Signs of Trouble in the Tummy

As women, we tend to ignore
signs from our body that
something is amiss...

read more

Women & Heart Disease

Heart disease is the
number one killer of
American women...

read more

Don't Serve Up an Injury

Tennis is known as the sport
of a lifetime - and for
good reason...

read more

Sweet to Your Feet

Our feet are amazing creations - 26
bones, 33 joints, and many more
muscles, ligaments and nerves...

read more

Get Happy With Color Therapy

Chromotherapy (aka color therapy)
is an ancient idea that offers up
nature's spectacular color wheel...

read more

Signs of Trouble in the Tummy

As women, we tend to ignore signs from our body that something is amiss... This can be especially true when it comes to abdominal discomfort. We live with feeling bloated... We accept the occasional bout of heartburn... We ignore the ache in our side. And while these can all be benign symptoms, they can also sometimes indicate something more and be a warning sign that you should see your doctor.

Some common causes of gastrointestinal discomfort in women include:


Constipation commonly causes abdominal pain in women. Causes of constipation include changes in your diet, unusual stress, travelling, and medication or surgery. If your constipation causes severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloody feces, a hard or distended abdomen or lasts more than two weeks, you need to see your doctor.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):

Another common cause of abdominal pain in women is Irritable Bowel Syndrome - also known as IBS. Symptoms can include pain, frequent and painful diarrhea, painful constipation, swollen abdomen, bloating and gas. Your doctor can help you determine if IBS may be the cause of your problems and how best to treat it.

Acid Reflux (GERD):

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) causes abdominal pain that is higher up, behind the sternum or breast bone. It is typically worse when bending over, lying down or at night. GERD is more commonly seen in pregnant women, older women or overweight women. Left untreated it can cause serious problems, so consult with your physician if you believe you are experiencing GERD.


Gallstones are more common in women over 40 and typically cause pain on the right side of the middle to upper abdomen. The pain occurs immediately after eating and may spread to your back. Gallstones require medical attention.

Ectopic Pregnancy:

Abdominal pain caused by an ectopic pregnancy can be mild (like menstrual cramps) to quite severe. Ectopic pregnancies occur when the embryo implants outside the uterus. If you believe you may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, call your doctor immediately.

Heart Attack:

Many women do not realize that a heart attack can also cause abdominal pain in women. Unlike men, women are more likely to experience gastrointestinal discomfort including pain, nausea, vomiting and heartburn, in addition to dizziness, light-headedness, clammy skin and unusual fatigue. If you have reason to believe you or someone around you is experiencing a heart attack, call 911. For more information on how heart disease affects women visit the Dignity Health Heart & Vascular Institute's website.

For help diagnosing your gastrointestinal discomfort, click here or call 888.800.7688 find a Dignity Health physician near you.

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Take Action Against Heart Disease

Armine Sarchisian, MD, & Michael Chang, MD, Directors of Dignity Health Heart & Vascular Institute's Women's Heart Health Center

Heart disease is the number one killer of American women. Did you know that while one in 30 American women will die of cancer, one in 2.5 will die of heart disease? It can affect women of any age, at any time. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take in your everyday life to improve your heart health.

Here are important things you can do to help keep your heart healthy:

  • Don't Smoke: Tobacco use lowers your level of good cholesterol, raises your blood pressure and promotes clotting.

  • Control cholesterol: Most heart disease is the result of cholesterol-rich, fatty buildup that narrows the vessels that supply blood to your heart. There are two sources of cholesterol - your body, which makes cholesterol to aid digestion, and the foods you eat.

  • Know your LDL: LDL, or bad cholesterol, accounts for most of the cholesterol in your blood and is considered most responsible for the formation of plaque. Most people with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) require medication to achieve target LDL levels.

  • Control high blood pressure: High blood pressure damages arteries, setting the stage for plaque formation. It also increases the stress on the heart muscle which may cause damage to the organ.

  • Exercise: People who have had heart attacks may increase their chances of survival if they change their habits to include regular physical activity. Exercise can help control blood fats and blood glucose, maintain weight and lower blood pressure.

  • Keep blood sugar within normal ranges: People with diabetes are very susceptible to CAD. It is especially important for people with diabetes to control their blood glucose, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol.

  • Manage stress: Stress is a normal part of everyone's life. It is not stress that increases your risk for CAD, but how you cope with it.

  • Control your weight: By itself, obesity increases your risk for CAD. Obesity also contributes to other risk factors, including hypertension, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes.

Improving your diet is a great place to start improving your heart health. To learn more about how to cook - and eat! - heart healthy, attend "Eat Your Heart Out" on Saturday, July 20. Space is limited. Call 916.733.6245 or email for more information or to register.

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Don't Serve Up an Injury

Hunter Greene, MD

Tennis is known as the sport of a lifetime - and for good reason! Whether you are 6 or 60, you can likely pick up a racket and hit the court. However, tennis is not without its downside - the US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 21,000 people are treated every year for tennis-related injuries. Fortunately there are some simple things you can do to keep your game from sidelining you.


Whenever possible, play on courts that have a more forgiving surface - like clay or grass. Hard court surfaces - such as cement, asphalt or synthetic - are very unforgiving, especially on aging knees. If you must play on hard courts, wear heel inserts to help absorb the shock.

Warm Up:

Loosen your muscles and get your blood flowing with a light warm up before you take to the court. Stretching your muscles slowly and gently can prevent injury, as can a 5 minute cardiovascular warm-up of jumping jacks, jogging or walking.

Tennis Elbow:

This common overuse injury involves the wrist extensor tendon, which attaches at the outside of the forearm near the elbow. Tennis elbow can be painful and may cause swelling. To avoid it, make sure you are using proper form; use a neutral wrist position when hitting the ball; use a racket with the correct grip size for your hand; use two handed backstroke.

Shoulder Pain:

Unfortunately, shoulder pain in a tennis player can be from a number of causes, however the most common cause is rotator cuff injury. An incorrect serve motion is a common culprit behind should problems. Seek out a certified instructor if you think your mechanics could use some help. In addition, strengthening your rotator cuff off the court can help protect your shoulder.

Back Pain:

Lower back pain is also common among tennis players, due to the twisting and rotating when hitting the ball. The back also hyperextends during the serving motion, putting stress on the muscles, ligaments and tendons around the spine. Again, proper form can help prevent problems, as can stronger core and back muscles.

Ankle and Achilles Tendon Injuries:

Ankle sprains and Achilles tendon pain or rupture are also common tennis injuries. Wearing footwear that fits well and is not too worn is important, as is keeping your leg muscles well-balanced, strong and flexible. To prevent Achilles injuries, warm up well before playing and avoid landing on your toes.

If you think your nagging sports injury needs attention, schedule an appointment with an orthopedist. To learn more about the orthopedic services available at Dignity Health visit our website, attend an Orthopedic Event or call 916.851.2511 to schedule an orthopedic consultation.

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Be Sweet to Your Feet

By Dianne Mitchell, DPM

Our feet are amazing creations - 26 bones, 33 joints, and many more muscles, ligaments and nerves. All these moving parts come together to not only keep us upright - but to propel us forward and get us where we are going. So when your feet start talking to you (in the language of aches and pains, of course), you need to listen!

First, it is important to understand that pain in your foot means your foot needs attention. If your feet are hurting, have a podiatrist examine them to determine the cause. It is always better to catch a problem early, rather than later.

There are many causes of foot pain, each with different treatment plans. Here are a few common foot ailments:

  • Bunions: A bunion is a bony prominence on the side of the foot, at the base of the big toe, indicating that the joint is crooked. This is a progressive problem that is irritated by shoes. Bunions are typically linked to heredity and foot mechanics or injury, rather than poor shoes.

  • Hammertoe: A hammertoe is a contracted or bent toe that results in pain and swelling at the joint, as well as corns. It can be caused by foot injury, foot mechanics, arthritis, snug shoes or genetics.

  • Neuroma: A neuroma is a benign nerve growth or swelling that causes pain at the ball of the foot, between the metatarsal heads (these are the bones in the ball of the foot.) A neuroma causes swelling, tenderness, sharp shooting pain and/or clicking. Causes include poor foot mechanics, injury or trauma, or poorly fitting shoes (too narrow.)

  • Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common foot ailments that bring people to the podiatrist. It causes pain in the heel and sometimes in the arch. Typically, patients experience pain in their first steps every morning and that pain subsides shortly thereafter. The pain may return with prolonged weight or activities on the feet. Causes of plantar fasciitis include overuse in combination with poor mechanics; poorly supporting shoes (like flip flops!) and sudden changes in activity level.

Finding a solution to your foot problem must begin with a proper diagnosis. Solutions can be easy as non-surgical options like orthotics (arch supports) or modifications to your footwear or as comprehensive as steroid injections or surgical treatment. To find out how to ease your foot pain, be sweet to your feet and meet with a podiatrist.

Foot health is always one of our most popular Care Chats at Dignity Health's annual Care Begins With Me event. If a Care Chat has helped you in the past, we'd love to hear from you! Send us an email and tell us your story. And if you haven't done so already, be sure to register now for this year's Care Begins With Me event, taking place October 1. Register before August 15 and be treated to reserve seating!

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Get Happy with Home-grown Color Therapy

Courtesy of Green Acres Nursery & Supply

Chromotherapy (aka color therapy) is an ancient idea that offers up nature's spectacular color wheel to both sooth and invigorate your soul. According to history certain points along the light spectrum can actually affect and improve your mood, state of mind and cognitive abilities!

Thankfully, Sacramento summers produce flowers as bright and vivid as a Picasso landscape, so why not paint your backyard canvas with petals this season? Not only do summer flowers provide a dose of visual stimulation, they also offer up some built-in aromatherapy, too... for a renewed you. It's not too late to get potting, so read on for a rainbow of gardening possibilities.

Seeing Red

Crimson, scarlet, rose and fire. Whatever the shade, chances are, your blood is pumping and romance is in the veins. In chromotherapy, red is used to stimulate the body, mind and circulation.

  • Carpet Roses
    Where: Low-growing rose suitable for groundcover; full sun
    Added Allure: Disease-resistance
    Color Mate: Yellow, pink

  • 'Cranberry Ice' Tickseed (Red Coreopsis)
    Where: Borders, containers; full sun
    Added Allure: Easy care plant; available in other color
    Color Mate: Yellow, pink

Splash of Orange

When we see orange, visions of Creamsicles, peaches and kitchen motifs from the 1970s may appear. This color was also used by the Chinese to heal the lungs and elevate energy levels.

  • Tropicanna Gold Canna (Canna)
    Where: Containers; partial to full sun
    Added Allure: Exotic, tropical; attracts butterflies (How to Make a Butterfly Habitat) and hummingbirds
    Color Mate: Pink, peach, white

  • Zinnias
    Where: Containers, borders
    Added Allure: Attracts beneficial insects to veggie garden
    Color Mate: Pink, peach, white

Sunny (or Mellow) Yellow

Yellow, the middle child of the rainbow often equates to cheeriness, a spritz of citrus and songs about submarines. As the closest relative to white, it could be the happiest spot of color on the spectrum. Plus, ancients believed it could purify the body.

  • 'Early Bird' Gold Gloriosa Daisy (Rudbeckia)
    Where: Partial to full sun
    Added Allure: Hearty; easy to grow
    Color Mate: Violet, periwinkle, red

Chase Your Blues Away

Midnight, cobalt, sky and ocean. It's easy to immerse yourself in a pool of blue. Considering our planet is made up of 71 percent water - one of the most restorative elements on earth - it's no wonder the reflected color was believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.

  • Lily of the Nile
    Where: Partial to full sun; green roof; mass planting
    Added Allure: Water-wise once established
    Color Mate: White, pink

  • 'Sunny Skies' Periwinkle (Verbena)
    Where: Containers, borders; by the pool
    Added Allure: Fire-wise; available in other colors
    Color Mate: Yellow, white, pink

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