Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Get Checked: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In October, women are reminded of the dangers of breast cancer, ways to identify it and what to do if they suspect or are diagnosed with cancer.  This isn’t something that should be limited to one month, but rather should be a way of life, like brushing your teeth or changing the oil in your car.  One you do every day, the other every 30,000 miles or when that flashing red light reminds you.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a warning light for breast cancer?  Well, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and hopefully avoid that flashing light.

Women ages 20 and older should perform breast self-exams monthly.  The American Cancer Society provides a guide; just click here for an explanation on how you can correctly perform an exam.

Of course, a self exam cannot be relied on alone.  Regular mammograms are key in the early detection and fight against breast cancer. A mammogram is a diagnostic tool, which can detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, before a lump can be felt. Finding breast cancer early gives women the greatest chance of survival and the best treatment options.  

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, which is an interactive tool designed by scientists at the NCI and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP).  It helps estimate a woman's risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool

Further, you should be aware of possible risk factors that can contribute to your risk of breast cancer. The following are offered by the NCI:
•    Age
•    Age at the start of menstruation
•    Age at first live birth
•    Number of first-degree relatives (mother, sisters, daughters) with 
     breast cancer
•    Number of previous breast biopsies (whether positive or negative)
•    At least one breast biopsy with atypical hyperplasia

As they say, knowledge is power.  You have the knowledge please share and use it year round.

“People whose lives have been touched by cancer need to affirm the possibility of a quality life after their diagnosis,” said Kenneth Gold, MD, co-chair of the Oncology Service Line for Catholic Health Services and chief of Oncology at Good Samaritan. “The more patients know about their type of cancer, treatment options and chances for recovery, the better equipped they will be to deal with the fear, confusion, and anxiety that they may experience. CHS has a full range of resources, including breast cancer and a patient navigation program to provide patients with the knowledge and care they need to battle cancer.”

At CHS, a number of our hospitals offer advance detection, breast health navigators and a continuum of care.  To find a physician or breast cancer services at any Catholic Health Services, please call 1-855-CHS-4500 or visit www.chsli.org

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola Virus Disease: Meeting the Challenge

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in parts of Africa. There has been a great deal of concern in the U.S. over the last several weeks due to the emergence of the disease in this country.

“With the growing concern of the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak from West Africa to the U.S., Catholic Health Services has been preparing its staff and facilities to provide the highest quality care for any potential Ebola patients, while ensuring the foremost degree of safety for both its clinical and non-clinical staff,” said Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, DO, CHS’s chief medical officer. “CHS hospitals have followed all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for the screening, isolation and proper evidence-based management of patients with EVD.”

The CDC and other health care organizations are implementing safety measures to avoid any further spread of Ebola within the United States. Click here for questions and answers regarding Ebola from the CDC.

To learn more about EVD, including the signs, symptoms and other helpful information visit www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Avoiding the Flu

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, and people of any age can contract it. Some individuals, including the elderly, young children and those with certain health conditions, are at greater risk for serious flu complications. In an average year, as many as 49,000 deaths and almost 300,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. are attributed to the flu.

The recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to get vaccinated each year, as soon as the vaccine is available. Flu activity generally gets under way by November and can occur as late as May. For the 2014–2015 flu season, immunization is effective against three or four strains of influenza, depending on the particular vaccine.

“The flu vaccine allows antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after patients are vaccinated,” explained Jason Golbin, MD, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer of St. Catherine of Siena.  “These antibodies help provide protection against infection with the viruses in the vaccine.  The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every season.“

Here are some additional tips to stop the spread of influenza and other illnesses:
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (or an alcohol-based sanitizer) for 20 seconds
  • Stay home from work or school and otherwise avoid contact with others when sick

Speak to your physician if you are having health issues. Visit www.chsli.org to find a doctor near you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Are You at Risk of a Heart Attack?

“There is no question that heart attacks can often occur suddenly and without warning.  However, nothing is more distressing to me as a cardiologist than seeing patients ignore their own risk factors.” Said, Thomas W. Pappas, M.D., Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center. “Without question, acting early, and attacking risk factors proactively, can reduce the likelihood of sudden heart attack!”

Below are some tips that may save your life.

Risk factors you can’t control:

  • Age. The risk of heart disease increases for men after age 45 and for women after age 55 (or after menopause)
  • Family history of early heart disease 
  • A history of preeclampsia
  • Race (African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians)
  • Diabetes

Risk factors you can control:

By making lifestyle changes, you can improve or eliminate many of these risk factors and reduce your risk for heart disease.

  • An unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure 
  • Uncontrolled high cholesterol 
  • Diabetes and prediabetes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Being overweight or obesity
  • Stress
  • Illegal drug use

If you believe you're at higher risk of a heart attack due to circumstances beyond your control, pay closer attention to lifestyle factors you can control to help reduce your risk of heart attack. Even small changes can make a difference.

Speak to your physician if you are having health issues. Visit www.chsli.org to find a doctor near you.