Santa Rosa Doctors

Experts predict Sonoma County allergy sufferers will have a lot to sneeze about

Linda Biggers, NCMA Allergy Center manager & clinician, talks about the impending allergy season and provides options for allergies sufferers.

We are able to test for more than 40 different inhalant allergens that are common to the area, such as trees, grass, weeds, molds, dust mites, animals, and others. From the results of these tests we are then able to advise patients on the best options for treating their individual allergy symptomsAn increase in wetter weather in the Northern California area naturally means a lot more green and growing foliage and plants, and along with that; a humdinger of an allergy season. A relief from drought conditions is most welcome, but for pollen sensitive allergy sufferers, it also means an increase in misery-causing grass and weed pollen.

“Our patients have been reporting the typical allergy season symptoms, such as itchy eyes and sneezing,” explains Linda Biggers, NCMA Allergy Center manager & clinician. “This is not surprising since according to the experts we are already well into grass pollen season. Grass pollen is the most allergy causing pollen; and it’s one of the most prolific pollen producers in our area.” Grass pollen levels typically become most prevalent though the month of June. “This year the pollen intensity might go on a bit longer thanks to the current uptick in heat we’re experiencing,” she added.

Although allergies might be a challenge to deal with, it is a normal physiological reaction to airborne allergens. Typical reactions include a runny nose and a swelling of the sinus passages as the body tries to block the allergen from getting into the system. The immune system reacts defensively to the pollen and responds to attack by producing large amounts of antibody. This allergic reaction can cause symptoms including; itchy watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, hives, fatigue, and irritability.

Understanding pollen season

Anyone who suffers from seasonal pollen allergies probably knows that it’s spread by the wind. Any warm afternoon breeze can be loaded with pollen from trees, grasses, flowering plants and a plethora of weeds. Although springtime may be the launch of allergy season, many plants pollinate year-round. And according to online pollen reporting sites, pollen counts vary from day to day and hour to hour depending on heat and precipitation.

According to researchers, nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the U.S. and it’s a problem that is on the increase. As many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children report allergy symptoms. Allergic disease including asthma, is the now the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. in people of all ages. It has been estimated that between 24-40 million of allergy patients suffer specifically from an airborne allergy resulting in hay fever or Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis.

Allergy independence with immunotherapy

Over-the-counter remedies and staying indoors might not work for everyone and that’s when doctors might recommend immunotherapy. This type of allergy therapy follows a thorough allergy test to screen for which allergens are causing the problem, patients are then set up on a schedule of injections that are geared toward not only relieving allergy symptoms but eliminating them altogether.

“We are able to test for more than 40 different inhalant allergens that are common to the area, such as trees, grass, weeds, molds, dust mites, animals, and others. From the results of these tests we are then able to advise patients on the best options for treating their individual allergy symptoms,” said Biggers

“In order to get a person’s immune system to stop over-reacting to allergens, we may offer immunotherapy which uses a gradual desensitization process that involves injecting extracts of identified allergens. Normally these injections are given once a week over the course of several months,” she explained. “We then graduate treatments to bi-monthly and eventually to just once a month. The goal is to make you feel better while cutting back or eliminating your allergy medications.”

About NCMA Allergy Center

The NCMA Allergy Center provides patients with a clear solution to the treatment of allergies using a collaborative team of board-certified otolaryngologists and allergy specialists. SRHN physicians are members of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. For more information on the NCMA Allergy Center visit the NCMA website or call 707-523-7025 to schedule an appointment.


New Research Highlights the Need for Men to Be Proactive About Getting Screened for Prostate Cancer

NCMA’s Dr. Michael Lazar of California HIFU discusses the latest research on prostate cancer and provides insight into the importance of early detection and the newest treatment options

Dr. Michael Lazar

Dr. Michael Lazar

When it comes to prostate cancer and knowing when to get a checkup, the standard for recommendations are all over the board. New research suggests that avoiding the issue altogether is not a good option for any man, particularly for those with prostate cancer running in the family. “Screening is simple process that allows us to look for cancer before any symptoms become obvious to the patient,” explains Dr. Michael Lazar, HIFU Prostate Services Medical Director. “This process can help us discover the cancer at an earlier stage while the patient has the opportunity to take advantage of newer, less invasive options for treating prostate cancer.”

The Research

Swedish researchers this month released findings on a study involving 50,000 men – all brothers of men diagnosed with prostate cancer. The study was to determine the prostate cancer risk to men with a family history of the disease. Although the study made the distinction of determining whether men with a family history of aggressive cancer were more at risk than those whose relatives had a less progressive form (referred to as ‘indolent’ in the study), they discovered that the odds were about the same for both groups.

Ultimately, findings revealed that in men who had both a father and a brother with prostate cancer of either variety, the risk of developing any form of prostate cancer was nearly 50 percent. Bottom line according to researchers, “…is that men whose father or brother have an indolent, untreated prostate cancer are probably not aware that this also increases their own risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.”

Get Screened

According to the American Cancer Society men are best advised to check with their healthcare provider about when or whether to be tested for prostate cancer. They recommend that men should not be tested without first learning about the risks and possible benefits of testing and treatment. The turning point for serious consideration is for men around 50 years of age, so they can determine for themselves if testing is the right choice. Men who have a father or brother who had prostate cancer prior to the age 65 should get with a healthcare provider sooner.

Education is Key to Taking Advantage of New Treatment Options

Prostate cancer is the leading solid organ cancer in the USA and the second most common cause of cancer related death. Many prostate cancers can be managed conservatively, particularly in elderly men. But larger tumors, those with higher Gleason score and rising PSA levels should be treated more aggressively – particularly in younger men who fit this profile. Prostate cancer is usually managed with an attitude of active surveillance followed by options include; radiation therapy, surgery to remove the cancerous gland, freezing (cryotherapy), or high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU).

About HIFU

HIFU is the newest FDA approved non-invasive treatment for prostate cancer which uses ultrasound energy or sound waves, to heat and destroy specifically targeted areas of tissue. During HIFU the sound waves pass through healthy tissue without causing damage. However, at the focal point of the sound waves (like a magnifying glass focusing the rays of the sun), the tissue temperature is raised to 90 degrees Celsius, destroying the targeted cancerous tissue.

“HIFU is most effective for men who have early stage, localized prostate cancer that has not spread or metastasized outside the prostate,” explains Dr. Lazar. “Many patients who have had radiation therapy, brachytherapy or external beam radiation and experience a rise in PSA have discovered that the cancer is back. These patients may also be candidates for HIFU as long as the cancer has not spread to the bone or other organs.”

About Dr. Lazar and California HIFU

Dr. Michael Lazar, a Santa Rosa urologist and prostate cancer expert, is the only Northern California physician recognized as a leader in the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for prostate cancer. He has been successfully treating patients with HIFU since 2007. Dr. Lazar formed California HIFU in order to offer minimally invasive prostate cancer treatment to men with the Sonablate.

For more information about HIFU treatment which is now available in San Francisco, or to make an appointment call: (707) 546-5553. Visit us online to learn more at:


NCMA’s Dr. Steele Shares Insights Concerning the Hazards of Too Much or Too Little Sleep

Northern California Medical Associate’s Dr. Marco Steele discusses the importance of getting enough rest and offers some options for people with chronic sleep issues.

TiredA new study out from Biological Psychiatry points out the importance of getting the correct amount of sleep. Findings reveal something that Northern California Medical Associate’s pulmonary specialist and board certified sleep expert Dr. Marco Steel is all too familiar with. “Many people believe that it’s too little sleep that can make the body susceptible to illness, where in fact it is both too little and too much sleep that can eventually lead to health problems.”

The report indicates that both sleep disturbances and long sleep duration lead to increased incidents of inflammation, a condition that contributes to both depression and many medical illnesses, according to study editors. Considered a ‘public health problem’ by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sleep disturbances such as insomnia have been associated with increased risk of inflammatory disease. In fact, the Institute of Medicine studies have correlated chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity, along with several types of cancer and increased mortality with people who also suffer from sleep disorders and sleep deprivation.

Getting the right amount of shut-eye

Biological Psychiatry’s analysis demonstrated that both sleep disturbance (defined as ‘poor sleep quality or complaints of insomnia’) and prolonged sleep durations of more than eight hours create elevated levels of proteins in the bloodstream that leave patients vulnerable to the ravages of inflammation. They also suggest that treatments targeting sleep behavior could be a strategy for reversing the inflammation and reducing the risk of inflammatory illnesses. For some people, getting the right amount of sleep can only happen with the help of an expert.

“Sleep problems such as chronic snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia as well as restless legs syndrome are actually quite common. Sometimes the best way to get back to having a good night’s sleep is to work with a specialist,” says Dr. Steele. “Good sleep is essential for maintaining optimal health. For example, without the right amount of sleep, a person’s hormone levels can become affected, causing mood swings and issues such as weight gain.” If insomnia persists for several hours each night for more than a couple of months, it’s a good idea to get a medical consultation.

What to expect from an expert

Most experts agree that adults should sleep at least seven hours per night on a regular basis in order to maintain optimal health. For someone with persistent insomnia going to a sleep center can help a patient identify the problem and offer solutions for a variety of issues including;

  • Chronic Snoring
  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Pediatric sleep disorders (night terrors, sleep walking, etc.)
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea

“Some adults may need a longer sleep duration exceeding nine hours per night,” says Dr. Steele. “People who need more hours can include young adults and people suffering from a chronic illness. There are some adults who are naturally short sleepers that continue to feel alert and refreshed on less than six hours per night, but that’s a fairly small percentage of the population. The best advice is to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your sleep patterns, or if you feel constantly fatigued. For an ongoing sleep problem, seeking out the help of an accredited sleep center might be the best solution.”

About Dr. Steele and NCMA’s Sleep Centers


Dr. Steele

NCMA Pulmonologist James Marco Steele, MD provides diagnostics, treatment and management of a full spectrum of pulmonary diseases. He is Board Certified in Sleep Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Internal Medicine as well as Critical Care by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). For more information, visit the NCMA website or call (707) 525-3786.

Dr. Parul Kohli Provides Insight into the Importance of Strength Training for Older Adults

Northern California Medical Associate’s Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Parul Kohli discusses the latest research highlighting the impact physical activity can have on aging and the importance of adding strength training to the exercise routine.

Dr. Parul Kohli discusses the latest research highlighting the impact physical activity can have on aging and the importance of adding strength training to the exercise routine.“Aging well is a challenge for all of us, but there are things we can do to improve the odds of staying healthy for life,” says NCMA’s Dr. Parul T. Kohli.  “Research is showing more and more that there are simple, yet important steps that can be followed to maintain good health and reduce the risk of disease and disability as we age.” Top priorities Dr. Kohli’s recommends for her patients include;

  • exercise
  • healthy diet
  • regular health screenings
  • getting vaccines
  • getting enough restful sleep
  • remaining socially active

To this list Dr. Kohli may also suggest strength training as an important factor for patients who hope to remain fit and active for life. A new study conducted by Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and published this month suggests that in addition to aerobic exercise, strength training can play an important role in improving the quality of life for patients including; preventing early death, improved resistance to cardiovascular disease, dementia and chronic diseases such as diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

“Over the years, many different studies have validated the benefits of physical activity in older adults, and stressed the importance of building overall body strength, which helps to improve muscle mass and optimize physical function,” says Dr. Kohli.

Improvements as a result of strength training have been observed in chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, low back pain and of course, obesity. The new Penn State study revealed that older adults who strength trained at least twice a week had 46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who did not. They also had 41 percent better chance of avoiding cardiac death and 19 percent improvement in the odds of dying from cancer.

Incorporating Strength Training to Your Fitness Routine

Adding strength training to a regular fitness routine doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym every day of the week, or enlisting the aid of heavy barbells to enhance strength. Very small changes in muscle strength can have a significant impact on overall functionality and improve a person’s quality of life, particularly for patients who already experience some form of muscle weakness.

“Increasing strength in small ways can make it easier to do common tasks such as climbing stairs, opening jars, getting out of a chair and even walking around the block,” explains Dr. Kohli. “Exercise focused on the lower body is particularly important as it will help to improve balance – and maintaining good balance is key to avoiding falls – which can be a real game changer for an otherwise healthy older adult.”

According to the National Institute on Aging twice a week strength training for 30-minute periods is optimal, and exercising different muscle group is best for each session. Beginning with light weights and building up gradually over a period of time is the best way to get used to strength exercises, build muscle mass, and avoid potential injury.

About Dr. Kohli and Santa Rosa Internal Medicine

Dr. Kohli for PR 2

Dr. Parul T. Kohli

NCMA’s Internal Medicine Physicians diagnose, treat and manage a full spectrum of health conditions. In addition to general internal medicine services, Dr. Kohli focuses on comprehensive “whole patient” care. She provides compassionate care continuing across the whole spectrum- from preventative health to chronic disease. To learn more visit our website or to make an appointment call (707) 546-2180.





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New Research Highlights the Connection Between Brain and Heart Health, Encouraging People to Get Fit

Northern California Medical Associate’s Cardiovascular Services discusses the latest research on heart health and offers some pointers for patients interested in improving both heart and brain function.

fitness is a factor for people of all ages and this research pointing out that heart health may also impact cognitive, or brain function helps to drive home the importance of taking an active approach to managing heart health, for patients and physicians alike. The Journal of the American Heart Association just released research indicating that a healthy heart may have major benefits for preventing the decline in brain function often associated with aging. Findings indicate that people who work to maintain optimal cardiovascular health have better brain processing speed and less cognitive decline over time. The study followed 1,033 participants with an average age of 72, for about six years.

To facilitate the study researchers adopted the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple Seven®” definition of cardiovascular health. These guidelines include tips for maintaining optimal heart health and include recommendations for tobacco avoidance, ideal levels of weight, physical activity, healthy diet, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.

“We have long understood that regular physical activity combined with avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and maintaining a healthy diet helps to reduce risk of strokes and heart attacks,” says NCMA Cardiologist Dr. Allan Garfield. “Studies like this help to underscore the importance of taking an active approach to heart health. If adopting a regime as recommended by the AHA helps to improve heart heath as well as brain health over the long haul, that’s a win-win for our patients.”

Heart Health is a Serious Concern

According to the AHA cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. More than 17.3 million deaths are attributed to the disease annually, and more than 800,000 people in the U.S. died from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in 2013 alone (the most recent data available).

Lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a trend that is wide spread among the population. According to the statistics, a full half of all Americans fail to get enough exercise, much less the recommended 150 minutes/week of vigorous to moderate physical activity. “This number might look challenging at first, but when you break it down to a daily routine, we’re talking just over 20 minutes per day – a number most everyone is capable of achieving,” Dr. Garfield pointed out. The AMA also recommends incorporating weekly strengthening activities, at least twice a week.

Increasing Activity Levels has Many Benefits

Adopting a more active lifestyle can have a very positive impact on a person’s health, regardless of age or if they suffer from chronic illness. Even people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes who pursue a more active lifestyle are much less likely to die prematurely than their inactive counterparts. Studies have proven that as people become more active, health benefits go well beyond just heart health. Physical fitness is known to reduces the risk of many diseases associated with aging including;

  • bone loss high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • breast cancer
  • diabetes
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • depression
  • anxiety

Ultimately, fitness is a factor for people of all ages and this research pointing out that heart health may also impact cognitive, or brain function helps to drive home the importance of taking an active approach to managing heart health, for patients and physicians alike.

About NCMA Cardiology Services

From cardiac catheterization to open-heart surgery, from electrophysiology to rehabilitation and prevention, the NCMA’s Cardiovascular Services team is dedicated to delivering the highest quality care and the best patient results. The professional staff not only maintains its commitment to patients’ health and well-being but maintains a tradition of excellence and expertise in the practice of the most current, innovative treatments in cardiovascular medicine. For more information, visit the NCMA website and to make an appointment call 707-573-6166.


More info:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Taking a Mindful Approach to Heart Health During American Heart Month

Northern California Medical Associates Cardiovascular Services explores national trends in cardiovascular disease and shares insight into heart healthy living.

heart-718085-mThere is a lot going on in February pertaining to heart health. It’s American Heart Month and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are co-leading an initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to educate people all across the U.S. about heart disease and prevention. The American Heart Association is championing the annual awareness campaign aimed at educating women on heart health called Go Red for Women. NCMA Cardiovascular Services is also taking this opportunity to share some news about heart disease and stroke and to offer some tips on how to have a healthy heart.

Heart Disease is No Joke

According to the American Heart Association more than 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure, less than 50 percent of those with heart failure live a full five years following diagnosis. The deadly duo of heart disease and stroke are among the most prevalent and costly health complications dealt with by doctors today. Heart disease or stroke wreak havoc on people’s lives measured in increased medical bills, lost wages and decreased quality of living.

• 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the United States
• 800,000 deaths occur from heart disease each year, a total of 1 in every 3 deaths – about the same number as die from cancer, respiratory disease and accidents – combined
• 150,000 of deaths from heart disease occur in people under age 65
• $320 billion in health care costs and lost productivity were attributed to heart disease and stroke in 2011

The top five ways to hedge your bets against heart disease include; managing high blood pressure (talk to your doctor), take up a daily routine of physical activity (at least 20 minutes per day), make an effort to eat whole foods (ditch processed alternatives), avoid excess salt and quit smoking.

Know Your Blood Pressure

About 67 million people have high blood pressure according to the CDC. High blood pressure is a serious issue when it comes to heart heath. It makes the heart work excessively, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Blood pressure is the force of blood on the walls of the body’s blood vessels as blood flows through them. This pressure naturally fluctuates during the day, but when it is consistently too high, it is considered high blood pressure or hypertension. The best way to find out what your blood pressure is and to weigh current risk factors, is to talk to a cardiologist.

Get the Blood Pumping

Exercise is essential not only for maintaining a healthy weight but for keeping the heart healthy. According to the American Heart Association’s latest exercise standards, exercise can be viewed as a preventative medical treatment and should be pursued on a daily basis – or as close to a daily basis as possible. For maximum cardiovascular health the AHA suggests 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least five days per week combined with some type of muscle-strengthening activity twice per week.

Discover the Heart Healthy Diet

Adopting a heart healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke by as much as 80 percent. The most often recommended steps towards improving the diet is to eat more fresh, unprocessed fruits and veggies, choose whole grains over refined grain products, and limit unhealthy fats. Reducing salt consumed in food is another important aspect of the heart-healthy diet. Salt can contribute to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Don’t Light Up

Cigarette smoking greatly increases a person’s risk for heart disease. Risk factors rise as the cells that line the body’s blood vessels react to the poisons in tobacco smoke, almost immediately causing the heart rate and blood pressure rise. Over time blood vessels grow narrower, and chemical changes caused by tobacco smoke also increases the likelihood that blood will clot. When this happens clots (called plaque) can form and block the necessary blood flow to the heart. When arteries are blocked enough then sudden death can become an issue.

The Bottom Line

With heart disease being the leading cause of death for both of men and women, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined it’s important to take steps to improve heart health. Knowledge is power, and with just a little effort it is possible to protect against heart disease. In addition to exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, controlling blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, making lifestyle choices to improve cardiovascular health will also improve quality of life, and lower the risk for heart disease.

About NCMA Cardio Services

NCMA Cardiovascular Services offers patients a comprehensive range of cardiac services, interventional procedures and comprehensive care to meet the needs of patients with 11 offices, located in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Gualala, Ukiah, and Lakeport. For more information, visit our website.

As Flu Season Ramps Up for October it’s Time to Get Vaccinated

Northern California Medical Associates, Family and Internal Medicine Physicians suggest getting this year’s flu vaccine, which is more likely to prevent most flu strains this year, according to experts.

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Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center reports that this year’s flu vaccines are set to be a good match to most probable flu outbreaks. The flu vaccine is never 100 percent effective, even when scientists have done their homework to predict which strains will be most active. But this year experts are more certain that the CDC’s recommended vaccine with help to prevent flu outbreaks – an improvement over last year’s flu season. And, flu shot recipients who still get the flu will supposedly benefit by its effect to reduce the severity of symptoms.

Flu Season is Serious Business

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so far, the flu activity so far is low in the United States – and it’s hard to image that we’re already half way through the flu season. But as is typical each year, flu outbreaks don’t really begin to get off the ground until October, just as kids head back to school and the cooler weather forces everyone indoors. These conditions tend to lead to more exposure to flu germs that spread much easier in close quarters. Although flu symptoms can cause some people to only miss a few days of work or school, every year it also contributes to millions of more serious illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

The CDC estimates that an average of 36,000 people will die of flu this year in the U.S. alone, potentially more if new flu strains pop up that prove to be resistant to current antiviral drugs. With this in mind, prevention is the key to staying healthy. First on the list for prevention from the Internal Medicine Physicians of Northern California Medical Associates is a yearly flu vaccine for every person over the age of six months.

“While there is no way to prevent everyone from getting the flu, and vaccines are not always effective all of the time, getting the most current vaccine is the best way to protect against flu,” says NCMA’s Dr. Thomas Guyn. Vaccination can reduce incidents of flu illnesses and help to avoid missed work and school, as well as prevent hospitalizations in most people.

Important ways to avoid the flu

Stay healthy – A healthy immune system is important for prevention of any cold or flu, and it certainly helps to reduce the duration of sick time when an infection occurs. The most obvious ways to stay healthy includes;

• eat right, eat fresh foods to maximize nutrients
• get plenty of exercise to maintain health and maximize potential for staying resistant to viruses
• get enough rest, at least 8 hours sleep for adults, 9 hours for teens, 10-12 for younger children
de-stressify, stress is a known contributor to ill health and can damage the immune system
• take preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, avoid close contact with sick people
• avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

What to do if you get the flu

For those who cannot avoid the flu, there are drugs that can treat flu symptoms called ‘antiviral’ drugs which work to make the illness milder and help a person feel better faster. They can also help to prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia.
The Family and Internal Medicine Physicians of NCMA typically recommend that anyone with flu-like symptoms stay home and avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after the fever has subsided (without the aid of fever-reducers). If symptom persist or worsen, seek medical help right away.

About NCMA Family and Internal Medicine

Northern California’s premier provider of medical and surgical care north of the Golden Gate has been serving individuals and families since 1975. NCMA’s Family and Internal Medicine Physicians diagnose, treat, and manage a full spectrum of health conditions.

NCMA Health Connect – Creating Better Connections With Our Patients

NCMA pic

– Click above to learn how to create your account –

Northern California Medical Associates (NCMA) is announcing NCMA Health Connect, our new on-line secure patient portal allowing you more access with your NCMA medical providers.

NCMA Health Connect will help us correspond with you securely, keep information up-to-date, and is available 24/7 from the comfort of your home or business.

Start connecting today. Once you sign-up, you will be able to:

• Request an appointment
• Review your medical summary
• Message your doctor’s office securely
• Pay your bill on-line

NCMA’s main goal is always to serve our patients in better ways. We hope you will take advantage of our new NCMA Health Connect.

For more information & to learn  how to create your account, click below and view announcement poster:
Northern California Medical Associates (NCMA) is announcing NCMA Health Connect, our new on-line secure patient portal allowing you more access with your NCMA medical providers. NCMA Health Connect will help us correspond with you securely, keep information up-to-date, and is available 24/7 from the comfort of your home or business. Start connecting today!

– Click Here –

Thanks, and welcome to NCMA Health Connect.

NCMA Docs Make a Difference: Dr. Harendra Punatar and the NBIAA

DMADNorthern California Medical Associates (NCMA) Cardiologist Harendra Punatar, MD, FACC, gives back to the community through his volunteer work with the North Bay Indo-American Association (NBIAA). NBIAA is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 in the North Bay area by the local residents of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Novato. Dr. Punatar’s brother Suresh was one of the original founding members. NBIAA’s mission is to “bring India to the North Bay” by organizing cultural, religious, and educational events that are of interest to the growing Indian community in the region.

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NCMA's cardiologist Dr. Patrick Coleman with Dr. Punatar

NCMA’s cardiologist Dr. Patrick Coleman with Dr. Punatar

Soon after its founding, the NBIAA grew in popularity and became a primary avenue for connecting Indian community members. Events became well-attended and information about upcoming events spread quickly via word-of-mouth. In the late 90s, doctors began to notice a significantly higher propensity for heart disease and diabetes within the community. In fact, these diseases were almost twice as common in Indians in the North Bay than they were in other groups! Due to the disturbingly high prevalence of these diseases, Dr. Punatar began organizing free, annual NBIAA Health Fairs 15 years ago to spread awareness about disease prevention and treatment.

“The data on diabetes and heart disease made for a startling discovery. Members of the Indian community are on average more affluent than other groups in the area, and what we realized was that with that affluence came an increase of poor eating and exercise habits—both of which can be major health risks,” says Dr. Punatar.

He continues, “People in the community were worried and asking lots of questions about their health. The Health Fairs started as a way to meet the demand for health education. Originally, diabetes and heart disease have been the main topics of focus at the health fairs, but over the last five years we’ve really broadened the discussion to cover other prevalent health related subjects. The fairs have been extremely successful. We’ve come to expect about 100-2150 attendees every year!”

NBIAA Health Fairs are run entirely by volunteers with substantial support from NCMA and Medtronic. At the fairs, NCMA nurses and physicians offer free lipid health screenings with immediate results. In just a few minutes, these screenings reveal cholesterol and A1C hemoglobin levels in the bloodstream necessary to diagnose diabetes. During the health screenings, yoga and Tai Chi instructors offer free classes in other rooms to promote healthy exercise habits. At each fair, Dr. Punatar also arranges for two speakers to come and present for one hour each. Past presenters include NCMA Drs. Hopkins and Coleman and renowned physicians from all over the country.

The last NBIAA Health Fair took place on April 18th, 2015, at the Medtronic Cardiovascular at 3850 Brickway Blvd in Santa Rosa. The event focused on common food allergies, free lipid panel health screenings as well as yoga and Tai Chi classes.

Dr.-Punatar-PhotoDr. Punatar obtained his medical doctorate at Miraj Medical College in Miraj India and went on to complete his residency and fellowship training in cardiovascular disease from Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. He has been a valued member of NCMA’s team of expert cardiologists for over 23 years, and he regularly sees patients in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. Dr. Punatar is also the proud father of two bright young women—one who is currently completing her residency training at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland and the other is finishing her medical school at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Punatar, call (707) 573-6199, and visit for more information on the NBIAA and upcoming events.


Free Heart Smart Presentation – March 5th

Dr. Noel Santo-Domingo

Dr. Noel Santo-Domingo

Join us for NCMA Ukiah Cardiology’s free Heart Smart program—a heart screening and presentation that will provide you a new understanding and practical approach to transform your heart health and well-being. The event takes place March 5 at the Ukiah Senior Center located at 495 Leslie St., Ukiah, CA. Screenings start at 8 AM and NCMA Cardiologist Noel Santo-Domingo will present from 10:00-11:00AM. Contact (707) 569-7862 to RSVP. We hope to see you there!

Click here to view in full

Click here to view in full