Low Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Severe Preeclampsia

lisa-bodnar-hiWomen who are deficient in vitamin D in the first 26 weeks of their pregnancy may be at risk of developing severe preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening disorder diagnosed by an increase in blood pressure and protein in the urine, according to research by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

In one of the largest studies to date, researchers studied blood samples collected from 700 pregnant women who later developed preeclampsia in an effort to examine a woman’s vitamin D status during pregnancy and her risk of developing preeclampsia. The full study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is available online in the journal Epidemiology, and will publish in the March print issue.
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Exercising During Pregnancy

When Carrie Cooper realized she could still go rock-climbing while pregnant, even she was surprised. Read more about exercising during pregnancy at the USA Today.

Eating Disorders: No Longer Just For Young Females

By Dr. Kim Dennis

For decades, the topic of eating disorders conjured an immediate stereotype – female, beautiful, a high achiever, affluent, often the first-born, and above all, young. She might be the high school prom queen, or the college cheerleader, but hardly ever was she a middle-aged mother of three. Indeed, the very idea that a woman in midlife could suffer from anorexia or bulimia was nearly unimaginable.

In years past, experts believed eating disorders rarely, if ever, occurred after the age of 35; we now know anorexia occurs across the lifespan, in girls and women, boys and men. In fact, behavioral and mental health professionals report that in the past decade, they are treating an increasing number of women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are starving themselves. Additionally, these women are abusing laxatives, exercising to dangerous extremes and self-harming – behaviors that frequently co-occur.

Women seeking treatment later in life typically fall into one of three categories: those who have secretly struggled with an eating disorder for many years yet did not receive help; those who were treated for an eating disorder in younger years; and those who developed an eating disorder as an adult.

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Women Encouraged To Know Their Breast Cancer Risks

“Always pay attention to your bodies,” was the message that Ruth Modzewlewski, PhD emphasized to the standing-room only group of women who attended HealthPLEX Imaging’s first Mamm & Glamm event on March 2 at the Mon-Vale HealthPLEX in Belle Vernon. Mrs. Modzewlewski, who is the mission coordinator for the Pittsburgh affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, was the featured speaker during the event that offered women with prescriptions mammograms along with a variety of pampering services such as massages and manicures.

Mamm & Glamm was organized by the staff of HealthPLEX Imaging and Monongahela Valley Hospital who applied for and received a grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to host the event. Mrs. Modzewlewski, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor, shared her personal experiences with cancer before outlining the biggest risks women face for developing breast cancer.

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Spider Veins and the Types of Treatment Circulatory Centers Provides

Circulatory Centers was founded in 1979 as The Circulatory Centers, by William G. Katz, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board certified vascular surgeon. Over the past few decades they have seen tremendous advances in the vascular treatment options for varicose veins. Learn more by watching the video below.

Breastfeeding Friendly Place Awards Nominations Due May 14

Nursing Moms:  Identify Places Where You Feel Welcome

Nominations for its annual Breastfeeding Friendly Place Awards are due May 11, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.

The awards are for workplaces, public places and other sites away from home that make an extra effort to meet the needs of nursing moms by offering a supportive environment and positive attitude toward breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding friendly places can encourage moms to breastfeed longer.  Health benefits to babies and their moms increase when babies are breastfed for at least six months, but only 44.3% nationwide and 37.6% in Pennsylvania are breastfed that long.

Breastfeeding friendly workplaces are also good for business, because breastfed babies are less likely to get sick throughout their childhood and that means working moms and dads take less time off due to a child’s illness.

To nominate an employer, public place or other site outside the home for the awards, please call the Health Department at 412-687-ACHDor visit www.achd.net.

What Women Need to Know About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

By Jane M. Martin, BA, LRT, CRT, Associate Director of Education for the COPD Foundation

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) describes progressive lung diseases, encompassing emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma and some forms of bronchiectasis. It kills more women than breast cancer and diabetes combined, yet many women don’t know they have it, often dismissing its symptoms — breathlessness, coughing and wheezing — as signs of aging. The disease develops slowly, generally around age 40, but earlier in those with genetically inherited COPD. You might have trouble catching your breath going up a flight of stairs, a persistent cough, chest congestion or excess phlegm. All too often, women are incorrectly diagnosed with asthma.

Women are about twice as likely to be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis as males. In 2008, 3.1 million males had a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis compared to 6.7 million females, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with women who smoke being 13 times more likely to die from COPD compared to women who have never smoked.

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Women and Thyroid Disease: Could You be Undiagnosed or Undertreated?

By Janie Bowthorpe, M.Ed

The 21st Century gave birth to something quite remarkable and life-changing for women: a vocal thyroid patient revolution that has turned the traditional “diagnosis” and “treatment” of thyroid problems on their heads.

Namely, thyroid patients worldwide made the woeful but important discovery that they’d been poorly diagnosed or undertreated for more than 50 years! This was a huge and bold realization in the face of a medical community that has rigidly held to the superiority of their beliefs!

Why did this medical calamity happen for so long? Because patients have been led to believe that a pituitary hormone lab test called the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) was enough to diagnose by (it wasn’t and has left millions undiagnosed for years with worsening symptoms), or that T4-only medications like Synthroid, Levoxyl, or levothyroxine were good treatments (they weren’t and left patients with continued and problematic symptoms).

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Start the Conversation: National Healthcare Decisions Day 2012

By Denise Stahl, Executive Director, UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute

Families are often given the difficult job of making critical decisions about the care of their loved ones who have become seriously ill and are unable to speak for themselves. But all too often, families are making those decisions without knowing exactly what their loved ones would have wanted. That’s why UPMC is joining with healthcare leaders across the country to encourage families to start the conversation about advance care planning for National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16.

Advance care planning is the process of planning ahead for future medical care should you become unable to make your own decisions due to a life-limiting illness or injury. The best time to think about advance care planning is before you are sick so that you understand what your options are and can communicate them to your loved ones and your doctor.  An advance directive, or living will, is a written document stating your wishes that guides the decisions of the health care team and provides comfort to your family.

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Managing a High-Risk Pregnancy: Difficult but NOT Impossible

By Kelly Whitehead

One in 8 babies are born premature (before 37 weeks). They suffer from numerous problems including: inability or difficulty breathing, feeding/growth issues, bleeding into the brain, an eye disease which can cause blindness, neurologic disabilities, or hearing problems.

A high-risk pregnancy is a time of enormous stress, fear, unknowns, even isolation, depression, and a disruption of your entire life. Lifting a simple load of laundry, or other children, are now huge no-no’s. Here are some tips to coping, managing, and hopefully thriving during this (not so fun) journey to parenthood:

Dealing With the “Medical Stuff”

  • Understand your risk factors. The number one risk for having a premature a baby is having had a prior early birth. Other risk factors include: smoking/drinking/illicit drug use, cervical/womb abnormalities, carrying multiples, being a black woman, being obese or very skinny, conceiving through IVF, having placental issues, poor nutrition, or certain chronic conditions (like diabetes or high blood pressure). Unfortunately, many women who have their babies early have no known risk factors.

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West Penn Allegheny Health System Nurse Navigators Lead the Way For Breast Cancer Patients

New Program Provides Women with Lifelong Guidance and Support Through Diagnosis, Treatment and Survivorship

A breast cancer diagnosis brings with it fear and panic. Questions race through a woman’s mind: What will happen to me? What will my treatment be like? How will I manage?

It is at that moment when the new Nurse Navigator program at West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) steps in. The Nurse Navigator will provide women with compassionate guidance through their initial diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship, serving as a lifelong, trusted ally for cancer patients and survivors.

“Our Nurse Navigators will be our breast cancer patients’ lifeline for care – answering questions, planning treatment and helping ease their fears,” said David S. Parda, MD, FACP, radiation oncologist and Chair of the West Penn Allegheny Health System Oncology Service Line. “As soon as a patient is diagnosed, a Nurse Navigator will begin supplying her with information and offering emotional support.

“As our medical experts work as a team to fight the patient’s cancer using  the most advanced diagnostic and treatment services available, the Nurse Navigators will make sure that patients are aware of their options and that they get the support they need, be it medical, emotional or logistical,” Dr. Parda continued.

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WVU’s Breast Care Center Provides Same-Day Screening Results

When a woman has a mammogram, she typically has to wait days before receiving the results from the screening. Recognizing the stress that this can cause, the  Betty Puskar Breast Care Center at West Virginia University’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Morgantown has begun providing same-day screening results.

“Women experience a lot of anxiety following a mammogram,” Barb Menear, manager of the Breast Care Center, said. “We are striving to eliminate that. Instead of waiting for a letter in the mail or a phone call, they simply wait in our solarium to receive their screening results. If they need further images or additional procedures, we do them that day before they head out the door.”

She added that several major breast care centers throughout the country are offering same-day results for mammography screenings, but WVU is one of the few offering the service in West Virginia.

And, the response has been favorable.

“Women tell us they love it,” Menear said. “They walk out knowing that they don’t need to come back for another year or that they need follow-up care.”

Same day screening results at WVU Healthcare’s Breast Care Center are offered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Women Veterans Healthcare

The Women Veteran’s Health (WVH) Strategic Health Care Group addresses the health care needs of women Veterans and works to ensure that timely, equitable, high-quality, comprehensive health care services are provided in a sensitive and safe environment at VA health facilities nationwide. Learn more about this great resource.

9 Stress-Busting Strategies For Women Going Through Cancer Treatment

By Flora Shepelsky and Sandra Dubrov

Although the link between stress and cancer is tenuous, research supports that chronic stress has a devastating effect on a person’s health and may negatively impact cancer recovery.  According to the Journal of Clinical Investigation, adrenaline, a stress hormone, can support the growth and spread of tumors.  A review of psychological studies and cancer treatment outcomes suggests that there may be a relationship between chronic stress and cancer.

Regardless, there’s no denying that being diagnosed with cancer is highly stressful.  The way a person approaches stress and how they cope with it may influence the quality of their health.  Chronic stress places the body in a state of constant inflammation, which opens the door for existing tumors to grow and spread.  According to Dale Sandler, Ph.D., chief of epidemiology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, even perceiving yourself as stressed can have negative biological effects.  An American study suggests that stress-related psychological factors — such as fear, isolation and anxiety — can make breast cancer tumors more aggressive.

Follow these nine key stress-busting strategies that can help guide you through the process:

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Does Deodorant Ingredient Affect Breast Cancer Risk?

For several years, researchers have studied a possible link between substances called parabens — widely used as a germ-fighting preservative in cosmetics such as deodorant/antiperspirants — and breast cancer. Read more about in this USA Today article.