Fostering New Collaborations in Integrative Medicine

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 21, 2014

Research shows that many areas of integrative medicine, including acupuncture, offer significant benefits for certain medical conditions.

Research shows that many areas of integrative medicine, including acupuncture, chiropractic care, tai chi, yoga, meditation, and movement therapy, offer significant benefits for many medical conditions when incorporated as part of a holistic approach to treatment. In fact, new supportive studies of the value of integrative medicine are being published every day.

“There is a tremendous amount of information about new uses and benefits in integrative medicine, as well as extensive ongoing research in integrative medicine, but it is difficult for everyone to remain abreast of each new finding or current study,” says Dr. Helene Langevin, Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

To help bring together leading integrative medicine researchers, clinicians, and educators in order to share ideas and collaborate with other researchers, the Osher Center has introduced a new online resource map and is holding its inaugural Integrative Medicine Research Forum.

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What’s a NICU Mom Thankful For?

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

The boys celebrate their first birthday with NICU nurses Kathy Moran (left) and Mary Ellen Musynski.

The breadth of medical expertise and advanced technology available in a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is invaluable for treating and monitoring babies born with dangerous medical conditions. But helping these babies and their parents involves much more than providing state-of-the-art medical care.

Karyn, a North Shore mother of triplets born at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), is well aware of the scope of care provided in a NICU. She’s thankful for all the people who helped take care of her triplet sons – and her – while the boys recovered in the BWH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the fall of 2012. That includes people she saw nearly every day and people she never saw at all.

Her boys Tyler, Caleb, and Nathan were born at 27 weeks that fall. As expected with any child born that early, they all had issues with lung development, breathing, and feeding.

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Prostate Cancer Care – Determining Risk Is Key

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 14, 2014

Prostate cancer  is the second most common and deadly cancer among American men. About 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, and about 1 in 33 men will die from the disease.  Yet, despite the disease’s potential dangers, many men diagnosed with prostate cancer shouldn’t be treated aggressively, and others shouldn’t be treated at all (but still be closely monitored). This is why Dr. Anthony D’Amico, Chief of the Prostate Cancer Radiation Oncology Service at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, says that determining a prostate cancer patient’s risk level is critical to determining their treatment. Watch the video below to learn more.

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Innovations in Organ and Tissue Transplantation

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

The face transplantation team worked for more than 20 hours to restore the face of Charla Nash.

In 2013, nearly 29,000 people received a second chance at life through the generosity of organ and tissue donors. Organ transplantation was made possible due to the pioneering work of Joseph E. Murray, MD, who performed the first successful human organ transplant in 1954 at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, which later became Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Dr. Murray received a Nobel Prize in 1990, in recognition of his contributions to the field of organ transplantation, including the development of immunosuppressive therapy to reduce organ rejection. Since that time, transplant specialists at BWH have achieved more firsts in organ transplantation in New England, including multiple organ transplants on the same day from an individual donor and multiple transplants on the same day from multiple donors.

Recently, BWH physicians achieved another transplant milestone by completing composite tissue allograft transplantation. This procedure allows surgeons to take something as complex as a face or arm and transplant it. In 2009, surgeons at BWH performed the first full face transplant in the U.S.

In this video, Michael J. Zinner, MD, Chairman, Department of Surgery, and Bohdan Pomahac, MD, Director, Center for Facial Restoration and Director, Burn Center, discuss transplant innovations at BWH over the past 60 years and the future of organ and tissue transplantation.

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Heart Failure Treatment Continues to Evolve

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 7, 2014

Ventricular assist devices soon may exist entirely within the body.

Heart failure patients have benefited greatly from treatment advances developed during the past several decades, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has long played a key role in this evolution of care. This includes the discovery that an ACE inhibitor could immediately stop the progression of heart failure and the first successful implantation of a total artificial heart in New England.

Dr. Mandeep Mehra, Executive Director of the BWH Center for Advanced Heart Disease, says that today’s heart failure patient has a number of options for effectively repairing, replacing, or recovering their heart function, and the future of heart failure care is similarly bright. Among his expectations is the gradual shrinking of ventricular assist devices, which will soon exist entirely within the body without the need for an external power source or any other external component. In the video below, Dr. Mehra further details how heart failure treatment has developed over the past 30 years and what we can expect for tomorrow.

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Imaging Technique May Reduce Need for Follow-Up Breast Cancer Surgery

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

The researchers' new breast imaging approach will be tested in the AMIGO suite.

Currently, up to 40 percent of patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery to treat cancer require re-operation because of a failure to remove all of the cancerous tissue during the initial operation. Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers, however, have successfully tested an innovative tissue imaging approach that accurately distinguishes cancerous breast tissue from normal breast tissue and precisely defines the margins between the two – an advance that could significantly decrease the need for follow-up surgery.

The tool the researchers used for their study is called desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry imaging, a technology that allows physicians and researchers to promptly evaluate human tissue. It works by electrically charging (ionizing) molecules in a tissue sample through the application of a microscopic stream of solvent. The mass of these ionized molecules is then measured and their distribution within the tissue is mapped.

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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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