YOUR HEALTH: TAKE CHARGE!
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF ASIAN PACIFIC ISLANDER PHYSICIANS (NCAPIP)?
By: Dexter Louie, M.D.
NCAPIP is an organization of physicians of Asian American ethnic descent, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander physicians that advocate for the health and well being of their patients through lending their voices to speak on behalf of their communities.
What do NCAPIP wants to achieve?
- To advance quality, universal and affordable health care
- To promote meaningful research and data collection about their communities
- To help build a diverse efficient and effective workforce
- To help build a patient-centered and population-based approach to healthcare
Why do we exist?
NCAPIP believes that being a physician in America is a privilege and with this privilege, comes a responsibility to the patients they serve. Physicians must take an active role in the development of an effective, efficient and sustainable health care system that can bring optimal health for all.
- NCAPIP believes that everyone should have access to health care and coverage that address cultural and linguistic barriers to care. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in 2014, up to 19 percent of uninsured and underinsured Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders will benefit from the expansion in Medicaid coverage and the availability of affordable coverage through state health insurance exchanges. NCAPIP seeks to make the expansion coverage successful within their communities by encouraging, explaining and promoting the enrollments within their community members.
- The majority of physicians who serve our underserved communities are solo practitioners or small group practices. They deliver a significant level of health care and other related services and are strongly committed to their communities. They are struggling to find support in the rapidly changing environments of health care policy and practice improvement. NCAPIP calls on the federal government, policymakers, and health care payers to support these often overlooked members of our nation's health care provider safety net.
- Physicians of Asian descent comprise a significant segment of the medical profession. Similarly, there are a significant number of nurses and allied health professionals of AANHPI descent. However, these health professionals are not significantly represented in medical and health care leadership and at executive levels that can impact health care policies. NCAPIP seeks system and policy changes that allow our physicians and other health professionals attain high level leadership roles that will lead America to a 21st Century health care system which is equitable, affordable and accessible.
How NCAPIP work with you to improve your health?
- Every month, NCAPIP releases In-language Community Health Digest to bring important health and health policy topics. Two articles exploring a relevant health topic and current national health issues and health policy are written in English and translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean languages. Please check their website www.ncapip.org to obtain the information for your health.
- NCAPIP issues ongoing series of Action Alerts to notify members of their communities on important and urgent health issues brought up by the Food and Drug Administration and other national health organizations. Please join ncapip.org network by logging to www.ncapip.org and sign up to receive the action alerts.
- Take ownership of your health. Ask questions. Read our articles, communicate with your providers or with us at
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HYPERTENSION?
By: Gordon Fung, MD, MPH, PhD
Hypertension or high blood pressure is the most common cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that 68 million or 1 in 3 American adults have hypertension. Hypertension is also called the "silent killer" because the vast majority of people with this condition have no symptoms until they have a complication. The complications are usually devastating and occur after having the condition for many years. The common complications are stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and heart failure. That's why it is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day but it can cause health problems if it remains high for a long time. High blood pressure is thus a condition of sustained elevations of blood pressure leading to the injury of the blood vessels and abnormal changes in the heart muscle. For all adults, ideal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. There are different standards for children and teen agers. The top number is called the systolic pressure and is predictive of cardiovascular risk in people over 50 years of age. The higher and longer the systolic pressure is elevated increases the risk. The highest risk category is stage II Hypertension which is greater than 160. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure which is the resting pressure of the heart. The diastolic pressure is more predictive of cardiovascular risk for people 50 years of age or less. The highest risk category is stage II HTN greater than or equal to 100. When measuring blood pressure, either number – systolic or diastolic determines the stage of hypertension. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) categorizes the stages of hypertension. Stage I is BP > 140/90 to 160/100. Stage II is > 160/100 (an example of Stage II HTN is BP 170/92).
The majority of high blood pressure does not have a known cause. This type of HTN is called primary or essential HTN. Only about 15% of hypertension has a known cause and is treatable by treating the cause known as secondary HTN. One example of secondary HTN is a hormone producing tumor causing pheochromocytoma which produces adrenalin which increases the blood pressure and heart rate. By finding and removing the tumor (and there may be more than one site), one can cure the HTN. Since primary HTN does not have a specific known cause, the management must be individualized and working with your physician is key to controlling the blood pressure to target. For the majority of patients with HTN, the target or goal is to decrease the blood pressure to less than 140/90. Studies have shown that when patients with HTN reduce their blood pressures to this target < 140/90, the risk of cardiovascular disease events decreases. Decreasing the blood pressure < 120/80 with medications can cause problems of too low blood pressure and lead to lightheadedness and loss of consciousness.
There are several things that everyone can do to keep blood pressure in the health range.
- Get your blood pressure checked regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Limit alcohol use
- Don't smoke
- Prevent or treat diabetes
Many times medications are needed to control blood pressure to target. It is important to keep regular check ups with your physician to chose the correct medication with minimum side effects and make adjustments as needed. Blood pressure tends to rise with age and it is important to keep on top of this.