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Genesis Medical Associates, Inc.
Posted on 04/14/2017 19:50

Addressing your cancer risk with a doctor is a critical part of healthy living. It’s no secret that cancer has become one of the most prevalent medical issues in the United States and across the globe. Based on the growing number of cases, it is estimated that approximately 39.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime.  While certain cancers develop through genetics, others are born through our lifestyle choices, like exercise, diet, and drug and alcohol consumption. Even though the cancer mortality rate has declined since the 1990’s, it’s important to realize how cancer could impact you or your loved ones if proper prevention and care does not occur.

April is Cancer Care Month, which means many Americans are taking steps to prevent cancer by taking extra care of themselves. Hopefully, this will lead to the development of good habits for cancer prevention all year round! Here are a few ways that you can start working to give yourself a healthier future with a lower risk of cancer.


#1 & #2: Diet and Exercise

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are not only beneficial to your overall well-being, but they are also key in reducing your risk of cancer. Keeping up with a healthy weight and a balanced diet can also reduce your risk of other conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Specifically, incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your meals and limiting meat and sodium intake can not only help you lose weight, but also give your body the fuel it needs to stay healthy. As far as exercise goes, being active for 30 minutes each day - even if it’s in five to ten minute increments - is key in keeping up with a healthy weight and cancer prevention. Whether it’s taking short walking breaks during the work day, going to the gym, or playing a sport you enjoy, it’s important that we keep up with an active routine to stay on the right track.


#3: Sun Protection

Of course we want to wear sunscreen if we’ll be outdoors for hours during the summer, but did you know sunscreen is something we need any time we’re outside? The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using an SPF 15 or higher when going outdoors. If you’ll be outside in the  sun, protective clothing and gear such as sunglasses, hats, long sleeves and pants can make a difference in protecting our bodies from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Be sure to regularly check your skin for any unusual moles, markings, discoloration, and redness as well. If you have concerns about anything on your skin after being exposed to sunlight, visit your doctor for more information.


#4 & #5: Alcohol and Smoking

Alcohol consumption as well as smoking are major factors in contributing to our cancer risk. Alcohol consumption has been linked to breast, throat, liver, colon, mouth, and stomach cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, those who drink alcohol should  limit their intake to one drink daily for women, and 2 daily for men, to minimize the additional risk associated with alcohol. Additionally, smoking causes 80% of all lung cancer deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States per year. Tobacco smoke causes damage to our lungs, throats, and mouths, including secondhand smoke.


Cancer is a devastating disease and taking proper precautionary measures can greatly reduce your risk of cancer, as well as improve your health and well-being. The first step in starting on a journey to cancer prevention is by speaking to your doctor. At Genesis Medical, our staff can provide information on different cancers - particularly those most likely to affect you based on age and family history - and how you can reduce your risk of developing them. Schedule an appointment at a location near you and our staff will be more than happy to assist you.

Posted on 03/30/2017 16:26

Properly using antibiotics and preventing antibiotic resistance is critical for good health. They're one of the most frequently prescribed types of medications in modern medicine - but when used improperly, they can be exceptionally problematic. These are antibiotics, medicines used to treat illnesses caused by bacteria. Unfortunately, misinformation about antibiotics can lead to us misusing these important medications - which can cause even more health problems.

Understanding what antibiotics were designed to do, and what happens when we don’t use them properly, is a critical part of being a sick patient in recovery. Whether you were recently diagnosed with an illness and prescribed antibiotics, or you’re looking to stay prepared for the next time you may need them, this is a subject where knowledge truly is power - as well as the key to keeping both your and your community’s health in the spotlight.


Bacteria Versus Viruses: (Not) One And The Same

One of the most important things to remember about antibiotics is that they were designed specifically to treat bacteria-related illnesses, which are different from viruses. Though both bacterial and viral infections are caused by microbes, bacteria and viruses are very different in their design and functions. Viruses require a human host to function and reproduce, as they have no cellular structure. Bacteria, on the other hand, are single-celled microorganisms that can exist in numerous environments. Bacteria are also considered to be living organisms - while viruses are not.

The subtle differences between bacteria and viruses are ultimately why antibiotics cannot cure every illness. The common cold, the flu, many sinus infections, and other viral diseases are all examples of illnesses that cannot be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes antivirals can be prescribed to assist in recovery; but often, doctors can only treat the symptoms of a virus.


Antibiotic Resistance: A Worrying Problem

Why does it matter if antibiotics are used to treat patients with a viral infection? Because taking unnecessary antibiotics is a misuse of medication that can actually lead to stronger strains of bacterial infections, known as antibiotic resistant strains. These strains of bacteria can resist the effects of an antibiotic, making them harder to treat in the future. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of our methods of treating the illnesses they cause.

Antibiotic resistant strains of diseases are also why it’s so critical to take all of the antibiotics you are prescribed. Many patients stop taking their antibiotics when they begin to feel better. But stopping the antibiotics early will keep the bacteria lingering around and could lead to another infection.

Antibiotic resistance creates a twofold problem. For starters, it means that if you develop a relapse of your illness, it may be harder to treat it; but it also means that resistant bacteria can spread to family members, coworkers, and community members. Either way, antibiotic resistance can cause illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics to become dangerous infections.


What To Do With Your Antibiotics

While antibiotic resistance is a scary topic, the good news is that simply taking antibiotics as directed by your doctor is an easy way to avoid the worst of a resistant strain of bacteria. Taking a full dose of antibiotics, even if you feel healthy before your prescription runs out, will ensure that the illness affecting you is thoroughly treated. And in the event that you are diagnosed with a viral infection, you can talk to your doctor about managing the symptoms of your illness and develop an action plan that will help you recover more quickly - no antibiotics needed!

At Genesis Medical, your primary care physician can diagnose various infections and prescribe the correct antibiotics to get you feeling well again. If you feel unwell, schedule an appointment at location near you and our staff will be happy to assist you.

Posted on 03/15/2017 15:38

Movement and exercise is the key to good health.You’ve heard it before: exercise is the key to a healthy life. You've heard that it impacts everything from your weight, to your risk of developing heart disease, to your mood. The benefits of exercise are definitely not a secret. The catch? Many of us aren’t moving as much as we should be.

The American Heart Association recommends “at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember.” Easy to remember it may be - but less than half of Americans over the age of 18 get enough aerobic physical activity.

If you’re struggling to meet your exercise needs and goals, now is the perfect time to consider an exercise strategy that incorporates movement into your routine. With spring approaching, more exercise opportunities are available compared to the winter - allowing you to do the following, as recommended by FitBit and our own team:

  • Find a Workout You Enjoy: Exercise doesn’t have to be daunting if you find something you like. Think about sports you played in high school - you can find local leagues to join for fun. If you enjoy the outdoors, warmer weather activities like hiking, biking or running may appeal to you. And if you can’t wait for the public pools to open, several local groups offer memberships for access to indoor pools. Figuring out what you enjoy and creating a workout based on those activities will give you something to look forward to and help you stay moving.
  • Check Out Events In Your Community: Find a charity 5K or fun run, sign up, and mark the date on your calendar. This will help you stay motivated to train to ensure you perform at your best come race day. Not only are these events a great way to keep yourself in shape, they’re also an opportunity to meet new friends who can motivate you in your fitness journey.
  • Write Things Down: As humans, we tend to have a better recollection of things if we write them down. Writing down a workout schedule in your calendar can help you stick to a schedule. Whether it’s walking your dog or running with a friend, this will help you keep track of your progress and get into good habits. Try scheduling workouts like you would schedule appointments for work to give you that extra drive.
  • Remember: There’s Always Time To Exercise: “Thirty minutes a day, five days a week” can feel like a large goal - but no one ever said those thirty minutes need to happen at the same time. Whether you have an hour or 10 minutes, use that time to get moving. Use your lunch break to get in some steps, or take a series of 10 minute walks throughout your day. You can also incorporate extra movement into other daily tasks by taking the stairs whenever possible or parking further away from your destination.  All those minutes and steps add up at the end of the week - so don’t hesitate to invest in smaller increments of movement and exercise if that’s what your schedule allows!

While these are all general examples of what you can do to keep a little exercise in your daily and weekly routines, every individual responds differently. If you’re looking to develop a fitness routine better suited to your personalized health goals, we can help. At Genesis Medical, your primary care physician can provide the best advice regarding the best exercise regimen for you. Contact a location near you to schedule an appointment, and our staff will be happy to review your best exercise options for your specific health needs.

Posted on 02/21/2017 01:06

american heart month heart health February is American Heart Month, which means more attention will be on heart disease awareness and prevention than usual. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, affecting one in four Americans.

Heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries, which creates blood clots and makes it more difficult for blood to flow through. While the condition is serious, it’s also very preventable! In fact, one of the biggest factors in heart disease prevention is diet - a lifestyle choice that we have lots of control over. With that in mind, we recommend the following helpful tips for eating the right foods that will aid in keeping your heart and body healthy:

  1. Read Calorie Information: Regulating caloric intake is one of the major ways to keep up with a balanced diet. Many factors go into calculating your daily caloric intake, but some include age, gender, weight, level of physical activity, and more. Using tools to consider these important factors will help you figure out how many calories you should be eating and drinking each day to be your healthiest. Calorie information on food labels is typically based on a 2,000 calories per day diet, but you can consult your doctor for more information on your suggested intake.
  2. Choose Healthy Options from All Food Groups: A healthy diet doesn’t just equal a healthy caloric intake. Balancing out your diet with nutritious selections from each food group is essential in keeping your heart healthy. Foods that are full of nutrients tend to have fewer calories and contain the vitamins and minerals that the body needs to thrive. The American Heart Association recommends emphasizing various fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and any non-tropical oils.
  3. Note Which Foods to Avoid: Adding more healthy options to one’s diet also means taking some food away to reduce your risk of poor heart health. High-calorie options and foods low in nutrients are the biggest foods to avoid when keeping heart health in mind. Decreasing your intake of sodium-rich foods is also a great way to prevent and reduce high blood pressure, as a high-salt diet can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and other deadly heart conditions. Sugary foods and drinks such as soda should also be avoided, as soft drinks contain high amounts of sugar and increase your risk of developing heart disease.
  4. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise: Sticking with a healthy diet will make a difference, but diet and exercise go hand in hand. Reducing calories in and increasing calories out is the best way to keep your heart in check. The American Heart Association suggests that adults between 18 and 64 years old should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Moderate aerobic activity includes walking and vigorous can be running or jogging.

These healthy lifestyle tips will go a long way in helping you feel your best and in keeping your heart healthy. While these steps are a great starting point for good health, it’s important to consult a doctor to learn more about heart disease prevention, especially if heart disease runs in your family. If you have concerns about heart disease, dieting, and healthy habits in general, contact a doctor at a location near you. During your appointment, we can help you get on the right track for beginning a healthier lifestyle to prevent heart disease and other conditions.

Posted on 02/09/2017 21:10

Genesis Medical offices rely on patient centered medical home care in Pittsburgh. Did you know that Genesis Medical Associates Physicians is a recognized Patient Centered Medical Home under the rules of the National Committee on Quality Assurance? Initial announcements about this certification began in 2014, and the benefits of these efforts have only grown since then. Of course, this is not a term that comes up often in conversation - so this month, we wanted to tell our community exactly what this term means for them.

A Patient-Centered Medical Home, also referred to as the PCMH, is a relatively new delivery model of health care designed to help physicians and patients work together and ensure that you as a patient are receiving long-term, coordinated care - rather than one-time fixes that do nothing to prevent future health problems. Under the PCMH model, a team of doctors - such as us - works constantly to ensure you receive preventive, coordinated, and integrated care throughout time. And thanks to its preventative nature, this type of care promotes a better state of health than simply visiting a doctor or urgent care center during a time of sickness.


What PCMH Care Looks Like At Genesis

At our offices, the implementation of Patient-Centered Medical Home care standards can be seen in small ways. Our use of tools such as MyMedicalRecord is an example of how we’re making care interconnected throughout our patient’s day and life. Use of the PCMH model can also be seen in a lesser known aspect of our care options: as part of our ongoing commitment to upholding patient-centered care practices, we offer comprehensive care in more settings than our offices.

In addition to offering in-house check-ups, our staff actually attends and follows up on all of our patients should they require in-patient care at a hospital. Genesis physicians work in collaboration with any medical sub-specialists providing care to you, as this allows us to coordinate and facilitate the most appropriate treatment from a primary care perspective. By involving ourselves in our patients’ post-hospital discharge transitions, we are able to offer constant and consistent care to each of our patients.

Northern Connection’s February edition recently covered this unique practice at Genesis Medical, highlighting how our staff can help confirm if a patient is or is not ready to be discharged from a hospital, as well as advise if they should return home or move on to a nursing home for specialized assistance. Either way, our doctors’ approach ensures that patients see a safe, successful transition between a hospital and the next step of a patient’s journey. As highlighted by “Northern Connection”, it has been clinically demonstrated that hospital readmissions and post-discharge complications are significantly reduced if Genesis Physicians see their patients within 7 days of discharge.


What You Can Do To Enable This Care

It won’t take much on your end to enable the benefits of our PCMH care following a hospital visit elsewhere. Of course, our approach to our patients’ needs will differ from case to case and hospital visit to hospital visit. To ensure that our team is able to provide the proper care to your family following a hospital visit, we recommend the following:

  • Call your doctor’s office immediately after any hospital discharge to make a follow-up appointment.
  • Contact your doctor at any time if you need help choosing a home health agency or nursing home following a hospital stay. Our team works closely with several high quality nursing homes. Patients can also visit Medicare.gov to compare the quality of home health agencies, nursing homes, dialysis facilities, and hospitals in your area. You can also see which nursing homes are attended by Genesis Physicians on their web site at www.genesismedical.org under the Resources tab.  

A simple phone call is ultimately all to takes to access our team’s resources and to get the ball rolling during your or a family member’s journey to full health after a hospital visit. You can feel self-assured that Genesis Physicians take the trust that you have placed in them, to care for your loved ones, very seriously.

Still have questions about these services? If so, feel free contact a doctor at a location near you by phone or by email through our Patient Portal. Our staff can help to clarify exactly what our PCMH services mean for you and your family, so that you know exactly what your options are following a health crisis.

Posted on 01/26/2017 18:24

Defining a healthy weight is key to weight loss. There’s no denying that healthy weight loss is a pretty prevalent topic during the first month of a new year. Unfortunately, something we’ve noticed in our line of work is that many discussions about weight loss focus on hitting a certain number on the scale, and nothing else. Oh, if only it were that simple!

At Genesis Medical, we constantly strive to help our patients live at a healthy weight by addressing not only the number on their scales, but the lifestyle factors behind that number as well. In our offices, healthy weight is represented by more than a weigh-in. Why? Because a number simply cannot tell us your entire story - or even if you’re a healthy weight to begin with.


Defining A Healthy Weight: It’s More Than A Number

A basic definition of a healthy weight is “a weight that lowers your risk for health problems.” But what does that mean, exactly? Does that mean maintaining the lowest weight possible? Does it mean that you fit into a certain jean size? Not necessarily. In fact, these standard, number-based lines of thinking can be pretty unhealthy in and of themselves.

Genesis Medical’s team is made up of strong advocates for looking beyond the numbers that define a patient’s weight. We’d rather address the ways our patients can live healthier lifestyles - and that means focusing what they eat and how much they exercise.

We tend to focus on these areas for a few key reasons. Diet and nutrition are particularly important because what we eat affects our risk of developing various illnesses. Depending on a patient’s metabolism, it’s entirely possible for them to be a healthy weight on a scale; but if that patient’s diet is composed of high-sodium fast food and high fat pizzas, those are major risk factors for an unhealthy future.

Exercise is just as important - not only because it helps control our weight, but because it can help us manage our blood pressure, as well as reduce our risk of developing heart disease and numerous cancers.

Considering these factors is our priority because, as any health expert will tell you, a “good” number on a scale is only one portion of a picture of health. Taking the time to consider what we eat and how much we move ultimately helps doctors address a patient’s lifestyle and overall body fitness - and this is the critical step needed to help patients reach a truly healthy weight.


Your Weight And Your Health: A Complex Relationship

While what we eat and our exercise patterns are important, this isn’t to say that weight can be ignored entirely. Research repeatedly confirms that living at a higher weight contributes to the risk of developing certain health issues. This includes heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

In many cases, though, these conditions ultimately develop due to unhealthy overall lifestyles - where being overweight is a key component. Lowering one’s weight can often control or prevent many of these conditions. At the same time, weight alone is not a guarantee that someone won’t develop a serious illness as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle.

Ultimately, numbers aren’t everything - though it’s still worth taking them into consideration as patients begin to create a healthier body overall. The question, then, is how can we best measure our bodies to begin to determine if our weight is acceptable?


Determining If You’re At A Healthy Weight

Currently, patients and doctors alike can access tools that provide a general picture when determining a weight they may want to strive towards. BMI numbers - or Body Mass Index numbers - as well as the simple measurement of a patient’s waist circumference can help give us a good “ballpark” estimate as to whether or not a patient may be considered overweight. (Men should aim to have a waist circumference of under 40 - and women’s should be under 35.)

Are these tools perfect? Unfortunately, no. For example, the BMI system does not always accurately measure your overall fat or lean tissue (muscle) content. Because of this, while it can give individuals a rough estimate of where their weight stands, it cannot give them insight into how much of that weight is muscle, and how much of it is a much more harmful fat content. So, a person can be quite thin, but actually have a high percentage of body fat; a patient’s muscle and bone size can also skew the scales in the wrong direction.

The flaws in these systems highlights why focusing on numbers alone is not necessarily going to help patients truly evaluate their health. Healthy weights are also determined by our age, sex, body type, bone density, muscle-fat-ratio, overall general health, and height. So, how can we best go about sorting through all of these factors?

Put simply, don’t go it alone. Working with a doctor or dietician is the best way to work this out.

As you can see, maintaining a healthy weight is a complicated matter - but a vital one to living a healthy lifestyle. If you want to check in with a doctor and determine what you can begin to do to hit the healthiest number possible on your scale, please contact a doctor at a location near you, and mention wanting to set an appointment specifically to talk about these goals. We will help you begin to piece together a picture of where you are, and ensure that you can begin working towards where you want to be.

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