Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 1, 2016

The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not travel to countries where Zika virus transmission is occurring.

The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not travel to countries where Zika virus transmission is occurring.

Dr. Paul Sax, Clinical Director, Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, provides important information about Zika virus – symptoms, how it’s spread, its link to microcephaly, advice for pregnant women, and tips for prevention.

Can you tell us about the Zika virus, including its symptoms and how it is spread?

Zika virus is a tropical infection spread by mosquitoes. It has been known since the 1940s, but it only recently entered the Western Hemisphere. The largest outbreak so far has been in Brazil, but it has now been observed throughout much of South and Central America and the Caribbean. When symptomatic, the illness tends to be mild, with some people noting fever, headache, rash, joint aches, and red eyes. Eighty percent of people have no symptoms at all.

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Names on Construction Beam Lift Spirits of Pediatric Cancer Patients

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 23, 2015

The names of two dozen pediatric cancer patients from Boston hospitals have been spray-painted on a construction beam that will soon support a new cafeteria at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Tucked away on Shattuck Street, facing the windows of Boston Children’s Hospital, the names “Brooklyn,” “Nicholas,” “Kevin,” and many others are spray-painted in bright orange, light blue, pink, and white on a steel beam that will support the new cafeteria at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), which is undergoing renovation.

The two dozen names belong to pediatric patients from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Department of Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, including 5-year-old Brooklyn, who was the first patient to have her name spray-painted on the 63-ton beam. After seeing a Facebook post written by Brooklyn’s mother, a family friend working on the construction site was inspired to begin spray-painting the children’s names.

“Seeing Brooklyn’s name on that steel beam is a feeling I will never forget,” says Kerrin Dooley, Brooklyn’s mother. “To me, the beam is a symbol of community, caring, support, strength, and teamwork – all critical aspects in the fight against cancer.”

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A NICU Homecoming – Twins Return to Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 8, 2015

Twin sisters Alex (left) and Justine Bryar haven't strayed far from their BWH birthplace.

In July 1987, twin sisters Justine and Alexandra Bryar were born at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) at 25 weeks gestation, each weighing only three pounds. For months, their parents visited the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) daily to be with their newborn girls. BWH became a home away from home for nearly the entire first year of their lives.

“There was a little family that formed around us,” said Justine, referring to the physicians and nurses who not only provided life-saving care, but also comforted the family throughout their journey.

Despite their struggles at birth, Justine and Alex grew into healthy young women. Now, years later, they have both rejoined the Brigham family in new ways – Justine as an assistant director for BWH Development and Alex as a primary care medical assistant at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. Alex dreams of becoming a nurse and working in the NICU someday.

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Heart Transplant Patient Celebrates 25 Years with Donor Heart

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

Heart transplant recipient Marie Larner (seated in front) and her family.

Contributor: Michael Givertz, MD, is Medical Director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Eighty-one year-old Marie Larner, a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says she has a lot to be thankful for.

Twenty-five years ago, the Swansea, MA resident became the recipient of a healthy new heart. Her own heart had enlarged to three times its size due to an infection, causing heart failure. She remembers being at her local hospital when she first heard there was a donor. “When they told me, I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “Everybody was so excited, including my doctors. It came so fast, which was fortunate for me, because I don’t think I had much longer to go.”

Marie is one of hundreds of patients who have received a second chance at life due to the efforts of BWH’s Heart Transplant Program, which is celebrating its 32nd year. In 1984, a BWH cardiac surgery team  Dustin, never link to anything other than one of the BWH online profiles; Dr. Cohn no longer in the directory because he passed away last year. performed New England’s first heart transplant. Today, the team-based program consists of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, and nurse practitioners. The BWH Heart Transplant team has performed over 600 heart transplants, the most of any New England hospital. It remains one of the busiest cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support programs in the region.

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Community Health Worker Guides and Supports Patients in Need

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 8, 2014

Katie Dawson supports high-risk, complex patients at Brigham and Women's Advanced Primary Care Associates, South Huntington.

Katie Dawson has walked around Boston with a homeless patient to help her find a place to live. She has visited other patients in their homes and accompanied them to nearly 100 primary care appointments. She has guided many more in applying for food assistance or obtaining a social security card. She is currently connecting one patient with resources to learn how to read.

Katie is the first community health worker at Brigham and Women’s Advanced Primary Care Associates, South Huntington, in Jamaica Plain, a practice designed as a patient-centered medical home. With this model of care, wellness and preventive care are as important as sick care. The goal is to help patients improve their overall health.

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Aortic Valve Replacement without General Anesthesia

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 17, 2014

Mary Walsh is BWH's first patient to undergo a transcatheter aortic valve replacement without general anesthesia.

Nearly two decades ago, Mary Walsh had open heart surgery to address a congenital valve defect and coronary artery disease. The surgery was successful, but she endured a long post-operative recovery period. “It took a long time for me to get my strength back,” she said.

While hospitalized for pneumonia last fall, cardiologists discovered that Mary’s aortic valve was worn and functioning poorly. Her doctors recommended she undergo transaortic valve replacement (TAVR). Instead of removing the old valve, TAVR inserts a replacement valve in its place using a catheter and is usually performed under general anesthesia.

Andrew Eisenhauer, MD, director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Interventional Cardiovascular Medicine Service, suggested that Mary might also be a good candidate for TAVR using a sedation-based anesthetic, rather than general anesthesia. A team of interventional cardiologists, including cardiac surgeon Michael Davidson, MD, cardiac anesthesiologists Charles Nyman, MD, and Douglas Shook, MD, nurses, and technologists placed a new valve in the deteriorated aortic valve under the watchful care of Nyman.

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Women’s Health Summit: Making Change Happen

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 20, 2014

CBS News Correspondent Lesley Stahl (left) speaks to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg about gender inequities in medical research.

On March 3, in a filled ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Women’s Health leaders, state and national representatives, and distinguished guests came together to discuss an urgent problem in biomedical science.

“We must face the hard truth: research in women’s health and gender differences lags far behind the research in men’s health care,” said U.S. Senator (MA) Elizabeth Warren, who provided keynote remarks. “And too often the policy conversation around women’s health lags as well. This must be addressed.”

Although 20 years have passed since the National Institutes of Health’s Revitalization Act became federal law – requiring the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research studies and the analysis of results by sex – a major gender gap still exists in medical research.

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It’s Never Too Soon to Take Care of Your Heart

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 5, 2014

David is getting his heart health back on track.

You’ve probably heard this statistic before – heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. Yet many of us may not pay attention to this statistic, believing a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are adequate protection from heart disease. However, paying attention to your risk factors also is key in preventing heart disease.

David Wang was in his forties, a healthy eater, and a regular at the gym. David also had high cholesterol, a fact which, unaddressed, led to serious consequences. During a business trip, David started experiencing sweaty palms, numb fingertips, and shortness of breath – classic heart attack symptoms. With no family history of heart disease, he thought he was having an allergic reaction. But colleagues brought him to an emergency room, where a physician confirmed he was having a heart attack.

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“Just One More Thing” – The Columbo Phenomenon in Primary Care

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 20, 2014

Open communication between patients and physicians can potentially lead to earlier diagnosis.

As a young primary care internist, Dr. Joseph Frolkis, Vice Chair of Primary Care in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, routinely observed what he called the “Columbo phenomenon.”

Launched in the late 1960s, actor Peter Falk played a seemingly bumbling detective named Columbo in the TV show of the same name. At the end of each episode, Columbo would catch suspects off guard while on his way out the door, asking, “Just one more thing.”

In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Frolkis writes that the Columbo phenomenon in primary care illustrates a more benign yet important interaction between primary care physicians and their patients.

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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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