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Bellbrook Family Practice Blogs

An ongoing series of Medical information


May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It is important to note that despite advances in research and medicine, stroke continues to be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 7.8 million adults in the U.S. have experienced a stroke in their lifetime (2018 National Health Interview Survey). Effects of stroke can be significantly debilitating for those it affects so it is important to educate yourself on this disease, its signs, and risk factors.

What is a stroke?

Stroke is an acute disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A blood vessel in the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. As a result, the brain does not get the blood and oxygen that it needs, so brain cells die.

What are signs of a stroke?

One sided facial drooping

Slurring of words or uncontrolled drooling

Confusion or altered mental status

Inability to move one arm or leg

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor or go to the hospital immediately.

What is a TIA?

This is also known as a ‘mini stroke.’ Symptoms are similar to a stroke, but they do not last. Imaging (such as CT or MRI of head) does not show any lasting effects. After a TIA, one is at much higher risk for stroke in the future.

How can I prevent a stroke?

Heart health is most important. If you have high blood pressure, sugar, or cholesterol, this needs to be controlled with a healthy diet, exercise and medicines as needed. It is important to get your labs checked once per year to check your heart risk. If you smoke, quitting will help protect your heart and lungs. If needed, losing weight is recommended as well for all of the above. 

Colonoscopy 101 with Katrina Burgos, PA-C

March is colorectal cancer awareness month, so let’s go over a few basics about colon cancer and screening guidelines.

How prevalent is colon cancer?

Although rates of colon cancer in the US are going down, it remains the third leading cause of cancer mortality for both men and women. More than 56,000 Americans die from CRC each year, and more than 140,000 new cases will be diagnosed.

What are the signs and symptoms of colon cancer?

Symptoms of colon cancer can vary, but may include blood in stool, significant change in bowel habits, feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowel, or unexplained weight loss. Blood tests may show anemia or low iron levels. Keep in mind that many patients do not show any symptoms suggestive of colon cancer.

What are the risk factors for colon cancer?

Exact cause for colon cancer is unknown, but it is likely caused by both inherited and lifestyle factors. Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps are at higher risk for developing. Anyone who has Crohn’s or UC is also at higher risk and needs to be screened earlier and more often. Cigarette smoking and obesity are also risk factors. About 75% of patients who are newly diagnosed for colon cancer had no known risk factors.

How do I check for colon cancer?

At Bellbrook Family Practice, we recommend either colonoscopy or the Cologuard at-home test beginning at age 45. This is a new guideline by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in 2021 that lowered screening from age 50 to age 45 in order to improve colon cancer detection. Colonoscopy requires a referral to a gastroenterologist, and prep is performed to clean out the bowel beforehand. This is a procedure that allows the entire colon and rectum to be directly visualized. If any polyps are present, they are removed and sent for biopsy. If normal, doctors recommend to get this done every 10 years. The Cologuard at-home test allows patients to do a stool test in the comfort of their own home, and it is fairly sensitive to picking up on early changes associated with CRC. If normal, this needs to be done every 3 years.

What can I do to prevent colon cancer?

Prevention is the best medicine. Ask your provider at Bellbrook about individualized recommendations for you based on your personal and family history. Practice a healthy lifestyle by avoiding cigarette smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regularly screened for colon cancer.


American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Medical Minute with Mackenzie

Discussion​​ on Flu Vaccine

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