Coryell Health recently added Dr. Nadege T. Gunn to the ranks!

Coryell Health recently added Dr. Nadege T. Gunn to the ranks! A gastroenterologist and hepatologist who focuses on finding therapies for liver-related illnesses, she’s committed to providing world-class care for patients, close to home. Dr. Gunn is also a Medical Advisory Member for the American Liver Foundation and the Fatty Liver Foundation. Learn more about her here: https://coryellhealth.org/physicians/nadege-gunn-md/.

Underprepared To Be Over-Caffeinated

The Pros and Cons of America’s Favorite Drug

How much caffeine do you consume in a day?

Studies show that 85% of the U.S. population consumes at least one caffeinated beverage per day. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that caffeine carries the nickname of “America’s most popular drug.” 

Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant naturally occurring in some foods. It blocks your adenosine receptors, making your body feel more awake and alert. That’s why more than 50% of U.S. adults consume at least 300 mg of caffeine per day. For context, the FDA recommends no more than 400 mg per day, the typical content of 2-3 cups of coffee. Regardless of your vice, whether coffee, tea or soda, there are pros and cons to your favorite caffeinated drink. 

Let’s start with the pros. Caffeine can

  • Increase wakefulness and cognitive function
  • Alleviate fatigue
  • Improve concentration, focus and alertness 
  • Positively affect your memory
  • Increase weight loss in moderation

We know that sometimes, you just need a quick and easy boost of energy to get you through the day. There’s nothing wrong with a caffeinated drink every so often, but it’s important to be aware of caffeine’s full range of effects – not just the pros. Here are some potential concerns:

  • Jitteryness
  • Negative impacts on pregnancy and fertility
  • Glucose control
  • Worsening symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Mixing alcohol with energy drinks increases impairedness 
  • Caffeine is not a sufficient replacement for sleep
  • The sneaky addition of caffeine to foods, especially those targeted at children
  • Caffeine powder could be fatal

There are plenty of myths about caffeine, and Coryell Health has heard them all. Have you been told that caffeine is addictive? That’s not exactly true. While caffeine consumption can create dependence in adults, the side effects and potential withdrawals don’t compare to addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. What about caffeine being a diuretic? Thankfully, that’s not true either – there’s no evidence to suggest that caffeine will increase your risk of dehydration. Have you heard that caffeine can sober you up? We don’t recommend trying this because caffeine will not reduce blood or breath alcohol content. 

Are you trying to cut back on your caffeine intake? Don’t do it cold turkey. Try incorporating different beverages like lemon water, chai tea, or kombucha for a few days. In addition, fuel your body well with healthy meals and snacks for some natural energy. Take a walk for exercise, connect with nature, and stay hydrated – never let your water intake suffer. 

At Coryell Health, we want to make sure you are the healthiest version of yourself, mind and body. If you have any concerns about the amount of caffeine you have to consume to function properly, talk to your primary care physician today.

Dip Your Toes Into Salon Safety

Tips to Ensure Your Perfect Pedicure

Sinking into a pedicure chair may be the ultimate act of pampering, but pay attention to a few key details if you really want well-groomed feet. 

Treat Yourself To Safe Pedicures

Itching to get a pedicure before your ocean-side vacation? We know you want to treat yourself to a pedicure at your favorite salon, but you may be treating yourself to more than just a colorful set of nails. Infections, fungus, and ingrown toenails are common byproducts of pedicures at salons that rush to “sanitize” tools before their next client. Know what to avoid next time you go to prevent experiencing health issues after your favorite self-care ritual.

Pick A Salon With High Standards

Check them out. In preparation, we recommend you check your salon’s ratings and make sure the facility is licensed to sterilize used products. You can also check with your salon and see if they allow you to bring your own tools to your appointment if you wish.

Look. Check for general cleanliness around your salon. Are the floors swept and free of dust and debris? Are the counters spotless, with used tools kept separate from clean ones? Are cleaning supplies visible and close to technicians? Are salon bathrooms neat, free of trash and sanitized regularly? If the answer to these questions is no, chances are product and tool sanitization aren’t happening either. If that’s the case, it might be time to pick a new salon. 

Shape up. Don’t let the pedicurist snip or file your nails more than a tiny bit down the sidewall – cutting too much can cause ingrown nails. Technicians usually ask if you want your nails to be round or straight, and podiatrists recommend cutting nails to the shape of the nail to mirror the cuticle’s natural curve.

Make Sure the Fabulous Foot Bath Isn’t a Germ Pool 

Footbaths tend to be a bacteria-prone piece of equipment, meaning fungal infections can be introduced through small cuts and scrapes on your legs. This concern becomes even more heightened if you have diabetes. We know that a relaxing footbath is a significant part of the pedicure experience, so make sure that your salon replaces the footbath liners for each new customer. 

Don’t shave beforehand. A vital tip many people forget is that you should never shave your legs 24 hours before receiving a pedicure. Newly shaved legs can have tiny nicks or cuts scattered about that aren’t visible, leaving you susceptible to infections, bacteria and viruses. Your best solution is to wait and shave your legs after your appointment. Since your technician should be wearing gloves, those prickly hairs won’t be a bother.

Soften calluses carefully. Calluses and corns are hardened skin that can crack and hurt if they get too thick. During a pedicure, don’t let the salon technician use a razor on your feet, as razors increase infection risk. 

 

Voice Your Concerns

There’s a straightforward way to verify your salon’s cleaning methods: ask. If you have doubts about how tools are handled, the team’s training, licensing or general salon upkeep, there’s no harm in asking the store manager or your nail technician for more details. Listen closely to their answer and make sure these cleanliness tips are mentioned: 

  • Tools sanitized between each use with autoclave, steam, or sterilizers 
  • Footbaths are thoroughly cleaned with hot and soapy water after each use, NOT at the end of the day, and sterilized with a cleaner immediately after washing, with a new liner used for every client
  • Employees wash hands with soap and water after handling each customer, as well as perform hand hygiene before using new gloves and after removing them

Cover Your Bases

Use a clear base coat first. But, if your discolored nails are also thick, brittle or curled, you may have a fungal infection. Skip the polish and head over to your doctor’s office instead. 

Extra Tip: Bring along flip-flops to wear home, so you don’t have to stuff your feet into shoes. Remember, never walk around a salon barefoot. 

With the tips mentioned above, you can continue to enjoy your salon pedicures safely and proudly display healthy feet and toenails all summer long! 

How Coryell Can Help

If you have any concerns about your foot health, our new podiatrist, Dr. Rebecca Bari, DPM, would be happy to see you. Call us today to learn more or to schedule your appointment at (254) 865-2166.

Is Bariatric Surgery In A Foreign Country Worth The Cost?

Traveling south of the border has its perks. Sunny beaches, delicious food, and rich cultural history make Mexico a desirable vacation spot. But, when it comes to a life-changing surgery, is the bargain surgery worth the added cost? 

Visiting another country to obtain healthcare, known as “medical tourism,” creates a considerable amount of potential complications. If you’ve researched bariatric surgery, you’ve likely seen that a common trend for candidates – especially those looking to save money – is to have the operation performed in Mexico. While these procedures appear to cost less, the risk to your individual health and safety becomes a costly consideration. Further treatment is often needed upon returning, possibly amounting to thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.

  • There is no individualized patient plan and education, resulting in long-term complications after the surgery and unsuccessful long-term weight loss.
  • Mexico surgery centers do not have to adhere to the same guidelines as clinics and surgeons in the U.S. In the U.S., patients are protected by healthcare laws and practice standards.
  • Patients have to fly home before fully recovering from surgery, increasing the risk of developing pulmonary embolism and blood clots.
  • There is no nutritional counseling or follow-up care to monitor for malnutrition, which can lead to short- and long-term health problems, slow recovery from wounds and illnesses and vitamin deficiencies, which can cause hair and nail loss.
  • The inability for patients or families to take legal action as a result of harm or death.

 

Adding travel expenses, lodging, and time away from work, the cost of crossing the border for bariatric surgery adds up quickly.

  • Specialized care by a doctor trained in bariatrics and metabolic surgery
  • A medical team who will provide a customized care plan to meet individual patient needs
  • A comprehensive guide you and your medical team use to equip you with the knowledge needed to maintain a successful weight loss journey
  • Big city standard of medical expertise with a small-town level of care
  • No travel requirements before or after the procedure
  • Continued follow-up care and relationships with your healthcare provider

The Coryell Health Minimally Invasive Surgery Center offers bariatric surgery led by David Gochnour, MD, complemented by expert nutrition advice and behavioral health counseling to maximize results and long-term success. Coryell Health is now offering the most competitive price in Central Texas for bariatric surgery.

Think bariatric surgery could change your life for the better? Learn more here

Want a bariatric medicine nurse to contact you? Click here.

Travel Tips for Healthy Summer Trips

How To Travel Safely in This Day & Age

Whether you’re a regular globe-trotter or a once-a-year vacationer, odds are you haven’t been able to enjoy many trips in the last few years. That’s about to change because travel industry experts predict that summer 2022 will be the busiest travel season yet. 

Travel has essentially returned to normal, in tandem with the declining COVID-19 cases and subsequent hospitalizations. Many pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted, with the most recent being ending the requirement for passengers on U.S. airlines to wear masks. It’s predicted that 35% of people expect to travel more this summer than last, with about six in 10 Americans planning at least one trip.

With that said, travel costs are increasing, as evidenced by airline ticket and gasoline prices. So, how can you make the most of your summer vacation? International or domestic, plane or train, mountains or beach, the key is simple: plan ahead. 

  • Check the local restrictions to make sure you’ve prepared accordingly. If you’re visiting another country, remember that their restrictions sometimes differ from the U.S. Currently, U.S. regulations indicate that travelers must have a negative test result within one day of their planned return to the country. 
  • Weigh the options between staying at a hotel versus a private residence, depending on what level of cleanliness, privacy and amenities you’re looking for, in accordance to cost.
  • If you won’t have your own vehicle, decide whether you’ll rent one or opt for rideshare services. Keep in mind that the U.S. is experiencing an incredibly high volume of rental car shortages and flight cancellations. Depending on your destination, driving might be the most reliable choice. 
  • Double-check your passport to ensure it’s up-to-date.
  • Consider traveling in an RV. If you do, book all of your campsites well in advance. 
  • Pack snacks and entertainment. It’ll make the trip more enjoyable, especially if you’ve got little ones. 
  • Plan your route, particularly if you’re going on a road trip. It’s imperative that you’re familiar with the areas you’ll be driving through, especially those less populated with fewer options for pit stops. 

  • Find time to rest. Vacations can and should be relaxing, but it’s also important to pause afterward and settle back into your routine. 
  • Wash and sanitize everything you traveled with. While standard safety tips like washing your hands and avoiding high-traffic areas should be followed the whole time, it’s best to do a thorough cleaning of everything to be especially safe.
  • Remain hydrated and eat nourishing foods. Taking care of your body can be easy to forget amidst a hectic travel schedule, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run if you remember to take the extra step. 

If planning a trip seems overwhelming, you might want to explore the option of working with a travel agent. They can ensure you have everything you need and come prepared with unmatched knowledge and industry connections. Their expertise and financial protection often outweigh the initial costs in commission. 

Regardless of how and when you travel this summer, set yourself up for success. Make sure you schedule annual exams for yourself and regular check-ups for your kids.

Are You Ready to Kick Butt(s)?

Let’s face it, the time to kick butts is now. Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action is coming up on April 1, so we’ve provided some information on smoking that could save your life or the life of a loved one. As part of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, teachers, kids, youth leaders and health advocates celebrate this day by promoting anti-smoking campaigns through community events. We recognize this day in order to call attention to the problems that arise with tobacco use.

Dangers of Smoking 
Smoking damages almost every organ in your body, causing heart issues, cancer, eye disease, arthritis, stroke, lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, smoking can affect fertility, dental health, immune functions and bone health. Nearly one in five deaths in the United States are due to smoking and on average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Because the health consequences of smoking affect far more than just your lungs or heart, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Not to mention that smoking cigarettes wreaks havoc on your external health and physical appearance, causing premature aging, wrinkles and sagging skin.
Where to Start When You Decide to Stop
It’s hard to know where to even start when you decide to quit smoking, but fortunately, there are tons of resources out there! Here are some tips to get you started:

  • From the get-go, commit to a quitting plan.
  • Remove all smoking-related paraphernalia.
  • Opt-out of social settings that are centered around smoking and instead seek smoking-free social activities with nonsmokers.
  • Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms.
  • You might consider medication options, such as a prescription or nicotine replacement therapy to help control symptoms. Consult with your primary care physician about this.
  • Manage cravings with gum, mints or hard candies.
  • When quitting seems impossible, talk to a close friend or family member.

If you do reach a point where quitting does not seem feasible, you have options. Consider seeking a counselor to guide you through the process, call the quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, sign up for free encouragement texting programs, download an app or visit the CDC website for more tips.

Benefits of Quitting
The benefits of quitting smoking are numerous. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, reproductive complications and premature death. Additionally, you will likely notice your overall health and quality of life improve. It’s also important to realize the money you will save by quitting smoking! Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on smoking and related diseases in the United States each year while the average smoker spends over $2,000 a year on cigarettes.
You Can Do It!
Quitting smoking is not an overnight process, but it is a long journey that will have its ups and downs, so we encourage you to celebrate your victories and milestones! When you begin the quitting process, write down five reasons why you chose to quit and when certain days are especially hard, remind yourself of these reasons. This will help you stay motivated and remember the reason you quit in the first place! Quitting is no small feat, but it is possible one step at a time! Your future self will thank you.

How Spotting a Mole Can Save a Life

Stop Skin Cancer in Its Tracks

It’s crucial to know how to spot a possibly cancerous mole, as skin cancer is the most common type of cancer.

Through the Plexiglass

Did you hear the recent story about how a young future doctor saved the life of an NHL team’s assistant equipment manager? Nadia Popovici was at a Vancouver Canucks hockey game when she noticed an irregular mole on the neck of the assistant equipment manager for the Canucks, Brian Hamilton. With her background in nursing, Popovici was able to identify the cancer-like qualities of the mole and knew she had to notify Hamilton immediately. She banged on the plexiglass that separated them and held up her phone, where she had typed out, “The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!” Hamilton shrugged it off at first but fortunately had the sense to get it looked at. It turns out Popovici was right—the mole was a type-2 malignant melanoma. After Hamilton got the mole removed, he reached out to Popovici, who the doctor said saved Hamilton’s life. “She didn’t take me out of a burning car, but she took me out of a slow fire. The words out of the doctor’s mouth were that if I ignored [the mole] for four to five years, I wouldn’t be here,” Hamilton said.

Spotting Skin Cancer

Moles are very common and usually benign. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most adults have at least a few common moles that are typically harmless. However, certain types of moles and other factors, like family history, having had melanoma in the past, or having more than 50 moles, can increase your risk of developing skin cancer in the future. Monitoring moles for changes in size, shape, texture, and color and checking for new growths is an important part of the skin cancer screening process. In addition to protecting your skin from sun exposure, you should perform monthly self-mole checks to look for anything out of the ordinary, like changes to existing moles or new growths.

Melanoma can appear as a new spot or an existing mole. One simple way to determine if a mole might be cancerous is by using the ABCDE rule:

Asymmetry: the mole is irregularly shaped—one side doesn’t match the other.

Border: the edges are blurred or ragged.

Color: the color of the mole is not consistent throughout—ranging from shades of brown, black, pink, red or white.

Diameter: a cancerous mole is usually one-fourth of an inch or larger, roughly the size of a pencil eraser. 

Evolving: the mole is changing in color, shape or size.

The key is to identify melanoma early so you can begin treatment. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, but it isn’t the only one. 

Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are more common than melanomas, but they are also typically more treatable. Both basal and squamous cell carcinomas can show up anywhere but usually grow on parts of the body that are most exposed to the sun, such as the face, head and neck. This is why vigilant sun protection is of the utmost importance.

How Coryell Can Help

The most proactive thing you can do is get yearly skin checks with your primary care provider or a dermatologist, such as our very own Dr. Russell Rowe. Your primary care physician can refer you to a specialist as needed.

Anyone fighting cancer deserves to be near loved ones, which is why we offer diagnostic imaging, laboratory services and a pharmacy to make the process more convenient for you. If you are concerned about skin cancer, call us today at (254) 865-2166. Story credit: The New York Times

General & Bariatric Surgery Clinics Move to Building 1

General and Bariatric Surgery clinics will now be located in Coryell Health Medical Clinic, Building 1. Dr. John Bawduniak, general and vascular surgeon, and Dr. David Gochnour, bariatric and general surgeon, previously saw patients in Building 2, but as of Thursday, March 10th, they will be seeing patients in Building 1.  “The one constant at Coryell Health is our continued growth, as we are constantly evolving to meet the needs of our patients. Rural residents deserve access to excellent healthcare and we are proud to deliver these services. Coryell will move local and regional healthcare to even higher levels of quality and accessibility by expanding locally based services, providers and locations. We now have three clinic locations on our Gatesville campus and will soon begin primary care services out of our Waco clinic,” said David Byrom, Coryell Health CEO.

Determining Your Risk of a Heart Attack for Just $50

Are you keeping score? There is no better time to get a cardiac calcium CT scan done than American Heart Month. This month and next, Coryell Health is charging half price, or $50, for patients to find out their calcium scores. 

Your score can help determine your future risk of having a heart attack or stroke. A cardiac CT scan of the heart detects plaque or calcium accumulation in the arteries. The higher calcium score a patient has, the more aggressive the treatment will be, Dr. Phillip Myatt, Coryell Health Cardiologist explains. “Knowing a patient’s cardiac calcium score helps us develop targeted therapy for patients, including allowing us to optimize medications, such as statin dose, for preventing plaque buildup. Many patients may have otherwise had no idea of their risk.”

More on the Score

So what’s so bad about plaque? Plaque is a build-up of calcium and cholesterol on the artery walls that can narrow the arteries, reducing blood and oxygen flow. The more plaque in your heart, the higher your risk is of a cardiac event. In this scenario, the lower your score, the better.

You should get a cardiac calcium CT scan if you are between ages 40-70 and at increased risk for heart disease but do not have symptoms. People at increased risk include  those with the following traits:

  • Have a family history of heart disease
  • Have a family history of high cholesterol
  • Are overweight 
  • Are or have ever been a smoker 
  • Have a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes
  • Have an inactive lifestyle 

Benefits of Knowing Your Score

While advanced CT technology allows doctors to visualize any plaque buildup in a patient’s arteries, the calcium score can indicate to the physician that he or she may want to initiate or change preventive therapy to lower your risk.

Where Coryell Comes In

Don’t risk waiting. Take advantage of Coryell Health’s half-off special for American Heart Month by scheduling your calcium scan before the end of March! You’ll be glad that you determined your risk of developing heart problems sooner rather than later. The test is painless, non-invasive and fast; it typically takes about 20 minutes. You will be able to resume all regular activity immediately after the procedure. You can request the results be sent to any medical provider or Coryell Health Cardiology will contact you in an average of 3-5 business days.

Schedule your Calcium Score Scan today: (254) 248-6238.

The No.1 Killer for African Americans

This February at Coryell Health, we are celebrating Black History Month by acknowledging the struggles of African Americans—past and present—especially as they relate to heart health. 

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans? One person dies every 36 seconds from heart disease in our country. The risk is even higher for African Americans. In 2018, African Americans were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites. 

The Risk Factors

One of the significant risk factors for heart disease is high blood pressure. According to The American Heart Association, the prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is the highest in the world. African American adults are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure than non-Hispanic whites. African American women are about 60% more likely to have high blood pressure than non-Hispanic white women. In addition, African Americans are also more likely to have high cholesterol.

Close to Home

These statistics are more than just numbers; they hit close to home. The death rate in Coryell County due to heart disease is 342 per 100,000. Among the Black population, it increases to 377 per 100,000 deaths.

Preventative Measures

Here’s the good news: heart disease is preventable! Focus on the following to get your heart into its optimal condition:

  • A Healthy Diet
    • Eat balanced, nutritious meals and snacks, including fruits, vegetables and fewer processed foods
    • Avoid foods high in fat, sodium and sugar
    • Choose foods high in fiber and low in cholesterol 
    • Avoid drinking excess alcohol
  • Healthy Habits
    • The surgeon general recommends two hours and 30 minutes of exercise per week for adults
    • Avoid smoking 
    • Manage a healthy weight 
  • Managing Medical Conditions
    • Control blood pressure and cholesterol by changing habits or trying medications
    • Monitor blood sugar levels if you have diabetes 
    • Regularly take prescribed medicines as directed

Coryell Can Help

If you have heart-related concerns, Coryell Health is your solution. Cardiac rehabilitation and cardiopulmonary medicine are two of our specialties. You can give us a call at (254) 865-2166. In the meantime, check out these tips for a healthy heart from Cardiologist Dr. Keylani.

The Sugary Soda Shake Down

This tweet went viral in May 2019.

A few years ago, this tweet went viral and people freaked out.

Does one bottle of Coke really contain the same amount of sugar as SIX donuts?

Some quick research on nutrition facts reveals the answer. 

One 20oz bottle of Coca-Cola contains 65 grams of sugar. Most donuts contain around 11 grams of sugar. More specifically:

  • 🍩   A Krispy Kreme strawberry iced donut = 11 grams of sugar
  • 🍩   A Shipley’s chocolate iced donut with sprinkles = 11 grams of sugar
  • 🍩   A Dunkin’ Donuts glazed donut = 13 grams of sugar

We’ll use one of the first two examples. If you do the math, six of those donuts would equal 66 grams of sugar, just one gram more than the soda!

To be fair, this message is a bit oversimplfied. Of course, we have to take into consideration factors like calories, saturated fats and nutrient content. One bottle of coke and six donuts are not exactly an equal exchange. Although the graphic is a bit misleading at first glance, it does raise valid health concerns. The message here is not, “You should eat more donuts.” We’re not saying that donuts are healthy. Rather, it is to be aware of how sneaky sugar, especially added sugar, can be. 

Food for Thought

Sugar tastes great, we can all acknowledge that. But is the taste worth the consequences? According to both the American Heart Association and The Sugar Association, sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading sources of added sugars in Americans’ diets, 25% being soft drinks specifically. Added sugars are different than natural sugars, and are the type you want to avoid. Naturally occurring sugars are found in foods such as fruit and milk, while added sugars are just that, added, during the preparation process. You can read more about the difference here.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans caps the recommended daily intake of added sugar at 10%. One of the major downsides of sugar is weight gain, especially belly fat accumulation. Excess sugar causes weight gain, and even obesity, because the simple sugar fructose doesn’t lower the hunger hormone ghrelin or stimulate fullness the same way that glucose, the complex sugar, does. In addition, your liver is the only place in your body that can metabolizes fructose, so the more you ingest in your soda, the higher your risk of developing fatty liver disease.

Too much sugar can also lead to insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, high blood pressure and even cancer. This study of more than 100,000 participants found that  consumption of sugary drinks was significantly associated with the risk of overall cancer.

On top of all that, studies indicate that sugar may be addictive, as it shares certain characteristics with addictive substances, like dopamine release into the brain. This makes reducing your sugar intake challenging, but not impossible.

The Good News

The first step to cutting back is figuring our how much sugar you’re consuming on a daily basis. These days, food manufacturers are required to include that information on nutrition labels, so it’s easy. Next, consider replacing sugary sodas with naturally sweetened alternatives, like carbonated water, unsweetened tea, coconut water, smoothies, etc.

Keep in mind, managing your sugar intake is only one part of a healthy diet. If you want to learn more about making healthy choices, contact Coryell Health Ideal Protein Health Coach Mardi Mason by calling (254) 404-2556 or emailing weightloss@coryellhealthb.wpengine.com. Next time you want a Coke, we encourage you to think about how many donuts it will cost you.