Prioritizing Health Every Day of the Year
Spring is in the air all around North Texas, ushering in warmer weather, new life in the garden and thoughts of spring cleaning. It’s also the perfect time to consider the state of your overall health.
World Health Day is celebrated each year on April 7, so this month we at Texas Health are raising awareness for wellness and encouraging North Texans to think about those long-neglected check-ups and recommended screenings.
Jeffrey Goudreau, M.D., an internist and physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas, says that while health concerns can be different all over the world, obesity has become the most significant health problem facing the United States.
“Everything in American medicine is predicated on obesity, including high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes,” he reports. “We have more cardiologists in the U.S. than there are in all other countries in the world combined because we’re so darn fat. Almost every cancer is related to the food we eat, and as well because of all the GMOs and processed foods.
“We have all this wealth in our country, but spend it on restaurants. To put it in perspective, we only rank 17th on the world’s life expectancy list, right alongside countries like Cuba and Lebanon.”
Goudreau says that he and his fellow physicians get frustrated with seeing all the havoc obesity constantly wreaks on their patients.
“Americans do what they want, but somehow we’ve got to get on top of this obesity thing,” he explains. “By the time we reach middle age, we’re overweight and our backs, knees and hips hurt. It’s fun to eat out every night, and North Texas is a great area for foodies, but by the time you retire, you won’t be able to do all the things you’ve always dreamed of doing.”
To stay on top of your health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following schedule of health screenings and immunizations:
Blood Pressure: Every 1 – 2 years
Body Mass Index: Every 1 – 2 years
Cholesterol: Every 5 years for men ages 35+; also men and women ages 20+ with high risk factors
Type 2 Diabetes: Every 3 years for ages 45+; also individuals ages 18 – 44, depending on risk factors
Cervical Cancer: Every 3 years for women; then every 5 years with Pap and HPV tests, after age 30
Colonoscopy: Every 10 years for all between ages 50 – 75
Mammograms: Every 2 years for women ages 50 – 74; earlier and more often for some women, depending on risk factors
Osteoporosis: Women, beginning at age 65 for a baseline test; also younger women at higher risk
Prostate Cancer: Every year for men ages 50+
Influenza Vaccine: Every year for all
HPV Vaccine: Females ages 11 – 26, one set of 3 vaccines
Pneumonia Vaccine: All ages 65+
Shingles Vaccine: All ages 60+
Tdap Vaccine (Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis — also known as whooping cough): Make sure you’ve had the shot and then get a Td booster shot (tetanus and diphtheria only) every 10 years
“Life is about balance, so I recommend to my patients that they sleep seven to nine hours every night, exercise one hour a day and eat healthy, non-processed foods,” Goudreau says. “It’s basic, but it works. Additionally, get the recommended screenings and come in for a physical once a year, around your birthday, so you remember to do it.
“Immunizations are also important because we can get on a plane in Dallas and be on the other side of the world in 14 hours. There are so many people coming and going these days, so we need to be immunized. Everybody needs a flu shot, and people over 60 should get pneumonia and shingles shots.”
Goudreau also believes that patients could save themselves a lot of heartache (and a lecture) if they would stick to the basics and get their regular check-ups.
“We know that 30 percent of people don’t like going to the doctor because they’re afraid they’re going to get bad news or receive a lecture,” he says. “We just want to work with our patients and help them, but people have to know there’s no magic to it.
“I’ve been seeing some of the same patients for decades, and they give me the same song and dance that they’re going to get healthy. Out of 160,000 office visits over the last 31 years in practice, I’ve only seen around five people who have really made those permanent life changes. It’s not rocket science: If you follow the recommendations and get enough sleep, exercise and good food, you can avoid so many problems and be able to enjoy your retirement.”
Texas Health wants to know, are YOU a well being? Get your well-being score online and explore the science of well-being. Do you need a primary care physician to help get your health back on track? Find a THR physician in your area and make your health a priority every day.