A: Dr. Koop recommends the following routine immunizations for adults:
Influenza Vaccine (flu shot) is recommended annually in the fall (best in October or November).
Pneumonia Vaccines: Prevnar-13 is a one-time vaccine recommended for adults age 65 and older. Ideally it is administered one year before the other type of pneumonia vaccine (Pneumovax). Pneumovax is also a one-time vaccine recommended for adults over 65 years of age. For adults with a chronic disease such as lung disease, heart disease, cancer, kidney disease and diabetes, these vaccines can be given earlier and can be repeated.
Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis Vaccine (TdAP) every 10 years for all adults. If patients over 65 have already received one, future revaccinations can be with Tetanus/Diphtheria only.
Shingles vaccine (Zostavax) is indicated for adults over 60 who have had chickenpox but not shingles. It is about 50-65% effective to prevent shingles. For people who get shingles despite the vaccine, the intensity of shingles tends to be less. It can be given to patients who have already had shingles, in effort to try and prevent a second episode. The risk of a recurrent episode of shingles is low, probably about 3% to 5%. Zostavax can also be given at a younger age (over 50). A new vaccine to prevent shingles will be available in 2017.
A: For people who need to keep track of their blood pressure, regularly measuring it at home may provide a more accurate reading, since blood pressure might be artificially high in the doctor's office. There now are a number of digital devices that make it easy to test your pressure at home.
When shopping for monitors, go for machines that use arm cuffs, which tend to be more accurate than devices with wrist monitors, says Nancy Miller, associate director of the Stanford Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Patients should consult a doctor to ensure they're using proper measurement techniques and to determine their blood-pressure goals, she adds.
We tested four monitors for ease of use:
Omron Premium Blood Pressure Monitor
Comment: This monitor can save readings for two people and has a guest setting. There's also a feature that detects irregular heartbeat. The monitor comes with a carrying case and is small enough to travel with. There are just five buttons on the monitor, which helps keep the measurement process simple.
Homedics Deluxe Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor
Comment: This monitor includes two sizes of arm cuffs. It can save as many as 120 total readings for two people. We found this machine easy to use and the directions were straightforward. It also came with a protective carrying case.
LifeSource Wireless Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor
Comment: The simplest of the monitors we tested, this machine has only one button, which starts the measurement process. Since this is a wireless monitor, batteries are required. It's also the only one that didn't have an AC adapter. It features free computer software to track your blood pressure. While we at first had trouble installing the software on one PC, the program worked fine on another. The monitor sent all of our readings wirelessly to our computer via a USB device that plugged into the hard drive.
Samsung Healthy Living Deluxe Blood Pressure Monitor
Comment: Although the instructions could have been clearer, this machine was fairly simple to use. It comes with two cuffs for small and large arms, and a carrying case. The device has simple-to-use software that lets users record and transfer their readings to their PCs.
Information from Article: "Putting the Squeeze On" - Wall Street Journal