Tips for Preventing Lyme Disease

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

Fine-tipped tweezers are an effective tool for removing ticks.

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is spread through the bite of infected ticks. The blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in our area of the country. Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas (see below). In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see. Follow these tips to help prevent Lyme disease this summer.

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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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Watching the Clock: An Effective Dieting Tool?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 19, 2013

Should you be concerned about when you eat?

A well-known saying suggests that timing is everything when it comes to success in life’s pursuits.  The results of a study by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), in collaboration with the University of Murcia (Spain) and Tufts University, suggests that’s also the case when it comes to losing weight. They found that it’s not simply what you eat, but also when you eat, that may help you successfully lose or manage your weight.

To study the role of food timing on weight loss, the researchers studied 420 overweight subjects in Spain during a 20-week weight-loss treatment program. The study subjects were divided into two groups: early eaters and late eaters, according to the timing of their main meal. (In Spain, the main meal is usually lunch, when people may consume as much as 40 percent of total daily calories.) Early eaters ate lunch anytime before 3 p.m. and late eaters, after 3 p.m. The researchers found that late eaters lost significantly less weight than early eaters and experienced a much slower rate of weight loss.

“This is the first large-scale prospective study to demonstrate that the timing of meals predicts weight-loss effectiveness,” said Dr. Frank Scheer, director of the Medical Chronobiology Program and associate neuroscientist at BWH and senior author of this study. “Our results indicate that late eaters displayed a slower weight-loss rate and lost significantly less weight than early eaters, suggesting that the timing of large meals could be an important factor in a weight loss program.”

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BWH Launches ClimbAmerica! for Heart Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 9, 2013

Taking the stairs is an easy way to incorporate exercise into your daily life - and improve your heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for one in three deaths nationwide and claiming nearly 600,000 lives each year. The good news is that by making simple lifestyle changes like eating healthy and staying active, you have the power to prevent heart disease.

That’s why Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) created ClimbAmerica! – a special event produced by ClimbCorps to rouse people’s spirit in the fight against heart disease and raise funds to improve America’s health.

Launched by BWH, ClimbCorps is the nation’s first service corps dedicated to revolutionizing the cardiovascular health and wellness of the American public. Based on the simple principle that physical activity is needed to maintain better health, ClimbCorps leverages an easy way to incorporate exercise into daily life – by taking the stairs.

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Small Changes Reap Big Health Benefits

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 3, 2013

Adding a short walk to your day can go a long way.

When it comes to health and wellness, Barbara Ferreira and Yvonne Allen, employees at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), understand the power of small lifestyle changes, dedication, and consistency.

Allen, an admitting officer for Patient Access Services, decided that it was time to make a change around her 46th birthday in July 2011.

“I wanted to make myself a healthy person,” said Allen, noting that her primary care physician had been concerned about her weight. “I wasn’t going to join a gym, but I wanted to find out what I could do in one year’s time. So I started walking.”

During her morning commute, Allen began walking the second leg of her trip to BWH, which was a half-mile, instead taking the bus. She repeated this every day for several weeks.  Though she didn’t see or feel any changes, she forced herself to keep moving and set a weight loss goal of 10 to 30 pounds in a year.

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Benefits of Hormone Therapy for Early Menopause Symptoms

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 28, 2012

Hormone therapy during early menopause can help reduce the most bothersome symptoms.

Many women experience bothersome symptoms during menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.  Hormone therapy (HT) can provide relief from the symptoms of menopause, but studies have shown that these benefits of HT may come with added risks, especially if hormone therapy is started more than 10 years after the onset of menopause. For example, in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), in which women were an average age of 63, the risks of combination estrogen plus progestin (stroke, heart attacks, venous blood clots, and breast cancer) outweighed the benefits. As a result, there was a sharp decrease in the number of women using HT, leaving them with few options for symptomatic relief.

Now a new study called KEEPS (Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study), finds that women can experience the benefits of HT while minimizing the health risks, provided therapy is given early in menopause and at low doses for up to four years.  JoAnn Manson, Chief of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the KEEPS and WHI principal researchers, said “Many newly menopausal women will be using hormone therapy for only four to five years , so these findings will have great relevance to them.”

The study included 727 women ranging in age from 42 to 58. Some of the women were randomized to estrogen pills and others to estrogen patches, both combined with natural progesterone pills taken 12 days a month. They were compared with women using placebo patches and pills.

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Six tips to make the most of your primary care visit

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 24, 2012

Dr. Donna Michelson (right) has some tips for making the most of your primary care visit.

If you’ve been putting off going to the doctor for your checkup, we have some good news.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, with most insurance companies and in most situations, checkups are now provided without a copay or deductible. To get the most of this valuable benefit, it’s important to do more than make an appointment and show up at the doctor’s office.  Preparation is important, especially if you’re a new patient seeing your primary care physician for the first time.

Dr. Donna Michelson, a primary care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Primary Care Associates at Norwood, has some useful tips for how to prepare yourself and your doctor.

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