Thursday, February 14, 2019

Heart-Health Tips

Although February is American Heart Month, your heart needs TLC every day of the year. Catholic Health Services (CHS) offers free seminars, health screenings and other services to communities across Long Island. For a current list, go to Below are some tips to keep your heart healthy and strong.

Eating Right
  • According to the American Heart Association (AHA), including fruits and vegetables at every meal helps you to get the balanced nutrition that supports good cardiac health.  
  • Look for the AHA Heart-Check Certification symbol when you shop for groceries. This signifies that the product meets the criteria for heart-healthy foods, relating to fat, sodium and other ingredients. 
  • AHA, the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI) and CHS all offer heart-healthy recipes online for easy reference.

Physical Activity
  • NHLBI recommends at least 2 1/2 hours of exercise each week to get your heart pumping. This regimen can be broken into small amounts each day. Speak to your doctor about what kind of exercise is right for you.  
  • Join CHS and fellow Long Islanders at the annual AHA Heart Walk at Jones Beach each fall. This year’s event is September 15, 2019.

A Healthy Lifestyle
  • NHLBI advises you to “know your numbers” to manage your heart disease risk. Rest for 5 minutes—and avoid caffeine for 30 minutes—before your blood pressure is taken. Your doctor can explain what your results indicate.  
  • As stress can take its toll on your heart, it’s important to periodically do deep breathing.

Did You Know?
  • Chest discomfort, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea and a cold sweat, plus pain or discomfort of the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach are all possible heart attack symptoms.
  • According to AHA, CPR can double or triple the chance of survival for those experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
  • The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention lists an unhealthy diet, inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol use and tobacco use among the risk factors for heart disease.

All six CHS hospitals perform diagnostics to identify cardiac abnormalities as early as possible. Procedures include coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA), electrocardiagram (EKG), echocardiography (ECHO) and stress tests. As a leading provider of quality services, CHS has expert cardiologists and other specialists on staff, with a world-class cardiothoracic surgical program and minimally invasive Heart Valve Center at St. Francis Hospital serving Nassau County residents and at Good Samaritan Hospital for Suffolk.

For more information call 1-855-CHS-4500.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Valvular Disease and Why You Should Consider TAVR Therapy

Catholic Health Services (CHS) strives to provide its clinicians and patients with the latest in technological advancements, such as trans-catheter techniques such as TAVR. Until recently, the TAVR lifesaving technology was only approved for patients who were too elderly or too ill to undergo open heart surgery. Currently, TAVR is being reviewed for people who are at low risk for surgical complications.

CHS's Executive V.P. and Chief Clinical Officer Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, DO, MBA, FACEP, CHCQM sat down with CHS’s George Petrossian, MD, director of interventional cardiovascular procedures and co-director of the Heart Valve Center at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center®, last spring to discuss the latest advances in managing valvular disease and TAVR.

Dr. O’Shaughnessy: What is aortic stenosis and why is treatment important?

Dr. Petrossian: “Aortic stenosis is a disease affecting one of the main four valves of the heart. The aorta valve separates the left ventricle from the aorta. When the heart pumps, it forces blood out of the aortic valve with no pressure gradient across that valve. As people age, calcification can form on that valve causing restriction of valve opening. This can force a pressure gradient anywhere from 40, 50 or 100 mm of pressure difference between the left ventricle and aorta, causing the heart to struggle to pump blood. Because of natural history studies published in the 1950s, we know a combination of this scenario along with symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting can leave patients with up to a 50 percent mortality risk in 2 years. Therefore, surgical therapy has not only been shown to improve symptoms but also to save lives.”

Dr. O’Shaughnessy: Can you explain how a TAVR procedure is conducted?

Dr. Petrossian: “St. Francis began offering TAVR in 2011. As part of that effort, the FDA approved the device for TAVR therapy. When we first started, many of our patients were given general anesthesia. Now, patients are treated with an anesthetic, like valium, so patients are breathing on their own without tubes and are alert at the end of the procedure. Most of the time, if the arteries are large enough, a catheter is placed in the groin, and a new valve is placed inside of the old valve. When that valve expands, it pushes the old valve away. It used to be that in surgery when a surgeon operated they took out the old valve and used sutures under their direct vision to hold the valve in place. With TAVR, there are no sutures. What holds the valve in place is an outward force of the metal. We are taking the calcium that has caused the disease and using it as an anchor.

In short, there is no open incision in the chest. We are now accessing the diseased valve through the groin, then feeding the catheter up and positioning the new valve within the diseased valve to repair the defect.”

Dr. O’Shaughnessy: How many TAVR procedures has St. Francis Performed?

Dr. Petrossian: “Since we began in 2011, we have treated over 1,600 patients. In 2018 alone we performed 485 TAVR procedures. We anticipate that TAVR volumes in the United States will double in the next five years.”

For more information on TAVR, visit or watch “CHS Presents: Health Connect – The Latest Advances in Managing Valvular Disease and TAVR” at

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Benefits of Exercise

We all know that good health depends on a certain level of physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine points out that exercise offers many benefits, including the following:

Exercise improves your mood: It makes you feel happy and relaxed by stimulating chemicals in your brain, reducing feelings of depression and anxiety.
Exercise helps manage weight: Exercising makes it easier to keep your weight under control. To burn 100 calories, most people need to walk or run about one mile.
Exercise promotes better sleep: Who wouldn’t want to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper?
Exercise can be fun: Activities such as dancing or even pushing your child on the swing make exercise enjoyable.

“One of the most important things you can do for your health is to incorporate physical activity and exercise into your daily routine,” commented Laura Beck, MSP, director of Outpatient Rehabilitation at St. Charles Hospital. “The physical, social and psychological benefits are so widespread.  There is no need to make up for years of inactivity overnight. Start slowly and build up gradually. Be creative and try to find activities that you enjoy as you will be more likely to stick with it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children should be doing age-appropriate exercise for an hour or more every day, including aerobics, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening. Aerobics—for example brisk walking or running—should account for most of your child’s daily exercise. Gymnastics, push-ups and other muscle-strengthening activities, as well as bone-strengthening exercises such as jumping rope, should be included at least three days a week. For adults, the CDC recommends at least 150 minutes per week of both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities for good health. It can be broken up into as little as 10 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise at a time.

To find information on a walking club near you, click here

Please visit or call 1-855-CHS-4500.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Tips to Stay on Your Feet

If you have diabetes or other health issues that could put your feet at risk for injury or wounds, it’s important to pay attention to details. If you notice any difference in their appearance or in the feeling in them from day to day, you should contact your medical doctor or podiatrist. Any issues should be noted and taken seriously.

“You should look for changes in color, swelling of the feet or any type of break or irritation of the skin,” said Mercy Medical Center’s Medical Director of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine & Wound Healing and Co-Director of St. Joseph Hospital’s Center for Hyperbaric Medicine & Wound Healing John Jackalone, DPM. “You shouldn’t disregard something only to later discover you should've paid closer attention to it.”

Also, shoe fit and type are crucial for anyone with diabetes or other risk factors. Be careful to evaluate your shoes carefully. Use a new pair for a short trial period at home before wearing them for an entire day. Take your shoes off after an hour to examine your feet. If you have no irritation or red spots, it should be safe to wear them for a longer period of time.

Don’t be afraid to take a break from dancing at your nephew’s wedding to sneak off and check your feet. Bring an extra pair of comfortable shoes, just in case you see any areas of concern.

To help you take better care of your feet, CHS offers the following tips:
  • Check your feet daily. Look for blisters, cuts or scratches. Use a long-handled mirror or place a mirror on the floor to see the bottom of your feet. Always check between your toes.
  • Keep your feet clean. Wash daily, dry carefully—especially between your toes.
  • Moisturize your feet. Apply a moisturizer as recommended by your physician, but never apply it between your toes, as that can lead to a fungal infection.
  • Do not walk barefoot. This includes on sandy beaches and in pool/patio areas.
  • Wear properly fitted shoes. Shoes should be comfortable when purchased. Do not wear narrow, pointed toe or high-heeled shoes.
  • Inspect the inside of your shoes daily. Check for foreign objects, tears or rough areas on the inside of the shoe.
  • Do not wear shoes without socks or stockings. Wear clean, properly fitted socks. Cotton or cotton blend socks are recommended.
  • Avoid temperature extremes. Test water temperature with your hand or elbow prior to bathing. Do not soak your feet in hot water or apply a hot water bottle. If your feet feel cold at night, wear socks.
  • Trim your toenails regularly.  Always cut your nails straight across.
  • Do not use over-the-counter remedies for corns. See a podiatrist to have these evaluated.
  • Avoid crossing your legs. This can cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels, resulting in less blood flow to your feet.

To find a physician, visit

Reference: Restorix Health

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Obesity Risk Factor for Colon Cancer in Women

Colon Cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the United States in both men and women. It is not only preventable, but potentially a curative disease. Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea/constipation or a change in the consistency of stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Recent diagnosis of anemia
  • Cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained or unintentional weight loss
Reena Tahilramani, MD, colorectal surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, a member of Catholic Health Services, states that anyone experiencing any of these signs and symptoms should discuss the possibility of colon cancer with their physician.

“Guidelines recommend colon cancer screenings starting at age 50,” said Dr. Tahilramani. “However, earlier screening is recommended for patients with previously known high risk factors that include African-American patients, personal or family history of cancer or polyps, inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.”

New research now shows that young obese women with a high body mass index (BMI) have a higher risk for colorectal cancer than the general population. A recent study in the Journal of American Medical Association Oncology tracked more than 85,000 women for 22 years beginning at the age of 25. Data showed a high incidence of colorectal cancer in obese women under 45 years old and a 93% higher risk for the disease when compared to women of normal weight.

The Cancer Center at Good Samaritan is the diagnostic and treatment center of choice for thousands of patients in Suffolk County. At Good Samaritan, specialists care for the whole person – physically, emotionally and spiritually – to provide outstanding outcomes. This dedication and commitment has been recognized by numerous organizations, including the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons who has honored the Medical Center with its Outstanding Achievement Award on 5 consecutive surveys, 15 years in a row, making it 1 of only 7 facilities nationwide that have been honored with this distinction.

For more information about CHS call 1-855-CHS-4500 or visit

Monday, December 10, 2018

Osteoporosis, the silent disease

Osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans; 8 million women and 2 million men. It’s a disease in which bone loses its mineral content, there is a change in its structure and bone becomes weaker. A fall, sneeze or bumping into furniture can cause it to break.

Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You don’t know you have it until you fall and break a bone. Last year it caused two million fractures. These fractures can lead to pain, disability and even death. In fact, osteoporotic hip fractures caused more deaths than breast cancer in women and more deaths than prostate cancer in men.

Frank Bonura, MD, FACOG, NCMP, CCD, director of Osteoporosis Program at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, a member of Catholic Health Services, shared some insight in how to identify osteoporosis, how to treat it and potentially how to minimize your chances of getting it.

How do I know if I have Osteoporosis?

“We can diagnose osteoporosis by measurement of your bone mineral density (BMD) using a DXA Scan Machine. The BMD is the amount of mineral in an area of your bone. Osteoporosis can also be diagnosed clinically, if you are 50 years or older, fall from a standing height and sustain a fracture.

You are entitled to a DXA Scan if you are a woman 65 years or older or a man 70 years or older. Younger women age 50 to 64 and men age 50 to 69 years old who are at risk for osteoporosis (family history, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, etc.) or are taking medications that cause loss of BMD are entitled to have a DXA scan.” Dr. Bonura

If I have Osteoporosis, can it be treated?

“Once the DXA results demonstrate a diagnosis of osteoporosis, your physician should order lab work to confirm if your osteoporosis is due to your age, family history, a medical condition or to a medication you are taking. We do that because all medications used for osteoporosis have serious side effects. If you have a medical condition, we might treat that before prescribing a medication for osteoporosis. If it’s due to a medication you are taking, we may adjust the dosage or change the medication.” Dr. Bonura

What is the treatment for Osteoporosis?

“Osteoporosis can be treated but it can’t be cured in all cases. Some medications used (Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, IV Reclast, Prolia) stop the bone cells that destroy the bone. Other medications (Forteo, Tymlos) stimulate the bone cells that build bone. All of the medications have side effects but they are rare and only should be used in patients who are at high risk for fracture.” Dr. Bonura

Do I need Calcium and Vitamin D?

“Calcium is necessary for bone health; therefore, all individuals should have an adequate amount of calcium and Vitamin D in their diet. If you are 50 years or older it is recommended that you take 1200mg of calcium per day. Our diet gives us 600mg per day. To obtain the other 600mg, the best sources are dairy products. An 8 ounce glass of milk gives us 300mg of calcium, as does a yogurt or 3 ounces of cheese. You can also get calcium from foods that are fortified with calcium (cereals, soy milk, and juices) or green leafy vegetables. If you are lactose intolerant then you can take a calcium supplement. They are best taken with foods in divided doses. To absorb calcium you need adequate Vitamin D. Without Vitamin D only 10-15% of calcium is absorbed. Vitamin D can be obtained from supplements and can also be made when your skin is exposed to sunlight." Dr. Bonura

For more information about CHS call 1-855-CHS-4500 or visit

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tis the Season For Sharing, But Not Germs; Top 5 Reasons Why Washing Your Hands Is Important

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. 80% of common infections are spread by hands. For the general public, washing your hands at a minimum of five times a day has been shown to significantly decrease the frequency of colds, influenza (the “flu”) and other infections.

In honor of National Handwashing Awareness Week (now through December 7), Mercy Medical Center’s Director of Infection Prevention, Kelly Mulholland, BSN, RN-BC, CCRN-K, CIC, shares the top five reasons why washing your hands is important.

  1. Tis the season for sharing, but NOT germs (80% of infections are spread by hands.) The CDC notes that proper handwashing has been found to reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by nearly a third, and reduces colds and related diseases by 16-21%.

  2. Flu germs are spread not only from droplets in the air but from touching items that may have the flu germs on them; like door handles, ATM machines, shopping cart handles, cell phones, etc.

  3. You can’t see the bacteria on your hands; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth since the germs on your hands can spread into your body.

  4. During the holidays with much food preparation and gathering together with larger groups of family and friends, the spread of germs from your hands increases.

  5. Washing your hands can SAVE LIVES.

Ms. Mulholland also shared tips on how and when to properly wash your hands:

  • Using alcohol-based hand rub (gel, liquid or foam) apply a palm full and rub around your hand making sure to cover all surfaces of your wrists, back of your hands, nails and thumbs too.

  • Rub until the solution is dry about 15 – 20 seconds.

  • Soap and water is to be used if your hands are visibly soiled and after using the bathroom.

  • Use alcohol-based hand rub for all other instances; after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, after touching animals, before eating or preparing food.
For more information, visit or call 1-855-CHS-4500.