Text questions answered on your health

The following questions were sent via text message to a panel of medical experts who gave an informational lecture to attendees of the Northwest Arkansas Business Women’s Conference.

Are the vascular vein screenings mobiles that set up at churches accurate readings and worth the money?

deb-walker.jpgLike all tests, they are as accurate as the interpretation of the person “reading” them. You need to be sure a trained physician is interpreting the tests and providing thorough follow-up. If this isn’t happening, it’s a waste of money. I would recommend you have the same vascular screening through our office simply because it costs the same, and cardiologists specializing in vascular disease will review the studies, provide feedback, and arrange follow-up if needed.

My grandfather had diabetes and my mother was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Is this something I should be concerned with?

Diabetes does run in families.You should have a fasting glucose each year. Your chances of developing diabetes is greatly reduced by exercise, with strict control of blood pressure and weight—especially ‘belly fat’, the weight we tend to carry around the middle.

I have balance but I still have fatigue. What could cause that?

The list  of medical problems that cause fatigue is very long. Probably the top reasons are anemia, thyroid function problems and inadequate sleep/exercise schedule. Most reasons can be ruled out with lab tests.

What is a normal blood pressure for women?

130/85 or less.

Is there a natural herb that helps with high blood pressure?

Not that I’m aware of but there are several herbs that raise BP. Valerian root does have a calming effect and, in theory, should lower blood pressure, but nothing has been proven.

I have undiagnosed chest pain. The pains do not seem to be brought on by stress but are made more severe by stress. All cardiac problems have been ruled out. Do you have any suggestions for next steps?

Possible causes:

1.   Hiatal hernia, reflux, esophageal spasm—all GI issues that mimic heart pain.

2.  Musculoskeletal pain—bones, cartilage, and mucle pain, i.e. arthritis or inflammation.

These are the top causes of non-cardiac chest pain.

Is alcohol completely bad for health or is red wine good for health if we drink one glass per day?

A glass of wine each day will not hurt you at all.

Should u do a heart stress test even without symptoms?

No. There’s been no evidence that a yearly stress test reduces your risk of heart attack. I do recommend sustained daily exercise, at least 30 minutes a day. If you’re exercising every day, you’ll know if your endurance decreases or if you begin having symptoms with exercise. This is a good predictor.

Should I have my varicose veins removed?

No. There are newer techniques like vein ablation that are now recommended.

Can I take too much Omega 3? I have a knee replacement, what about aerobics?

I’m not sure it’s possible to take too much, but like most medications you should just take the recommended amount, 4000mg daily. If you’re unable to walk on a treadmill or do aerobics due to your knee, you should do water aerobics or use a stationary bicycle. If you live near enough, I recommend the Wellness Center in Rogers.

I recently gave blood and was told my iron level was very high. Also my blood would not come out. Should I be concerned by this?

The iron test performed when donating blood is a  just a basic screening test. However, you do need to have a CBC, a full blood test that checks your iron level. If your iron level is very high, you need to follow up with your primary MD. There are a couple medical conditions that cause high iron levels that need medical treatment.

The answers above were provided by Deb Walker of Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas, a nurse practitioner with Mercy Cardiology Clinic with 22 years of experience in this field.