The Birth of Predictive Healthcare in Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

What if I told you you’re neglecting a factor influencing 30 percent of your overall health?

We all know how existing medicine works: you get sick, then you see the doctor. She treats your illness and life goes on. Maybe you live a healthy lifestyle, maybe you don’t.

In this framework, you know that yearly check-ups, testing for bad stuff, etc.,is necessary to find out about disease at an early stage.

It’s still all about disease rather than you.It’s passive rather than you taking control of your own health.

victoria

That old clinic with its doc-in-the-box is transforming into a wellness center, working with you in your real, daily life to help you be healthier and happier. Clinics, such as Victoria Healthcare, may soon be the place where you positively pursue good health, not just stave off disease. It’s still not common in Vietnam, but Victoria Healthcare is at the forefront of a medical trend taking shape in most of the developed countries

But the first waves of this tide have already hit our beautiful beaches.

The doctors at Victoria Healthcare are bringing about this change to a culture of being your partner in wellness. By understanding that disease is a departure from wellness as medicine has done traditionally, they capably identify and treat illnesses. The more you and your doctor knows about your health, the better you can manage yourself.

Not Just Lifestyle

What determines a person’s health? It turns out, several things do—your lifestyle only contributes about 40 percent to your overall health. Environmental factors make up 20 percent. The quality of healthcare provides another 10 percent.

But one’s genetic inheritance plays a big role in your health, even with a healthy lifestyle.

However, the remaining 30 percent is based on your genetic makeup.

Your genes, the DNA you inherit from your parents, literally determines who you are. Although all humans share 99.9 percent of the same genes, that sticky little 0.1 percent may make all the difference. It determines much of the individual you, like your hair and eye colour, your height, and even your disposition.

It also determines if you have genetic mutations that may pre-program you to develop chronic diseases or even early death.

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Certain common diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease aren’t brought on simply by lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking and a poor diet although they contribute. They are also hereditary, passed down through your family. Thus, based on your genetic makeup, you may run a high risk of contracting hereditary illnesses.

Team-Based Healthcare

And this is where Victoria Healthcare steps in. When you’re getting a check-up and additional testing they offer can potentially reveal that your family history contains breast cancer or early deaths from heart attacks, for example. Chances are, you may be carrying a mutated gene that gives you a higher risk. What’s more, you might pass down that mutated gene to your own children.

With a simple blood test, the team at Victoria Healthcare can now analyse your DNA through an advanced lab in Hong Kong. After a few weeks, your genetic roadmap is revealed. Based on this information, your doctors and a geneticist as well as a nutritionist, will develop a game plan that involves behavioural and lifestyle management individually designed to keep you as healthy as possible throughout your life.

victoria

Genetic sequencing can’t tell you when you’ll get sick in the future with 100 percent certainty, but it can tell you is how to manage your lifestyle to maximize your wellness. It may be changes in your diet, exercise, medication, or special testing at your annual check-ups.

So a big part of wellness is predictive healthcare, and Victoria Healthcare is embracing and advocating this.

Learning early about your own individual health risks and what you may pass on to your children could be the difference between life and death.

Image source: Victoria Healthcare


Dental Treatment in HCMC: An Overview

By: City Pass Guide

Foreign dentists are attracted to practising in Vietnam due to its embrace of the latest dental technology in addition to the low-stress lifestyle and warm climate. This, of course, is good for expatriates because not only are you likely to find a dentist who speaks your native language, but the service will be much cheaper than you would ever pay in your native country.


Facility at Dental Arts of Saigon

These prices can range anywhere from 30-50% below those in Europe, Australia or North America. Services at clinics around city include filling cavities, implants, surgery and orthodontics (mostly well done by international standards) for both children and adults. Full-mouth reconstruction is possible. Due to the wide range of capabilities and state-of-the-art technologies already available, though in limited supply, dental tourism is on the rise in Vietnam.

What about dental treatment cost?

Below is a typical range of prices for dental treatments in HCMC:

Type of CareVietnamese Chain ClinicStarlight Dental ClinicSmile Dental ClinicDental Arts of Saigon
Teeth cleaning From VND250,000-600,000 From VND600,000-VND1.2M From VND884,000-VND2.2M From VND850,000-VND1.9M
Teeth whitening VND4M at clinic, VND1.5M-2M for home whitening products From VND4M-6M (home bleaching, office bleaching or combine) VND2.2M-3.3M Around VND6.5M at clinic
Filling From VND300,000-800,000 From VND700,000-VND2.5M From VND774,000-VND2M From VND2.1M-5.5M
Teeth whitening VND4M at clinic, VND1.5M-2M for home whitening products From VND4M-6M (home bleaching, office bleaching or combine) VND2.2M-3.3M Around VND6.5M at clinic
Ceramic crown (price depends on material) From VND4.5M-5M From VND6.5M-13.5M From VND7.7M-13.2M From VND13M-VND19M
Implant From VND20M-30M Over VND50M N/A From VND34M-43M
Braces From VND38M-VND65M From VND40M-65M From VND22M-77.3M From VND32M (Orthodontic treatment, painless without braces)

Header photo by: Shutterstock


Does Society Want Us to be Healthy?

By: Patrick Gaveau

There are many things to consider in regards to why the world is so sick.

Do we question how we are being taught to behave, eat and drink? Can we trust what we have always been taught? May we die sooner than expected, and who is to blame?

Is our diet connected to the fact that puberty is arriving sooner than ever in our youth? How many species on earth eat more than one food at the same time? Although these are disturbing questions to ponder, finding answers would certainly help us make better dietary decisions.

What about digestion? Is our digestive system built to process a sizeable array of foods at the same time, and is it capable of getting all the nutritional elements being absorbed simultaneously? Would eating only one food at a time be a better solution for health and our general well-being?

Photo by Pixabay

Investigating some of these concepts and applying them to the way we live can lead us to a path of improved mental and physical health. Begin to educate yourself and act accordingly. Be free from the medical, pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries and live the life that you were born to live.

“You are what you eat.”

Whoever phrased that was damn right. Absorption of lousy substances is a central reason why so many people are often sick. It is also most likely the main reason why hospitals and doctors are so overwhelmed. Why do you think pharmacies line up one after the other? Simply because most of us choose to take a pill to fix our symptoms rapidly, instead of changing our habits to resolve the essence of the health problems we face.

“It is excellent for business, but terrible for our health.”

Now, force is to recognise that this does not seem like such a bad thing for many. Healthcare Business International recently reported that the industry will grow a minimum of 6% yearly in developed countries, and a shocking 11% in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, healthcare now accounts for almost 10% of global GDP.

“This makes healthcare one of the largest industries in the world.”

It is insane to have to admit it, but we do allow, in most cases, our respective diseases to grow within us day after day. We often procrastinate seeking medical treatment. Most remain unaware of the long-term consequences of their actions. Health problems actually often start on day one, and continue until our imminent death. Day after day, we infect our bodies with all sorts of daily doses of dreadful elements found in processed foods we commonly eat.

“Nature gave us all we need to feed ourselves, but capitalism believed it could do better.”

Photo by Pixabay

Unfortunately, not much of what is available in supermarkets is “clean”, or elsewhere for that matter. The level of substandard substances most of us purchase and digest daily is unreal. However, our bodies are built to be very adaptive, and are actually quite strong. The irreversible consequences attached to poor food and drink consumption that most have, often occur at a later stage in our lives. And this is, at least for me and many others, the central cause of humanities’ health troubles. And yes, we are individually and collectively responsible. Are we letting ourselves be manipulated by the economical and political interests that choose to support such proliferation of products and medicine? I think we can certainly say so.

“By doing so little to change our habits, we simply kill ourselves, slowly but surely.”

We’ve all been told, many times presumably, how bad too much sugar, drugs, coffee, milk, alcohol, tobacco, red meat or bad fat intake can be for our health. What have you done about it? Does anyone know the long list of chemical ingredients found in our foods that we shall avoid to protect our health? Shall schools begin to educate our children early on so that in due time, society may evolve and grow vigorously and consciously?

“Do we really care to inform ourselves to protect our health?”

Trust is that most of us would simply say, we all have to die of something sooner or later! We’re having a good time now, so why change that? In reality, too few are capable of facing the truth. Knowing it, and doing something about it, is actually a very challenging experience, often filled with pain and sorrow.

“We seek human love, comfort and security, even it if it leads off a cliff.”

Now, how we choose to live is our choice. My family is trying to influence our lifestyle so that we may live a better life. Of course, mother nature may choose otherwise at any time, a fact that is part of life and a risk we must accept. If you want to understand more about how we have all been misled, and what we shall do about it, review the tough questions above and enlighten yourself with your own research.


Staying Healthy When Dining Out

By: Nat Paolone

With such a variety of enticing food options coercing our palates into gluttony, eating healthy outside your home proves quite challenging.

Looking at the menu, densely packed with highly caloric, over-sized portions (which we have become accustomed to in our modern world) we succumb and gorge. Busy lifestyles and poor choices while eating out often lead to further weight gain. Let’s have a look at how we can better deal with this and make better choices at the restaurant.

Societal Pressure

Socio-economics definitely influence our food choices both in selecting a restaurant/cafe and what we decide to order. We like to “fit in,” and eat what our friends munch on.

We’ve all heard too often from friends and family, “Oh come on, just eat it! You only live once, it won’t kill you…” Seemingly when you choose to eat healthy, you may become the outcast among your friends. This compounds matters as striving for acceptance is human nature.

Why all the talk of sociological factors when we just want healthy eating tips? Because the challenge is largely psychological and habitual. Most of it is really common sense but unfortunately eating substandard food has simply become socially accepted.

Right then, let’s get into making some better nutritional choices.

Photo by Pixabay

Local Food Suggestions

Vietnamese grilled fish and meats are ideal dishes, as well as soups and hot pots. Many Japanese and Korean restaurants around Saigon have solid, healthy choices in contrast to the majority of most Western menus offered throughout the city.

Next time you enjoy your favourite pho or bun bo, ask for less noodles in order to maximise your healthy diet. In regards to MSG, well, you know what it is, and we must accept that it’s nearly unavoidable when eating out in HCMC. Goi cuon (chicken spring roll), goi xoai (mango salad) and ca nuong la chuoi (grilled fish with banana leaf) are a few healthy Vietnamese options.

Photo by Pixabay

Indian food doesn’t have to be heavy. Go for the tandoor chicken breast or lamb as long as you make sure to request it with no butter or cream. Choosing brown rice over naan is also another way to manoeuvre around the fattening dishes lingering at your table. When eating Italian, skip the primi and go straight for secondi.

Sugar and excess carbs are fundamentally problematic. Lower these and increase the veggies and proteins. For all the lovely vegetarians, choose protein rich beans and legumes. This is a challenge in Vietnam as most vegetarian restaurants do not include beans on the menu. Sure tofu is good, but this protein packed veggie has a long history of nutritional controversy.

Portion size is paramount. Share a pizza instead of having a whole one, as so many of us are carb junkies consuming these saccharides voraciously, reducing portions is the goal.

How Unhealthy is Alcohol?

Alcohol! The ultimate socially accepted evil. What? Nothing wrong with a few glasses of wine paired with your meal you say? Well, not exactly. Regarding weight gain, alcohol is more than a double whammy. This potion is broken down into acetate, which your body will use first for energy before anything else you eat or drink. Alcohol is metabolised, fat oxidation stops, weight gain may occur and slowed metabolism may result.

Photo by Stephen Bentsen

An average glass of wine has 150 calories, and beer has about the same. People who drink alcohol with a meal often eat up to 30% more food, and considering the culture of pairing food and drink in HCMC, this may cause a problem for many.

Juices and Sodas

Photo by Lavanya Kumara Krishnan

Fruit juices are commonly thought to be a healthier choice over soda. Studies show that the effects on our bodies are virtually the same. According to a recent publication in the Nutrition journal, fruit juice has a fructose concentration of about 45.5 grams per litre, slightly less than the average of 50 grams per litre for sodas.

"The human body isn't designed to process [fructose] at such high levels. Fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat, which increases risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” says Michael Goran, Director of Childhood Obesity Center in Southern California.

Essentially sodas and fruit juices should be avoided altogether. Eat fresh fruit instead, which includes fibre, slowing down absorption of sugars and allowing the normal metabolism of fructose. As an alternative, drink lots of local fruit smoothies (like avocado) but without condensed milk or sugar. Try an avocado smoothie for healthy fats.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” - Mark Twain


Pollution, Water and Disease in Saigon: What You Should Know

By: City Pass Guide

We are all in danger of the negative effects of air pollution, water contamination, unclean food, worms and tropical diseases in HCMC. I sat down with Dr. Nicolas Lagüe from Centre Medical International to learn how we can manage to avoid these health problems.

Air Pollution

It’s no secret that there are substantial pollution problems in Vietnam. However, just how dangerous the air is, and exactly what effects it has on our health can be difficult to decipher. The main parts of the body that are affected by air pollution are the nose, throat, ears and lungs. Whether you are on a motorbike, in your car, walking or in your apartment, exposure to air pollution in HCMC is nearly unavoidable, and we need to make a personal choice if living here is worth the risk, especially considering how difficult it is to evaluate the related dangers.

Photo via Pixabay

The air contains toxic particles and nanoparticles, which can come from a variety of sources. One interesting fact I learned from Dr. Lagüe was that the non-exhaust particles, like the iron, copper and barium that are released during the breaking of a car or motorbike, produce significant nanoparticles. This fact, combined with the high concentration of exhaust emissions, make stopping at red lights a prime hotspot for heavy toxic air. According to the expert himself, the best way to protect yourself, outside of not living in the city, is to wear a proper mask. For this, you will need to spend the money and get a thick carbon cloth mask (FFP3 class) which will help filter out the bigger pollutants in the air.

Although driving a car exposes you to slightly less toxicity than when you are on a motorbike, it is still not enough to make a significant difference. In regards to your home, location is key. The further from the busy areas the less pollution there is, and the higher up your apartment the better. Therefore, if air quality is a major concern for you, try to find a flat on the highest floor possible. The closer to the ground your apartment is, the more exposure it receives.

Drinking Water Contamination

Everyone knows the first rule of thumb when living in most developing countries - don’t ever drink the tap water! It contains dangerous levels of nitrates and iron, not to mention a variety of other unsafe chemicals. The best way to ensure you are taking in the cleanest drinking water is to stick to mineral water. Alba is the name of one local company that is producing high quality bottled mineral water that contains an impressive amount of bicarbonates.

Photo via Pixabay

Bicarbonates are great for balancing the body’s gastric acidity levels and are also highly effective in preventing dental cavities. Not only is mineral water a sound alternative to many of the questionable drinking water sources available, but its health benefits are scientifically backed and heavily researched throughout the world. Another suggestion is to constantly switch the brands of mineral water that you drink due to the fact that each brand is comprised of different levels of electrolytes. A regular rotation like this is good for the body, and helps you maintain a healthy level of energy.

Food, Worms and Bacteria

Statistically, Vietnam does have a lower quality of food than most countries, which can result in an array of digestive problems, amongst other health related issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. However, the main concern lies in regards to bacteria and worms, and these are real threats that every resident needs to be taking precautions against. Let’s make it known that there are numerous varieties of worms and parasites out there and they are very easy to acquire. You might have worms and not even show any symptoms. Dr. Lagüe highly recommends that everyone living here take Zentel every six months. This is readily found at pharmacies all over town and is highly effective in expelling any worms that you may have. Worms and other parasites can lead to other more complicated issues if left untreated, like schistosomiasis, a condition that can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, a bloody stool or much worse.

Photo via Pixabay

In regards to food, the number one cautionary measure to take is with vegetables, as they can very easily harvest bacteria. Just by touching the outer skin of contaminated vegetables, larvae can be transferred into your body. It is suggested that any vegetables you buy need to be thoroughly washed while wearing gloves. Meat is another cause of concern, but also a debatable topic. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, and each individual can have different levels of immunity to different bacteria. Although it’s an undisputed fact that unrefrigerated meat increases the chances of bacterial contamination, doctors often disagree on how dangerous it is to consume it. Consumers should do their best to buy quality meat that is within their budget. Annam Gourmet is one trusted shop that sells quality meat that has been properly stored, and it’s a notable place to buy safer products. I’ve interviewed doctors that passionately advised against eating any street food under any circumstance, while others have said it’s perfectly fine to indulge once in awhile. Either way, it’s best to know your body and act accordingly.

Photo via Pixabay

Tropical Diseases in Vietnam

The best way to avoid many tropical diseases is to get vaccinated before you come to Vietnam. As many of the symptoms crisscross each other, it is often very difficult to identify what exactly you might have. Vietnam also has limited medical technology, which can make diagnostic processes more difficult. If you feel any strange symptoms like fatigue or joint pain as a result of a suspected insect bite, seek a medical expert immediately to get some blood work. Hydration and proper rest are crucial during this time.

Some of the most prevalent tropical diseases in Vietnam are Dengue Fever and Zika Virus. The danger with these viruses is that their symptoms vary and there is not much technology available in Vietnam to give proper blood tests. Do your best to wear mosquito repellent, especially outside of the city limits, where the number of mosquitos increases. There are several types of mosquitos which can carry dangerous tropical diseases, and many cannot withstand the pollution of the city. However, once you leave the city limits, and the pollution levels are lower, there is a substantially higher risk of exposure. As a whole, it’s next to impossible to control if you are bitten by a mosquito or not. The best thing you can do is to be aware of the symptoms of Dengue and Zika, and if you experience them do not procrastinate seeking treatment.


Best & Worst Hospital Stories

By: Aleksandr Smechov

We asked our fans on social media to come up with best and worst medical related stories. They certainly didn’t disappoint, some of these are quite hilarious. Most are also very informative.

Anonymous

Last year I had a motorbike accident and broke my collar bone. My orthopaedic surgeon from Family Medical Practice performed my operation at FV Hospital, and all went well. Of course, as in the U.S. they wanted assurance of payment, and charged my credit card prior to admission for the projected cost of my hospital stay, plus fees associated with my surgery.

Steve B

A friend went to a local hospital. Because of insomnia, she got prescribed a strong neuroleptic and a strong antidepressant. Now she has insomnia because of the side effects of these strong drugs, and she’ll need months or even years to lower the use of or stop these medications. I would say, never visit a local hospital unless you have a prior diagnosis.

Kevin Wortz

I have been here 10 years. I have had many treatments: a hernia in the groin area repaired (Columbia Asia International Clinic by Dr. Vinh); new lenses in both eyes (had multifocals for 27 years, went to Symphony International Eye Clinic); and a left shoulder supraspinatus tendon reattached (An Sinh Hospital). When I had a left rotator cuff repaired I went to FV Hospital, where the boss wanted me to stay four nights for more money, yet his surgeon said only one night; this op was conducted by Dr. Nguyen Trong Anh, the best orthopaedic guy around). I’ve also just had a malignant growth cut out of my head at Van Hanh Hospital and will have a new left hip soon. I didn't go to Cho Ray or some of the shitty cattle yards which pretend to be hospitals, but I chose much better, far cheaper hospitals with highly qualified surgeons and specialists. Medical care here, in my experience, has been far better than I have received in the past in Oz.

Anonymous

I cannot believe that a hospital would not only be filthy, with no soap or many other necessities, but also have no food. While I was in for pneumonia, I almost starved to death! There was no bedpan, we had to buy one, no bedding, bring your own and wash it yourself. But the best part was when I asked for water. I was told to call my family to bring me some. My family is in New York. The first night the room filled up with (I counted) 32 family members of other patients. They moved in, slept everywhere, yelled all night, got in fights, smoked and were all oblivious to the fact that sick people were trying to get rest! A total nightmare! When I got good and fed up and checked out the attendant rammed my foot with a floor cleaner and cracked my toe. The doctor put on a terrible cast that didn't fit and had a lumpy bottom I couldn't stand on and had such sharp edges, it cut my foot open when I tried to walk! I had to have it removed due to pain and bleeding.

Charlie Wallace

After getting a confirmation that I probably have appendicitis, I got in a taxi to Columbia hospital on the other side of the city. I slapped the stack of scans and test results down in front of the night staff along with my health insurance card. The receptionist rang the “emergency” number on the back of the card. But the lady on the other end refused to confirm that I will be covered. The total cost would come to some VND75 million (about $3,362). For them to admit me without confirmed insurance cover, they’d need a deposit of VND15 million, an amount I wasn’t even close to having. I didn’t have my passport to use as a deposit either, since I already used it as a deposit with a different hospital in exchange for one of the crucial scans. I grabbed the phone and poured hot liquid contempt down the line. “Look, this is an emergency. My appendix has decided it wants to kill me and doesn’t give a damn about your office hours. If I wait, I could die. Do you understand that?” The night staff wrest the receiver away before I could start swearing, and to their great credit slowly managed to convey the urgency of the situation. At about 4:30 a.m. I finally get the green light, and by 5:30 a.m. I was in a hairnet and operating gown.

Natalia ludina

Nicolas Dupaux at CMI is the best osteopath in HCMC. He took 30 minutes to reduce my back pain when I spent two hours in ITO without any effect. The diagnosis was opposite. And even the medicine proposed was different. So for foreigners the foreign hospitals are much better and with expected result. Never want to try a local one again.

Arash Rouhani

I went to Ngoc Minh clinic because it was close to my office. Despite not even being here for a year I took on the language challenge and got everything done using Vietnamese. I felt everything was okay!

Anonymous

Without insurance, Saigon can be a surprisingly expensive place to get injured. I should know after having three crashes in eight days. The first was an unavoidable collision with a wall after a lunatic motorbike driver swerved me off the road: I bruised my thigh but was otherwise more or less OK. The second was a skin-shredding balancing-act that tore a lot of skin off my sandaled foot. I went to the Centre Medical International (CMI) on Han Thuyen where they cleaned my wounds and gave me professional instruction on how to look after them. The charge of VND800,000 seemed reasonable considering the level of care I received.

Third crash: I hit a pothole on the poorly maintained road after the Thu Thiem bridge. I felt like I had broken my leg so decided it was hospital time. Following the advice of various expats, I went to the French-Vietnamese Hospital (FV) in District 7. For around VND3 million they took an x-ray, performed an ultrasound and treated me expertly from start to finish. I couldn’t walk for three weeks or so and were it not for my wife, I would’ve suffered massively. The moral of the story: drive slowly, expect the worst and be married to someone who is willing to bring you supplies like an angel.


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