Hoag Presents: "Ask the Doctor" for Winter 2014

Mercedes Tomioka, M.D.

Q: Why is social interaction important for older adults?

A: Research shows that people who continue to maintain close friendships and find other means to interact socially live longer than those who become isolated. Relationships and social interactions even help protect against illness by boosting your immune system.

Some of the potential benefits of being social include:

• Reduced risk for cardiovascular problems, some cancers, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis
• Reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease
• Lower blood pressure
• Reduced risk for mental health problems such as depression
Additionally, social interaction can help keep the brain sharp and increase the use of your analytic skills. Examples of ways to stay social include:
• Join a club or organization
• Volunteer at a local charity
• Play bridge or other card games
• Travel with family or friends

Mercedes Tomioka, M.D. is board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and focuses on the Senior population. She works at Hoag Medical Group at 16300 Sand Canyon Avenue, Suite 311, Irvine, CA 92618. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit www.HoagMedicalGroup.com or call 949-791-3101.

Brian Paik, M.D.

Q: Why should I see a doctor if I am not sick?

A: ​Your primary care physician is your partner and advocate to keeping you well, and a yearly visit is one way to ensure you stay in the best health possible. At your well visit, your physician will discuss and may recommend several screening tests.

While you may not have any symptoms, screening tests are critical to determine if there are any underlying health conditions that need to be addressed. Some of the most common conditions that we can look for include:

• Cancers of the breast, colon, skin, prostate
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• Cholesterol
• Osteoporosis

Even though you may feel well, these conditions can put you at increased risk for heart attacks and strokes, as well as other health complications. The best way to prevent these problems is through early screening, detection, and management of the risk factors that lead to debilitating events later in life.

Additionally, most patients are unsure if their immunizations are up to date, and almost everyone can benefit from an annual flu vaccine. In addition to protecting yourself, you are protecting your family and friends from potentially contagious diseases.

Finally, your physician can serve as a great resource for issues such as smoking cessation, weight loss, managing stress, and depression.

In most of these cases, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure!

Brian Paik, M.D. is a family practitioner at Hoag Medical Group and treats patients of all ages. His office is located at 4900 Barranca Parkway, Suite 103, Irvine, CA 92618. For more information, please visit www.HoagMedicalGroup.com or call 949-791-3103.

Ani Baghdassarian, M.D.

Q: What is all of the hype surrounding medical awareness months and how does this pertain to me and my health?

A: As we ring in a new year, we reflect back on the year behind us and look forward to a fresh start. In the months ahead, many people hope for health and happiness. As you get ready to affix a new calendar to your desk (or download a new one to your phone), take a moment to consider the preponderance of awareness months for 2014.

By designating the month of January to cervical cancer or the month of February to heart health, the medical establishment isn’t introducing the public to diseases nobody knew exist. Instead, the designation of awareness months gives all of us an opportunity to focus on the threat of fatal diseases and begin a dialogue about ways to prevent, fight, and ultimately cure them.

For instance, during the month of March, famous actors, comedians and news personalities take to the airwaves to urge men to get screened for colorectal cancer. By inundating people with messages of prevention and early detection, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month has the potential to save 30,000 lives per year.

Some months garner more attention than others. With large-scale walks and ubiquitous pink ribbon lapel pins, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has as much of a cultural presence in October as Halloween.

A few are lesser known such as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in April and Stroke Awareness Month in May. But without realizing it, you are likely to see more news coverage and hear more conversations about these diseases during those months than at any other time.

On the whole, the calendar is an effective tool to raise awareness of a host of health issues so you can plan accordingly. Instead of waiting for the awareness month to approach, I recommend you take the following proactive steps for the sake of your health:
  1. Visit your physician for your annual health exam.
  2. Discuss your concerns with your physician and determine the recommended screening tests based on history, age, and gender.
  3. Consult your physician throughout the year with any questions and concerns.
So as we enter January, I wish you a safe and Happy New Year – and an informed Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!

Dr. Baghdassarian will be presenting a free Community Ed class on Managing your cholesterol and blood pressure on February 2nd at 6 p.m.

Ani Baghdassarian, M.D. serves as an Internist for Hoag Medical Group. She works at 510 Superior Avenue, Suite 200B, Newport Beach, CA 92663. To schedule an appointment or request additional information, please visit www.HoagMedicalGroup.com or call 949-791-3003.