Examining First State Health

Our top docs span a plethora of specialties and reveal health concerns among Delawareans and what we should know about them.

When we choose physicians to profile in our annual Top Doctors feature, we weigh carefully the top health issues facing Delawareans. In some regards, we’re no different than anyone else. Diabetes, for example, is on the rise across the country, the national rate having doubled among adults over the last 25 years.

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Yet in Delaware, the 13th most obese state in the nation, it is a larger public health concern than it is in most other states. It therefore seemed important to us to interview an endocrinologist.

In the same vein, it seemed important to talk to someone who treats cancer patients. Delaware still ranked No. 1 in both rates of death from cancer and incidences of cancer as recently as 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So what do we healthcare consumers need to know about the diseases and conditions that affect us most?

We hope you’ll learn much from the top doctors profiled beginning on page 62. Each has much to say that is unique about his or her specialty.

What you won’t read in their profiles are themes that emerged as common in the interviews: the effects of stress and stressful lifestyles on our health and the importance of communication between doctor and patient.

To the latter point, most of the doctors expressed concern about a healthcare system that limits the amount of time they can speak with their patients. Taking time to listen to a patient’s description of an ailment is key to accurate diagnoses, they say. It pays to inform yourself about health and medical issues so that when see a doctor, you can make the most of your time.

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One result of having too little time is stress, which not only causes us to release hormones that cause weight gain and other ills, but often forces us to make decisions that lead to unhealthy choices. Among them are choices about how and what we eat. Juggling long hours at work, the demanding schedules we create for our children, the needs of aging loved ones and other demands limit the amount of time we have for exercise and often force us to eat convenience foods—salty, fatty, sugary—of questionable nutritional value.

The double whammy of sedentary lifestyle and bad food is a recipe for cardiovascular disease and the kind of weight gain that contributes to cancer and diabetes. Double the double whammy with compromised immunity that results from diabetes, and our health can quickly spiral downward.

Prevention therefore becomes critically important, and it can often be as simple as reducing demands on your time, getting sufficient exercise and eating the kinds of foods we know are good for us: lean proteins, healthy fats from fish and fruits such as avocados, and lots of leafy greens. As one of our top doctors once told my family, “If your grandparents didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t eat it.”

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bowl of ice cream now and then. That little bit of happiness is important to our good health, too.

 

Executive Editor Mark Nardone

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