There are many things that women can do to stay healthy – whether it’s getting sufficient calcium to getting
regular mammograms and pelvic exams as women age. But what is one of the most common exercises that women tend to forget?
Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor – a series of muscles and tissue between the hips
– supports a woman’s womb, bladder and bowels. The pelvic floor can be weakened in women from pregnancy, childbirth, aging and weight gain. If the pelvic floor muscles are weakened, it can cause many symptoms including urinary incontinence and
discomfort. Mary Conte, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology at NorthShore, recommends that women regularly do Kegel exercises.
So what are Kegel exercises? Think of
the muscles used to stop peeing; those are the muscles utilized while doing Kegels. Practice squeezing these muscles and holding them for 3 seconds and then relaxing. Try to do this a total of 10 times, 3 times a day. When you start, do the exercises lying
down, then as you get stronger you can do them sitting or standing.
Dr. Conte often recommends Kegel exercises for:
As with any exercise, remember to consult your doctor before you start. Don’t forget to be proactive! Exercising is better at preventing a problem than treating one.
It’s one thing for an elderly relative, friend or loved one to be forgetful
from time to time, but if you begin to notice changes in memory, thinking and problem solving you may want to consider getting him or her screened for Alzheimer’s disease. While the progression of this condition may vary from person to person, there
are tell-tale signs to help determine diagnosis.
Dr. Chad Yucus, Neurologist with NorthShore, recommends looking for the following warning signs for those who may be suffering
from Alzheimer’s disease (AD):
While it can be normal to have any of these problems occur once in a while, they become concerning
if they begin to affect the person’s daily life.
Along with warning signs, Dr. Yucus also outlines some of the most common risk factors for developing this condition, including:
Do you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease? What recommendations would you have to others who are just finding out someone they know has this disease?
Jorge Saucedo, MD, has had a love for medicine since he was a student, which has led to his success as the Division Chief of Interventional Cardiology at NorthShore. He now shares his experience and some helpful tips on heart
health, as well as some of his most interesting personal passions.
When did you know you wanted to go into medicine? Was there a particular moment of realization? Where did it all start?For me, it was when I was finishing high
school. Outside of the U.S., you begin medical school right after high school (there is no college, and medical school is longer). For me at the age of 17-18, it was more like “I guess I will go into medicine”. I truly fell in love with medicine
at the end of my second year of medical school. My love for the profession has increased with every year that goes by.
When did your attention turn to cardiology? What led you to this specialty?The second hardest decision was
to choose between surgery and internal medicine when finishing medical school. The decision was made the night before the interviews. In regards to cardiology, this was easy. As soon as I started my internal medicine training, I knew I wanted to become a cardiologist.
What do you enjoy most about your job?Spending quality time with patients. I also enjoy doing complex interventions, particularly in patients with heart attacks.
What do you
find most challenging about cardiology? Treatment of patients?Keeping up with how tremendously fast the field evolves.
What do you think is the most important thing everyone should know about their heart/the
care of their heart?Prevention is crucial. Watch your blood pressure, know your cholesterol levels, exercise and don't use tobacco products.
What can/should people do themselves to improve their heart
health?Maintain healthy eating and sleeping patterns, and do not abuse alcoholic drinks.
One of your other passions is opera and classical music? Where did this passion start?When I was around 15 years old. Both,
music and voce have been a fascination to me.
Is there any particular performer or performance that inspires you?I have had the privilege of hearing the best opera singers on the best world stages. I love Mozart and Verdi operas.
Obviously, Spanish tenors like Placido Domingo are on the top of my list. Hearing Joyce DiDonato was also truly inspirational.
If you could perform anywhere or for anyone, where or who would it be?If I had any talent, I would
love to perform at Teatro alla Scala in Milano or the Lyric in downtown Chicago. Maybe the roles of Manrico in Il Trovatore or Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca.
With fall approaching fast, we’re looking forward to the cooler air, warmer clothes
and comfort food. Our latest recipe lets you enjoy a hearty dish with a healthy twist that is great to add over pasta, chicken or roasts.
Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at NorthShore, shares her recipe for
marinara sauce – a great source of potassium and antioxidants.
Recipe makes 5 servings
2 lbs. plum tomatoes, stem and core removed
1 sprig of oregano
1 bay leaf
garlic clove, skin removed
1 ½ tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ of a large onion, chopped (2oz)
½ zucchini, grated (1.5oz)
½ carrot, peeled and grated (1oz)
3-4 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
Black pepper to taste
Nutrition Information (per ½ cup serving):
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular beating of the upper chambers of the heart
(the atria) and occurs with increasing frequency as people age. The American Heart Association estimates that there are more than 2.5 million cases of AFib in the United States, many of them unrecognized.
While AFib is usually not life threatening,
it is a medical condition that can be serious if untreated. AFib often requires medication to minimize the chance that complications of the rhythm occur. AFib can lead to poor blood flow in the body, weakened heart muscle, and sometimes causes blood
clots to develop that could lead to stroke. Unfortunately, the signs of symptoms of AFib can differ widely from patient to patient.
Dr. Wes Fisher, Cardiologist at
NorthShore, lists the different symptoms of AFib to be aware of:
While it is important to know the symptoms of AFib,
not all people experience symptoms. Sometimes AFib is discovered through an annual physical exam or another diagnostic test. Dr. Fischer stresses the importance of your annual physical to monitor any changes over the years.
Atrial fibrillation is more
common in adults and the risk of the arrhythmia increases for adults over the age of 65. There are three different types of atrial fibrillation varying in severity:
When is the last time you had your annual physical?
Patient Don Tabler was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, with some charts giving him only six years to live. His husband Russ Bond cared for him throughout his 12-year journey with prostate cancer.
Here, Russ discusses the important role of
a caregiver as well as the care his husband received at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center, including the cutting edge treatments and clincial trials that helped Don's doctor, Daniel Shevrin, MD, Medical Oncology and Palliative Medicine, improve and maintain his quality of live and extend his survival far beyond what was intially projected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide was the 10th leading cause of the death in the U.S. in
2009. That year there were 37,000 suicides, with one million reported attempted suicides. In the same year, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Suicide is a major health issue but it’s also
a potentially preventable one. While there are several risk factors for suicide, any person who expresses suicidal thoughts or the intent to commit suicide should be taken seriously. Risk factors for suicide include:
Knowing and acting on the signs of suicide exhibited by others could save thousands of lives each year. If someone appears depressed and/or expresses suicidal thoughts, it's important to listen closely and take that person seriously.
It's especially important to be concerned if someone exhibits any of these signs and has also attempted suicide in the past, as most successful suicides were preceded by one or more attempts.
Shain, MD, PhD, Psychiatry at NorthShore, shares some of the warning signs of suicide and discusses what you can do to help a person who might be contemplating suicide:
What should you do if you notice these behaviors in a friend
or family member?
First, discuss your observations or concerns with the person and/or other friends or family members. Make sure to listen to the person’s concerns and what might be stressful for them. It's essential to urge the
person to speak to their primary care physician and/or a mental health professional. If you believe they are an immediate risk to themselves, call 911.
Athletes come in all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Differences aside, all
athletes should supplement their sports routine with additional training to build strength and prevent injury. Whether you are a dedicated yogi, marathon runner or recreational-league champion – the exercises below can help keep you strong, healthy and
Valerie Damlos, PT, OCS, CMP, Clinic Manager of Outpatient Rehab Services at NorthShore, gives tips on some of the best exercises to add to your routine. Keep in mind that proper technique is very important, so be sure to familiarize yourself
with each step.
As with any exercise routine, it is important to not overexert yourself. If you are in pain or are just starting
a workout regime, you should consult with your doctor.
What is your favorite exercise to do? How to you make your exercises more challenging?
Who’s to blame for the dramatic increase in childhood obesity these days—it has more than tripled
in the past 30 years according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? While there may be many factors at fault—more junk food and sugary drink
options, increased television and computer time, lack of physical activity (both at school and at home) and larger portion sizes—it is important to set a good example to help your children maintain a healthy weight. The effects of childhood
obesity have both short and long-term consequences, which is why addressing the issue before it is too late is imperative. Obese youth and teens are more likely to be obese as adults, and are thereby more susceptible to health problems commonly associated
with being overweight (such as: high cholesterol, heart problems, hypertension, etc.) Goutham Rao, MD, Primary Care Physician at NorthShore offers the following tips
for parents to encourage healthy eating, an active lifestyle and a happy child:
What changes have you made to encourage a healthy
lifestyle for your children?
-- If you have more questions about childhood obesity, read Dr.
Rao's childhood obesity chat.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. If detected
and treated early, prostate cancer survival rates are high and associated with good functional outcomes. Brian Helfand, MD, PhD, Urologist
at Northshore, answers questions about prostate cancer risk, PSA values, early signs and symptoms, recommended screening, as well as current treatment options for prostate cancer and recovery after treatment.
What is a normal PSA? I always tell my patients that you should compare your PSA to what is "normal" for your age group. Most men age 50 and younger have a PSA below 0.7ng/ml. For simplicity, you could use a cutoff of 1.0ng/ml. It’s important to point out that having a
PSA value that is above your age group does not mean that you have prostate cancer. It does, however, mean that you are statistically at a slightly increased risk for being diagnosed with the disease. For that reason, you should continue to be screened with
PSA on an annual basis at least.
There are other factors that should go into the interpretation of PSA before deciding to perform a prostate biopsy and these include: PSA values that have been rising over time, family history of prostate cancer,
African-American heritage and history of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Remember, PSA is not a perfect test but it has saved many lives and it’s still the best test for prostate cancer screening.
Guidelines for median PSA levels by
If there is a family history of the disease,
does that increase your risk? When should someone with a family history of the disease begin screening? Prostate cancer is one of the most inheritable of all cancers. As such, risk factors that are most associated with prostate cancer are first-degree
family history (father, brother, uncle, etc.) and race (i.e. African-Americans). Based on statistics, a man with a first-degree connection to the disease is almost two times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a man without a family history.
Although there is some debate regarding the routine use of PSA screening, I’m a firm believer that if there is a family history, one should start undergoing annual PSA screening by the age of 40.
After treatment, how often should a patient
return to their physician for further tests and screenings? After surgery, patients should have an initial post-operative PSA in about four to six weeks and then every three to four months (based upon their urologist's preference). After
two years of having an undetectable PSA, I suggest my patients get PSAs every six months.
Are there preventative measures that could potentially reduce one’s risk for developing the disease? It’s possible that
a heart-healthy diet low in fats and simple sugars may help reduce one’s risk of developing prostate cancer. There is emerging evidence that obesity is a driving factor for benign growth of the prostate (referred to as BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia)
and that it could also contribute to one’s risk for prostate cancer. Extra weight may also make it harder to detect the disease until it is advanced. Obesity also is thought to contribute to prostate cancer recurrence. That’s why it’s important
for men to realize that a heart-healthy diet can help keep their prostates healthy too!
How likely is a patient’s sexual function to be affected after treatment? What surgical options result in the best possible outcome as far as recovering
sex life? I tell my patients that your post-operative sexual function is significantly related to your age and pre-operative function. In general, treatment for prostate cancer (radiation or surgery) has never improved a man's erectile
function. However, if a man is young, not diabetic or obese and had good erectile function prior to surgery, he has a very good chance of having normal erections post-op.
I believe that good, nerve-sparing surgery significantly helps with the recovery
of erectile function. This can be done by a urologic surgeon who is trained in the technique and frequently performs the operation. In addition, I believe that all men should start (at minimum) a rehabilitation program before and immediately after surgery
that helps to recover nerve function. This could involve taking drugs like Cialis before and after surgery.
If you do suffer from sexual dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment, what can you do to aid/improve recovery? Unfortunately,
there is no universal solution for every man but there are many different options that are available for treatment of sexual dysfunction after surgery. Prostate cancer patients should have an assessment of psychological function and desire for sexual activity
following surgery. Many men get nervous about intimacy following surgery and an evaluation by a trained professional can help relieve a lot of this anxiety.
If there are erectile issues after treatment, many men respond to simple medical therapies
like Viagra and Cialis. This is often a starting point. If you fail to respond to these therapies, other interventions such as a vacuum erection device or injection therapies can be used to obtain an erection. As always, regular exercise and a heart-healthy
diet help increases your chances of a successful recovery.
What are the differences between robotic laparoscopic surgery and conventional open prostatectomy in terms of recovery? I think the answer is surgeon experience. There
are many urologists who can perform open surgery with excellent outcomes (great cancer control, erectile function and continence). And there are many urologists who can perform robotic surgery with similar outcomes. It’s most important to be treated
by an urologist who is comfortable and experienced with a radical prostatectomy. Having said that, robotic surgery has recently become the most commonly used surgical intervention for prostate cancer. When compared to open surgery, robotic surgery offers significantly
less blood loss and a shorter hospital stay. Although not proven, it’s likely that the robotic surgery offers increased visualization of the area by the surgeon which provides an opportunity to spare more nerves and create a nice connection between the
bladder and urethra. These are both associated with increased erectile function and increased continence.
What does active surveillance involve? Why would someone choose to do that instead of actively treat their cancer? We have
come to a "new era" of understanding prostate cancer and realized that many men have prostate tumors that may not harm them during their lifetime (benign-type prostate cancer). This is because many prostate tumors grow very slowly and other medical problems
may ultimately harm a man before the prostate cancer spreads
Unfortunately, there is currently no diagnostic test that can tell whether one has a lethal prostate cancer or more benign-type tumor; therefore, we have developed a program of surveillance
in which we avoid treating patients with prostate cancer until there is evidence that it has an aggressive component. This involves actively and regularly monitoring men through the use of PSA tests and prostate biopsies. While this does increase the number
of times that a man is evaluated by an urologist, it avoids overtreatment, like unnecessary surgery or radiation that could cause erectile problems and/or incontinence. Currently, NorthShore University HealthSystem has the largest program in the Midwest.