Twenty-Two Years and Counting – Brigham and Women’s Hospital Ranked on U.S. News Honor Roll

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 31, 2014

BWH has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals.

For the twenty-second year in a row, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals, ranking ninth. The Honor Roll highlights just 17 hospitals, out of nearly 5,000 nationwide, for their breadth and depth of clinical excellence.

We’ve gathered a few recent blog posts in our top ranked clinical categories to recognize the dedication and accomplishments of our doctors, nurses, researchers, and other members of our clinical teams.

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Kidney Transplant Patient Advocates for Kidney Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 10, 2013

Bermuda native Pauleter Stevens is a vocal advocate for kidney health.

In the past two decades, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) kidney transplant recipient Pauleter Stevens has become a devoted advocate for kidney health and disease prevention. A Bermuda native who works for the island’s Department of Health, Pauleter was first diagnosed with kidney failure in 1994, after a strep throat infection spread to her kidneys.

“It all started with a sore throat,” she said. “I was pursuing a master’s in education in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1993. My doctor discovered that strep bacteria had traveled to my kidneys.”

As Pauleter is legally blind, she decided to return home to Bermuda to undergo dialysis with the support of her family close by. Dialysis is a process that removes waste and excess water from the blood when the kidneys are no longer able to. It required Stevens to be connected to a machine three days per week for three hours at a time. Suddenly, every daily task and decision required planning in advance.

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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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Heart Disease: Eliminate Excuses to Reduce Your Risks

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 18, 2012

Dr. Lewis tells his patients that one or more lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiologist Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, specializes in evaluating patients with heart failure. His goal, however, is to prevent patients from ever needing his expertise.

Knowing that high blood pressure (hypertension) is the biggest risk factor for heart failure, Dr. Lewis tells his patients that they’ll dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease if they follow a few simple hypertension-reducing guidelines and keep an eye on their blood pressure. 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.

“Eliminate excuses from your vocabulary,” says Dr. Lewis. As a physician with a family history of high blood pressure, that’s what he has tried to do.

  • Know your blood pressure

Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, or heart failure.  Unfortunately, many people are unaware of their blood pressure levels. Since mild to moderate hypertension usually doesn’t come with any symptoms, you won’t know whether you have it unless you get your blood pressure checked.

There’s no excuse for not knowing your blood pressure, says Dr. Lewis. Everyone should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you now can get your yearly physical for free. People at risk or who have already been diagnosed with hypertension, however, should check their blood pressure more frequently. This can be done at your doctor’s office or on your own.

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Making Headway on Beta-Blockers and Sleep

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 14, 2012

Patients who take high blood pressure medication often have trouble sleeping.

It’s three in the morning and you’re wide awake.  If you’re taking a medication known as a beta-blocker, you may find this happens more often than you’d like.

Over 20 million people in the United States take beta-blockers, a medication commonly prescribed for cardiovascular issues, anxiety, hypertension (high blood pressure), and more. Many of these same people also have trouble sleeping.  Beta-blockers are known to block the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep cycles.  Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that giving patients melatonin supplements at night improved sleep in patients taking beta-blockers.

“Beta-blockers have long been associated with sleep disturbances, yet until now, there have been no clinical studies that tested whether melatonin supplementation can improve sleep in these patients,” explained Frank Scheer, PhD, MSc, an associate neuroscientist at BWH, and principal investigator on this study. “We found that melatonin supplements significantly improved sleep.”

The research team analyzed 16 patients who regularly took beta-blockers as treatment for high blood pressure. The study subjects were given either a melatonin supplement or placebo before bed each night; neither the subjects nor the researchers knew which pill the patients were taking.

Analyzing the subjects’ sleep patterns, researchers found, on average, that subjects who received the melatonin supplement slept 37 minutes longer compared to those who received a placebo.  Patients taking melatonin also spent more time in Stage 2 sleep, the most prevalent stage.  There was no significant difference in the amount of time spent in the other stages of sleep between patients on a placebo and those taking melatonin.

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A Little Extra “Coaching” to Reach Your Diabetes Goals

Posted by Blog Administrator May 8, 2012

Diabetes Counseling

Diabetes patients who receive "coaching" reach their target numbers faster than those who don’t.

It’s hardly surprising, yet hugely significant – Recent research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) finds that diabetes patients who receive regular counseling reach their target numbers faster than those who don’t.

In this day and age, most of us know what we’re supposed to do to maintain our health – whether we’re trying to dial back the numbers for diabetes or just reach a generally healthy lifestyle. Of course, actually doing what we’re supposed to do is another thing entirely.

To chalk it up to laziness misses the point. The fact is that lifestyle changes are complicated and challenging. Just like an athlete needs a coach to help her identify weaknesses and improve technique, or to push himself to his breaking point in a grueling workout – patients with chronic health conditions like diabetes often need a little lifestyle coaching to pinpoint their weak spots, develop techniques to address those weaknesses, and coax out that hidden strength within them to achieve their difficult goals.

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