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MUSC Health Blog

Keyword: primary-care
Head shot of Dr. Bunt

Guest post by:
Christopher Bunt, M.D.
Family Medicine
MUSC Health Primary Care Ben Sawyer

Primary care is full of uncertainty. A patient comes in with a chief complaint, we ask some questions, perform an exam, maybe order some tests, and then we come up with a possible answer for our patient. It is rare that we are 100 percent certain about a diagnosis. 

It can be frustrating for patients and physicians to have this level of uncertainty. “I don’t know” does not reduce stress in someone’s life, let alone in a doctor’s office. But, that is the nature of most interactions in the health care system.

However, there are some things in primary care, and in this case, all of medicine, that are 100 percent certain.

Here is one three-part certainty that can save a life:

1a. If you smoke tobacco, STOP! 

1b. If you don’t, NEVER START! 

1c. If you are a health care provider who interacts with a patient who smokes, TELL THEM TO STOP!

Yes, behavior change literature says that we should assess whether or not someone is ready for change. But if we as healthcare professionals don’t make a strong statement about the benefits of quitting tobacco, who will? 

You might be thinking, how big of a problem is tobacco? Yes, over the last ten years, the number of smokers in the US has declined, and now sits at 15 percent (36.5 million people) of the population.

However, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the US, causing over 480,000 deaths (one in every five deaths) per year. Moreover, 16 million Americans live with a smoking related disease.*

Some patients have made the transition to e-cigs, because they are hopeful that they are a healthier alternative.  We don’t have long term data since they are relatively new.  However, we do know that e-cigs contain multiple harmful chemicals, including those that cause cancer.  They are not the ultimate answer, and often just switch one addiction for another.

It is well understood that what doctors recommend matters. Unfortunately, our message can get lost in all of the other issues that we focus on in a primary care visit. 

If we can get our patients to stop smoking, we will save more lives from this success than all of the treatments we recommend to control diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, COMBINED!

So, if you are a provider, please give as strong a statement as you can to your patient who smokes that they NEED to quit.

If you are a patient, anticipate that providers will be telling you to stop every single time they interact with you!  Maybe it is frustrating, or even irritating to hear this every visit.  But, aren’t you going to the doctor for answers?  Most of the time, that answer is uncertain.  But not always, and not in this case. 

This certainty will save a life.  Maybe even your own. 

Ready to quit? Ask your primary care provider for help.  We have multiple different strategies that work.  And we are committed to helping you quit!

Need additional help or have questions?  Call the national tobacco cessation quitline, 800-QUIT-NOW.

*CDC Stats: Smoking and Tobacco Use

Guest Post by:
Robert A. Glass, M.D.
Internal Medicine
MUSC Health

Raise your hand if you have ever tried the latest fad diet or extreme workout plan to lose a few pounds quickly. Almost everyone has. With the obesity problem in America reaching epidemic proportions, the airwaves and bookshelves are filled with people purporting to have the latest and greatest method for shedding those unwanted pounds.

The unfortunate part of most folk’s approach to weight loss is that it focuses on the short term and not on the facts that we know about the physiology of weight gain and loss. Despite what the specialty weight loss clinics and infomercials may tell you, sustained weight loss is only a product of consistent effort and lifestyle change. Fortunately, your local MUSC Physicians Primary Care clinic has access to all the tools you need to start making the scale go the right way.

Personalized Nutrition Plans

The basic physiology of weight loss dictates that the number of calories put in must be less than the number of calories used. From portion size to number of vegetable servings per day, it is vital to have a comprehensive nutrition plan that ensures you are taking in both the proper type and amount of calories each day. Meeting with a certified MUSC nutritionist is a wonderful experience for most patients that shows them exactly what their grocery list and dinner plate should look like, and many find that it jump-starts their weight loss and lifestyle change efforts.

Get Up

While diet control is the lynchpin to losing weight, consistent exercise is the key to keeping that weight off. Many folks can use a fad diet for three to four weeks and lose weight, but almost none can sustain that diet for a lifetime and keep weight off over the long term. Exercising for at least one hundred and fifty minutes per week is a great start to establishing a healthy pattern that will allow you to lose weight and then keep it off for years to come. Many people seek assistance from professionals to help structure their exercise plan. The MUSC Wellness Center has a multitude of programs for people of all ages and skill levels to get you moving in a fun and non-judgmental atmosphere. You can even meet with personal trainers to develop completely personalized exercise plans.

Medication

Though medications are not a long-term solution for weight loss, they can be used to jump-start your weight loss program. There are multiple FDA-approved medications that your MUSC Physicians Primary Care provider can discuss with you. Certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, may limit which medications can be used, but one can usually be found if a patient is interested.

Surgery

Though it may seem like an extreme measure to some, weight loss surgery in the right patient can be very effective. Many people with large amounts of weight to lose can experience excellent benefits with weight loss surgery. Quite often, successful bariatric surgery can also lead to improvement or even resolution of such diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Your MUSC Physicians Primary Care physician can tell you if you meet basic qualifications to schedule an appointment with an MUSC weight loss surgeon.

These four avenues just brush the surface of what is available through MUSC for those looking to lose weight. Obesity has never been a greater problem than now, and MUSC Physicians Primary Care is ready to help you in every way possible to make that morning trip to the scale a much better experience. Once the pounds start coming off, you will be able to live the life you wanted and truly get up every morning to get down.

Guest Post by:
Robert A. Glass, M.D.
Internal Medicine
MUSC Health

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of the most influential twentieth century Presidents of the United States. While his childhood bout with polio and subsequent wheelchair use was well publicized, few know about his battle with high blood pressure. Modern day blood pressure medications had yet to be discovered in President Roosevelt’s time. Accordingly, many of his great acts of history were done with blood pressures that would likely cause any modern day physician to hospitalize their patient. Can you imagine trying to divide Europe after World War II from the intensive care unit? Any modern day President would have found himself in that exact situation with blood pressure readings similar to President Roosevelt’s.

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Since the time of FDR, medicine has grown tremendously in our ability to treat high blood pressure. Though FDR was cared for by some of the best physicians in the country, he still did not get the care that is available today down the street at your local MUSC Physicians Primary Care practice. In partnership with your primary care physician, there are three concrete steps that you can take to ensure that your blood pressure is even better than the President.

Get Screened

Unbeknownst to many, blood pressure screening is an essential part of a complete wellness and prevention program. It is recommended that all adults of average risk have their blood pressure screened at least every two years. This requirement can be met through regular visits to your physician as part of your regular health maintenance. There are also health fairs or corporate wellness programs that provide blood pressure screening, and these results can then be taken to your primary care physician for discussion.

Control Your Diet

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States, and it greatly contributes to poor blood pressure control. A well-balanced diet is important for all adults, regardless of their health problems. Salt intake is particularly important for those with high blood pressure. It is currently recommended that people with high blood pressure consume less than two grams of salt per day. Consuming more may worsen your blood pressure. Make sure that you read the label on all foods that you eat and know how much salt you are consuming. If you want further education, then discuss with your primary care doctor or consider sitting down with an MUSC nutritionist for more detailed information.

Take Your Medication

The majority of adults with high blood pressure ultimately require some form of medication. Many medications are only taken on an as needed basis, like pain relievers. It is a common misconception that blood pressure medicines can also only be taken as needed. In order to take their full effect, blood pressure medications should be taken every day as directed, whether you feel any symptoms or not. Blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because patients never feel symptoms until the situation has gotten out of hand. By taking medication every day, you can prevent this “silent killer” from having large unwanted effects on your health.

If you follow these three steps of getting screened, controlling your diet, and taking your medication, then you will be able to take control of your health in a way that even one of the greatest men in American history could not. Come see us at your local MUSC Physician Primary Care location and discuss more how we can partner together to provide you health care fit for a President.

With the start of our new year, July 1, 2014, MUSC Health welcomes an array of new physicians. Many of these doctors will start in July while others actually begin accepting patients during August and September. MUSC Health is proud that our reputation has made us the choice of our 70 new doctors. Our new physicians are dedicated to Changing What’s Possible in Healthcare.

If you need a Primary Care physician we have several new choices for you. You may search for a doctor in our Find a Doctor tool or you can call our helpful representatives at 843-792-1414. They will assist you in finding primary care doctor close to you. We have both new Family Medicine doctors and new Internal Medicine doctors for you to choose from.

We also welcome new physicians in many specialties including:
• Nephrology
• Cardiology
• Orthopaedics
• Neurosurgery
• Ophthalmology
• Endocrinology
Use our online form to request an appointment with any of the MUSC Physicians you find on our site.

Whatever your needs, MUSC Health offers physicians in every area to assist in your diagnosis and care. For more about MUSC Health visit our web site.

 

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