Watch This Video: Stress and Your Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 22, 2014

Helene Langevin, MD, CM, Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Are you stressed out? Well, you are not alone. Unfortunately, for most of us, stress is a part of everyday life – fighting traffic in the morning, rushing to bring your kids to their various activities, constant worrying about finances or the health of a loved one.

But did you know that stress also has a major impact on your health and its effects are different for women and men? Recently, an expert panel from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) met to discuss this very topic – how stress effects us and how gender plays a role.

In this video, “Demystifying Stress: An Integrated Approach for Women”, cardiologist Paula A. Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and Chief, Division of Women’s Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, leads the discussion about the impact of stress on women’s mental and physical health as well as medical and non-medical approaches for relieving the symptoms arising from stress. Joining Dr. Johnson for this informative and insightful discussion are Martin A. Samuels, MD, Chair, Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Miriam Sydney Joseph Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Helene Langevin, MD, CM, Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Bernard Osher Professor in Residence of Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School.

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Public Smoking Bans Associated with Health Benefits in Children

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 17, 2014

Passive smoking is linked to premature births, birth defects, asthma, and lung infections.

Nearly half of the world’s children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. Passive smoking is linked to premature births, birth defects, asthma, and lung infections. Studies also have suggested that being exposed to second hand smoke during childhood may have long-term health implications, contributing to the development of chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, in later life.

Laws that prohibit smoking in public places, such as bars, restaurants, and workplaces, are proven to protect adults from the health threats associated with passive smoking. In the first comprehensive study to look at how anti-smoking laws are affecting the health of children, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the University of Edinburgh, Maastricht University, and Hasselt University found that the introduction of new laws that ban smoking in public places in North America and Europe has been followed by a decrease in rates of premature births and hospital visits for asthma attacks in children. These findings were published in March 2014 in The Lancet.

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Double Arm Transplant Candidate Hoping for Independence

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 16, 2014

Will Lautzenheiser has been approved as a candidate for a bilateral (double) arm transplant.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) announced at a recent press conference that Will Lautzenheiser, 39, a former professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University and Montana State University, has been approved as a candidate for a bilateral (double) arm transplant.

Will became a quadruple amputee in 2011, when doctors in Montana removed his limbs due to necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), a life-threatening Group A streptococcal infection. Since that time, Will has struggled to manage with prosthetic (artificial) limbs.

“After losing my limbs, I haven’t been able to do anything spontaneously,” said Will. “It might take me 20 minutes to get dressed using prostheses.” He added that often “other people have to be my hands.”

A successful arm transplant, however, has the potential to significantly restore a patient’s self-reliance. “What we are hoping to provide is independence, something that no prosthesis really can achieve at the present time,” explained Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, Director of the BWH Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program.

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Osteoarthritis – Learn about the Most Common Form of Arthritis

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 15, 2014

Rheumatologist Antonios Aliprantis, MD, PhD, diagnoses and treats patients with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, affecting roughly 12 percent of Americans aged 25 – 74. It’s a chronic joint disease that breaks down cartilage in the neck, lower back, knees, hips, shoulders, and/or fingers. Common symptoms are pain, stiffness, and limited joint movement. Read on for other important information about this chronic condition.

What is the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis both cause joint pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion, but the two diseases are distinct in their root cause and treatment.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where a person’s own immune system attacks their joints, causing inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects many joints simultaneously, especially in the hands, wrists, and feet, and is treated with medications to suppress the immune response.

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Another Reason to Encourage Your Girls to Eat Their Fruits and Vegetables

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 10, 2014

Researchers have found yet another reason for girls to eat their fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are an important component of a healthy, well-balanced diet, and, now, Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers have found yet another benefit for young girls.

A recent study, led by Caroline Boeke, a postdoctoral fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, found that girls who ate the most fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids (a particular type of phytonutrient) were less likely to get benign (non-cancerous) breast diseases, some of which raise the risk for cancer.

Carotenoids, the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors, are believed to have antioxidant properties that protect our bodies from disease by absorbing substances called free radicals that can harm our cells.

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Understanding Bariatric Surgery Treatment Options

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 9, 2014

After having a sleeve gastrectomy, Chuck achieved optimal cholesterol and blood pressure levels, his sleep apnea was cured, his diabetes went into remission, and he welcomed his first child.

Obesity is a major public health problem in the United States and throughout the world. In the U.S., it is estimated there are up to 20 million morbidly obese people (body mass index (BMI) greater than 40). Morbid obesity can lead to many other health issues, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. These patients also may be at increased risk for certain types of cancer, endocrine problems, skin problems, and joint and bone pain.

Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) can help patients with a BMI greater than 40, or a BMI greater than 35 with co-existing health conditions, lose weight  and improve their overall health, including remission of type 2 diabetes, reductions in high blood pressure, and improvement in female fertility.

Dr. Scott Shikora, Director of the Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital discusses bariatric surgery options for weight loss and metabolic treatment in obese patients.

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Community Health Worker Guides and Supports Patients in Need

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 8, 2014

Katie Dawson supports high-risk, complex patients at Brigham and Women's Advanced Primary Care Associates, South Huntington.

Katie Dawson has walked around Boston with a homeless patient to help her find a place to live. She has visited other patients in their homes and accompanied them to nearly 100 primary care appointments. She has guided many more in applying for food assistance or obtaining a social security card. She is currently connecting one patient with resources to learn how to read.

Katie is the first community health worker at Brigham and Women’s Advanced Primary Care Associates, South Huntington, in Jamaica Plain, a practice designed as a patient-centered medical home. With this model of care, wellness and preventive care are as important as sick care. The goal is to help patients improve their overall health.

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LAM Research: From Puzzle to Treatment

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 2, 2014

Dr. Elizabeth P. Henske, Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care

LAM stands for lymphangioleiomyomatosis, a rare disease that causes extensive cystic destruction of the lungs. LAM can lead to shortness of breath, collapsed lungs, and early death. LAM typically strikes young, non-smoking women. LAM has one of the strongest gender predispositions of all human diseases, occurring almost exclusively in women. As many as 30,000 to 50,000 women worldwide may be suffering from LAM; however, many of these women may be undiagnosed due to the vagueness of symptoms, which include shortness of breath, fatigue, and a lack of energy.

Dr. Elizabeth P. Henske, Director of the Center for LAM Research and Clinical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, describes current treatments for LAM and research focused on identifying new therapies that will not only stop the growth of LAM cells, but will potentially rid the body of LAM cells altogether.

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Sports-Related Concussions: Increased Risk in Female Athletes?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 1, 2014

Some theories suggest women suffer more concussions due to physical differences.

Today’s post was adapted from an article written for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons by Dr. Xuan Luo, an orthopedic resident in the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program; Emily Curry, BA, research assistant for the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital  (BWH); and Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, Surgical Director of the BWH Women’s Sports Medicine Program and Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics.

Approximately five percent of high school athletes will sustain a concussion each year. Equally concerning is that several studies have found that female athletes may experience significantly more concussions than male athletes. In some studies, the number of concussions sustained by female athletes was estimated to be double that sustained by male athletes. The concussion differences between men and women were most commonly seen in basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Research has suggested that female athletes may also suffer more severe concussions, leading to a greater impact on cognitive function (thinking abilities) and longer recovery periods.

Some theories suggest women suffer more concussions due to physical differences. Because women have more slender necks and smaller heads, they can experience nearly 50 percent more head acceleration during head trauma. In addition to physical differences, hormonal differences may also lead to more concussion symptoms in women versus men. Progesterone levels may contribute to and worsen post-concussion symptoms (headache, nausea, dizziness).

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Reaching Areas Deep in the Brain

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 30, 2014

Celebrating Life: Jill Colter (right) celebrates her 50th birthday with her mom, Elizabeth (left), two months after undergoing an innovative procedure to treat a brain tumor resulting from Stage IV melanoma.

For many patients with brain tumors or other abnormal tissue located deep in the brain, treatment options have been limited. Last year, Jill Colter, now 50, discovered that a brain tumor resulting from Stage IV melanoma had returned. “Several years earlier, I had treatment with surgery and radiation, but the tumor came back,” Jill says. Due to the location of Jill’s tumor and her prior radiation, surgery and further radiation weren’t possible to treat her tumor.

Jill was referred to neurosurgeon Alexandra Golby, MD, Director of Image-guided Neurosurgery and Clinical Co-director of the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a key member of the Center for Neuro-Oncology team at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

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