Fresh Recipe: Creamy Oregano Vinaigrette

Friday, June 26, 2015 9:30 AM comments (0)

Creamy Oregano VinaigretteDon’t let your choice of dressing take your healthy salad from filling to fattening. Keep things light and fresh with bold flavors and heart-healthy fats.

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, shares a recipe for a healthy salad dressing that’s perfect for summer:

Recipe makes 6 servings
Serving size 2 tablespoons

¼ of an avocado, peel removed (1.6 oz)
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Place avocado in a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork until smooth.
  • Add oregano, garlic, lemon juice and oil to avocado and whisk.
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix with your favorite greens and summer veggies.

Nutrition Information (per 2 tbsp serving):
Calories : 84
Fat:  8g
Total Carbohydrates: 3g


Baby on the Way: Knowing the Signs of Labor

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 12:15 PM comments (0)

Signs of LaborThe big “birth” day is almost here! You may be feeling excited, nervous and scared all at the same time. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if you knew exactly when this big day would come?

While no one can predict with any certainty when your baby will be born, some signs may indicate that labor is on the way. That said, it’s different for every woman. Some women experience many of the signs below, while others may not experience anything.

Edward Lee, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology at NorthShore, outlines some of the key signs of labor:

  • Contractions. You may have had on and off contractions (Braxton Hicks contractions) throughout your pregnancy. These contractions are generally mild and irregular. Labor contractions, on the other hand, will be much stronger, very uncomfortable and occur more regularly. Some women have said that true labor contractions originate in the back while Braxton Hicks originate mostly in the uterus. However, this won’t be true for all patients in labor. Unlike Braxton Hicks contractions, these contractions will not let up when you change position or move around. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’ve had consistent painful contractions every 3-5 minutes that last approximately one minute each for 1 -2 hours, you may be in labor. This is a good time to call your physician.
  • Water breaking. The breaking of the bag of water is a sign that labor is right around the corner.  However, only 10 percent of pregnant moms will rupture their bag of water before labor begins. Some patients who experience excessive vaginal moisture may be confused and may not know for sure whether the bag is broken.  When your water breaks, you may experience a big gush of fluid or a small trickle.  Amniotic fluid is often thin, clear and generally odorless. The best sign that you have broken your bag is persistent leaking of fluid that you cannot control, often enough to run down your thigh.  When your water breaks, you should call your physician.  You may not need to come to the hospital right away but your physician should be aware that you have broken your bag of water.
  • Lightening. As labor approaches you may feel or notice that your baby has dropped down further into your pelvis. This can be a relief if you’ve been experiencing heartburn or shortness of breath throughout your pregnancy. It can also add increased pressure to your bladder so you may be making more trips to the bathroom.
  • Nesting or exhaustion. Many women say that in the days leading up to their baby’s birth, they feel a sudden wave of energy. If this happens to you, try not to over exert yourself. It’s fine to do some light cleaning and organizing, but it’s probably not the best time to tackle a larger project. On the flip side, many women may feel increasingly tired toward the end. Between your large belly and nights of interrupted sleep it may be hard to feel well rested. In both cases, try as best you can to rest.
  • Bloody show or loss of mucous plug. While pregnant,  a thick mucus plug develops around the cervical opening to prevent infection and bacteria from entering your uterus. This plug may fall out as your cervix opens and thins out in preparation for labor. This plug may be streaked with blood. Loss of your plug does not mean labor is hours away, and this is not something you need to inform your physician about unless bleeding continues. Blood-streaked mucus is also common at this time.  Often, you will notice some mild blood after a vaginal exam by your obstetrician.  This is normal and should last a day or two.  However, if bleeding persists after that and/or is heavy like the blood that flows with nosebleed, let your doctor know right away.
  • Other signs. Not all patients will exhibit the same signs of impending labor. In my years of practice, I have had several patients experience the onset of facial swelling, and loose stools and diarrhea soon before labor.  The hormonal signals that mediate labor are likely involved with these symptoms but, again, always keep in mind that not all patients will experience this.

 It’s important to note that this is not a complete list of signs of labor. It is also important to note that there is no “tried and tested” way to naturally bring on labor: Baby will come whenever he or she is ready. Use Caution: Prior to administering any home remedies or alternative methods to expedite labor, you should always first confer with your physician.

If at any point during your pregnancy you have questions about any of these above signs, do not hesitate to reach out to your physician.

What signs did you have of labor? Did they vary from pregnancy to pregnancy?


Sun Safety Tips: Protect Your Skin from the Sun [Infographic]

Monday, June 22, 2015 10:53 AM comments (0)

It’s finally here! Summer seems to have arrived and with it warm weather and sunshine. Don’t rush out into the sun just yet though! Sun exposure can damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. That's why it’s so important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays every day.

How can you protect your skin? What’s the right sunscreen to use? How often should you reapply it? Is sunscreen safe for everyone?  NorthShore University HealthSystem has you covered with sun safety tips for adults, kids and babies alike.  Click on the image below to access our full infographic with helpful sun safety tips and then go out and enjoy the summer sun without getting burned. 


Men’s Health – Five Tips to a Healthier Life

Friday, June 19, 2015 9:09 AM comments (0)

Men's HealthWe're coming to the end of Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day is just around the corner. This makes it a perfect time to think about the health of the men in your life (and your own!). Making simple changes to your daily habits may help reduce your risk for illness and other medical conditions.

Matthew Plofsky, MD, Family Medicine Physician at NorthShore, recommends the following five tips for promoting health and wellness:

  1. Visit your family doctor when you are “well,” not just when you are sick.
    Regular physical examinations are important to help us screen you for preventable and treatable illnesses.  31% of adult males over the age of 20 will develop high blood pressure, which frequently goes undetected. Additionally, diseases such as diabetes, colon cancer and prostate cancer can be prevented or treated through early detection.
  2. Live a “healthy life.
    Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 cause of death in industrialized nations.  You can help prevent the onset and progression of this through appropriate measures.  A heart- healthy diet is an important step in this prevention.  Additionally, 45 minutes of exercise on most days of the week can help you achieve a healthy weight.
  3. Practice what you preach.
    Accidents remain a common cause of injury for all ages, including adults.  Don’t just tell your children to wear their bike helmets, put yours on also.   Buckle your seat belt, don’t drink and drive, and lock up your firearms if you have them in the house.
  4. Take an “emotional pulse.”
    In our hectic and busy lives we encounter many stresses.  How are you dealing with those stressors?  Do you need help with counseling or treatment?  Depression and anxiety as well as other emotional issues frequently go undetected, but also are treatable.
  5. Expand your horizons.
    Take some time for yourself. Consider travel or sports. Develop a hobby.  Take a course that may interest you. 

What do you do to promote healthy habits? Have you changed your routine recently in an effort to be healthier?


Be Aware: Identification and Prevention of Tuberculosis

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 9:00 AM comments (0)

Tuberculosis Symptoms and DiagnosisWith the recent reports of tuberculosis cases within the United States, now is the time to get informed. Tuberculosis (abbreviated as TB) is an infectious bacteria that spreads through droplets released into the air often by coughing, sneezing or spitting. Despite this, it's not easy to catch, and the infection occurs after a long period of exposure.

The following individuals are most at risk when exposed to TB:

  • Children under 5
  • Elderly people
  • People with weakened immune systems from other diseases (particularly HIV) or previous TB infection
  • Healthcare workers who are in contact with potentially infected patients
  • Those who have travelled to countries in which the bacteria is active
  • Individuals who abuse substances

Dr. Stephen Schrantz, MD, at NorthShore discusses the two forms of tuberculosis, and what to do if you believe you have been infected.

Latent TB: This form of TB does not have any symptoms, as the infection is not yet active. While not contagious, it has the potential to progress to an active state. Those who have come in contact with someone with tuberculosis should get checked by a doctor in order to detect latent TB, which can remain in the body for several years if it goes unnoticed or untreated.

Active TB: Symptoms for active TB can occur within 2 to 3 weeks, or months after an individual is exposed to the infectious bacteria. Though most commonly associated with lung disease, it is possible for tuberculosis to infection other organs, so symptoms may vary. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Persistent cough for 3 or more weeks
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood or sputum (mucus)

Tuberculosis can be deadly when left untreated, and requires a prolonged treatment program in order to fully restore the patient to good health. Those who believe they have come in contact with the bacteria should seek medical attention immediately. Physicians commonly perform a physical examination to look for swelling in areas such as the lymph nodes, as well as breathing problems. Depending on the type of TB, there are also blood tests, imaging tests, and skin tests that can determine a patient's status.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are potentially millions of people in the United States who have a latent tuberculosis infection; therefore, it's very important for anyone who has been in contact with someone who has the disease to contact your doctor or a state TB control office.


In the Game: Nerve-Racking Sporting Events & Your Heart

Monday, June 15, 2015 12:54 PM comments (0)

Sports stressAs a fan we’ve all been there before: It’s the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded. The soccer match is tied and your favorite team is lining up for shoot outs. The win is just a field goal away with seconds left on the clock. The pressure and anxiety associated with watching your favorite team as they battle it out for the win can leave your heart racing.

As the Blackhawks take the ice tonight in the nerve-shredding Stanley Cup finals, fans may be wondering if their hearts can withstand the stress. Justin Levisay, MD, cardiologist at NorthShore, shares some tips on how you can watch the game and still be mindful of your body.

Dr. Justin Levisay offers the following pointers as we head into the big game:

  • Some symptoms are normal. It’s common for fans to feel their hearts racing during an exciting game. This can often be triggered by the nail-biting game, greasy food and alcohol.
  • Don’t ignore what doesn’t feel right. While most fans don’t have anything to worry about, serious symptoms should not be ignored. If you experience any of the below symptoms, seek medical help immediately:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pressure  or pain
    • Pain that radiates through your left arm
  • Take it easy. While rooting for your favorite team during an exciting game, your body may release stress hormones. These hormones can increase heart rate, raise blood pressure and make blood stickier. Sticker blood can lead to blood clots which are associated with heart attacks. When you can, try to relax and remember that it’s just a game.

It’s worth noting that the more in shape you are, the more your body can handle. That said, if you suspect you may be suffering from a heart attack or other condition while watching the game, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.

Here’s to safe watching. Let’s go Hawks!

Listen to Dr. Levisay on WLS-890 with Big John Howell.


Fresh Recipe: Raw Carrot Pasta with Ginger-Lime Peanut Sauce

Friday, June 12, 2015 9:00 AM comments (0)

Raw Carrot Pasta with Ginger-Lime Peanut SauceServe a summery pasta salad without the pasta. If reducing your consumption of refined carbohydrates is on your to-do list this summer, this is the side dish for you.

Leslie Mendoza-Temple, MD, Integrative Medicine at NorthShore, shares this simple but flavorful recipe that is made for having seconds:

Recipe makes 4-6 servings

For the carrot pasta:
5 large carrots, peeled and spiraled into noodles
⅓ cup roasted cashews
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

For the ginger-lime peanut sauce:
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp liquid aminos
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt to taste


To prepare the ginger-lime peanut sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Mix together until smooth and creamy.

To prepare the carrot pasta:

  • Wash carrots well, peel and pat dry.
  • Using a spiral slicer, make noodles out of all the carrots (Note: It will be more difficult to make the noodles once there is only a few inches of carrot left, so you can grate the remainder).
  • Place carrot noodles into a large serving bowl.
  • Pour sauce over the noodles and toss.
  • Serve with roasted cashews and chopped cilantro.

Note: If you don't have a spiral slicer, you can simply grate the carrots with a box grater.

Recipe adapted from The Roasted Root.



Training for the Future: Dr. Ernest Wang on Practicing the Practice of Medicine

Monday, June 08, 2015 8:00 AM comments (0)

Dr. WangErnest Wang, MD, Emergency Medicine and Director of the Grainger Center for Simulation and Innovation (GCSI), loves to learn. He loves learning more about his patients, from hearing their stories to researching their medical histories. He loves learning about new procedures and the application of new technologies from his colleagues at the GCSI.  He loves sharing this new knowledge with the next generation of medical professionals during school visits and tours of the Center. He’s even one of NorthShore’s most active physicians on social media (follow @DrCommonSense). But, at the heart of all this learning is the patients because Dr. Wang might love to learn but his passion is providing the best possible care to his patients.

Dr. Wang shares his experiences in emergency medicine and tells us why the Grainger Center for Simulation and Innovation is so important to the future of medicine:

What attracted you to the field of medicine?
I have always been fascinated with the human body, people and stories. Through medicine, I get to meet all sorts of interesting people, hear their stories and help make a difference in their lives by addressing their medical conditions. I also enjoy the practice of medicine—taking in history, performing a physical exam and figuring out what tests and therapies are needed for each patient. 

Why emergency medicine?
Emergency medicine was a natural fit for me. I enjoy a wide variety of medicine; I like taking care of kids and adults. I love the stories. I like the immediacy and urgency of emergency conditions. I like performing procedures. I like the challenge of being able to think quickly on my feet. As a third-year medical student, I spent many call nights just going down to the emergency department to see what was going on. It was real humanity. And, emergency medicine is egalitarian; we treat you as best as we can because you're sick, regardless of your station in life.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The intensity of the work is both the attraction and the challenge. Being ready to perform under pressure and remaining composed. It can be exhausting because sometimes it feels like the patients just keep coming; the waiting room is full and everybody is very sick. For you, it might be the 30th patient of the shift, but for them, it might be their first visit, and they're scared and concerned. It’s the job of the doctor and staff to remember that—do your best to be empathetic and make sure that you communicate effectively. 

What is the most rewarding part of the job?
For me, it’s getting feedback from a grateful patient. Often when people come into the emergency department critically ill, we stabilize and resuscitate them; however, they might be too sick to remember the care they received. Every now and then, it's nice to hear back from patients that you treated with, say, an acute heart attack/stroke/severe infection, and find out they are doing well and recovering.

One of the most memorable cases I ever had was when I first started as an attending physician in 2001. It was the middle of the night and a woman came in and quickly decompensated (or stopped breathing), so I had to intubate her very quickly and place her on a ventilator. The intubation was extremely difficult. Had I not been able to do it she would've died. 

Well, about nine years later I saw her in the emergency department for an unrelated problem. She had no idea who I was but her husband did. He said that she was his primary caregiver and that he would not be alive without her. That was a good story.

In addition to your work in emergency medicine, you are also the Director of the Grainger Center for Simulation and Innovation, where physicians, surgeons and medical staff are able to practice real-life medical scenarios. Why is a learning center like this important?
Simulation centers like GCSI are extremely important to the continuous patient safety and practice improvement efforts of any health system. It allows doctors and nurses to practice and be ready for patient conditions that they see every day, and in which they have to do things correctly every time. It also allows for training in life-threatening, high-stakes situations using highly realistic scenarios. These are cases that you may only see once in a lifetime, but, by training for it, your chances of being able to perform successfully when the condition presents itself go up significantly. Our mission statement and motto is: "We take care of our simulators, so we can take better care of you." That says it all.

What programs does the Center offer? What makes the Grainger Center unique?
Our program is unique in that it is a truly multidisciplinary, inter-professional simulation center. What I mean by that is we have committed physicians and nurses from around the organization in every discipline and patient care area (ED, anesthesia, ICU, surgery and surgical subspecialties, OR, pediatrics, OB/GYN, neurology, in-patient and out-patient medicine) working and training together with the shared goal of improving healthcare, from the time the patient arrives in the emergency department until they are discharged.

In addition to running regular training classes, we have developed a reputation as a Center for simulation curriculum innovation. We run cutting-edge surgical courses that people from all over the world come to attend. We are involved with the development of new emergency and obstetric ultrasound simulators. We create our own simulators when one doesn’t exist, and we work with vendors to develop new types of simulators to improve the experience for trainees when performing intricate procedures. We are working on innovative ways to use technology in the operating room to make operation safer. In the past five years, we’ve conceived and launched the two biggest simulation training programs in the specialty of emergency medicine. We now offer a fellowship in simulation through the Division of Emergency Medicine to continue and build on what we have created.

Who works there and what impact does their work make?
Our staff is a dedicated team of individuals from a variety of backgrounds—nurses, researchers, administrators, technicians. Our physicians who run the training come from many different departments. Each department provides physician support for their simulation educators so that they can make time to teach in the lab. The impact has been huge, from physicians and nurses reporting improved self-confidence to demonstrable improvement in skill and improved outcomes for patients.

You’ve done tours of the Center with young people and students. What have their reactions been?
I love doing the tours. Young people are the future. They are absolutely blown away by the technology in the lab and the training capabilities. They have a natural curiosity about medicine and want to learn as much as they can. Much of medicine is moving towards minimally invasive and screen-based/digital technologies. These kids grow up in this environment and are quick to learn how to use the equipment and understand medical concepts. 

The future of medicine will be very bright if we continue to show this next generation how to link simulation-based technologies with the human side of medicine. I want to encourage them to go into medicine by getting them excited not only about the technology but also with the prospects of becoming excellent physicians and nurses who are great at connecting with patients.

This year, the proceeds from the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Summer Soiree will support the Grainger Center for Simulation and Innovation. Find out more here.





Brain Power: Tips for Improving and Preserving Brain Health [Infographic]

Thursday, June 04, 2015 3:16 PM comments (0)

Whatever your age, now is the time to be proactive about your brain health. The experts at the NorthShore Center for Brain Health share four healthy changes you can make now to improve and preserve the health of your brain, as well as risk your risk for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases. View the infographic as a PDF.

 brain health infographic



Men's Health and Heart Disease [Infographic]

Wednesday, June 03, 2015 4:15 PM comments (0)

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women, but, for men, on average, high blood pressure starts earlier and heart attacks occur earlier. Men, it’s time to be more proactive about your own health!  Whatever your age, it’s never too early to start taking better care of your heart.

The experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem have created an infographic that explores some surprising facts related to heart disease in men, including how their heart health compares to that of women. Click on the image below to view the full infographic and also learn how you can begin to improve the condition of your heart with simple men’s health tips.

men's health infographic

× Alternate Text