Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 5, 2013
Often when someone gets injured or feels pain, they wonder whether to treat it with cold or heat.
Today’s medical information comes from Elizabeth Matzkin, MD, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and recently appointed Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics, and Kaitlyn Whitlock, PA-C, physician assistant in the Women’s Sports Medicine Program.
Often when someone gets injured or feels pain, they wonder whether to treat it with cold or heat. Below are a few simple guidelines to help you determine which approach to take.
What should you do if you get injured from a fall or collide with something/someone?
The answer is ICE. Injuries that occur after a twist, fall, or collision may produce localized swelling and bleeding. Treating the affected area(s) immediately with ice will work as a vasoconstrictor (narrowing blood vessels), limiting the amount of bleeding and decreasing inflammation. Decreasing inflammation also will decrease pain. Heat, on the other hand will expand the blood vessels, causing more bleeding and pain.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 4, 2013
Have you ever wondered why most heart attacks occur in the morning?
Have you ever wondered why most heart attacks occur in the morning? According to recent research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Oregon Health & Science University, it turns out that your body clock may play a contributing role.
“Our findings suggest that the circadian system, the internal body clock, may contribute to the increased risk for cardiovascular events in the morning,” says study author Frank A.J.L. Scheer, PhD, MSc, Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at BWH.
Your circadian system regulates and coordinates many of your body’s functions, including metabolism. It tells your body when you should sleep and when you should eat. In this particular study, the researchers found that the body clock drives day/night variations in the quantity of a protein known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and ischemic strokes. The protein is called plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1). It inhibits the breakdown of blood clots and, thus, is a major risk factor for blood clotting.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 3, 2013
The only option not worth considering? Not getting your flu vaccine.
Have you ever walked down the breakfast cereal aisle at the grocery store and been overwhelmed by your choices? While your options for flu vaccination aren’t quite as numerous, you do have many choices for the 2013-2014 flu season. But don’t let indecision keep you from getting vaccinated. Flu vaccination is the most effective way to avoid getting the flu. Today’s post explores your options and Dr. Paul Sax, Clinical Director of the HIV Program and Division of Infectious Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, offers advice on choosing a vaccine for yourself and your family.
Flu vaccines stimulate your immune system to create proteins called antibodies. Antibodies prepare your body to fight off illness in the event you’re exposed to the flu virus. In most cases, the vaccines stimulate your immune system to create antibodies by exposing you to a weakened form of the flu virus.
Typically most flu vaccines are trivalent, meaning they provide protection against three different flu viruses. The 2013-2014 trivalent flu vaccine protects against two type A flu strains and one type B flu strain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following trivalent flu vaccines are available:
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 26, 2013
Thanksgiving and other holidays offer great opportunities to discuss your family's medical history.
Every November since 2004, the Surgeon General has encouraged Americans to discuss and record health conditions shared among their family members.
Your family health history is important because it may impact your risk for developing cancer and other chronic diseases. For example, if one of your family members had cancer, your primary care doctor needs to know. Being able to identify an increased risk for certain conditions can help you and your doctor take action to keep you healthy. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that patients who used a web-based tool to collect health information were more likely to have their family history documented.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 25, 2013
A low-dose CT (computed tomography) scan is an important tool for detecting lung cancer early.
More than 228,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute. With November marking Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Pasi Janne, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), answers some key questions about the disease:
1. What are the different types of lung cancer?
Lung cancer develops in the tissue of the lung, usually in the cells that line the air passages. There are several types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer — Non-small cell lung cancer is named for the size of the cells when viewed under a microscope. It begins when epithelial cells inside the lining of the lungs grow rapidly or uncontrollably, often forming a tumor. This is the most common form of lung cancer.
- Small cell lung cancer — Small cell lung cancer also is named for the size of the cells when viewed under a microscope. Affecting approximately 15 percent of lung cancer patients, it typically starts in the bronchial passages.
- Mesothelioma — Although it is not technically a lung cancer, mesothelioma shares many of the same symptoms as lung cancer. Malignant mesothelioma is a disease in which cancer cells form in the linings of the organs, most often the pleura and sometimes the peritoneum.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 21, 2013
Your health is immediately improved when you quit smoking and these improvements continue for many years.
Today’s post is from Brigham and Women’s Hospital thoracic (chest) radiologist Francine Jacobson, MD, MPH, who specializes in lung cancer prevention and screening. Dr. Jacobson serves as a lung health resource for both her patients and their physicians.
Today marks the 36th annual Great American Smokeout, held annually in the US on the third Thursday in November. Public support for the willpower and the example set by not smoking, even for just one day, is a powerful accomplishment with which to embark on the holiday season – opened by the counting of blessings and overeating on Thanksgiving and closed by resolutions for self-improvement in the New Year.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 20, 2013
Scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are building one of the world’s largest databases of genetic abnormalities in cancer.
The goal of personalized medicine is to match a treatment to the unique characteristics of an individual patient: his or her personal and family medical history, age, body size and other physical characteristics, and medical test results. But fundamentally, it is the DNA blueprint within cells that strongly influences a person’s risks of disease, how illnesses play out, and which drugs are likely to be most effective and with the fewest side effects. This is where the newest phase of personalized medicine is heading.
Today, the power of genomics and other DNA tools to uncover molecular patterns in the cells of patients – or in cancer patients, in the cells of their tumors – offers the potential to deliver precision treatment with maximum effect and safety. These molecular patterns reflect differences in the activity of genes and proteins, or abnormal changes, such as mutations, in the DNA code of genes that increasingly are being used to select the best treatment.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 19, 2013
Fibromyalgia patients usually experience widespread pain and discomfort.
Today’s post is written by Dr. Edgar Ross, Director of the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). The post was adapted from an article that appeared in the September issue of the newsletter published by the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at BWH.
Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood syndrome that is quite common but can be difficult to diagnose and treat. The symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread soft tissue pain, disturbed sleep, fatigue, and characteristic tender points that are multiple and diffuse. Conditions such as migraine headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, restless legs syndrome, and temporal mandibular joint dysfunction are often associated with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients usually experience widespread pain and discomfort.
The processes within our bodies that can produce symptoms of fibromyalgia are not well understood. The leading theory suggests that the origins of fibromyalgia may relate to an over-reaction of the central nervous system to all types of sensation. These disturbances can have an impact on sleep. Sleep studies of patients with fibromyalgia frequently identify a lack of restful sleep.
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms in patients can vary from visit to visit. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology published a list of tender points that can be used to establish the diagnosis. Though laboratory testing is not useful for making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it can help rule out other conditions that mimic this condition.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 14, 2013
November is National Diabetes Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects 26 million Americans, with 19 million people diagnosed and 7 million undiagnosed. And over three times that many, an estimated 79 million American adults aged 20 years or older, have prediabetes, a condition which puts them at high risk for developing this serious chronic illness.
We’ve gathered blog posts about Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) research and treatments for addressing an illness that has become an epidemic.
A Little Extra Coaching to Reach Your Diabetes Goals
Athletes aren’t the only ones who can benefit from coaching. A BWH research study found that diabetes patients who receive regular counseling take less time to lower blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
The Sour Side of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages may cause weight gain and lead to the development of chronic diseases like diabetes. Some research studies show that adults who consume the highest levels of sugar-sweetened beverages had a 26 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who consume the lowest levels.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 13, 2013
Comparing your waist circumference to your height is one method for assessing obesity.
Obesity is now a disease. That is the much publicized conclusion reached by the American Medical Association during its June 2013 annual meeting. While this doesn’t change how registered dietitians manage their clients seeking or needing weight loss, it may allow more physicians to refer their patients for nutritional counseling sooner and perhaps encourage more health insurers to cover nutritional consultations.
Some critics argue that labeling obesity as a disease may take the onus off individuals to alter lifestyle habits, such as improving eating choices and increasing physical activity level. Proponents of the obesity designation counter with the fact that other conditions like diabetes and heart disease are indeed diseases, despite them being better managed with lifestyle changes.
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