Healthy Pregnancy Tips

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 18, 2013

BWH obstetrician Audra Meadows, MD, MPH

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) obstetrician Audra Meadows, MD, MPH, thinks that birth outcomes in our community could be much better. That’s why she spends much of her time advising women on optimizing their health before, during, and after pregnancy, to prevent low birth weight and other problems.

Here are some tips from Dr. Meadows to help women improve their chances of having a healthy baby.

Eat right

Eating right is particularly important for pregnant women. Your baby needs healthy food, not sugar and fat. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods low in saturated fat.

Get your vitamins

Get plenty of folic acid and calcium. You can get these and other necessary vitamins and minerals from food and a standard multivitamin. Spinach, oranges, broccoli, and kidney beans are rich in folic acid. Milk, yogurt, and spinach are packed with calcium. A daily prenatal multivitamin, however, can help ensure you get the right amount. Ask your doctor about taking a daily prenatal vitamin.

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Your Health: Ten Things That Really Matter, Tip #10

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 28, 2013

It's important to know your wellness numbers and which ones are most important to you.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’ve been featuring health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Today, we present the final tip.

10. KNOWING YOUR NUMBERS IS NOT ENOUGH: KNOW WHICH NUMBERS ARE MEANINGFUL TO YOU.

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Your Health: Ten Things that Really Matter (Part 3)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 27, 2013

Tip #9: Be active!

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

7. IMPROVE COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR PROVIDERS.

Ask Me 3™ is a patient education program to promote communication between health care providers and patients to help improve health outcomes. The program encourages patients to understand the answers to three questions:

  • What is my main problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • Why is it important for me to do this?

Patients should be encouraged to ask their providers these three simple but essential questions in every health care interaction. Likewise, providers should always encourage their patients to understand the answers to these three questions. Studies show that people who thoroughly understand health instructions make fewer mistakes when they take their medicine or prepare for a medical procedure. They also may get well sooner or be able to better manage a chronic health condition.

TIP:  Bring all of your medications (including over the counter) to your annual physical.

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Your Health: Ten Things That Really Matter (Part 2)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 26, 2013

Inadequate sleep can lead to anxiety, overeating, high blood pressure, difficulty concentrating, and other problems.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

4. PREVENT DIABETES.

Patients with diabetes take longer to heal from injuries than those without. Diabetes can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, impaired vision, and neuropathy. Although diabetes can come from a genetic predisposition, a high-sugar diet and lack of exercise are modifiable risk factors. Exercise, even without associated weight loss, can improve the body’s glucose control. Studies show that physical activity decreases your risk of diabetes. One hundred and fifty minutes per week (or just 30 minutes per day on weekdays) can reduce your risk of getting diabetes or reduce dependence on medications if you already have diabetes.

It’s never too late. If you have diabetes, you can still exercise. Just make sure you check your blood sugars regularly and be honest with your doctor about your exercise level. Together, you can come up with a plan to balance your exercise level and medications to help with blood sugar control.

TIP:  Use a pedometer!  It is much more fun to count steps than carbohydrates.  If you like the sweet stuff, try to avoid snacks with high sugar content, as they don’t make you feel full.

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Your Health: Ten Things that Really Matter (Part 1)

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 25, 2013

Health tip #1: Quit smoking.

To conclude American Heart Month, we’re featuring ten health tips that were presented by Brigham and Women’s Hospital women’s health experts, Dr. JoAnne Foody and Dr. Paula Johnson, at the Boston Go Red for Women Educational Forum. (Go Red for Women, sponsored by the American Heart Association, occurs each February to educate all women about the need to take care of their hearts.)

Men take note, these tips can benefit you, too – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Check back with us as we publish new tips through the end of February.

1. DON’T SMOKE: IF YOU DO SMOKE, STOP.

Smoking promotes multiple medical problems, including chronic health issues like heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, and cancer. The same is true for all tobacco-containing products, from cigars to chewing tobacco. Secondhand smoke should also be avoided.  Improvements in health, including lifespan and activity level, begin the day you quit. While quitting should be the goal, even simply decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke can improve your life. Preventive efforts, like lowering cholesterol, may be especially effective in decreasing risk for smokers and former smokers.

TIP: If you’ve tried quitting, keep trying!  Research shows it takes an average of three to five tries to quit. If you’re struggling, ask your doctor for help.

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A Hearty Dose of Cardiovascular Advice and Research

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 12, 2013

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it is also one of the leading causes of disability. As part of American Heart Month, we offer insight from our clinicians and researchers about how to reduce your heart disease risks and what new things we’re learning about cardiovascular disease and treatment.

 

Heart Disease: Eliminate Excuses to Reduce Your Risks

Dr. Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, tells his patients that they’ll dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease if they follow a few simple guidelines for reducing their blood pressure (hypertension). Genetics can indeed play a role in developing high blood pressure, but obesity, inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, stress, and salt intake are all hypertension risk factors that you can  control.

 

Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Cholesterol Drugs

If you’ve been taking a statin medication to lower your cholesterol, you might be wondering what you should do in light of new warnings about the link between statin use and diabetes. Research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital may help you and your doctor weigh the benefits and risks.

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Important Tips for Picking a Plastic Surgeon

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 31, 2013

BWH plastic surgeon Dr. Jessica Erdmann-Sager

If you want to have a safe and successful plastic surgery procedure, picking the right plastic surgeon is a critical first step.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) plastic surgeon Jessica Erdmann-Sager, MD, recommends that you do a little research before committing to a plastic surgeon. To help you with this process, she offers the following tips:

  • Is the physician board eligible or board certified?

First and foremost, make sure that your physician is either a board-certified or board-eligible plastic surgeon. You can easily determine whether a physician is board certified by visiting the American Board of Medical Specialties website, or calling 1-800-776-2378. It also can be valuable to find out where the physician was trained, whether they have specialized training in the procedure that you’re considering, and whether they participate in local and national plastic surgery associations.

  • Check for complaints.

Check with your local medical board to see whether complaints have been filed against the physician. In Massachusetts, visit www.mass.gov/massmedboard.

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Start Your Back-to-School Sleep Schedule Today!

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 4, 2012

A good night's rest is essential for the physical and mental health of everyone in your family.

The beginning of another school year has started, prompting families to prepare for back-to-school routines, including adjustments to the family’s sleep schedule. A good night’s rest is essential for the physical and mental health of everyone in the family, but getting the appropriate quality and amount of rest is not always an easy task.

Keep in mind that adults require about eight hours of sleep per night, while children require between nine and 12 hours. “Commit to getting the right amount of sleep, as a family,” said Dr. Atul Malhotra, associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on school and work performance, safety while driving and working, the immune system, cognitive processes, and mood.”

To help the family get back to a healthy sleep schedule, Dr. Malhotra, suggests:

  • Begin the transition from summer sleep schedule to back-to-school sleep schedule before school begins. This change takes some time for adjustment.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule to regulate the body’s sleep cycle. Define bed times and stick to them consistently, and avoid sleeping late on weekends.
  • Dim the lights in the evening as bedtime approaches and avoid night-lights. Light exposure at night can interfere with the body’s natural circadian clock and the biological signal that it is time to sleep. On the other hand, exposure to light during the day helps signal the brain into the right sleep-wake cycle.

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Online Tools to Help You Fight America’s Top Killer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 10, 2012

Online Tools to Help You Fight America's Top Killer

Learn how to prevent cardiovascular disease with our free online tools.

The numbers are staggering. Cardiovascular disease is behind one out of every three deaths in the United States. Heart attack and stroke claim the lives of more than two thousand Americans every day. But, the nation’s number one killer is largely preventable.

“More than 90 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease can be prevented,” says Dr. JoAnne Foody, a cardiologist and Director of the Cardiovascular Wellness Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “And, the steps to reduce the risks are fairly simple.”

Dr. Foody explains that there are seven ideal health metrics to help prevent cardiovascular disease, which were recently published by the American Heart Association:

  1. No smoking
  2. Physical activity (walking, biking, swimming, etc.) for 30 minutes most days of the week
  3. Blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg (untreated)
  4. Normal blood glucose (fasting glucose of less than 100 mg/dL)
  5. Total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL
  6. BMI of less than 25
  7. Healthy eating

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