Life in Shanghai can often be hectic, making it easy to lose track of your health. We caught up with Dr. Victoria King, a family doctor at Jiahui Health Jing’an Clinic, to learn more about the importance of keeping an eye on your health in this frantic city of ours. She shared some insights on preventative healthcare, the rise of family medicine in China, and how to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

    Victoria King, MD

    What’s it like practicing family medicine in China?

    Family medicine in China is so rewarding. I’d been traveling here for many years before I joined Jiahui Health, and I really enjoy being in this vibrant cultural environment. I was excited to be part of the growing change in China’s healthcare system, especially with regard to the government’s ‘Healthy China 2030’ initiative. Family medicine is going to be a part of that change. 

    How so?

    Well, family medicine is still quite novel here and it will take time to become embedded in the system. But increasingly, people have access to information about food types and exercise, so their health awareness is improving. Family medicine provides an environment where people can ask questions and initiate positive changes in their daily lives. Because we focus on general health, we can do a lot to raise awareness about preventative healthcare and lifestyle habits.

    So it's about empowering people to take more control of their health?

    Exactly. It’s important to be proactive as early as possible. For example, I’ve seen patients who’ve been feeling breathless for months; in some instances, simple medications can cause a swift improvement, but in other cases, it can be a sign of a more serious condition. In general, if things are treated or diagnosed earlier, then the outcomes are often better.

    Should people be going for regular checkups to catch these things?

    I think it is important to address any concerns with your doctor when they arise. Some things can be dismissed as benign, others may be more problematic.

    At Jiahui Health, we offer wellness checks in our Health Management Program, which include blood tests and general scans. It’s a good opportunity to see a doctor and get some lifestyle advice, even if you feel generally healthy. This comes back again to how family medicine is not only about treating ‘sickness’ but also about positive steps towards improving and maintaining a good standard of overall health.

    In some cases, searching symptoms on the internet can cause more anxiety, so seeing a doctor is another reason to dispel some of these worries face to face. 

    The internet and self-diagnosis are not always a good combination.

    Yes, that is a challenge in itself. But I'm also aware that the internet is here to stay so people will use it. Speaking to a doctor is still recommended to provide patients with evidence-based advice and support, which is safer and more personalized.

    Click here for more information on the Health Management Package.

    What else can people do to stay on top of their health?

    Regular exercise throughout the week would be a good target to aim for alongside healthy eating. Simple substitutes such as vegetable oil for olive oil, reducing salt and sugar intake, and staying hydrated with water are all good decisions to make for the short and long term. All of these things will also play a huge role in reducing the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Also, taking time out of your schedule to do things you enjoy, such as a team sport, reading, or learning a new instrument, can help in managing stress and improving your mental health.

    A lot of people are worried about the pollution here. Is there anything they can do to mitigate its effects?

    Air purifiers can be helpful at home and work. There is some evidence that a good fitting mask with filters can be beneficial. It is important to take note of the air quality, especially if you have an underlying medical condition, such as asthma. Not being out for long periods of time and closing windows in your home can reduce any triggers.

    Generally, it’s best to see a doctor if any symptoms related to coughing or breathing difficulties arise so that appropriate medical advice can be given promptly. Again, it’s all about being proactive and preventative.

    Speaking of being proactive, do you think we’ll see a Healthy China by 2030?

    Time’s running away, isn’t it! I think there will be a big change. It’s already happening. And if anyone can do it, China can.


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