fun Zumba and in private studios.  But hey, you don’t need a formal place to dance.  It can be done right in the privacy of your own home.  You do not need to be a professional to dance.  All you have to do is crank the music and MOVE!  Below we will provide some benefits to dancing.

Improved Memory

Our cognitive function, hence memory, begins to decline as we age.  A study done by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience did a study on ways to combat this.  The researchers studied adults ranging from 60-80’s who showed no signs of memory loss or impairment.  Participants were assigned 1 of three activities:  stretching, brisk walking, dance classes or balance training and monitored for a 6 month period.  The individuals that were assigned dancing practiced and learned choreography 3 times a week.  The goal was to see if or how aerobic activity protects our brains from aging. (1)

At the end of the study, all participants had a brain scan.  These were compared to scans done prior to the study began.  The dancers fared better than the other groups and had less deterioration in the brain.  It seems logical as dancing requires learning, memory, and combined cognitive and physical training. (2)

Another study found in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older. (3)

Improvement in Balance and Coordination

Dancing requires a great deal of coordination and balance.  Various athletes, such as football players, take dancing or ballet classes.  This is to improve their balance, flexibility, structure, and posture.  The benefit of creating better balance and coordination is to prevent falls. 

Per CDC  ‘1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ have a fall each year.  Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common non-fatal trauma-related hospital admission among older adults. 

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 Per CDC  ‘1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ have a fall each year.  Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common non-fatal trauma-related hospital admission among older adults. Incorporating dance into your exercise routine will improve your agility, balance, physical strength and muscle tone.’ (4)

Social Interaction and Physical Touch

We all love to be touched.  It can send endorphins in a similar way that exercise can.  Dancing provides this as well as social interaction.  Being able to interact with others and have fun lowers your stress level, allows for making friendships and being socially engaged, supports a stronger immune system and makes for a fun time.  Something as simple as clasping hands reduces stress-related activity in a brain area called the hypothalamus.  This lowers the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, within your system.

Weight Loss

Losing weight is a tough and miserable process, at least it always has been for me.  It normally involves eliminating all of the foods you love, discipline and countless hours in the gym, none of which I like.  Doing this long term is grueling and makes it easy to fall off the wagon.  Dance is fun, it’s social and doesn’t have to be the same monotonous thing.  It provides variety, little skill and gets your heart rate up quickly.

Gyms now have incorporated dance classes such as Zumba or Hip Hop Dance into their class schedules.  There are also plenty of private facilities teaching ballroom or salsa dancing.  Being able to shake your bum with others makes the time go quickly and before you know it, you are drenched with sweat and burning calories.   It can help tone your body as you are using all of the muscles in your body.

Increase in Energy

Any kind of exercise provides for an improvement in your energy, and dancing is one of them.  Dancing can be as light or heavy of a work out as you want.  Moving all of our body parts wake us up and ready for the day.  You get a healthy sweat that will release your natural ‘feel good’ endorphins to set your day off right.  Listening to upbeat music also improves our moods and makes us have positive thoughts, thus increasing our energy.


Health Vantis





  1.  https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00059/full
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00059/full
  3. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022252
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html

5 Tips for Managing Seniors Medications

5 Tips for Managing Seniors Medications

With a growing population of older adults and the availability of medications, the potential for medication safety problems will increase. When people age, they are more likely to be taking more than one type of medication.  Seniors normally take more than three.  Taking multiple medications increases the risk for mix-ups in what is being taken, drug interactions and potential side effects.

Aging adults are more susceptible to effects from medications and may respond differently than younger individuals.  Changes in the kidneys, heart, liver and central nervous system occur. This causes more vulnerability to overdose or severe side effects.  Eyesight and memory loss can be affected as we age.  This makes it harder to remember taking medication and following directions.  Below we will explore some tips on managing medications for seniors.

Bring A Medications List To Your Doctors Visit

Take a list of prescription medications, including supplements and vitamins, you are taking with you to the doctor.  This is especially important if it is the first time you are seeing a doctor.  Many people, especially seniors, see more than one doctor.  Each doctor may not have access to all of your records so the more information they have, the more accurately they can prescribe medications.  This will also help them identify any potential drug interactions or adverse side effects.  You may also want to take someone with you to help take notes. Once a year ask your doctor to review everything you are taking including supplements and vitamins.  A good way to remember this is to do it at your annual checkup.

Purchase An Organizer

Buy a pill organizer to keep things on track.  These are small boxes to put your weekly medications in to keep them organized.  They have small compartments that are labeled for 7 days at a time.  Larger ones allow for morning, afternoon, evening and bedtime slots.  It is a great way to stay on top of taking your medications consistently and on time.  These can be purchased at a local drug store or you can order online through Amazon.  Click here to see an example of one on Amazon.

Know the Potential Side Effects That Might Occur

Know the potential side effects or adverse effects of what you are taking.  This will tip you off to health changes that may occur in response to a new medication or combination of medications. If health changes do occur, contact your doctor immediately. Side effects can be from the combination of medications being taken together and can mimic other health issues.  Be sure to follow the directions as indicated by your doctor or pharmacist.  If you have questions or are unsure how to take the medication, be sure to ask.

Sometimes there are alternative medications that might be better suited for a senior.  Click here for a sample list.  This, of course, is the doctor’s decision on what is best for you and your medical history.

Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist Questions

Knowing how to take your medication is very important.  Some medications may require you to take on an empty or full stomach.  Others might require the elimination of certain supplements, vitamins or foods.  You will want to know what the dosage is and when to take it, proper storage such as refrigeration, or side effects you might experience. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist prior to taking if there are any concerns about the combination of medications or how a new medication might affect you.

Taking your medications correctly will ensure they work effectively and the pharmacist will be able to provide that information.  You should always take your medications as prescribed and never stop taking them without discussing with your doctor.  Doing so could be unsafe as some medications need to be titrated down and may be necessary to keep you healthy.

Be Aware of Medications Deemed Unsafe For Seniors

The Health In Aging put together a list of medications that older adults should avoid or use with caution. Some pose a higher risk of side effects or interactions, while others are simply less effective.  A commonly prescribed sedative in the benzodiazepine category, such as diazepam (Valium) is an example.   These are on the list because seniors may have more sensitivities to these types of drugs.  Ask your doctor if you are concerned about a particular medication.

Something else to consider is to take control of your loved one’s medications if they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or show signs of confusion.

Health Vantis




Clinical Trials

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are studies to find out whether the drug is safe and effective for people. It is the end result of many years of research. Research occurs in many places, such as a pharmaceutical company or university labs. A clinical trial takes the development of the discovery to test in a population where it can impact health.  The people who take part in trials are volunteers. They may be patients with a specific disease, or healthy people wanting to contribute to the advancement of medical knowledge.

What is the process for a clinical trial?

It is a long process, often taking 15-17 years between the research and the approval of a drug or medical device or therapy. The goal is to try to introduce new therapies. Clinical trials must be approved by Health Canada in Canada or by FDA in the USA. There are various phases of clinical trials. In both countries, there are 4 phases of clinical trials. Each has its purpose and answers a certain question.

What do I get by participating?

Clinical trials often offer benefits to their participants. Many offer early access to cutting edge treatment that’s not available to others. You may be cured and even if not, your quality of life may improve. In addition, another perk may be access to expert care because of the time spent with the research team.

Sometimes it is hard to find volunteers for clinical trials. It is because many people do not want to be a guinea pig. All clinical trials come with risks. It can be a serious side effect because the effects of the drug are still under investigation. The risks have to be well explained and understood. Every person who participates in a clinical trial must give their informed consent before beginning the trial. Health Canada clinical trial regulations are strict in order to protect people’s health, ensure that the studies are well designed, conducted and monitored, and side effects are reported to Health Canada. All trials have to be reviewed by Research Ethics Board.

Who can participate in clinical studies?

Sometimes the requirements for a clinical trial are very specific. Each trial is different and requires a different number of participants and they have to qualify. After careful screening for age and presence of certain risk factors about 80% of volunteers do not meet the criteria set out in the trial.

Cancer trials are getting smaller and smaller because the researchers are looking for specific genetic markers and/or tumor specifications. Certain types of cancer have the same markers. Cancer clinical trial participants in phase 1 usually get a chance to try a new therapy. A healthy person will never receive cancer drugs. So, the volunteers for those are much different than other over the counter new possible drugs.

In the US, those with cancer that have tried everything suggested by a doctor and not responding to treatment can use the FDA’s expanded access program. If approved, they can reach out to the drug manufacturer and ask to try a drug. FDA approved more than 99% of applications under its expanded program.

What are the success rates for clinical studies?

Hematology or blood-related clinical trials tend to be most successful. Least successful trials are in oncology, which can be very discouraging. Sometimes discoveries never make it to a phase of clinical trial. The large majority of targets will fail before they even reach the early stage of phase 1 of a clinical trial.

It is somewhat easier to test a drug than a therapy or a device because you administer a chemical vs placebo and you observe a certain outcome. In therapies or exercise studies it is a much more subjective question of how a therapy or exercise impacted participants and how many people felt the improvement.

A new study carried out at MIT has found that the likelihood of a drug at Phase I making it all the way to the market is 13.8%

What are the resources for clinical trials?

In conclusion, we list some helpful websites that will be able to provide you with more information about clinical trials and how to access them. As always Health Vantis is happy to help with any questions you may have in regards to access to medical help. Contact us toll free 877 344 3544 or email us at info@healthvantis.com

Canada Health

It Starts With Me

Canadian Cancer Trials