Women’s Health

Editorial StaffSeptember 22, 2020
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Valley health care professionals help women along every part of their personal wellness journeys, from dental to mental.

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If this crazy year has taught us anything, it’s that our health is a precious jewel that cannot be taken for granted. As we’ve all spent more time at home, we’ve been reminded of what is most important in life: our health and our loved ones. If you don’t have the former, it is much more difficult to enjoy the latter.

While you might think seeing a general practitioner once a year is good enough, you deserve so much more than “good enough” – and so does your family. They want you to be happy, healthy and present, and that starts with your personal wellness journey. Just like raising kids, meaningful health care takes a village. It’s worth seeking out specialized physicians for specific issues and making sure your doctor “gets” you. It’s also worth doing your research to ensure you are empowered to make the best decision for you. You are the one living your “one wild and precious life,” to quote the late poet Mary Oliver – not anyone else.

Take a little time right now to really think about your health, from your head to your toes. What’s aching? What’s making you nervous? What is feeling fine, but could feel amazing? What feels wonderful – and you want to make sure it stays that way? What are your goals? What are your fears? What do you want an outside opinion on? Check in with yourself, and then read on to learn about Valley health care professionals who can help you on your journey.

Realize Your Power

Angelina Musik knows how precious health and safety are. In 1999, she fled an abusive marriage with her kids. While in hiding, she became one of the first 10 female CEOs/co-founders of a web tech company, where her experience provides keen insight into the ways predators target others.

“My passion is to educate, protect and empower,” Musik says. “Merging web technology with classic media provides me an effective stage to reach, teach and impact the masses!” A month after being awarded an honor by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2004, she suffered a traumatic brain injury five days before she was slated to begin filming for The Apprentice. She shut down her Angelina TV show to heal.

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“In 2012, my Beautiful Intelligence experiment helped me gauge how easily consumers were being taken advantage of by predatory and inferior practitioners, products and services,” Musik says. “And how authentic health, wellness, organic and green entrepreneurs struggled to make greater impact.”

Fusing her experience, vocation and public health concern, she founded Wellness by Choice, “a bridge to connect wellness-minded consumers to trustworthy experts who help us live smarter, healthier and happier.” Join Musik as she films the revamped Angelina Show at her 2020 October Enterprising Women’s Conference and Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center (enterprisingwomensexpo.com) and Wellness by Choice Expo (wellnessbychoice.com).

Trust is key when establishing any relationship – especially when it comes to your health. “Wellness by Choice experts are people I personally come to know, like and trust before accepting or introducing them to our trusting audience,” Musik says. Bookmark TheAngelinaShow.com for 2021.

Guard Your Heart

Dr. Christina Reuss is so invested in women’s health that she sees only women at her new Women’s Heart Clinic at Atria Heart Cardiac Clinic & Wellness Center in North Scottsdale (atriaheart.com). “I joined the practice with the goal of creating a women-centric practice where I would see only female patients and begin to really focus my daily practice of medicine solely on the cardiovascular problems as they pertain to women,” says the non-invasive cardiologist and echocardiography expert.

“I would create the kind of doctor visit that I imagined would foster a welcoming, safe, educational experience for when a woman came in to see a heart doctor to talk about her most intimate cardiac concerns. I wanted to create a relationship that was empowering for a woman to own her health.”

Women face unique issues when it comes to heart health, Reuss says. “Fortunately, many women are in the habit of annual gynecologic exams and then transition to annual primary care physician visits. However, beginning in the mid-20s, women should be having cholesterol levels checked with a goal total cholesterol under 200 mg/dl.”

Pregnancy is another crucial factor, and Reuss enjoys working with OB-GYNs in a “cohesive team” to help high-risk patients. “If you have had gestational diabetes, or a history of pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy-related hypertension, these are conditions which you are more prone to later in life – diabetes and hypertension – so we cannot ignore them.” Obesity and gut health can also play huge parts in women’s heart health. “When I see a female patient at Atria Heart Clinic, I spend time not just focused on cholesterol, but educating on exactly these issues and reminding women to look out for these overall health issues since they impact their heart.”

“I spend time not just focused on cholesterol, but educating on exactly these issues and reminding women to look out for these overall health issues since they impact their heart”

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Watch Your Mouth

“Women actually tend to visit their dentist more often than men. Which is great!” says Dr. Sameet Koppikar of Biltmore Dental Center (biltmoredentalcenter.com) in Phoenix. However, “women also tend to grind their teeth more than men, which in turn can lead to sleep issues, migraines and severe jaw pain. Many women are surprised to learn that sleep issues and migraines can actually be related to oral health.”

Hormonal changes related to pregnancy and menopause can increase the risk of gum disease. “After menopause, a lower level of estrogen can cause osteoporosis – where your bones become weak and can fracture easily,” Koppikar says. “Some women lose extensive bone in their jaw, and this leads to teeth loss. An implant bridge, called an ‘All-On-Four’ can give you a brand-new smile with natural-looking teeth that do not come loose. Our practice specializes in this advanced treatment. We have come a long way since dentures!”

Biltmore Dental Center’s team is “mostly women – compassionate, amazing women!” Koppikar says, who pride themselves on patient care and comfort. “Patients know they can stop the procedure at any time by raising their hand. They are in control. For people who are really anxious, we offer sedation.”

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Giving patients confidence and happiness in their smiles is the most gratifying part of Koppikar’s work. “Dozens of women have found us because they rarely smiled when they were younger. They were ashamed of their teeth,” he says. “We have worked with them to rebuild their smile. Sometimes in weeks. Sometimes in months. The result is always the same. There are tears of joy and you can feel the weight lifted off their shoulders.”

Sometimes dental issues are a bit more intense – and urgent. “Endodontic therapy – ‘root canal treatment’ – removes diseased, infected or necrotic nerve tissue inside the core of the tooth,” says Dr. Trond Hegle of Paradise Valley’s Four Peaks Endodontics (fourpeaksendo.com). Painful dental infections “can affect your overall health and affect the course and pathogenesis of a number of systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. For pregnant women, dental and oral infections put the fetus at increased risk for low birth weight.”

Hegle was one of the first providers of the “paradigm-shifting” GentleWave technology in Arizona, and has performed the most GentleWave procedures of any provider in the state: nearly 2,500. “GentleWave cleans and disinfects the endodontic system better than any other technique or technology available, and ensures the absolute best prognosis for the endodontic treatment.”

Four Peaks Endodontics promises emergencies will be seen the very same day. “We guarantee that you cannot find a more comfortable practice, with a more compassionate endodontist, with better technology or skills anywhere in our state. We don’t compete on price, but our quality and results speak for themselves.”

Indeed, Hegle opened Four Peaks with his wife, Cristin, who inspires his dedication to excellence. “My treatment philosophy is to treat every patient the way I want Cristin to be treated when she sees a doctor.”

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Keep It Movin’

“Having been to an orthopedist many times as a child, I always had the most peculiar interest in pursuing that field,” says Dr. Christina Khoury of Abrazo Medical Group Orthopedic Specialists (abrazoorthopedics.com/our-providers/christina-khoury-m-d) in Goodyear. “In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined that I would be able to meld my love for science with a career that allows me to help get people back to living a healthy, happy, pain-free life.

Females have the odds stacked against them when it comes to orthopedic health. “Women are more likely than men to have to undergo hip or knee replacement surgery. Being a woman simply places you at a higher risk of having osteoarthritis and needing the surgery,” Khoury says. “Also, our biology is different. Women have more elastic tendons in the lower body, and hence our knees are a little less stable than that of men.” Wider hips put more stress on the knees and joints, leading to more incidences of arthritis.

Robotic joint replacements have been beneficial for her clients, Khoury says. “We are able to fine-tune and precisely insert these implants into almost near-perfect position.” This increases the longevity of the implant and reduces the need for revision surgeries.

“Women want shorter and faster recoveries. Being a minimally invasive joint surgeon affords my patients the ability to get up and walk within hours of surgery.” Not that surgery is always required. “My job as your doctor is to make sure we figure out what is wrong with your joints, provide you with the treatment options available and help guide you as to which option is best for your lifestyle. I am here to keep you living a healthy and active lifestyle.”

Get Comfortable in Your Own Skin

“The skin is a window into the overall health of a woman,” says Dr. Betty Hinderks Davis, a board-certified dermatologist and trained Mohs surgeon at Regency Specialists (regencydermatology.com), which has locations in Phoenix and Surprise. “It shows signs of fatigue, sickness and internal disease. It also shows weathering and damage from environmental factors such as sun and pollution. It shows signs of medications we take and what we eat and drink.”

Investing in your skin is a daily practice that includes avoiding the sun, wearing sunscreen and SPF clothing and hats, taking oral supplements, drinking plenty of water and eating healthy, whole foods low in simple sugars. Hinderks Davis has to nudge her female patients to do these things. “Women have a tendency to take care of everyone else before they take care of themselves,” she says. “Please do not neglect your skin. Get a skin check! We can then review very easy steps that, if followed, can reduce risk of skin cancer and skin aging. This will not only enhance health but beauty, and allow you to live actively and get done the things that are on that list of things to do!”

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Hinderks Davis practices alongside plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Mussman, so patients can explore cosmetic options as well. “We focus on therapies that not only keep skin healthy, but also beautify the skin and enhance its youthful appearance.”

Turning back the clock a bit is also the purview of Dr. Ronald J. Caniglia at Caniglia Facial Plastic Surgery in Scottsdale (caniglia.com). He specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face and neck and brings an artist’s eye to his work with patients. “It’s very artistic, very detail-oriented. That’s the part I enjoy the most,” Caniglia says. “I deal with lines and proportions. It’s much different than the body.”

There are some hidden health benefits to his work, he says. “There are a lot of studies that show that if we look better, we feel better about ourselves, we actually are less sick, we’re healthier, more outgoing,” Caniglia says. “Patients feel better about themselves mentally, and that leads to improved physical health as well.”

We might live in an instant-gratification culture, but Caniglia advises patients against thoughtlessly chasing the latest surgery trends. “That’s always a question: ‘What’s new?’ It’s not always what’s new, it’s what’s best. I tell people you have to be really, really careful. Do what’s proven, what’s effective, what works,” he says. “I built my niche on specializing in the face. If you’re considering any cosmetic surgery of the face, go to someone who has been doing it for 27 years, and that’s all they do.”

Preserve Your Eyes

“The year 2020 is the year of the eye. Women’s eye health needs center stage,” says Dr. Robin Ross, ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at Global Retina Institute in Scottsdale (globalretinainstitute.com). “Two thirds of blindness and visual impairment occurs in women. Women live longer than men, putting them at greater risk of macular degeneration, glaucoma, dry eye and cataracts. Dietary modification and wearing sunglasses can protect vision. However, the journey starts with each woman obtaining a comprehensive eye examination.”

Ross is active in global and public health causes, including working in West Africa during the ebola epidemic. “Global blindness hit one billion people on our planet in November 2019, and our goal was to launch a practice with a global mindset of public health preparedness and blindness prevention,” she says. “Because 85 percent of blindness is preventable, we think that screening and prevention of disease is paramount, while training the next generation of physicians to be proficient in eye care is critical.” Hot topics for her practice include dry eye management, laser as a primary treatment for glaucoma, identifying early floaters and preventing retinal detachment. “High blood pressure is the silent killer, and it has impact on the eye in terms of retinal vascular disease.”

Reaching women is a priority for Global Retina Institute. “Women are often the caregivers for many in their family, putting their own care last, including eye care. Both of my grandmothers lost vision from glaucoma and did not fully understand their condition or what they needed to do to prevent vision loss,” Ross says. “Don’t be the victim of your own genetics. There are often effective screening, prevention, dietary modification and treatments available. We also participate in clinical trials with patients with more difficult diseases to treat. We are passionate about educating our patients.”

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Protect Your Pregnancy

“The personal health care decisions of women have a profound impact on the health of the entire family and community, and we want to be a resource for this wellness journey,” says Dr. Curtis Cook of Dignity Health Medical Group Center for Women’s Health (dignityhealth.org). “As a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, I work closely with obstetrical providers to help identify high-risk situations and then assist in mitigating these risks to obtain optimal outcomes for the mother and her child.” This involves collaborating with physicians from various specialties to ensure the center’s goal of healthy mothers and healthy babies. “We value a team management approach where the patient is an integral partner in her care plan, with shared decision making and mutual respect.”

A hot topic in Cook’s field this year is equity in maternal care. “We still have a significant disparity challenge in this country when it comes to health and wellness of women, particularly in the area of severe maternal health issues,” he says. “Understanding and addressing these identified economic and racial disparities is a necessary advancement as we enter a new decade of health care and has been highlighted in the recently released Healthy People 2030 report.”

Ultimately, Cook and his Dignity colleagues pride themselves on prioritizing “humankindness” in their interactions with patients. “For me, I think it begins with being a good listener and partner with the patient on her health care journey,” Cook says. “This may involve education, encouragement and celebration of even small steps in a positive direction.” Cheering a patient on as she establishes healthier habits – like addressing high blood pressure or blood sugar issues with improved diet and exercise – sets her up for longer-term health success. “We recognize that most individuals don’t always care how much we know until they know how much we care about them and their health journey.”

Making time for your health is the gift that keeps on giving, as a healthy body, mind and spirit set you up for success in the rest of your life.

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