Natasha Brown, a board-certified registered nurse, provided information about health screenings and tips that people can note to promote better health. Brown noted that “African Americans have an increased risk of hypertension and diabetes.” She also offered additional knowledge that can be noted to take preventative action.
Q: What is a prevalent health condition that you have noticed arises frequently in minority patients?
A: The prevalent health conditions frequently arising among patients, especially minorities, are health issues associated with diabetes. Patients as young as 30 are undergoing a toe amputation due to illnesses related to diabetes. Both young and older patients are having appendages amputated due to infectious diseases associated with diabetes or issues with the vascular system that are also related to diabetes.
Diabetes increases the risk of related infections. Patients may visit the doctor or hospital to receive antibiotics for these infections. A lot of patients have metabolic syndromes. Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. The syndrome increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke. Diabetic patients will sometimes also have hypertension, high cholesterol and cardiovascular illnesses.
Also, an increasing number of women in the child-bearing age range report issues with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries that contain cysts. Overall, patients with a broad age range are experiencing illnesses related to diabetes and hypertension because an increasing number of them do not have access to nutritious food. One health condition can also adversely affect another one.
Q: Does the list of recommended screenings change based on age?
A: Yes. In addition to routine screenings, women begin getting mammograms at age 40. For healthy men, prostate cancer screenings start at age 50, but for men at high risk, it is best to get screened at age 45. Both men and women should start getting colon cancer screenings at age 45. Men will undergo a testicular exam between the ages of 18 and 39.
Q: Are there any specific screenings that are typically done annually?
A: Specific screenings typically done annually are routine lab work, complete blood and chemistry panels, a physical exam, complete blood count, cognitive assessment and urinalysis. The doctor will also listen to the patient’s heart, measure their weight and check their cholesterol level.
As a certified registered nurse, while talking to a patient, I assess their cranial nerves and check for symmetry when they laugh and smile. I prefer to bathe my patients so that I can perform a skin assessment and determine their muscle strength. If a patient cannot move toward me or hold onto the side of the bed, then I know they are experiencing muscle weakness and identify which extremity the weakness is in.
Q: What is a colonoscopy and who should get one?
A: Men and women should get a colonoscopy beginning at age 45. During a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist uses a scope to examine the colon, also known as the large intestine, and the rectum for irritation, polyps and cancer. Patients who have a family history or risk factors with any of these symptoms should undergo a colonoscopy before age 45.
Q: Is there anything that people can do to stay healthier?
A: Yes. Start exercising regularly, be mindful of your diet and get plenty of rest. We often eat on the go and do not get enough sleep. Many people work in an office where they sit at a desk for long periods. In this case, you are not moving your body as much and everything is not flowing as it should.
Get out and get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. Eat colorful meals that provide adequate fiber each day, which is good for the intestines. Exercise is good for heart health. Get quality sleep which helps with stress management and helps reduce hypertension. Weight management and nutrition will help people not develop diabetes, keep cholesterol down and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Also, avoid office snack machines, high fructose syrup, carbonated drinks and try to cook foods in olive oil or bake your foods. Stay away from heavy grains and overly bleached flour, and complete primary prevention testing. Be aware of magnesium, B12, and iron deficiencies, which make you sluggish. Lastly, remember to stay hydrated, especially during summer.