Food Allergy – Advancing Care and Knowledge

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

Jessica R. Savage, MD, MHS

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and throughout the world continue their quest to explain the dramatic rise in the number of people diagnosed with food allergy over the past 20 years. Although certain risks for developing food allergy have been identified, such as genetics and environmental factors, the root cause or causes behind this dangerous condition’s upsurge have yet to be clearly defined.

There have been, however, advances in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment, including promising research findings. Among this research are the successful testing of an oral immunotherapy that gradually builds a patient’s tolerance of an allergenic food and increasing evidence that exposure to antimicrobial chemicals increases a child’s risk of developing allergies.

In the video below, the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy’s Dr. Jessica Savage examines theories about why food allergies have become so prevalent in our society and what is being done today to help individual patients with this increasingly common immunological condition.

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Preventing ACL Injuries in Female Athletes

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 25, 2014

Elizabeth Matzkin, MD

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, there has been a dramatic increase in female athletic participation. There also has been a corresponding increase in the number of female athletes experiencing injuries. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are of particular concern in women.

Elizabeth G. Matzkin, MD, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics, explains why female athletes are at greater risk for ACL injuries. Though ACL reconstruction surgery can repair these injuries in the short term, many women may face an increased risk of arthritis in their knees as they age.

In this video, Dr. Matzkin advises female athletes on how they can reduce their risk of ACL injuries through proper training.

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What’s Your Number? What You Need to Know about Cholesterol

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 23, 2014

September is Cholesterol Education Month, a good time to learn more about this important measure of your heart health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71 million American adults have high cholesterol, but only one-third of them have the condition under control. The good news is that changes in lifestyle, medications, or a combination of both may help you get your cholesterol back to healthy levels. Your physician can work with you to find the right combination of treatments.


For Good Health Know Your Cholesterol Levels

The amount of cholesterol in your blood has a lot to do with your chances of getting cardiovascular disease (CVD). High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for CVD. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk of developing CVD or having a heart attack. Learn what your numbers mean.


Video: Cholesterol Screening

Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones and to keep your cells healthy. Cholesterol comes from two sources: your liver and your diet. However, if your diet exceeds the body’s need for cholesterol or saturated fats, your cholesterol level in your blood will increase. Watch a video to understand treatments and lifestyle changes that are prescribed by your doctor.


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Can Big Data Reduce Health Care Costs and Improve Care?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 18, 2014

Using smart phones and interactive monitors may help prevent hospital readmissions.

Big data refers to large quantities of data that can be analyzed with powerful computing methods to help organizations to improve the services they provide customers or to operate more efficiently. The increased use of electronic health records, due to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, is expected to produce large quantities of clinical data for health care providers. In a new study led by David Bates, MD, MSc, Chief Quality Officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), researchers identified several ways that health care providers may be able to use this newly created big data to improve health care and reduce costs. Below are a few of the opportunities they identified.

Tailoring Care to Patient Needs

Only five percent of patients account for about half of all U.S. health care spending. Dr. Bates and his team suggest that analysis of large patient data sets can help providers better understand the health care needs of this small segment of patients, identify any gaps in their care, and adjust care accordingly.

Preventing Readmissions

Readmissions refer to hospital patients who need to be admitted to the hospital shortly after they have been discharged. Researchers estimate that as many as one-third of such hospital readmissions may be preventable. Dr. Bates and his team believe health care organizations will be able to use health records to develop models that accurately predict who is at risk of being readmitted, allowing them to determine which patients need to be monitored more closely after discharge from the hospital. Furthermore, through the use of smart phones and interactive monitors, for example, health care providers may be able monitor higher-risk patients more carefully and prevent readmissions.

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Understanding the Role of Integrative Medicine

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

Osher Clinical Center leadership (left to right): Donald B. Levy, MD; Helene Langevin, MD; and Peter Wayne, PhD

Many of us believe integrative medicine is an alternative to traditional medical therapy or a complement to it. Yet, neither of these is an accurate description according to Donald B. Levy, MD, Medical Director, Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Dr. Levy defines integrative medicine as a philosophy of healing that focuses on non-invasive therapies and lifestyle habits to enhance the body’s ability to heal. Integrative medicine, which includes therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage, is particularly beneficial for patients with chronic health conditions, says Dr. Levy.

In this video, Dr. Levy describes the role of integrative medicine and how physicians at the Osher Clinical Center work collaboratively with physicians in other medical specialties at BWH to optimize patient care.

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Options for Losing Weight and Staying Healthy Throughout Life

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 11, 2014

Dr. Ali Tavakkoli

Losing weight is about more than looking good. It’s also important for your long-term health, especially if your body mass index is over 35. According to Ali Tavakkoli, MD, Co-Director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), if an individual’s weight reaches a BMI of 40, life expectancy is reduced by eight to ten years, equivalent to being a lifelong heavy smoker.

Options for losing weight include lifestyle changes (diet and exercise), medications, and surgery (for patients with a BMI over 40 or a BMI of 35 with certain conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension). Within each of these options, patients have many additional choices.

The BWH Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery was created to help patients evaluate their weight loss options and streamline care. At the Center, weight management specialists, dieticians, and appropriate medical specialists provide each patient the appropriate dietary, nutritional, behavioral, and medical support to help them improve their health.

Watch a video with Dr. Tavakkoli to learn what patients can expect during an evaluation at the Center and the treatment options that are available.

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Five Things You Need to Know About Glioblastomas

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

Glioblastoma is the most common type of primary brain tumor.

The Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center brings together cancer experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to offer state-of the-art treatment for patients with brain tumors, spinal cord tumors, and neurologic complications from cancer. Today’s post originally appeared on Insight, the blog of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Glioblastomas are the most common primary cancer of the brain. Although it is a fast-moving cancer, doctors know a lot about this type of tumor and are finding ways to fight it.

Here are five things you need to know about glioblastomas:

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A Link between Insomnia and Depression?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 4, 2014

People with insomnia are twice as likely to develop depression compared to those without insomnia.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly seven percent of adults in the U.S. experienced at least one major depressive episode during 2012. Women, in particular, are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Therapy and antidepressant medications are common treatments for depression, but can treating insomnia be another route to combating the mood disorder?

People with insomnia are twice as likely to develop depression compared to those without insomnia. Chronic primary insomnia, which is defined as sleep problems not associated with other health conditions, may increase a person’s risk for depression later in life. So what makes a person with insomnia more susceptible to future depression?

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Treatment Options for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers

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

Chrysalyne D. Schmults, MD, MSCE

When people think about skin cancer, they usually think about melanoma; however, basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are much more common, explains Chrysalyne D. Schmults, MD, MSCE, Director, Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. There are approximately 80,000 cases of melanoma in the U.S. each year, versus more than one million cases of basal and squamous cell cancer. Additionally, the incidence of basal and squamous cell cancers is increasing, particularly among younger adults in their twenties and thirties.

While melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell cancers are serious conditions that still need to be treated. Treatment options for cases where basal and squamous cell cancers are limited to the skin’s surface (the epidermis) include topical medications, light therapies, and  freezing techniques. In cases where basal and squamous cell cancers have invaded the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis), the affected areas must be surgically removed.

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Better Sitting Posture for Better Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 28, 2014

Slight slouching

Today’s blog post was written by Arthur Madore, MT, a licensed massage therapist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Osher Clinical Center .

I am often asked for advice on the best sitting posture. The problem is that there is no one position that will be comfortable for everyone over a prolonged period of sitting. But there are some steps you can take to avoid strain and pain.

Prolonged sitting at a computer can be particularly problematic. Despite our best efforts, most people begin to slouch and thrust their head forward within a short period of time in front of a computer. This creates a number of problems, such as:

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