Healthy Aging Tips for National Healthy Aging Month

Healthy aging older man smiling with hands wide on the beach
As we get older, staying healthy becomes more difficult and more important. A healthy lifestyle reduces a person’s likelihood of illnesses and allows older adults to maintain their general wellbeing and happiness.
We talked to Dr. Mary Hurd, a practicing SIMED Primary Care physician, who provided tips on healthy aging for National Healthy Aging Month (September).
Generally, aging is influenced by a person’s genetic makeup, lifestyle choices and environment. When a person ages, it affects every part of the person’s lifestyle. As you get older, the way you look at life and the way you act affect how you mature. For example, if you’re sedentary, it’s going to have an impact on your wellbeing later in life. 
Most of the information looking at how people age suggests that healthier people are engaged in physical activity, engaged in mental activity and engaged socially. The opposite is also true. People who don’t use their body or mind and don’t stay connected with others in their environment fare worst.

Staying Physically Active

Physical activity is important to staying in shape. As we get older, we get more sedentary. It’s important to get up and move. Staying active can mean riding a bike, taking yoga classes or doing Tai Chi. Dr. Hurd recommends a program called Go4Life that encourages older people to get active and offers exercises and other ways to stay in shape.
Men riding bicycles along the shore with information on how to get a good workout and calculate max heart rate
1. Aerobics
For your heart and lungs, it’s important to do aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. Optimally you should be exercising every day. For aerobic exercises, you want to get your heart rate up to a certain level depending on your age. To calculate the maximum heart rate for your age, you should subtract your age from 220. The heart rate you should reach when exercising is about 65 to 85 percent of that.
You can use a Fitbit or check your heart rate by pressing two fingers to your wrist and counting off. Some exercise machines even calculate your heart rate for you and can tell you when you’re at an optimal heart rate. Aerobic exercises get your heart rate up and include walking, biking and swimming. 
2. Strength Training
For your strength and balance, Dr. Hurd encourages weight or resistance training at least three times a week. Weight training and resistance training strengthen the muscle mass. There’s no set amount of time for how long you should be doing weight training; it depends on how long it takes you to do different exercises. 
Some people do circuit training where they work out each part of their body every time they go to the gym. Places like Gainesville Health and Fitness offer a circuit training program. 
Other people work out a different part of their body or different parts of their body every time they go to the gym. For example, some days they might exercise the bottom part of their body, and other days they might exercise the top. 
It doesn’t matter what exercises you do for resistance training as long as you are challenging your muscles. YouTube videos provide a schedule you can follow if you plan to exercise three days a week. 

Keeping up to date with Immunizations and Screenings

For healthy aging, you want to keep up with immunizations and cancer screenings. This will help minimize the risk of disease. Follow up with your doctor at least annually if you’re healthy and periodically if you experience health issues. Make sure to stay on top of all health screenings to keep your body healthy. 

Limiting Alcohol Intake and Maintaining a Healthy Diet

A British study found the best predictors of successful aging after adjustment for socioeconomic status are diet, exercise and not smoking. For women, alcohol intake is also important, and for men, work support is important. 
Healthy diets are important and include limiting processed foods and eating more vegetables and lean protein. As people get older, they tend to not want to eat as much protein, but it’s important for a healthy diet. Protein doesn’t necessarily mean meat; you can get protein from nuts and soy. 
As you age, you also most likely won’t need as many calories, but it’s important you’re getting the right amount of calories for your age and body type. Stay away from starchy foods like bread and potato. Starches are not the healthiest foods and can lead to decreased muscle mass. Try to eat more chicken and fish as a substitute. 

Staying Socially Engaged and Mentally Active

While eating healthy and exercising are great ways to keep your body healthy, staying socially engaged and mentally active can also play an important part in slowing the onset of dementia. 
1. Mental Activity
Mental activity includes almost anything cognitive. Examples include reading, working on puzzles, learning new things, and gathering new information as you get older.
2. Social Activity
Try not to be socially isolated. Get involved in group activities, whether it’s volunteering or going to church. Even taking a gym class with other people can make a difference. Continue to engage with the world and people around you.
If you have any questions about the article or healthy aging or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hurd in Gainesville, call 352-332-7770 or request an appointment online.
To schedule an appointment with a SIMED Primary Care physician, call 352-224-2225 or request an appointment online

What is Your Heart Score?

Do you find yourself asking “How healthy is my heart?”Finding your Heart Score is a step in the right direction to managing your health and wellbeing.

February is American Heart Month, and at SIMED your health is our priority. The My Life Check® Heart Score was designed to help assess your heart health and provide you with suggestions to improve your quality of life. It only takes five minutes to complete. For the most accurate score, have your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol reports available. For more information regarding your heart health please contact your SIMED provider's office and schedule your next appointment today.



Thyroid Awareness month

January we acknowledge Thyroid Awareness month. Make an appointment with Primary Care to get your neck checked:

SIMED Joins National Effort to Improve Diabetes Management with Together 2 Goal

SIMED announced today that it has joined the American Medical Group Association’s Diabetes: Together 2 Goal campaign.

SIMED announced today that it has joined the American Medical Group Association’s Diabetes: Together 2 Goal campaign. This national campaign aims to improve care for 1 million people with Type 2 diabetes in the United States by 2019.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 29.1 million people (or 9.3% of the population) have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of diagnosed diabetes in U.S. adults. People who have diabetes are at higher risk of serious health complications, such as heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Other complications can include blindness, kidney failure, and loss of toes, feet, or legs.

SIMED, along with 120 other leading healthcare organizations across the country who are participating in Together 2 Goal® commit to implementing one or more evidence-based care processes designed to empower patients, improve care delivery and leverage information technology.

How do Kidneys work? Symptoms, Signs and Facts about Kidney Failure.

SIMED Primary Care's Rakesh Sharma gives us seven important facts about the Kidney's and how they are important to our overall health.

March is National Kidney Month and the National Kidney Foundation is urging all Americans to give their kidneys a second thought and a well-deserved checkup. 

Kidneys filter 200 liters of blood a day, help regulate blood pressure and direct red blood cell production. As much work the kidneys do it shouldn't surprise you that they are also prone to disease; 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for kidney disease due to diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure. There are more than 26 million Americans who already have kidney disease, and most don’t know it because there are often no symptoms until the disease has progressed.   - 2015 National Kidney Foundation 

SIMED Primary Care's Rakesh Sharma gives us seven important facts about the Kidney's and how they are important to our overall health.  

1. The kidney's primary function is the filtration of waste, but are also involved with blood pressure control. 

2. The kidneys help regulate red blood cells and maintain electrolyte homeostasis. 

3. Long term history of chronic medical conditions can lead to a decline in kidney filtration. Diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and atherosclerosis are the most common to affect the kidneys, especially when not under control. 

4. Diet and medications can be used to slow progression of chronic kidney disease and the need for dialysis. 

5. Kidney stones are usually composed of calcium or uric acid and occur within the kidney or urine collecting systems. These common deposits may cause pain and obstruction of urine, leading to decline in urinary function.  

6. To maintain optimal kidney functioning, you should: 

  • Maintain a good level of hydration 
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables 
  • Remain physically active 
  • Avoid medications which are toxic to the kidneys 

7. Some warning signs of an issue with ones kidney include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Swelling in the legs or feet 
  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Flank pain 
  • Blood in urine 
  • Discolored urine 
  • "Frothy" urine 

For more information about kidney health, please contact SIMED Primary Care's office and schedule an appointment with your SIMED doctor today.

7 Fascinating Facts about Brains

In honor of Brain Awareness Week, we sat down with SIMED Neurosurgery’s Dr. Steven Reid to discuss seven fascinating facts about brains.

To our knowledge, the brain is the most complex organized matter in the universe. We know of nothing as complex in anyone's experience. How does three pounds of very complicated stuff allow us to experience a world?

If you think about it carefully, the entire scope of the universe, all of that volume that you're conceiving of now, is actually occurring inside your skull. So everything in your world, your entire universe, resides in the confines of your skull, including your concept of your own brain.

Steven Reid, MD

In honor of Brain Awareness Week (March 14-20), we sat down with SIMED Neurosurgery’s Dr. Steven Reid to discuss seven fascinating facts about brains.

1) Individuals who have lost tremendous amounts of brain cells can still be very intelligent and very creative.

You lose millions of brain cells every day. Fortunately, nature gives us a lot more brain cells than were probably going to ever need. Most of us can make it through life losing millions of them every day, and still function quite well. It's not so much the number of brain cells a person has that determines their cognitive abilities, but how they're used.

2) The brain can process auditory information over the course of just a few milliseconds.

Different parts of the brain react at different rates. One of the fastest processing times has to do with auditory information. Visual information takes much longer.

3) Reflexes happen below the level conscious awareness.

Reflexes don't have to be in the brain. Most of the reflexes we have are actually not in the brain itself but in the spinal cord. A reflex is a response that occurs as a consequence of an external stimulus. The stimulus travels through our peripheral nerves into the spine, and the response travels back out of the spine. By not traveling to the brain for conscious processing, the reflex response occurs much faster.

4) Modern research shows that the brain doesn't finish developing until the early twenties.

There is evidence that a lot development occurring in the frontal lobes doesn’t "come online" until a person reaches their early twenties. However, most of the growth of the brain actually occurs prenatal. One of the reasons that the brain is the size that it is; is because it’s about as big as it can be to make it through the birth canal.

5) Sleep is extremely important for healthy function of the brain.

A lot remains mysterious as to why sleep is so important to brain function; it is thought that much of it has to do with the replenishment of neurotransmitters and the opportunity to clear out the “debris” from the brain during sleep.

6) The brain is a database of memories from your entire life.

 As people age they have problems in terms of integrating new information, but many times they'll have access to their old memories, formed in childhood. One of the theories is that it’s not so much a matter of not having a place to store the information, as it is there's so much more accumulated information that has to be searched to find the newer memory.

7) Yes, you can trick your brain into thinking you're happy by smiling.

You can trick your brain into thinking you're happy; you can trick your brain into thinking you're scared; and you can trick your brain into actually unlearning how to be fearful about particular things.

Some of the latest work in post-traumatic stress disorder has to do with the question "how do you know you're scared of something?" Usually the way you know is because you're exposed to something and your heart rate goes up. Maybe you feel clammy and sweaty and anxious, so that reinforces that it’s something that frightens you. Researches are now administering drugs that block those particular responses in the body, like the increase in heart rate and sweating, after the person is exposed to the frightening stimulus. So they see it, but when they survey their own response to it, they can examine it and say "hey maybe it’s not that bad after all."

To ensure your brain is functioning at an optimal level, Steven Reid, MD has the following tips:

  • Develop a good sleep cycle, and stick to it.
  • Eat a healthy diet, with well-rounded nutrition.
  • Maintain a general level of physical fitness and health.
  • Repeat the information you want to remember at least three times.
  • Avoid recreational drugs and alcohol, as they impair brain function.
  • Toxins, both environmental and metabolic, can harm brain functioning.
    • Environmental include: carbon monoxide, lead and mercury.
    • Metabolic include toxic compounds in the blood caused by liver or renal failure.

If you have concerns about your brain function or memory loss please contact your SIMED Primary Care’s office or if you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Reid please contact SIMED Spine and Neurosurgery and set up an appointment today

National Sleep Awareness Week Reminds Us How Sleep is Important to Our Overall Health

National Sleep Awareness Week Reminds Us How Sleep is Important to Our Overall Health

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you tired during the day, dozing off during a meeting, church or movie, while reading or watching TV, or when driving? 
  • Have you been told that you snore or have stopped breathing in your sleep?
  • Do you wake gasping or choking during sleep?
  • Do you have trouble staying asleep?
  • Do you wake up unrefreshed as opposed to wakening wide-eyed and bushy-tailed? 
  • Do you wake with a dry mouth, throat irritation or morning headache? 
  • Are you increasingly irritable, forgetful, depressed or anxious?
  • Have you been diagnosed with a hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, cardiac rhythm problem/atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, heart attack, stroke or early dementia?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have obstructive sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where your airway is blocked or partially blocked, causing interruptions in sleep, decreased oxygen to the heart and brain, and may contribute to the development of amyloid plaques in the brain. Amyloid plaques have been found in brains of individuals with Alzheimer-type dementia as well as other neurodegenerative disorders.  Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea may lead to poor quality of life, contribute to diseases and even have dire consequences for your health, including hastening death. 

Individuals with chronic pain are often are treated with opiates (e.g., tramadol, hydrocodone, oxycodone or morphine); individuals with anxiety are often treated with benzodiazepines (e.g., alprazolam or clonazepam). These medications decrease the breathing drive and may lead to central sleep apnea.

Some individuals may have a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea, called complex sleep apnea.  Other individuals, especially those who have heart failure, may have cycles of slowing down followed by speeding up in their breathing, which is known as periodic breathing.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep study.  These can be done at home or in a sleep center. A center study is preferred because the monitoring can differentiate between the different types of sleep disorders.

A center sleep study consists of:

  • Electodes that are placed around the head to determine stages of sleep and around your eyes, nose and mouth (not to worry, no needles!) to measure breathing, mouth movements, and dream status
  • EKG (heart) monitor placed on your chest to monitor for abnormal heart rhythms,
  • Pulse oximetry to check for drops your oxygen levels,
  • Elastic bands around the chest and abdomen to determine when you are breathing, and finally
  • Electodes on the legs to monitor for leg movements

All of these connected wires which are bunched into a single connector that may be easily disconnected should you need to use the bathroom during the night.  Home studies are an option, but due to the fewer things being monitored are unable to tell the difference between obstructive, central or complex sleep apnea.  Home studies are also unable to identify other sleep disorders, such as periodic limb movements of sleep, nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism) or parasomnias (sleep talking, sleep walking, confusional arousals or REM sleep behavior disorder).

How is sleep apnea treated?

Fortunately, sleep apnea can be easily treated.  The most effective and most preferred method of treatment is positive airway pressure (CPAP or bilevel PAP) therapy.  This therapy consists of a mask that comfortably fits around the individual’s nose and/or mouth, providing the minimum air pressure necessary to keep the airway open, allowing air to reach the lungs and ultimately provide oxygen to the heart and brain.  For those who do not tolerate positive airway pressure therapy, there are alternatives, such has oral appliances that keeps the tongue and jaw forward; or surgical procedures, such implants to support the palate, uvulopalatopharygoplasty (UPPP) or electrical stimulators to keep the tongue from falling back and blocking the back of the throat. 

How can you get evaluated?

If you think that you, your spouse, family member or friend may have sleep apnea, talk to your primary care physician, who can refer you to SIMED Sleep Center for a formal sleep evaluation.  If your insurance does not require a referral and you would like to set up an appointment, you can call SIMED Sleep Center directly at (352) 224-2388 to set up your sleep evaluation.

What is Your Heart Score?

What is your heart score?

Do you know how healthy your heart is? Are you ever worried that your lifestyle is negatively affecting your overall health?

February is American Heart Month, and at SIMED your health is our priority. The My Life Check® Heart Score was designed to help assess your heart health and provide you with suggestions to improve your quality of life. It only takes five minutes to complete. For the most accurate score, have your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol reports available. For more information regarding your heart health please contact your SIMED provider's office and schedule your next appointment today.



Are You At Risk For Diabetes? Get Checked For Diabetes Alert Day

Are You At Risk For Diabetes?  Get Checked For Diabetes Alert Day | SIMED Health
The American Diabetes Association Alert Day is the fourth Tuesday in March this year (March 24th, 2015). This is a one-day "wake-up call" asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Tests for developing Type 2 Diabetes. These tests can also be conducted at our SIMED Primary Care and at our First Care Urgent Care offices.  

SIMED's Tenley Noone, MD shares some valuable insight on the different types of diabetes and how each one can affect the human body in different ways.

There are different types of Diabetes, but all involve how your body metabolizes sugar.  When you eat sugar your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin allows your body to get the sugar out of the blood and into the tissues that need it, like nerves, muscles, and your brain. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin you feel starved for energy and may start craving sugar.
There are several types of Diabetes and each has something to do with insulin and blood glucose, but they’re not all the same and the treatment for each can be different.
  • Type 1 Diabetes is a disorder in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. It used to be called juvenile diabetes. It is sometimes referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas can produce insulin. The insulin is either not enough for the amount of energy your body is trying to use, or your body can’t use it effectively and needs help.
  • Gestational Diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), women with gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 20 years.
  • Prediabetes is when your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, but not high enough to qualify as diabetes. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Are you at risk?  The main risk factors for developing diabetes include:
  • Obesity (a body-mass-index over 30): if you have been steadily gaining weight this is the biggest risk factor developing diabetes, accounting for approximately a 50 percent of the increase in diabetes in men and 100 percent in women. Recently a major study showed a 100-fold increased risk of incident diabetes over 14 years in people whose BMI was over 35 compared to a normal BMI.
  • Family history: compared with individuals without a family history of type 2 diabetes, individuals with a family history in any first degree relative have a two to three-fold increased risk of developing diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes is higher (five- to six fold) in those with both a maternal and paternal history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Ethnic heritage: certain ethnicities are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These include African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiian/Pacific Island Americans and Asian Americans.
  • Fat distribution: ever noticed some people’s body shapes? The distribution of excess fat tissue is another important determinant of the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurred most in people with larger waist circumferences. This is called central or abdominal obesity.
  • Smoking: many people don’t realize there is a link, but the longer you smoke (and the more cigarettes you smoke) increases your risk is of developing diabetes. The good news is this risk is diminished with each year you continue to not smoke.
  • Sleep duration: another less known risk factor is the quantity and quality of sleep you get may increase your risk of developing Diabetes.
So do you have Diabetes?
Come into SIMED First Care or your SIMED healthcare provider's office and get tested for diabetes today! It’s a simple blood test and can have a big impact on your long term health. Despite the test result, and especially if have any of the risk factors listed above please talk to your doctor about lowering your risk of diabetes through your lifestyle factors such as physical activity, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, body weight, and sleep duration. Improving these lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus, and your doctor is always there to help!