Category Archives: Health News

Cardiac Rehab: Restoring Health and Well-Being

Posted on: February 23, 2016

You’ve had a cardiac event – possibly a heart attack, coronary artery bypass surgery or angina. Now you’re back home. How do you regain your strength, energy and confidence, while reducing the risk of a recurrence? The answer is: cardiac rehabilitation. Find out from the experienced Master’s-level exercise physiologists at Northern Westchester Hospital’s (NWH) certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Program how cardiac rehab can speed your recovery while significantly improving your health and quality of life.

Nurse With Patient During Health CheckCardiac rehabilitation, explains Jenna Angelucci, is a medically-supervised, individualized program of exercise and education that helps you recover faster from heart disease and acquire the strength to resume a full life. You are a candidate if you’ve suffered a cardiovascular event such as heart attack, bypass surgery, angina, heart valve repair or replacement, coronary stenting or heart failure. NWH’s outpatient cardiac rehab program requires a physician’s prescription, and besides the core training component, includes counseling in nutrition, stress management and meditation, as well as education in heart disease prevention.

Benefits of Cardiac Rehab

Perhaps surprisingly, a key benefit of cardiac rehabilitation is restored confidence. That emotion has as much impact as do medical issues on a person’s ability to resume an active, rewarding life. Some patients are initially afraid to do anything,” notes Leone. “A pain in the chest area makes them terrified another cardiac event is happening. They’re afraid to work, to drive, to leave the area where their doctors practice.” These fears typically evaporate after training – indeed, even during training, as patients see undeniable evidence of their gains in strength and stamina. “Walking uphill on the treadmill, riding the bike, using the rowing machine which they’ve never, ever done, gives them great confidence,” explains Angelucci.

Following her balloon angioplasty, Martha G. of Mount Kisco, had several dozen cardiac rehab sessions at NWH’s state-of-the-art gym at Chappaqua Crossing. Though she already walked for fitness, it was through the program that Martha learned about truly appropriate exercise. “I wasn’t doing enough to get my heart rate up. I could have been doing more,” she says. Today, after gaining strength and shedding significant weight, she says, “I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life.”

What happens when you enter NWH’s cardiac rehab program?

A personalized exercise regimen is designed based on an extensive health history and your physical condition. You’ll have up to 36 training sessions, depending upon your insurance, during which you receive continuous EKG monitoring and close supervision by exercise physiologists. “We’re watching your heart rate and cardiac rhythm the whole time, till after cool-down,” says Leone. “Your blood pressure is taken before, during and after exercise.” Starting off at 30 minutes, you’ll work up to between 42 minutes and an hour of training, with weight training added when appropriate. A physician is always nearby and can be summoned instantly.

In choosing a cardiac rehab program, look for accreditation, convenient scheduling, insurance coverage and the expertise and experience of staff.  Whether you’ve had a heart attack, coronary bypass or other cardiac event, “you are basically getting a second chance after your cardiac event,” notes Angelucci. “So it’s wise to take advantage of all the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation.”

For more information on the NWH Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Chappaqua Crossing, visit www.nwhRehab.org or call 914.458.8700.

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THE MYSTERY OF AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS

Posted on: January 26, 2016

By Dr. Ronen Marmur

Without your immune system, your body would be open to infection from viruses and bacteria.

Ronen Marmur, MD/PhD

Ronen Marmur, MD/PhD

But this helpful ally can sometimes turn on you and mistakenly attack joints, muscles, and even organs. Because no one is sure what triggers autoimmune disorders, diagnosing and treating the problems can be puzzling for patients and doctors. Recognizing some of the potential risks and symptoms can help you get the care you need.

Early diagnosis is crucial to successfully managing autoimmune disorders.

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New Solutions for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Posted on: January 12, 2016

Something to Cheer About

By Dr. Elie Abemayor

I remember the day when an 18-year-old cheerleader came to see me, she knew something was dramatically wrong—but she didn’t want to talk about it. The normally bouncy high school student was becoming less social, and she was losing weight. She was having bowel issues, and she really didn’t want to talk about it.

Northern Westchester Eli AbemayorAfter discussing her symptoms, I checked for blood in her stool, and then confirmed her diagnosis with a colonoscopy and a biopsy. She had ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Luckily, her condition was still in the mild to moderate stage; after she started medications she had a complete reversal within a few weeks. She was able to get back to a healthy weight and her symptoms subsided.

IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (the cheerleader’s condition), plagues as many as 1.4 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Given the nature of the symptoms, many people wait too long to seek treatment. Treating IBD early can make such a big difference in being able to manage the disease successfully.

Both Crohn’s and colitis can be characterized by persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, and blood in the stool. The reason for these symptoms is chronic inflammation in the digestive tract, which interferes with normal digestion. Crohn’s disease can target any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus, and it can penetrate the intestine walls to affect nearby organs. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, only involves the colon or rectum and irritates only the inner wall of the intestine.

If you’re seeing a GI specialist about IBD, expect to be questioned in depth about your symptoms. If your doctor believes you may be suffering from Crohn’s disease or colitis, he or she may order a colonoscopy, endoscopy, or other imaging such as a CT scan to check for inflammation. A biopsy of the inflamed area may also be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Although it’s not possible to cure these conditions with medications, there are many effective drugs that can control symptoms, as was the case with the cheerleader. Anti-inflammatory drugs can calm a severe attack; immune system modulators can also quell symptoms. Often we find that a combination of medications works best.

For more severe cases, surgery may be required. Not too many years ago, surgeons would remove the entire colon and rectum in patients with ulcerative colitis. A patient would have to use a colostomy bag for the rest of his or her life. No more: New techniques such as ileal pouch anal anastomosis can create part of the rectum. In a two- or three-stage procedure, the surgeon can fashion a new rectum using healthy intestine, and reconnect to the anus so that the patient’s daily life is minimally affected.

Although about half of people with Crohn’s disease will require surgery at some point, the procedure won’t be curative unlike ulcerative colitis. In some cases a patient may need more than one operation. The goal of the procedure is to remove the damaged portions of the digestive tract and reconnect the healthy sections. With the right medications and a careful eating plan, patients may be able to avoid a return of their symptoms.

People with IBD can find excellent information and support through groups such as the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America www.ccfa.org. Just remember that it’s key to seek treatment early, no matter how unpleasant it may seem to discuss your symptoms. You’ll have many more options for treatment and much greater success.

Editor’s Note: Elie Abemayor, MD is the Chief of Gastroenterology at Northern Westchester Hospital.

Making the Holidays Special for Loved Ones in the Hospital

Posted on: December 15, 2015

Making the Holidays Special for Loved Ones in the Hospital

Tips for caregivers, family and friends from The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center

Here are some tips that you may find helpful while your loved one is in the hospital during the holidays.  Remember for safety reasons, it’s very important to check with hospital staff before you bring any items into the hospital room.

1)       Bring small gifts to your family member if they are well enough to un-wrap the item.
2)       Bring something pleasant and safe as a decoration for their hospital room.
3)       Bring in some comforts of home, such as your loved one’s favorite pajamas, blankets or pillow.
4)       Deliver their favorite snacks or holiday food that fits within any dietary restrictions.
5)       If you think it will raise their spirits, assemble a photo album of pictures from previous holidays.
6)       If religious, bring in a recording of a religious service, or watch one on television.
7)       Play some holiday music or watch a favorite holiday movie together.
8)       If family is unable to visit, reach out to the volunteer department for visitors.

Gift Suggestions for hospitalized family members
Entertainment:  Books, magazines, music, movies, crossword puzzles, and playing cards.

Enjoyment:  Get well cards, holiday cards, and small gifts.
Gift of Service:  Have someone offer to run an errand for your loved one – this can feel very supportive when in the hospital.  If your family member needs information about a community resource, you can offer to assist them in gathering information.

Editor’s Note: The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center is dedicated to caring for the family caregiver. The Caregivers Center serves as a private sanctuary during the very demanding and stressful times of providing care for your loved one, regardless of  whether they are hospitalized at NWH, at another facility or at home.

The Key to Reversing Pre-Diabetes

Posted on: November 9, 2015

The Key to Reversing Pre-Diabetes

By Pat Talio

A diagnosis of pre-diabetes means that you are at high risk for developing diabetes, and without lifestyle changes are likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Better nutrition and exercise may help you prevent or delay the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.

The arrow image depicts the differences between the blood sugar level of someone without diabetes, someone considered pre-diabetic and diabetessomeone with diabetes. Pre-diabetes means your blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.  A diagnosis of pre-diabetes is a reason to slow down and examine what you are eating and how active you are. Research shows with an improvement in your diet and with an increase in activity, which results in weight loss and better nutrition, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.

The Diabetes Care and Education practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest the following tips to reverse Pre-Diabetes:
1. Move more – take a walk after dinner, stand up while talking on the phone, walk to your coworkers desk rather than use e-mail, jog in place or stand and stretch during TV commercials. Move if you’ve been sitter for 30 minutes. Remember every step counts.
2. Water is the way to go – replace juice, soda and other sugary drinks with water.
3. Just say no – Politely refuse the extra serving at the family dinner and powdered donut from a co-worker. Friends and family often have good intentions, but practice saying “No thank you!” to stay on track.
4. Size matters – be mindful of your portion sizes. Keep your protein to 4-6 ounces; a serving of starchy food should be less than one cup, and vegetables should cover at least one-half of your plate.

Change is always difficult but it may be easier with the support of a partner so grab a family member or friend and work together to make healthy lifestyle choices a reality.

Editor’s Note: Pat Talio, MS, RDN, CDE, CDN is a registered dietitian at Northern Westchester hospital and is a diabetes educator.