Category Archives: Expert Health Advice

Pulmonary Rehab and Quality of Life

Posted on: April 1, 2015

Pulmonary Rehab Can Improve Quality of Life

By Harlan R. Weinberg

Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is increasingly recognized as a significant part of treatment for Human respiratory system, artworkpeople with chronic respiratory illnesses and other lung conditions. Even for those with very impaired lung function, this specialized rehab can improve quality of life and the ability to live independently. Here, I explain how PR offers new hope to people with breathing difficulties.

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Dealing with Caregiver Stress

Posted on: March 20, 2015

“Caregiving can be very isolating, is a job most people didn’t apply for and never received proper training in, and does not pay very well,” says Jerri Rosenfeld, a social worker at Northern Westchester Hospital’s Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center in Mount Kisco, NY. Jerri spoke with Health.com; read complete article here to see tips on dealing with the stress of being a family caregiver.

Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center Northern Westchester HospitalAccording to the National Alliance for Caregiving, roughly one third of adults in this country are the caregiver for an elderly, ill or disabled family member. Two thirds of those caregivers are women.  And many of those women are also caring for children at home.

There are a number of resources available to you. How to find those resources is where the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center comes in. Visit the Caregivers Center here.  Family caregivers find a wealth of practical resources and supportive staff.  You don’t have to go it alone.

Sleep Your Way to Better Health

Posted on: March 4, 2015

Sleep Your Way to Better Health

By Dr. Praveen Rudraraju

If you’re struggling to get enough sleep, don’t take your tossing and turning lightly. Good sleep is a necessity, not an option. We know that most people require around seven to eight hours a night, and it’s vital that you get it.

iStock_41874820_HiRezSleep supports the body and brain in so many ways that science is only beginning to fully understand. We form memories during sleep, and there’s evidence that regular sleep improves memory. Likewise, sleep seems to facilitate learning, whether it’s acquiring a new skill like playing the piano, learning how to tackle new responsibilities at work, or school kids putting to use the rules of geometry or grammar.

Sound sleep also keeps you healthy. Research from the Sleep Heart Health Study indicates that people who get less than five hours of sleep nightly are 2.5 times more likely to have diabetes. That study and several other similar ones have found that averaging less than five hours of shuteye a night raises the risk of heart disease by 45 percent. What’s more, poor sleep increases the likelihood of suffering mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse. High school students in particular seem to be susceptible to behavior problems and mood disturbance when they don’t get enough sleep.

Sound sleep keeps you healthy.

So how do you insure you get enough? There are plenty of ways to improve sleep without resorting to prescription drugs. However, if you routinely battle insomnia, see a doctor about possible solutions. A sleep lab, such as the one at NWH, can be helpful in diagnosing serious sleep conditions such as sleep apnea, which prevents deep sleep and is characterized by heavy snoring. The treatments for sleep disorders have come a long way and are very effective. Most people find that they can begin sleeping much more soundly and suddenly have a lot more energy and concentration during the day once they’ve been diagnosed and get treatment. Plus, they gain all the health benefits a good night’s sleep can bestow.

Tips for Good Sleep Hygiene
Set a regular bedtime. By hitting the sack the same time every evening, you’ll train your body to slow down and have an easier time falling asleep. Even better, establish a small ritual before climbing into the covers, whether it’s a glass of milk (which has tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages sleep), a warm bath, or some gentle relaxation exercises like deep breathing or leisurely yoga stretches.

Try not to nap within eight hours of bedtime—especially if you typically have a hard time drifting off. And limit naps to 25 minutes. Naps can throw off your internal rhythms, making it tougher for your body to slow down at night.

Don’t have alcohol or caffeine within two hours of bedtime. Coffee can keep you up, of course; a drink may help you fall asleep, but when your body starts digesting the alcohol sugars later in the middle of the night, you may find yourself heating up or dreaming intensely, and both can disrupt sleep.

No heavy meals or sugary food right before bed. An active, full belly will have you tossing and turning.

Exercise regularly, but not within two hours of bedtime. Your body takes awhile to slow down and relax into a ready-for-sleep state. However, several studies have linked regular exercise earlier in the day to sounder sleep.

Keep your bedroom dark. Any light can disrupt slumber, so invest in heavy curtains or good blinds.

Shut out noise. If you live in a noisy neighborhood, try wearing ear plugs at night.

Keep it cool. Be sure to turn down the heater at night. The best sleeping temperature is cool—58 to 62 degrees—but not cold.

Check your mattress. About every five to seven years, you’ll need a new one. Not sure how long you’ve had yours? Ask yourself whether you sleep better when you’re away from home. If the answer is yes, it could be your mattress. Pillows don’t last forever, either.

Reserve your bed for sleeping. If you look forward to reading or watching television in bed, you’ll train yourself to be awake when you should be sleeping instead.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Praveen Rudraraju is the Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital. The Center for Sleep Medicine at NWH has achieved The American Academy of Sleep Medicine 5-year Accreditation.

Learn more about how you can feel better and start improving your sleep today, visit the National Sleep Foundation www.sleep.org.

African Americans and Heart Disease

Posted on: February 20, 2015

Beating Heart Disease When the Risks are High

By Dr. Robert Pilchik

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, according to the American Heart Association. It takes more lives than all cancers combined. For African-Americans,

Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC Chief, Cardiology Northern Westchester Hospital

Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC
Chief, Cardiology
Northern Westchester Hospital

the disease is particularly deadly: Before the age of 50, African-American’s rate of heart failure is 20 times higher than Caucasians, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Despite the grim nature of these statistics, there is hope.

Many of the major risks for African-Americans are modifiable with lifestyle changes and, when warranted, drug treatment. African-Americans tend to have higher blood pressure on average than other populations; they are also more likely to have dangerous cholesterol levels, suffer from chronic kidney disease, and struggle with weight issues.

“Just losing five to 10 percent of your bodyweight
can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.”

One well-established cause of high blood pressure is sodium—salt—in the diet, and research suggests that African-Americans may carry a gene that makes them more salt sensitive. By choosing low-sodium foods and eating more fruits and vegetables, blood pressure can be lowered.

Regular exercise—even daily walks—can also reduce blood pressure. If a patient’s blood pressure doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes or is already dangerously high, it can be controlled with safe and proven medications.

African-Americans also tend to have lower levels of the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Again, a healthy diet with lots of produce and lean protein such as poultry along with regular exercise can have a significant impact in improving cholesterol numbers. What’s more, statin drugs are very effective in lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

Weight, another risk factor for stroke and heart disease, can also be managed with lifestyle changes. Just losing five to 10 percent of your bodyweight can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease. Shedding pounds can also lower the risk of diabetes, which also increases the likelihood of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Diabetes is another chronic disease that is higher in African-Americans: Their risk is about double that of non-Hispanic whites.

Visit your physician to learn more about your risk for heart disease and stroke. Understand your factors and put a plan in place to address them. Northern Westchester Hospital offers programs on a variety of chronic diseases as well as FREE tobacco cessation programs (smoking can dramatically raise your risk of heart problems and stroke) that can be incorporated into your personal healthcare plan. Give yourself the gift of health this year – even a few simple improvements will make a big difference to your wellbeing.

Stop heart disease before it’s started. Visit www.mylifecheck.org and get an assessment of your heart health.

Editor’s Note:
Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC is Chief of Cardiology of Northern Westchester Hospital. He is known for his compassion and for helping patients understand their cardiac health. In addition to clinical cardiology, Dr. Pilchik performs diagnostic cardiac catheterizations; cardioversions; transthoracic, transesophageal and stress echocardiograms; transvenous pacemakers; cardiac CTA/calcium scoring; and nuclear stress testing. Dr. Pilchik is a member of Westchester Health with offices in Mt. Kisco, Yorktown Heights and Valhalla.

Read more blog posts on heart health.

Northern Westchester Hospital
offers a Tobacco Cessation Clinic — at NO Charge — to all community memebers. Please call
Jennifer Lucas at 914-6666-1868 for more information.

Learn about cardiac rehabilitation services at Northern Westchester.

Heart-Healthy Treats for You and Your Valentine

Posted on: February 11, 2015

Heart-Healthy Treats for You and Your Valentine

By Pat Talio

I hope this headline caught your attention. I know most people feel not snacking should have been a one of your New Year’s resolutions but in contrast, snacking can be an important part of a heart-healthy diet.
Consider this, if there is more than 3 hours between your meals there are benefits to adding a snack.
1) to avoid being over hungry at meal time, which often leads to overeating at your next meal,
2) better blood sugar control, and
3) sustained energy.

The keys to picking a heart-healthy snack are portion size and quality.
Portion Size:  200 calories or less
Quality:  Be high infiber, contain lean protein (preferably plant-based), be low in sugar and sodium, and have no saturated or trans fat

The results are in; here are the Top 10 Heart-Healthy Snacks for 2015!
Number 10 – 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt with ¼ cup of fresh or frozen blueberries and 2 teaspoons of chia seeds with an optional garnish of chopped fresh mint
(144 calories, 3 g fiber, 2 g fat, 18 g protein)
Number 9 – Roasted Chickpeas with Parmesan Cheese (see recipe below)
Number 8 – 3 cups popped popcorn, jazzed up with 1 teaspoon of canola oil and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, cayenne and unsweetened cocoa powder
(129 calories, 3.5 g fiber, 5 g fat and 3 g protein)
Number 7 – 1.5 cups steamed Edamame in the Pod
(160 calories, 12 g fiber, 15g protein, 3 g fat)
Number 6 – 2 ounces of hummus (try a white or black bean hummus for variety) with 1 cup crudité
(158 calories, 6 g fiber, 4 g protein, 5 g fat)
Number 5 – ½ apple with 1 tablespoon of natural almond butter
(145 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein)
Number 4 – ½ cup low fat cottage cheese with ¼ cup of raspberries and 1 tablespoon of slivered almonds
(153 calories, 15 g pro, 6 g fat, 2 g fiber
Number 3 – 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter on 2 whole grain crisp breads (Wasa High Fiber Crisp bread)
(167 calories, 6 g protein, 6 g fiber, 8 g fat)
Number 2 – 30 unsalted pistachio nuts
(102 calories, 4 g protein, 8 g fat, 2 g fiber)
And the Number 1 Heart Healthy Snack for 2015 is…
strawberry_chocolate covered w Walnuts 4 large, whole strawberries dipped in ½ ounce of melted dark chocolate topped with 1.5 teaspoons of chopped walnuts
(187 calories, 2g pro, 12 g fat, 3.5 g fiber) !

 

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Courtesy of eat-yourself-skinny.com

INGREDIENTS
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 (15.5 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven. Stir together oil, chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne in a large bowl. Add chickpeas and toss to coat.
3. Divide chickpeas between two large rimmed baking sheets. Bake, shaking pans occasionally and rotating pans from top to bottom shelves after 20 minutes, until chickpeas are browned and crisp, about 35 to 40 minutes.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
Serving Size (serves 6): 1/3 cup • Calories: 141 • Fat: 4 g • Fiber: 5 g • Protein: 6 g

Find more delicious and nutritious recipes check out www.nwhc.net/recipes

For more information on heart health, read blog posts from NWH’s Chief of Cardiology, Dr. Robert Pilchik.

Editor’s Note:
Pat Talio, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, is the Outpatient Nutrition Program Coordinator at Northern Westchester Hospital.