Don’t Ignore Calf Pain. It Could Indicate Peripheral Artery Disease.

Pain while walking is a warning signPain is a warning signal. It means something is wrong in your body. It’s not a normal part of aging. If you experience pain while walking, and relief when you rest, it may be a sign you have a blocked artery that’s limiting blood flow through your lower extremities.

When you have a blocked artery that occurs outside your heart, it’s called peripheral artery disease (PAD). A blocked artery can happen anywhere in your body. People with PAD have a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. When PAD occurs in your legs, you may feel muscle tiredness or discomfort as your first warning sign.

“A patient who limps, has a burning sensation or pain in the calf, thigh or buttocks with walking, may be showing signs of claudication,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network vascular surgeon Bengt Ivarsson, MD, with Peripheral Vascular Surgeons of LVPG. Claudication also has been called “window shopper syndrome” because it causes people to stop frequently due to leg discomfort.

“If you have risk factors for PAD and show signs of claudication, you need to be monitored by a physician and may require medication or surgery,” Ivarsson says. “If left undiagnosed or untreated, claudication often progresses and can lead to amputation.” Read More »

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.

Read More »