Breast Cancer Awareness

Every woman wants to know what
she can do to lower her risk of
breast cancer. Unfortunately, some
of the risk factors commonly
associated with breast cancer...

read more

How well do you take care of you?

As a woman, taking care of your
self is the first step. The 2012
Care Begins with Me event
presented a number of engaging
discussions on health topics...

read more

What You Need to Know: The Flu Vaccine

With the arrival of fall, comes that most
dreaded season of the year - flu
season. The fever, the chills, the
horrible cough - it can make you
miserable and keep you out of...

read more

Dealing with Sports-Related Head Injury

According to the CDC (Center for
Disease Control and Prevention),
emergency departments throughout
the United States treat around
173,000 sport- and recreation...

read more

Fall Produce

Many of us think that once the hot,
bountiful days of summer are done
so too is our selection of fresh, tasty
produce. But don't let your culinary
creative juices run dry with the...

read more

Breast Cancer Awareness

Daniel E. Herron, MD, Medical Director, Women's Imaging Center

Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, some of the risk factors commonly associated with breast cancer - being a woman, one's age, one's family history - are outside of your control. But other factors can be controlled. Below are changes you can make to your lifestyle and behavior that can help reduce your risk for breast cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight

Overweight and obese women (defined as having a Body Mass Index over 25) have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer than women who maintain a healthy weight. This is especially true after menopause. Being overweight can also increase the risk of breast cancer recurring in women who have had the disease already.

Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight is for you. Manage your diet and your activity level to help yourself reach and maintain that weight. Simple changes like reducing high fat and processed foods while increasing fiber and lean meats can make a big difference in one's health.

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Research has shown that drinking alcoholic beverages - including beer, wine and hard alcohol - can increase women's levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol also may increase breast cancer risk by damaging DNA in cells.

So how much is too much? Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer than women who don't drink at all. Research shows that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10% for each additional daily drink. If you do drink, try to limit yourself to two or fewer drinks per week.

Be Active

Regular exercise at a moderate or intense level, four to seven hours per week, has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Exercise controls blood sugar and limits insulin growth factor, a hormone that can affect how breast cells grow and behave. Additionally, women who exercise regularly tend to maintain a healthier weight and carry less excess fat than women who don't. Excess fat cells make estrogen, which can increase the risk for breast cancer.

Talk to your doctor about what an appropriate exercise plan is for you. Start slowly and be sure to include not just cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, etc.) but also strength training (light weight lifting, resistance band training, etc.).

Don't Smoke

It is no surprise that smoking is directly linked to a number of diseases, including breast cancer. Women who smoke have a higher risk of developing breast cancer at a younger, premenopausal age. Research also has shown that there may be link between very heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.

If you don't smoke now, don't start. If you are already a smoker, use every resource at your disposal to quit.

Dignity Health would like to partner with you if you or someone you love is trying to quit. Dignity Health's Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services offers the "No Ifs, Ands or Butts" smoking cessation program. The six-week program meets Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Mercy General Hospital's Pulmonary Rehab unit (located in the Lower Level), and costs $70. Patients or community members who attend all six classes receive a 50% refund; MGH employees receive a 100% refund. For more information, call 916.453.4268.

Screenings are Key to Early Detection

While controlling the above risk factors can reduce your risk for breast cancer, nothing can eliminate the risk. Women are diagnosed every day who thought they were too young or too healthy or too active to have breast cancer. Because of this, it is critical for every woman to understand the best way to find and diagnose breast cancer early.

Breast Self-Exam

Women of all ages are encouraged to perform monthly breast self-exams (BSE). Checking one's own breasts for lumps or other unusual changes is the easiest way to identify a problem early. Report any changes to your doctor.

Clinical Breast Exam

Your provider (either Primary Care Physician or OB/GYN) should perform a clinical breast exam as part of your annual physical exam. Be sure to take this time to report any changes in your breast size, shape, and/or nipple discharge.

Mammogram

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast tissue. It is our most effective tool for finding breast cancer early when it is most successfully treated. For women of average risk, the Dignity Health Cancer Institute and Mercy Imaging Centers recommend an annual mammogram for women beginning at age 40. Women who receive yearly mammograms have a 30-50% less chance of dying from breast cancer. Also, 80% of women who get diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history, so all women need screening mammograms.

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Dealing with Sports-Related Head Injury

Peter Skaff, MD, Neurologist

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), emergency departments throughout the United States treat around 173,000 sport- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries each year. That is a small amount compared to the 3.8 million sport and recreation-related concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, that are estimated to occur in the United States every year. These numbers are on the rise, but fortunately, so is recognition of sport-related concussion among athletes, coaches, parents and physicians. Concussion is the result of direct or indirect physical force transmitted to the skull, which results in a primarily functional, rather than structural, injury to the brain. The sports in which concussions are most likely to occur are football, basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer. Even helmeted athletes can suffer concussions.

The sports that were related to the highest number of traumatic brain injuries were football, basketball and soccer.

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion (mild traumatic brain injury)?

Signs and symptoms of concussion can be divided into four categories:

Physical Cognitive Emotional Sleep
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Visual problems
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Dazed or stunned
  • Feeling mentally "foggy"
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Forgetful of recent information or conversations
  • Confused about recent events
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Repeats questions
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • More emotional
  • Nervousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleeping less than usual
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep

What Should I do if an Athlete Suffers a Concussion?

  1. Take the athlete out of the game.
    • Always look for signs that they are suffering from a concussion. And even though you may not be sure, it is safer to remove the player from the game.
    • There is no same-day return to play after a concussion.
    • A repeat concussion that occurs before the first one has healed can be extremely dangerous and sometimes even fatal.
  2. Make sure that the athlete seeks medical attention. Healthcare providers have specific ways to determine how severe a concussion is. Coaches can help by taking note of the following:
    • What actually caused the injury?
    • If the player was knocked unconscious, how long was the player in that state?
    • Was there memory loss?
    • Were there seizures?
    • Is this the first concussion the athlete has suffered? If not, how many others?
  3. Make sure parents know about concussions. Explain to parents that the athlete must see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Make sure parents also know the signs and symptoms of concussions.
  4. Make sure the athlete does not play until the doctor says it is OK and the following conditions are present:
    • The athlete should be symptom-free at rest and with cognitive effort.
    • The athlete should not be taking any medications that would mask concussive symptoms.
    • The athlete should be back to baseline with regard to neurological and cognitive function.

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How well do you take care of you?

As a woman, taking care of your self is the first step. The 2012 Care Begins with Me event presented a number of engaging discussions on health topics most important to you.

Be Sweet to Your Feet

We ask our feet to perform a very big job every day. Not only do they get us where we need to go, but it takes a lot to provide our body the support and balance we need on a daily basis. So it goes without saying that they deserve to be treated well and listened to when they aren't feeling their best. Not taking care of them causes stress and makes it challenging for the workforce comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints and complex configuration of muscles, nerves and ligaments to perform in sync. It's important that we understand the complexity of our amazing feet and how to take care of our body from the ground up.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

Breast Assured

Breast cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in women (after skin cancer). About 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Early detection is key. Modern approaches to detection and treatment should be comprehensive, compassionate and collaborative. Dignity Health Cancer Institute of Greater Sacramento offers patient-centric advancements in screening, treatment and reconstruction options.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

In Sickness and In Health: When to Help Your Hubby Get to the Doctor

It's a classic stereotype, but for many couples it's all too true: Men don't want to go the doctor. This male-pattern stubbornness can cause the women who love them endless worry. So how do you know when your husband's high cholesterol or bum knee is a more serious problem? How much does his family history of prostate cancer affect him? What screenings can help your man determine whether lifestyle changes, medication or surgery are the best options for what ails him?

Get answers to these questions and more from our panel of men's health experts. Help the man in your life take control of his health and his future!

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

It's Not Your Grandmother's Hysterectomy

Nearly a third of women in the United States have a hysterectomy by age 60 for a variety of reasons including endometriosis, heavy bleeding and fibroids. When someone hears "hysterectomy," one may think of lengthy hospital stays, long incisions and a difficult recovery. The good news is, times have changed.

Learn more about the common myths of hysterectomies, conditions treated and innovative, minimally invasive surgical options that result in shorter hospital stays, less pain and a quicker recovery.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

Oh, My Aching Knees

We hate to say it, but when it comes to knees, women are indeed the weaker sex. Did you know that active women are more prone to knee injuries than men? These days, more women are engaged in rigorous and high-level activities. As a result, specialists are seeing more and more women with unstable knees and nagging knee pain that impedes even the routine demands of life like climbing stairs, getting up from a chair or even walking.

Know about the common ailments affecting our knees, how to care for them and treatment options.

Join Ron James, MD, and Paul Sasaura, MD, as they discuss common issues, how to care for your knees and treatment options.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

Plaque Attack - PAD

What you don't know may be harming you. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) now affects 20% of Americans over the age of 50, raising their risk of stroke and heart attack. Many times the physical signs and symptoms go unnoticed. People who do experience symptoms, such as pain or cramping in the legs, often do not report them, believing they are a natural part of aging.

Learn how you can take steps to lower your risk for PAD. Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve the quality of your life; help you keep your independence and mobility; and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and more. Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute offers screenings for PAD and other Heart and Vascular diseases.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

Skin Deep

The state of a person's skin can affect how the world sees them. Glowing, vibrant skin might make a person seem happier, more alert and ready to face the day, while dull, acne-spotted, wrinkled or scarred skin may make a person seem tired, unhappy or even unapproachable. More importantly, the state of a person's skin can affect how they feel about themselves, and how confident they feel within their own skin.

Mercy Medical Group Plastic Surgery Center offers non-surgical treatment options, such as dermal fillers and laser technology to help get your skin in tip-top shape as well as services to reverse the signs of aging and help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated every time you look in the mirror.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

Take Back Control

If you believe urinary incontinence only affects older women, think again. In reality, one in four women over the age of 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily. Urinary incontinence is a condition that limits our ability to enjoy an active life. It's embarrassing and it can affect your overall quality of life-your emotional state, body image and sexuality. It is not a sign of old age and this condition can be improved.

Understanding urinary incontinence and the latest treatments, both non-surgical and surgical that work, can improve your condition and take back control.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

We've Got Your Back

Back symptoms are the most common cause of disability for individuals under the age of 45. Approximately 80% of American adults will suffer from back pain at some time in their lives. For the lucky ones, it will be short-lived. For the others, it may continue for weeks, months or even years.

Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Greater Sacramento can help you in identifying causes, preventive measures and learn more about the latest non-surgical intervention and rehabilitation options.

To request an appointment or to reserve your spot at an upcoming event focused on this topic, email: MercySacramento@DignityHealth.org

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Fall Produce: How to Make the Most of Fall's Bounty

Many of us think that once the hot, bountiful days of summer are done so too is our selection of fresh, tasty produce. But don't let your culinary creative juices run dry with the change of seasons! Packed with vitamins, minerals and, in some cases, antioxidants, fall produce is diverse and delicious. Here are a few tips for making the most of what's available during these cooler months.

Fruit

Apples: Apples are one of the most versatile fruits and, lucky for us, they are at their peak in the fall. Eat them whole as a sweet snack or chop them into a savory salad. Apples also make a great addition to most roasted vegetable medleys (just add them halfway through cooking time to avoid mushiness), stuffing, or breads. Try slicing them in half and baking them, with just a bit of butter and brown sugar in the center. If you find yourself with an overabundance, throw them all into the slow cooker and make apple sauce!

Pears: Like apples, pears do double duty as a sweet snack or a great addition to savory dishes. Pears can be combined nicely into poultry or pork recipes. Or, to freshen up a cheese plate, serve slices of a variety of pears alongside your selection of cheeses.

Berries: While most berry varieties are more a summer treat, blackberries (and even some raspberries and blueberries) are still available. To make the most of these short-lived gems, try freezing them either as whole berries or jam. Pulling perfect berries out of your freezer in the dead of winter will be a real treat!

Grapes: While grapes are available year-round in grocery stores, they are at their flavor peak in the fall. While grapes make a healthy, fun snack straight off the vine, they also make a sweet addition to salads or to saut? poultry or pork (just add to the pan sauce for the last 60 seconds).

Plums: Plums are delicious eaten whole, but sliced and pitted they are wonderful in pie or tarts or in place of apples in a traditional crisp.

Vegetables

Beets: Autumn beets are the sweetest of the year, so if you've never tried this vegetable before, now is the time! Beets are a vitamin powerhouse. Simply roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, chop and add to salads, soups, even sandwiches. But however you eat them, be sure you don't miss out on beets' best feature - the greens! The deep red leaves are delicious chopped and saut? in oil, garlic and salt and pepper.

Broccoli: Broccoli is at its best in the fall. Add raw broccoli to salads or slaws. Flash steam broccoli and add to casserole or egg dishes. Of course broccoli is also a staple in stir fry.

Brussel Sprouts: Brussel sprouts get a bad rap. This delicate vegetable is phenomenal when halved and roasted - sweet and tender and sure to be a hit with the whole family. These little gems are at their peak in the fall. They can be chopped and used in stuffing, soups or stew, or saut? as a side dish. Be sure to cut off the tough stem before cooking.

Kale: This "super food" is so packed with vitamins and minerals that we should all be looking for more ways to introduce it into our diet. Try baking it with olive oil and salt for kale chips; shred it and add it to scrambled eggs; throw some into your next smoothie; add it to your favorite stir fry recipe; add a couple handfuls to a vegetable soup; or make a kale appetizer by saut?g it and adding it to a bowl of hummus. However you decide to use it, be sure to cut out the thick core stem.

Parsnip: Another example of an underrated fall vegetable, parsnip makes a great addition to a roasted vegetable medley. It is also tasty when boiled with potatoes and then mashed - a sneaky way to mix in some additional vitamins and minerals to the typical mashed potato side dish.

Squash: This plentiful and nutritious veggie comes in a wide variety. It can be roasted or stuffed and baked. Acorn and Butternut squash are especially delicious when roasted and then used as a base for thick soup - just cook with saut? onions and apples, add some broth and a splash of juice, then puree. A quick, easy yet hearty soup is made!

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What You Need to Know: The Flu Vaccine

With the arrival of fall, comes that most dreaded season of the year - flu season. The fever, the chills, the horrible cough - it can make you miserable and keep you out of school or work for days or even weeks. In some cases, the flu can land you in the hospital and, in a handful of cases, it can be fatal.

The single best way to protect yourself and your family is to make sure everyone gets the flu vaccine. This year many healthcare providers will have three different options when it comes to the flu vaccine. So which option is best for which person? Here's what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Dignity Health physicians recommend.

What is the flu vaccine?

First of all, it is important to know what the flu vaccine is - it is a vaccine which causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after exposure (via shot or nasal spray). These antibodies then provide protection against infection. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses determined by researchers to be most common during the upcoming flu season.

The "flu shot" is an inactivated vaccine (meaning it contains killed virus), while the nasal-spray flu vaccine is made with live, weakened viruses. The nasal-spray vaccine is sometimes referred to as LAIV (for "Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine"). It is important to note that neither the viruses contained in the nasal spray nor the injected vaccine can cause the flu.

Who should get a flu vaccine?

The CDC recommends everyone who is at least six months of age get a flu vaccine this season. It's especially important for people in the following categories to get vaccinated:

  • People with asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who fit into the above categories

Who should get which type of vaccine?

The injected flu shot is recommended for people older than six months. It is safe for healthy people as well as people with chronic medical conditions. You should talk with your doctor before getting a flu shot if you:

  • Have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs
  • Have had a serious reaction to a previous flu shot
  • Have experienced Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) after receiving influenza vaccine
  • Are sick with a fever when you are scheduled to receive your flu shot

The nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) is approved for use in people between the ages of two and 49 years who are considered healthy and do not have an underlying condition that would predispose them to influenza. Pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray.

Another Shot Option

This year, for the first time, some healthcare providers will also be offering a flu shot tailored to people with a fear of needles. The intradermal shot uses a thinner and shorter needle that only penetrates your skin and does not go into the muscle like the traditional shot, thereby eliminating much of the discomfort. The intradermal shot is only available to people between the ages of 18 and 64.

Whichever option is right for you, healthcare providers agree - it is important to get a flu vaccine. Not only are you protecting yourself, but you are also protecting those around you.

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