Friday, December 12, 2014

A Sound Sleep Mode to Avoid Shutting Down

Along with good nutrition and exercise, ample sleep is essential for good health, yet an estimated 28% of adults don’t get a full night’s rest. Lack of sleep can have a negative impact on cognitive performance, physical ability and quality of life, and safety. Studies have shown a connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain, dulled memory and even life-threatening disease.

Rest allows the lymphatic and immune systems to better repair the body. In addition, a study published in Science Translational Medicine (October 18, 2013) suggests that sleep actually clears the brain of toxins that accumulate when we are awake. Without sleep, we’re not ourselves; emotional IQ and empathy are some of the functions that shut down in sleep-deprived people.

“We all know that diet and exercise are very important for good health.  As medical professionals, we still need to get the message across that good quality and adequate sleep are key for optimal health and performance,” said Marta Maczaj, MD, sleep medicine physician, Sleep Disorders Center, St. Charles Hospital.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends at least 10 hours of sleep daily for school-aged children, 9 to 10 for teenagers and 7 to 8 for adults. With more than 100,000 auto accidents in the U.S. attributed to drowsy driving each year, the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has just launched the “Awake at the Wheel” public education campaign. With initiatives such as this and a greater general awareness of the importance of a good night’s sleep, we can all enjoy the best of health.

Speak to a physician if you are having health issues. Visit or call 1-855-CHS-4500 to find one near you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Knowing the signs of depression:

With life’s ups and downs everyone feels sad from time to time. Sadness can be a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. But, if sadness or feelings of despair begin to consume your life you could be clinically depressed.

Depression varies for each person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. Understanding these signs, symptoms and causes can be the first step to overcoming the problem.

Signs and symptoms of depression can include:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Sleep changes
  • Anger or irritability
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Loss of energy
  • Self-loathing
  • Reckless behavior
  • Concentration problems
  • Unexplained aches and pains

“Many depressed people seek help from illicit substances and or alcohol to mitigate the pain only to find out that this not a solution,” said Ronald Brenner, MD, chief of Behavioral Health Service Line for Catholic Health Services. “On the contrary, it is at best a short lived measure and can lead to worsening of symptoms. CHS Behavioral Health Service Line offers help for individuals showing signs of depression.”

Speak to a physician if you are having health issues. Visit or call 1-855-CHS-4500 to find one near you.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lately there have been many reports about Enteroviruses in the news. What is Enterovirus, and how may it affect you?

Every year, millions of children become sick, exhibiting cough and cold symptoms, and experiencing body and muscle aches.  These are often caused by non-polio enteroviruses, which result in approximately 10 million infections in the United States each year.  In general, a variety of enteroviruses circulate annually, and different types of enteroviruses can be common each year.  In previous years, small numbers of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) have been reported.  However, this year the number of people with confirmed EV-D68 infection is much greater than that reported in previous years.*

Enterovirus D68 was first identified in California in 1962.  People are more likely to become infected with enteroviruses in the summer and fall.  Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be discovered in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva.  EV-D68 likely spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches a surface that is then touched by others.  This is why handwashing and personal hand hygiene is so important.*

How is Enterovirus D68 diagnosed?
EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat.  Specific diagnosis of EV-D68 is often made by some state departments and the CDC.*

Who is at risk of acquiring this disease?
“In general, the illness more likely affects the pediatric population, possibly because they have not yet developed immunity to the virus,” said Jason Golbin, DO, , vice president for medical affairs and chief medical officer for St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. “Adults can become infected as well, but are more likely to have mild disease.”  Children with asthma may have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.*

What is the treatment for EVD68?
There is no specific treatment for patients infected with EV-D68.  Speak with your physician about the best way to control you or your loved one’s symptoms.  If there is severe respiratory illness, those patients may need to be hospitalized.  There are no antiviral medications currently available for people who become infected with EV-D68.*

What should children with asthma do?
Children with asthma are at increased risk of more severe disease with infection by EV-D68.  These children’s treatment should follow CDC’s guidance.

CDC recommends:
  • Discuss and update your child’s asthma action plan with your pediatrician.
  • Ensure your child takes any prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially       long-term control medication(s).
  • Be sure your child has his/her acute reliever medication available.
  • Make sure your child gets a flu vaccine (as long as there is no contraindication).
  • If new or worsening asthma symptoms develop, follow the steps of the asthma action plan. If your child’s symptoms do not go away, call your pediatrician..
  • Parents should make sure their child’s caregiver and/or teacher is aware of his/her condition, and they know how to help if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma.*

* All information from

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

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

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 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 to find a doctor near you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Breakthroughs in Pain Management

Pain management is still a relatively new field in the world of medicine. Pain can come from several sources, such as disease or trauma. Also, external factors such as stress and anxiety may worsen the situation or even be the cause. Pain management physicians help find the origin of the pain, diagnose it and ultimately treat the pain with several different modalities or recommendations, from least invasive to most invasive.

There are many ways to treat pain, including the use of medicine, specific therapies, injections in certain areas of the body. Spinal cord stimulation may be an option and involves electrodes placed on a trial basis either in the spinal column or around the area of pain, depending on the situation.

“Spinal cord stimulation was first developed in the 1960s,” explained Patrick F. Annello, MD, co-director of pain management at St. Francis Hospital. “The patient is monitored for five to seven days, with potential results including improved activity, better sleep, enhanced mood and the use of less medication. If there is an improvement of greater than 80% in regard to pain, then a permanent implant of the device is performed 2–3 weeks later.”

Pain management physicians work with other physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, Tai-Chi instructors, yoga instructors and other experts to help address a patient’s pain. Meditation, special diets, and vitamins and supplements may be additional options to pursue, under a doctor’s supervision. 

An improved healthier life starts with physicians who put your health needs first. To learn more or to find a physician near you click here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Five Tips to Prepare You for Your Next Doctor’s Visit:

While we may not look forward to visiting the doctor, we know it’s important to have an annual check-up. Preparing for a physician visit is a great way to work with your provider and become active in your own health care. Most doctors will welcome your participation.
Here are some tips to make your visit less nerve-racking and more productive.
  1. Understand your health insurance. Call prior to your visit to see if you are covered or if you need a referral.
  2. Make a list and prioritize your concerns.
  3. Bring a list of any prescriptions and/or over-the-counter medications, including vitamins, you are taking.
  4. Know your family history.
  5. Bring a family member or friend with you.
“The most important component of your health is you. If you are interested and serious about staying healthy and avoiding illness, injury, and medical interventions, you must think and behave differently,” explains Andrew Sama, MD, chief of emergency services for Catholic Health Services of Long Island. “Discuss a plan with your physician that will work for you long term and stick to it. Be sure to have all of your age appropriate screening exams and stay up to date on all your vaccinations.  Remember, when you notice a change in your general health, make an appointment to see your physician.”

Download this helpful worksheet before your next doctor's visit.

An improved healthier life starts with physicians who put your health needs first. To learn more or to find a physician near you click here.