Northern Westchester Hospital Registered Dietitian Offers Ideas to Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

The Taste of Eating Right

by Stephanie Perruzza, MS, RD, CDN, Northern Westchester Hospital

March is National Nutrition Month, an annual nutrition education campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  The Registered Dietitians at Northern Westchester Hospital want to encourage everyone to celebrate by focusing on making healthy food choices!  Specifically, by keeping this year’s theme in mind: “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”

Most consumer research has shown that individuals are likely to choose foods that taste good, healthy or not; as dietitians, we completely understand – we eat what tastes best!  Spend some extra time enjoying your meal choices by combining flavors and nutritious foods to build a healthy plate. Continue reading

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Northern Westchester Hospital Maternity Nurse Shares Resources for New Parents

New Parents have Q’s…
…Here’s Where to Find the A’s

By Maureen Varcasio, RN at Northern Westchester Hospital

iStock_000019586817Medium2Having a baby requires parents to learn new skills in order to care for their newborn and themselves. Much of what you need to know can be learned from the nurses while you are still in the hospital. However once parents are discharged home they may still have questions or new questions can arise. For example:  What should I do if my baby won’t nurse or won’t stop crying? Do I have Postpartum Depression? or Am I bleeding too much? Here’s where you can turn for answers… Continue reading

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Northern Westchester Hospital Colorectal Cancer Surgeon Stresses Importance of Colonoscopy

Turning 50? It’s Time for a Colonoscopy.

By Dr. Jerald D. Wishner, FACS, FASCRS, Co-Director, Institute for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery and Medical Director, Colorectal Surgery Program at Northern Westchester Hospital

50_Cupcake_HiRezOne of the most common killers is colon cancer, yet fewer than half of eligible Americans get a colonoscopy. It’s a statistic that is really bothersome to me. A colonoscopy is the gold standard of colon cancer screening, and the research proves it saves lives.

Colon cancer begins in polyps inside the colon, and it can take five to eight years to develop. The promise of a colonoscopy is that, if pre-cancerous polyps are found, the doctor can remove them during the procedure. With mammograms, the hope is that you’ll find cancer early; Colonoscopy takes that a step further by actually preventing cancer from developing in the first place by removing these precancerous polyps.

One of the biggest misconceptions of colonoscopies is that they’ll be painful or uncomfortable. I’ll admit it; it doesn’t sound like fun, but most people will barely know they’ve had one. An anesthesiologist sedates the patient, making the procedure painless. Other than some post-colonoscopy grogginess and a little bloating, you won’t feel a thing. The toughest part is the day before, when you have to take laxatives to clear the colon.

People also find the procedure embarrassing, but a little embarrassment is much better than colon cancer. Who should be screened? Every American at age 50; people with symptoms or a family history of colon cancer should get one sooner. If a parent or sibling was diagnosed with colon cancer, plan to go in when you’re 10 years younger than the family member’s age at diagnosis. For example, if dad was diagnosed at 55, you should get your first colonoscopy at 45.

If the screen turns up precancerous polyps, your doctor may schedule you for another colonoscopy within a few years. However, if there are none, you can wait another seven to ten years before you get screened again. Just don’t put off that first screen. If you wait until you have symptoms such as pain or you’re not moving your bowels, it will be very difficult to cure you. The cancer has had a chance to grow and your chances of recovering will be much lower.

Should a colonoscopy detect cancer that can’t be treated during the procedure, surgery is the next step. There have been advancements in the surgery for colon cancer, something that is unique to Northern Westchester Hospital: Colorectal surgeons at the hospital can now use robotic surgery. That means much smaller incisions, less damage to surrounding tissues and organs, and a much faster recovery.

The crucial message is that you need to be screened at age 50. I had one patient who got a colonoscopy on his 50th birthday. Of course, that’s not necessary. But be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible afterwards: Colonoscopy is not nearly as bad as you think, and we can save countless lives each year. There’s no debate about that.

Visit to learn more about robotic surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital.

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Tips for Reducing Salt in Your Diet

Spice it Up and Toss the Salt

Kimberly Stein, RD, CDN

In today’s food culture, most of us are consuming far too much sodium. The current recommendation for sodium according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is less than 2,300 milligrams per day. That’s equivalent to about the size of one teaspoon. The recommendation for African Americans, individuals age 51 and older and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease is no more than 1,500 milligrams each day.

Yes, it’s true that we do need sodium in our body for normal functions, such as maintaining blood pressure. However, it’s when our sodium intake skyrockets that it can become dangerous causing hypertension (high blood pressure), or fluid retention in people with certain medical conditions, but controlling the amount in your diet may be easier than you think. Here are some simple tips to keep your sodium intake in check: Continue reading

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Help for Daylight Saving Time Sleep Problems

Spring Forward with Ease

By Dr. Praveen Rudraraju, Director, Center for Sleep Medicine, Northern Westchester Hospital

Dr. Rudrarju PraveenThe hour time change will affect some people more than others due to difficulty adjusting their circadian rhythm. By altering the clock our internal clock becomes out of sync or mismatched with our current day-night cycle. Here are a few tips that might help you ‘spring ahead’ with ease: Continue reading

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Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time for Children

Sweat Dreams

By Dr. Lewis Kass, Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Northern Westchester Hospital

Kass,(Lewis J. Kass, MD)Children’s busy schedules may have more of an impact on their sleep than daylight saving time.

In today’s world the one hour time change is the smallest of the issues that affect our children’s ability to get to sleep. Most school-age children are so over scheduled that they come home exhausted. From school to swim or basketball or soccer practice to piano lessons to homework then ending the day with television or video games or tablet time, a child’s day should’ve ended long before a bedtime that is frequently later than it should be.

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New York Dietitian Gives Tips on Healthy Snacking

National Snack Food Month

by Stephanie Perruzza, MS, RD, CDN, Northern Westchester Hospital

89792455compr-nutrition monthYes, you read this title correctly. There is a National Snack Food Month, and it’s in February. Snack foods tend to get a bad rep with stereotypical offerings like chips, cookies and soda on frequent advertisements. The good news is that snacking can fit into a healthy diet and lifestyle – just be sure to keep these few tips in mind:

  1. Calorie Control – you don’t want to overdo it and have your snack turn into a meal. Portion your snacks out and keep them between 150-225 calories.
  2. Snack Wisely – Choose nutritious food choices (see our examples below) and don’t snack mindlessly. When your mind is preoccupied, you eat more; so sit down and focus on your meal and hunger/fullness feelings. Continue reading
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New York Nursery Nurse Discusses Newborn Screening and PKU

Why Will My Newborn Get a PKU Screening?

By Martha Zavras, RN III, Northern Westchester Hospital

Northern Westchester Hospital maternityIf you, a family member, or close friend is pregnant, it is important to know that your newborn will be screened for several serious medical conditions, as mandated by New York State. Among the conditions screened is PKU. What is this blood test for, and what do the results mean for your new baby and your family?

As a Nursery nurse, I often administer the PKU test to newborns, also explaining to parents why it must be given so early in life. PKU is the abbreviation for phenylketonuria, a metabolic disorder. In New York State, the PKU screen, which is a simple blood test, also screens for many other disorders, including thyroid problems and some types of anemia.

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New York neurosurgeon discusses nerve disorder and treatment

The Suicide Disease: Trigeminal Neuralgia

By Alain C.J. De Lotbinière, MD, CM, FACS, FRCSC; Medical Director of the Gamma Knife Center and Medical Director of the Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, Northern Westchester Hospital

Dr. de LotbiniereImagine a stabbing pain in your jaw or cheek triggered by a mere touch or breath of wind, or a constant aching, burning sensation in your face that doesn’t respond to pain killers. This is what sufferers of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) experience, and it can be so incredibly painful that trigeminal neuralgia has also been called “the suicide disease.” For many sufferers, the pain worsens during the winter months.

TN typically hits people in their 50s or older and, for reasons that aren’t completely clear, more women suffer from TN than men. While the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke puts the incidence of new cases at about 14,000 a year, I think it’s very likely that this is an underestimate because so many people have trouble getting a proper diagnosis.

The pain is usually the result of pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which transmits sensations from the face to the brain. A nearby artery can enlarge, putting pressure on the nerve and wear away its protective sheath. This leads to intermittent or constant pain signaling to the brain, and the attacks can worsen over time.

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Westchester Breast Surgeon on the Risks and Benefits of Mammograms

To Get a Mammogram or Not To Get a Mammogram: Risk Status Should Play a Role

By Philip C. Bonanno, MD, FACS, Director of The Breast Program and Director of Integrated Cancer Care in the Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Northern Westchester Hospital

100533240(2)This news was hard to miss: A new study suggested that women who get annual mammograms are as likely to die from breast cancer as women who only get breast examinations from qualified doctors and nurses. If you find that news confusing, you’re not alone. Doctors, public health officials, and cancer specialists are all trying to figure out what the findings mean when it comes to detecting breast cancer and protecting women.

The study, published in the respected British Medical Journal, tracked more than 90,000 women for 25 years. The results found that death rates from breast cancer were identical in women who got mammograms and those who did not. Worse, in one in five cases, getting a mammogram often led to biopsies, radiation, and chemotherapy to treat cancers that actually posed no threat to the patient.

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