July 1, 2022

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Ready Set You: Annual Health Guide

This feature was written by Studio MSP writers. While some of our advertisers were sourced, no advertiser paid to be included.

The time is ripe to be a resident of Minnesota. Not only is our nature’s mosaic of woodlands and waterways delivering a heavy dose of therapy during this quiet, introspective period, but our backyard serves as a hotbed for highly sought-after names with global reputations in health care. There is reprieve in knowing that, should we need it, world-class medical treatment is a short drive away.

Preventive care experienced a precipitous drop in the early COVID era, with routine checkups and health screenings taking a perpetual rain check. And with good reason: Clinics needed to be creative in how they safeguarded against the virus. In-person visits were deferred to telehealth—but video calls, as we learned, can’t count your red and white blood cells. MN Community Measurement reported declines in the number of patients who received care in 2020 versus 2019. “As the health care system returns to more normal operations, concerted efforts will be needed to close these gaps,” says president and CEO Julie Sonier.

“As the health care system returns to more normal operations, concerted efforts will be needed to close these gaps.”


Julie Sonier, President, CEO / MN Community Measurement

When we play an active role in our health, taking it upon ourselves to make lifestyle changes and follow through on annual wellness visits (even when we’re feeling fine!), we see a return on investment—like spotting potential problems before they start. While COVID has assumed the spotlight for the past year-plus, it’s important that we collectively make space for our general health, too.

From updated guidelines across all age groups to arming ourselves with the right questions to ask at our next visit, a directory to Minnesota’s major health care systems, and the scoop on hot topics in care backed by leading local experts—here’s to taking charge of our health!


Mental Health

The Age of Online Self-Diagnoses

With the downtime some of us have inherited over the past 18 months, we’ve unwittingly spent more time in our heads than we’re used to—a place that can sometimes feel foreign, even to the most introspective among us. That’s because enduring a prolonged fight-or-flight state carries the potential of physically reshaping our brains, as neuroscientists and psychologists are gradually finding.

So it makes sense that our version of “community” looks a bit different these days. All we need to do is log in to our social accounts to find a group of people that share similar thoughts or opinions and to feel comforted in knowing that we’re never truly alone. Heather Bodurtha, director of psychological testing at mental health clinic Nystrom and Associates, can see the good in how social media has filled the void during this socially isolating time—and how it can also be damaging. Like when it comes to the phenomenon of online self-diagnoses.

An estimated 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults actually have ADHD

ADHD subgroups on TikTok and Twitter have gone gangbusters over the past year, with content creators revealing their version of what a “day in the life” looks like for an officially diagnosed individual. Comments left on the videos (which have gained billions of views) show a swath of people who feel validated in their forgetfulness or accident-prone nature: “So glad it’s not just me!” “OMG, I do this all the time!” “I always had a feeling it was ADHD. Thank you for being real.”

Self-diagnoses aren’t new, but in a time when insurance premiums are skyrocketing and mental health professional shortages affect 37 percent of the population, according to the Health Resources and Service Administration, more people are taking mental health matters into their own hands-—for better or worse.

“A majority of the clients that come into Nystrom for a psychological evaluation report symptoms of ADHD,” says Bodurtha. “However, an estimated 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults actually have ADHD. Therefore, it’s unlikely that all of those who come in for an eval actually have it.” She explains that the hallmark of ADHD symptoms—attention and focus difficulties—overlaps with other diagnoses. These could be related to sleep issues, nutrition deficiencies, mood disorders, anxiety, or trauma reactions.

“In my experience, there appears to be an increase of anxiety in adults, children, and adolescents,” she says. While about 50 percent of adults with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety as a standalone condition and not a comorbidity can present with mirroring symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty controlling emotions. It’s easy to conflate the two, especially considering that both conditions are driven by changes in the prefrontal cortex.

Add to that: We’re living through traumatic times. Whether we’ve confronted actual loss or are living in fear of it, our society is reeling with raw emotion.  “Although it may not fit the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] definition of trauma, a pandemic is, in fact, a stressful event. Stress can impact a person’s ability to concentrate, which may cause some to feel like they have an attention issue.”

While Bodurtha agrees that awareness of mental health disorders through social media and its content creators has its benefits, the truth is that there are a myriad of disorders with overlapping symptoms.

“It can be hard for someone without proper education, training, and experience in this area to truly understand how to fully differentiate between various diagnoses. While having some of this insight and self-awareness is very helpful, discussing further with a mental health provider is advised.”


In Your 20s—Young Adulthood

Prime Yourself for Good Health

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In your 30s—Adulthood

Keep Yourself on the Front Burner

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In Your 40s—Midlife

Time to Prioritize Prevention

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In Your 50s—Mature Adulthood

Your Health, It Is A-Changin’

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In your 60s—And Beyond

The Future Is Yours

READ MORE >>


Ob-Gyn

Contraception Myths Debunked by the Docs

Dr. Katie Toft of OBGYN West has heard her share of concerns from patients about birth control. “Moms express concern that if they put their daughter on birth control, it implies she’s going to become more sexually active,” says Toft. “And that just hasn’t been shown by studies to be the case.”

She says she also sees the younger generations, in particular, worried that birth control could impair fertility. But this belief is often influenced by the patient’s mother.

“What we’re doing is trying to help women make an educated choice.”


Katie Toft, MD / OBGYN WEST

She stresses that opting for birth control, no matter the form, will only help women decide when they have babies— not if they have babies. “Pregnancy in adolescence has huge impacts,” she says. “We simply want to help women make smart choices for their bodies.”

Another long-held misconception is that hormone-based contraceptives, in any capacity, are intrinsically linked to a heightened risk of breast cancer. But these fears aren’t grounded in science: Toft says that years of research and studies have debunked this time and time again, even in those who have a strong family history of breast cancer.

“I spend quite a lot of time in the office trying to reassure patients that this isn’t going to alter their risk in any way,” she explains. She adds that due to a phenomenon known as detection bias, “women who are on the pill may have a higher likelihood of getting diagnosed because these patients have to be examined in order to get their prescription—so we find something during the examination and, well, that’s a good thing!”

There’s also the instance in which a woman may have a cluster of cells that has the potential to develop into something cancerous, and that starting the pill at that time could make it more “clinically significant”—meaning the cluster grows and then gets detected. “But that doesn’t mean the pill gave you cancer; that just means it may have made those cells more detectable.”


Pediatrics

How to Choose a Pediatrician

You’re expecting a baby, and there are a multitude of decisions to make, from what name to choose to what stroller to buy. One of the most important decisions involves picking the provider who will guide you through caring for a newborn, the toddler years, and teen challenges. Here are five important considerations when choosing your child’s doctor.

The logistics:

You likely will see your child’s pediatrician at least seven times during the first year for wellness checks and immunizations—not including extra visits for fevers, rashes, or other concerns. Determine potential providers’ proximity to home or work and whether they have extended hours.

The setting:

Do you want a small practice where you know all the providers? Or do you prefer a larger clinic where a robust staff can pitch in if your pediatrician isn’t available?

Finding referrals:

Ask your Ob-Gyn or midwife for names of potential clinics or pediatricians. Friends, neighbors, and relatives also might have suggestions. Ask why they like their pediatrician—they might have different priorities or preferences than you.

Research:

Winnow your list to two or three candidates by checking that your insurance covers them and researching their training. Look for a board-certified pediatrician or family medicine physician. Do you need a provider with expertise in special needs or who speaks a different language? That information is usually included in profiles on a clinic’s web site.

Interviews:

Before the baby arrives, set up short prenatal interviews with a couple pediatricians to see if you click. If there are issues that are especially important to you—avoiding antibiotics or incorporating alternative medicine—ask specifically about them. This time spent with providers will give you a good sense of their personality, approach to care, and philosophy, giving you peace of mind for when baby arrives.


Orthopedics

Losing Her Grip

Arthritis of the thumb sounds like an obscure thing—until you learn that it affects more than half of women 70 and older. The condition is more common in women than men, and the degenerative process can begin as early as 40 years of age. Luckily, a large array of treatments are available.

“If joint replacement is delayed until significant altered gait patterns develop, it can lead to permanent changes in your gait.”


Sarah Lehnert, MD / Summit Orthopedics

Knee problems get tended to much later in life for reasons unknown, but theories surmise that a woman’s traditional role as caregiver causes her to have concerns about the recovery process, as she won’t be available for families’ needs post-surgery. Not to mention orthopedic surgeons are predominantly male, and there have been studies showing they’re less likely to recommend total knee replacement to women. (The reasoning behind this is not yet fully understood.) But putting off knee replacement surgery until much later in life has its consequences. Says Dr. Sarah Lehnert of Summit Orthopedics, “If joint replacement is delayed until significant altered gait patterns develop, it can lead to permanent changes in your gait.”

While instilling preventative best practices like weight-bearing aerobic exercises can only produce positive outcomes (like slowing down the process of mineral loss), the female anatomy is predisposed to certain wears, tears, and breaks. Take ankle sprains being twice as common in women.  “Ligaments tend to have more stretch in women, which could increase their risk of injury.” Also, two words: high heels. (Oh, and flip-flops.)

While bone loss is a natural part of aging, the orthopedics field is revolutionizing treatments so conditions like osteoporosis don’t have to be accepted as fate.


Handbook for Twin Cities Health Care Systems

Handbook for Twin Cities Health Care Systems

ALLINA HEALTH allinahealth.org

Abbott Northwestern Hospital Mpls.

Abbott Northwestern—WestHealth Plymouth

Buffalo Hospital Buffalo

Cambridge Medical Center Cambridge

District One Hospital Faribault

Mercy Hospital Coon Rapids

Mercy Hospital—Unity Campus Fridley

New Ulm Medical Center New Ulm

Owatonna Hospital Owatonna

Phillips Eye Institute, a campus of Abbott Northwestern Hospital Mpls.

Regina Hospital Hastings

St. Francis Regional Medical Center Shakopee

The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern at Children’s Minnesota Mpls., themotherbabycenter.org

The Mother Baby Center at Mercy with Children’s Minnesota Coon Rapids, themotherbabycenter.org

The Mother Baby Center at United and Children’s Minnesota St. Paul, themotherbabycenter.org

United Hospital St. Paul allinahealth.org

CHILDREN’S MINNESOTA childrensmn.org

Children’s Minnesota—Minneapolis

Children’s Minnesota—St. Paul

Children’s Minnesota—Minnetonka Surgery and Specialty Center Minnetonka

FAIRVIEW HEALTH SERVICES fairview.org

Fairview Range Medical Center Hibbing

Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital Grand Rapids

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare St. Paul, gillettechildrens.org

HEALTHPARTNERS/PARK NICOLLET healthpartners.com

Hutchinson Health Hutchinson

Lakeview Hospital Stillwater

Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital St. Louis Park

Regions Hospital St. Paul

St. Francis Regional Medical Center Shakopee, stfrancis-shakopee.com

HENNEPIN HEALTHCARE hennepinhealthcare.org

HCMC + Emergency Department Mpls., hennepinhealthcare.org/clinic/hcmc

MAYO CLINIC sportsmedicine.mayoclinic.org, mayoclinic.org

Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus Rochester

Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus Rochester

Mayo Eugenio Litta Children’s Hospital Rochester

Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Mpls.

Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Rochester

M HEALTH FAIRVIEW mhealthfairview.org

M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center Wyoming

M Health Fairview Northland Medical Center Princeton

M Health Fairview Ridges Hospital Burnsville

M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital Edina

M Health Fairview St. John’s Hospital Maplewood

M Health Fairview St. Joseph’s Hospital St. Paul

M Health Fairview Woodwinds Hospital Woodbury

M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center East Bank and West Bank, mhealth.org

M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital Mpls. mhealthfairview.org

MINNESOTA VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITALS

Minneapolis VA Health Care System Mpls., va.gov/minneapolis-health-care

St. Cloud VA Health Care System St. Cloud, va.gov/st-cloud-health-care

NORTH MEMORIAL HEALTH northmemorial.com

Maple Grove Hospital Maple Grove

North Memorial Health Hospital Robbinsdale

RIDGEVIEW MEDICAL ridgeviewmedical.org

Ridgeview Le Sueur Campus Le Sueur

Ridgeview Medical Center Waconia

Ridgeview Sibley Medical Center Arlington

Two Twelve Medical Center Chaska


Honor Roll

Minnesota’s Top Hospitals

HONOR ROLL

Minnesota’s Top Hospitals

Here’s how the top ten hospitals in the Bold North stack up, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Nationally, the top 50 hospitals are ranked by specialties and conditions, best for people with complex, high-risk conditions that require advanced specialized care. But those hospitals that don’t fall in the top 50 in a specialty but are in the top 10 percent of hospitals are labeled high performing. Because of the volume and requirements of U.S. News and World Report’s list, even being listed marks a hospital as outstanding. Not surprisingly, Mayo Clinic is the number one hospital in the state and country.

Mayo Clinic | Rochester Nationally ranked in 14 adult and 8 children’s specialties High performing in 1 adult specialty and 16 procedures/conditions

Abbott Northwestern HospitalMinneapolis Nationally ranked in 3 adult specialties High performing in 6 adult specialties and 14 procedures/conditions

St. Cloud Hospital | St. Cloud Nationally ranked in 2 adult specialties High performing in 2 adult specialties and 14 procedures/conditions

Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center | Duluth High performing in 11 procedures/ conditions

Mercy Hospital | Coon Rapids  High performing in 1 adult specialty and 10 procedures/conditions

Methodist Hospital | St. Louis Park High performing in 11 procedures/conditions

United Hospital | St. Paul High performing in 10 procedures/conditions

M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital | Edina High performing in 9 procedures/conditions

M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical CenterMinneapolis Nationally ranked in 3 children’s specialties High performing in 2 adult specialties and 6 procedures/conditions

Regions Hospital | St. Paul High performing in 7 procedures/conditions


This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.