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Dr. D’s May 2021 Medical Update

In May 2021, there are several health observances worth discussing. We’ll get to those, but first, I need to continue to remind those who haven’t received a COVID vaccine that the vaccines are safe and I strongly encourage you to receive one. I’m very grateful that many of our patients have been able to receive one of the vaccines. There have been a few who have concerns and we are doing our best to answer questions and encourage them to be vaccinated. The sooner most of us are vaccinated, the sooner we will be able to return to a more normal life.

Stroke Awareness Month has the goal of raising awareness for stroke prevention. Strokes result from either bleeding in or from blockage in blood flow in a person’s brain. Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. There are four types of stroke; however, ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are the most common. An Ischemic Stroke (clots) occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed and account for 87% of all strokes. A Hemorrhagic Stroke (bleeds) occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures. The two types of weakened blood vessels that usually cause hemorrhagic stroke are aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). The most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke is uncontrolled high blood pressure. For the first time in years, the numbers of strokes increased last year, pointing to a greater need to manage these risk factors. The COVID infection has increased the incidence of stroke among young people, as well. Many delayed treatments for fear of going to the hospital during a pandemic. The F.A.S.T. acronym is even more important to remember: Face-drooping face or mouth; Arm-one-sided weakness in arm or leg; Speech-slurred speech or difficulty finding words; Time-getting someone with these symptoms to medical care is quickly is critical.

May is also Hepatitis Awareness Month. We’ve discussed hepatitis often in my monthly article, but it is always good to refresh our memories. Hepatitis is a viral infection of the liver. The two main types are Hepatitis B and C. Both are blood-borne and can cause significant illness. Treatment for Hepatitis B is supportive. Less than 1% result in liver failure and less than 5% result in a chronic infection. For those at risk of Hepatitis B, a vaccine is available to reduce the risk of infection. Hepatitis C, however, has no vaccine but treatment is available. Screening for Hepatitis C should be offered to all adults. Continued screening should be offered to those at high risk of infection. The concern for Hepatitis C infection is that it can lead to cirrhosis and, possibly, liver cancer.

Finally, May 10-16 has been designated Women’s Health Week. This week is meant to encourage women to make their health a priority. I often see female patients who place the health of those they care about above their own. Taking the time to have recommended screenings is important for a healthy life. We work hard at HealthTexas Primary Care Doctors to help our patients get and stay healthy. For our female patients, that means recommending staying up-to-date with mammograms, well-woman exams, colon cancer screening, and keeping health conditions under control. By taking care of yourself, it will be easier to care for others.

If you have questions about these topics, please reach out to your primary care physician.
Michael Dominguez, MD, FAAFP is board certified in Family Medicine. His office is located at HealthTexas Medical Group, 590 N. General McMullen, 78228, phone: 210-249-0212.