Hidden Dangers of Excess Weight

Your Scale's Scary SecretsIt’s common knowledge that extra pounds can lead to health problems. What you might not know is just how widespread and varied those problems can be.

“Many people see their doctor for complaints such as hip or knee pain and never realize weight is the underlying cause,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) general and weight-loss surgeon Richard Boorse, MD, with General Surgical Associates of LVPG. In addition to hip and knee degeneration, Boorse says there are many other not-so-obvious dangers of obesity. Read More »

One Diet Doesn’t Fit All for Heart Patients

One Diet Doesn't Fit AllGood nutrition is important for everyone, and it’s of vital importance if you’ve been diagnosed with heart problems or have risk factors for heart disease. Eating a low-fat diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables is standard nutritional advice. Yet opinions differ over the role salt, cholesterol and vitamin K should play in your diet depending on your diagnosis and medication regimen.

If you’ve had open heart surgery, bypass surgery or have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you’ll need to pay attention to your cholesterol, salt and sugar intake. Limiting the amount of saturated fat in your diet is important too. Nutritional recommendations often change and can be confusing.

“So if you’ve had surgery, be sure to ask for a consult with a dietitian and get answers to your questions before you leave the hospital,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) heart-and-lung surgeon Sanjay Mehta, MD, with Lehigh Valley Heart and Lung Surgeons. “The American Heart Association website also offers good education and is a well-trusted site.”

Watching your diet now and exercising daily can help prevent problems down the road. It also can improve your health if you’ve already been diagnosed with problems. Read More »

Beyond the Ice Bucket Challenge

After the Ice Melts - What's Next for ALSThe recent ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge captivated donors – not to mention ice bucket “dumpers” – across the globe and right here at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). But that’s just the tip of the ALS story. LVHN neurologist Glenn Mackin, MD, with Lehigh Neurology, hopes this high level awareness and enthusiasm will translate into a better understanding of how to be a “keeper” in the life of an ALS patient.

“I define ‘keepers’ as people whose friendship with a person diagnosed with a serious illness like ALS doesn’t change after that diagnosis,” Mackin says. “Instead, ‘keepers’ see through the disease and see their friend as the same person they cared about before this happened.”

Mackin, a board-certified and fellowship-trained neurologist, specializes in the care of patients with ALS. “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frequently referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is currently an incurable disease,” he says. “ALS causes progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This ultimately affects the ability of the nerves and muscles to work, which translates into loss of the ability to speak, swallow, move and eventually, breathe.” Read More »

Know Your Family Medical History

How healthy is your family heritage?You know the heritage of your grandparents. You know your father’s profession. You know where your mom grew up. But how much do you know about the health of your ancestors?

Knowing details about your family’s medical history can pay great dividends for your health throughout life.

“People are often surprised to learn they have a certain medical condition even though they already knew a family member had the same condition,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) plastic surgeon Marshall Miles, DO, with Plastic Surgery Associates of Lehigh Valley.

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Is Genetic Testing Right for You?

Look for family cancer cluesThe genes you inherited from your parents account for many obvious physical characteristics, like your eye color or height, and hidden ones such as those that determine your blood type or make you susceptible to develop asthma. Sometimes those genes also include unique mutations that put you at risk for diseases like cancer.

But hematologist oncologist, Ranju Gupta, MD, with Hematology Oncology Associates in Bethlehem and the Health Center at Bangor, says while all cancers are caused by genetic mutations, not all of those mutations are passed on through the genes. “A very small percentage of patients inherit risk, but a majority of cancers have no known link from generation to generation,” Gupta says.

However, genetic testing can be an important tool to consider under certain circumstances. “The first step is to look at your family medical history. If you can name several people in your family who have had any type of cancer, you should talk with your doctor about genetic testing,” Gupta says. “For example, if your mother had breast cancer, your grandfather had prostate cancer and your cousin had pancreatic cancer, those multiple cancers among blood relatives may mean you have an elevated chance for developing cancer too.” Read More »