Patient Education

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 kinds of cancer.

How can cancer be prevented?

The number of new cancer cases can be reduced and many cancer deaths can be prevented. Research shows that screening( for cervical and colorectal cancers as recommended helps prevent these diseases by finding precancerous lesions so they can be treated before they become cancerous. Screening for cervical, colorectal, and breast cancers also helps find these diseases at an early stage, when treatment works best. MVHC offers free colorectal screenings to all patients and community members.

Vaccines (shots)( also help lower cancer risk. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer, and the hepatitis B vaccine can help lower liver cancer risk.

A person’s cancer risk can be reduced with healthy choices( like avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol use, protecting your skin from the sun and avoiding indoor tanning, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, keeping a healthy weight, and being physically active.


Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are serious and usually happen quickly. Most people with type 1 diabetes will feel very sick because of high blood glucose levels.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:

• Urinating a lot

• Feeling very thirsty

• Feeling hungry all the time

• Feeling tired

• Blurred vision

• Losing weight suddenly without trying, even with increased appetite

• Nausea and vomiting

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes does not appear suddenly. Instead, you may have no noticeable symptoms or only mild symptoms for years before it is diagnosed.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes:

• Urinating a lot

• Feeling very thirsty

• Feeling hungry all the time

• Feeling tired

• Blurred vision

• Frequent infections or slow healing cuts and sores

• Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet

Regular physical activity can delay or prevent diabetes

Being active is one of the best ways to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. It can also lower your weight and blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. Ask your MVHC care team about safe ways of being active for you. One way to be more active is to try to walk for half an hour, five days a week. If you don’t have 30 minutes all at once, take shorter walks during the day.

Weight loss can delay or prevent diabetes

Reaching a healthy weight can help you a lot. If you’re overweight, any weight loss, even 7% of your weight (for example, losing about 15 pounds if you weigh 200) may prevent or delay your risk for diabetes.

Factors Affecting Blood Glucose

Before you had diabetes, no matter what you ate or how active you were, your blood glucose levels stayed within a normal range. But with diabetes, your blood glucose level can rise higher and some diabetes medications can make them go lower than normal. Many factors can change your blood glucose levels. Learning about these can help control your blood glucose levels.

You can use your blood glucose (sugar) levels to make decisions about food and activity. These decisions can help you delay or prevent diabetes complications such as heart attack, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.

What can make my blood glucose rise?

• Too much food, like a meal or snack with more carbohydrates than usual

• Not being active

• Not enough insulin or oral diabetes medications

• Side effects from other medications, such as steroids, anti-psychotic medications

• Illness – your body releases hormones to fight the illness, and those hormones raise blood glucose levels

• Stress, which can produce hormones that raise blood glucose levels

• Short- or long-term pain, like pain from a sunburn – your body releases hormones that raise blood glucose levels

• Menstrual periods, which cause changes in hormone levels

• Dehydration

What can make my blood glucose fall?

• Not enough food, like a meal or snack with fewer carbohydrates than usual, missing a meal or snack

• Alcohol, especially on an empty stomach

• Too much insulin or oral diabetes medications

• Side effects from other medications

• More physical activity or exercise than usual – physical activity makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower blood glucose.

How can I track my blood glucose?

There are two ways to keep track of your blood glucose levels:

• using a blood glucose meter to measure your blood glucose level at that moment.

• getting an A1C at least twice a year to find out your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months.


Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

Tooth decay is preventable.

  • Fluoride varnish, a high concentration fluoride coating that is painted on teeth, can prevent decay in the primary (baby) teeth.
    • MVHC will provide fluoride varnish between the ages of 12 and 36 months.
  • Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste can help prevent tooth decay.
    • If your child is younger than age 6, watch your child brush their teeth. Make sure your child only uses a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always spits it out rather than swallows it.
  • Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth is another way to prevent tooth decay. Studies in children show that sealants reduce decay in the permanent molars by 81% for 2 years after they are placed on the tooth and continue to be effective for 4 years after placement.
  • MVHC pediatricians and dentists work together to ensure good oral health.
    • Between the ages of 6 and 9, when the first molar appears, MVHC will apply a dental sealant to protect against tooth decay.


Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day. But if it stays high for a long time, it can damage your heart and lead to health problems. High blood pressure raises your risk for heart disease( and stroke(, which are leading causes of death in the United States.

High blood pressure has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it. The only way to know if you have it is to measure your blood pressure. Then you can take steps to control it if it is too high.

You can make changes to your lifestyle that will help you control your blood pressure. Your provider might prescribe medications that can help you. By controlling your blood pressure, you will lower your risk for the harmful effects of high blood pressure(

Work with Your MVHC Health Care Team

Team-based care can help reduce and control blood pressure. Your MVHC care team consists of your provider, RN Care Coordinator, and nursing staff. If you already have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes are just as important as medications. Follow your doctor's instructions and stay on your medications. Do not stop taking your medications before talking to your provider or pharmacist. All drugs may have side effects, so talk to your provider regularly. As your blood pressure improves, your provider will check it often.

Make Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can help you control your blood pressure.


Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. For some people, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack. You and MVHC care team may be able to help you reduce your risk for CAD.

Causes of CAD

CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries) and other parts of the body. Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which could partially or totally block the blood flow. This process is called atherosclerosis.Too much plaque buildup and narrowed artery walls can make it harder for blood to flow through your body. When your heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood, you may have chest pain or discomfort, called angina. Angina is the most common symptom of CAD.Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle. This may lead to heart failure, a serious condition where the heart can’t pump blood the way that it should. An irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, also can develop.

Diagnosing CAD

To find out your risk for CAD, your MVHC care team may measure your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. Being overweight, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and smoking tobacco are risk factors for CAD. A family history of heart disease also increases your risk for CAD. If you’re at high risk for heart disease or already have symptoms, your doctor can use several tests to diagnose CAD.


A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack( year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. One of 5 heart attacks is silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it. Coronary artery disease (CAD)( is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle. If you know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and recognize that you or someone near you is having a heart attack, seek immediate treatment by calling 9-1-1. The longer you wait, the more damage to the heart muscle can occur.Learn more about what you can do to prevent a future heart attack(

Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

The five major symptoms of a heart attack are

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
  • Shortness of breath.Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms. Learn more about women and heart disease( 9-1-1If you notice the symptoms of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately. The sooner you get to an emergency room, the sooner you can receive treatment to prevent total blockage and heart muscle damage or reduce the amount of damage. At the hospital, health care professionals can run tests to determine whether a heart attack is occurring and decide the best treatment.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease. These are called risk factors. The three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.Some of the risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.Learn more about heart disease risk factors:

Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits

By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. A healthy lifestyle includes the following:

  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Getting enough physical activity.
  • Not smoking or using other forms of tobacco.
  • Limiting alcohol use.

Healthy Diet

Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods.Eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt( (sodium) in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. Limiting sugar in your diet can lower you blood sugar level to prevent or help control diabetes.For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program website.(

Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease. To determine if your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate your body mass index (BMI)( If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI( at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website(

Physical Activity

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day.For more information, see CDC's Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web site(

No Smoking

Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your provider can suggest ways to help you quit and can sign you up for Smoking Cessation classes here in our community. For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC's Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site(

Limited Alcohol

Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1. For more information, visit CDC's Alcohol and Public Health Web site(