Today I saw several patients that I had not seen in a year. When asked why they had not come in for a check-up sooner, their answer was they were afraid to because of COVID-19.
This saddens me and other healthcare providers as we believe we can provide safe care for you even in the midst of COVID-19 and its variants.
The fear felt by this patient is not isolated to just this patient. Many patients have expressed the same feelings and have acted by postponing their healthcare maintenance exams due to fears of COVID-19.
A recently published article examined how important it was to make sure people controlled their blood pressure. Keeping one’s blood pressure under control is a cornerstone to help make sure you are cared for properly. As a hypertension specialist, I treat patients with blood pressure issues daily. Other studies have delved into what happens when one’s blood pressure is not under control and the possible damage that can occur to the heart and brain.
We also know that damage that can occur in people with uncontrolled and untreated diabetes. It is also important to monitor and get regular check-ups if you have lung problems or kidney issues.
As we enter the autumn season, do not forget to get your maintenance exams. The articles keep coming that address the fears of many health care providers, which are that thousands of women are not getting their mammograms and thus the diagnosis of breast cancer is missed during early detection at the most treatable states of the disease process.
I often use the term maintenance exams. To me, these are routine exams that should be scheduled periodically. I use that term to resonate with the maintenance that one is faithful to perform on one’s cars.
Such health maintenance would include routine lab work such as cholesterol. A complete blood count or hemoglobin, kidney function exams, liver function exams, I also include mammograms, prostate exams, PSA (prostate specific antigen) numbers, colonoscopy exams, eye exams, dental exams, bone density exams and others. In my opinion, these are the basic exams that we need to conduct in order to keep an observational eye on a patient and intervene if abnormalities are discovered. It is the way we keep you healthy.
I also recommend that each home, especially if there are people residing there with hypertension, have a “working” blood pressure cuff and someone there who knows how to use it. I suggest that you take that machine with you on your next visit to your healthcare provider and let them make sure your blood pressure cuff is of good quality. Your provider will also make sure you know how to use it properly. They will calibrate your machine with the machine used in your provider’s office. Providing your home blood pressure numbers can be invaluable information during a telehealth or an in-person visit. A working home thermometer is also a must to have at home along with a well-stocked first-aid kit.
I have also observed that patients have been lax in getting their shingles and pneumonia vaccines. During this time of COVID-19, it is extremely important to be fully vaccinated against all illnesses in order to protect yourself. To that end, be vigilant and make sure you also get your flu vaccine. Your healthcare provider or pharmacy would be happy to make sure you are vaccinated.
The bottom line is that we all need to take better care of ourselves in the midst of this pandemic. This is a subject I have covered before but one I am seeing so much of so please take heed.
In closing, I hear people say all the time that they are sick of COVID or that they are so over COVID. I must remind them that COVID does not care about anyone. Its sole person is to find a home where it can thrive, replicate and mutate. Any warm body will do just fine. Protect yourself on all fronts. Please get vaccinated, encourage your friends and family to get vaccinated. Do not give COVID a home in your body to land. If not for yourself protect your children and the elderly.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at email@example.com.
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