New Free Treatment for IPF at Jamaica Hospital

Jamaica Hospital is now offering a promising free treatment option for those living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a rare, but serious lung disease that worsens over time.

Individuals with IPF develop scarring in the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath and an irreversible loss of lung function. The rate of deterioration is variable with many patients worsening over months to a few years. Currently, there is no FDA approved therapy for this disease, but recently published trials suggest that new treatments may be on the horizon.

Pirfenidone is an anti-fibrotic medication that is taken orally and has been shown to slow the loss of lung function and may improve mortality in IPF. Pirfenidone has already been approved for treatment of this disease in Japan, Canada, and most European countries.

Although Pirfenidone is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are indications that it will be in the near future. Recently, the FDA announced that Pirfenidone has been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation. This designation is reserved for drugs that are intended to treat serious or life threatening disease where preliminary evidence indicates that the drug demonstrates substantial improvement over existing treatments.

Jamaica Hospital is one of only a handful of hospitals in the region, and the only one in Queens, offering this free treatment as part of an early expanded access program.  Patients are monitored for safety in this program. It is open to most patients with mild to moderate IPF.  This program is being coordinated by the Division of Pulmonary Medicine and the Department of Clinical Research at Jamaica Hospital.

For more information about the Pirfenidone expanded access program at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-5844 or 718-206-5800.

Treating Hypertension: Medication or Meditation?

Hypertension is the most common disease in the United States. A shocking one out of three Americans has high blood pressure and another 30 percent have borderline high blood pressure.

For many, medication management to treat hypertension is the only option, others, however, are turning toward alternative methods to treat their condition, and the most popular and beneficial form of “natural” treatment is transcendental meditation.

Transcendental meditation (TM) is a technique, rooted in Eastern religion, aimed at controlling a person’s focus. For people with hypertension, TM can help ease tension, calm the mind, and most importantly, reduce stress, a significant factor that can cause hypertension.

The practice of TM involves the repetition of a word or phrase (known as a mantra) while being seated in a comfortable position, in a relaxed, peaceful environment. Most instructors suggest TM be practiced two times a day, for 20 minutes at a time to achieve physical and mental relaxation.

In 2013, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a report “Beyond Medication and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure,” aimed to identify which approaches to manage hypertension have shown to be safe and effective. Among all the behavioral therapies, TM was found to be the most beneficial. While the AHA did acknowledge the advantages of TM, they also advised that alternative therapies should not replace other proven methods of controlling blood pressure, including weight management, physical activity, not smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Meditation is becoming an increasingly popular form for therapy for hypertension. Lowering blood pressure was the number one reason given by those polled as to why they started meditating. In fact, more and more physicians are encountering patients hesitant to take medication to control their hypertension, citing potential side effects of the medications.

To find out if meditation can help you control your high blood pressure, speak to your doctor, or make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Family Medicine Center at 718-718-657-7093 to find out more about meditation and other ways to mange your hypertension.

 

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Back to School: Pediatric Stress

Peer pressure, bullying, new school anxiety? Your child may be facing some of these issues prior to the start of the new school year or even day care.

In previous generations, children were not expected to separate from their parents until they were in Kindergarten. For various reasons, many children are now placed in daycare at an earlier age and some children may not be prepared. As for older children, preparing for standardized testing consists of hours of homework every night and children struggling to keep pace with the schools expectation results in additional stress.

Usually, children who have school anxiety show a range of stress-related symptoms such as complaints of aches and pains, no appetite, or lack of sleep. In these instances, the children are not being oppositional; they are simply displaying their anxieties through these physical symptoms. Of course, it is always important to maintain open communication with your children but when should you seek intervention? Always check with your pediatrician to rule out any physical issues.

Some tips provided by Parents Magazine are:
• Reassure your child that it is normal to feel a little scared in new situations, but nervousness should not mean he/she should stay home.
• Remind your child of other first time experiences they have had in the past and reassure them how great they once did in the past.
• Rule out problems at school or at home: ask your child’s teacher about any episodes of bullying or teasing

If after several weeks without positive results, you have tried different approaches, speak with your pediatrician about meeting with a social worker, psychologist or a child psychiatrist. To schedule an appointment with one of our pediatricians in the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s pediatric ambulatory clinic, please contact 718-206-7001.

Postpartum Depression

Did you know that women who have just given birth can experience a form of depression? It may sound strange since childbirth is supposed to be a wonderful time in person’s life, but it does happen, more frequently than you might expect.

After giving birth, it is not uncommon for a woman to feel sad, anxious, tired, have difficulty sleeping, and have occasional mood swings. These symptoms usually don’t last more than a week or two and are often referred to as having the “Baby Blues.”
Postpartum depression lasts longer, is more intense, and can affect a mother’s general health.

There are several factors that can lead to postpartum depression. After childbirth, hormone levels change dramatically causing a woman to feel tired and depressed. There are also changes in blood pressure, blood volume and metabolism that can all contribute to mood swings and depression. A diagnosis of clinical postpartum depression usually means that the symptoms started within 4 weeks of giving birth.

Common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are:

• Loss of appetite

• Intense irritability

• Severe mood swings

• Difficulty bonding with the baby

• Insomnia

• Constant feeling of fatigue

In an extreme form, post partum depression can lead to post partum psychosis. In this condition a woman may try to harm herself or her baby, become paranoid, have hallucinations, or may become disoriented.

Some of the risk factors of postpartum depression include having a history of depression, relationship problems with the father of the child, financial struggles, and having experienced this after a prior child’s birth..

Children of women who suffer from the long term effects of untreated postpartum depression may exhibit behavioral problems, have frequent temper tantrums and may develop sleeping and eating disorders.

Treatment for postpartum depression determined by the severity of the symptoms. When the symptoms are very mild, it may resolve with plenty of rest and support from family and friends. In more severe situations psychiatric care may be necessary as well as medication. Antidepressants are sometimes given, however, if the mother is breast feeding, it is important that the doctor be made aware of this. Hormone therapy can also be used to balance the sudden drop in estrogen which takes place after childbirth.

After giving birth, it is important to get plenty of rest, eat a well balanced diet, have people around who can help out and most importantly, plan activities that allow them to enjoy being mothers.

Ever Experienced a Broken Heart? It’s a Real Condition- Read on.

We’ve all heard the phrase “broken-hearted” in love songs, movies and stories, but is it real? Can someone be diagnosed with a “broken-heart”? The answer is yes. For some who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the feeling is real.

Broken heart syndrome is caused by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones, which causes an irregular heartbeat and can be accompanied by symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath. When someone experiences a broken heart, (not to be confused with a heart attack) the blood flow in the arteries is reduced. Also known as a takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, it can be brought on by various stressful situations.

Normally occurring suddenly after extreme of emotional stress, some triggers of broken heart syndrome include:
• A break-up, divorce or death of a loved one
• Experiencing or recovering from a natural disaster
• Job loss or a frightening medical diagnosis

Some medications can contribute to broken heart syndrome such as epinephrine- taken for allergic reactions, medications which treat anxiety or depression, or medications which treat thyroid issues. Your physician will rule out severe cardiac issues through recommended tests, blood work and EKG’s. The good news is a broken heart can be mended once your physician’s medically rules out any other possible cardiac issues. With a little rest and relaxation, one can recuperate within a matter of days to weeks.
Should you experience severe chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1. If you feel you may be experiencing broken heart syndrome, contact 718-206-6742 to arrange an appointment with Jamaica Hospital’s Cardiology department.

Medical Marijuana

For centuries marijuana has been used to cure various ailments. Does it work ?

Throughout ancient history, marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes. The Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, known as the father of Chinese medicine, discussed the healing properties of marijuana in 2700 BC. The Egyptians used it for glaucoma and inflammation as early as 1200 BC. In 1000 BC, marijuana was used inIndiaas an anesthetic. It was also used in treating leprosy, reducing fevers, as a cure for dysentery and to help people sleep. As time progressed, more and more benefits of marijuana were described all over the world.

In the late 1700’s George Washington grew marijuana on his plantation for his troops. At about the same time, Napoleon brought it fromEgypttoFrancefor medicinal purposes. In 1840 QueenVictoriaofEnglandsaid that it was a good way to treat menstrual cramps and for inducing labor.  In 1925 theLeague of Nationssaid that marijuana should only be used for medicinal purposes. In 1937, the government of theUnited Statesenacted the Marijuana Tax Act which by means of taxing producers, sellers and buyers was an attempt to control its use. By then, most states had already made laws criminalizing the possession and sale of marijuana.

In 1970, The United States adopted the Controlled Substance Act which classified marijuana as a drug and determined that it should not be allowed for medicinal purposes. Though people have been saying for centuries that marijuana has medicinal benefits,  there now seems to be real scientific evidence that marijuana really does work.  It is a slow process but some states have decided to allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and  on July 5th New York State became the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana.

A Yogurt a Day…

Studies have proven the benefit of yogurt being added to your diet.  By consuming as little as a cup of yogurt each day can make a big difference.  Especially, if you are suffering from post-menopausal osteoporosis.

Yogurt is a healthy snack that is packed with calcium and several other nutrients that help post-menopausal women maintain strong and healthy bones.

If you are concerned about developing osteoporosis or looking for a way to manage the disease, you should incorporate yogurt into your diet.

Benefitting from yogurt depends on what kind you are eating.  Below is a quick checklist of which types of yogurt are best for your post-menopausal diet:

  • Plain yogurt as opposed to the fruit-flavored varieties because it usually contains more calcium and less sugar
  • Low-fat yogurt will help you watch your cholesterol
  • Fresh yogurt is better than frozen yogurt, which does not have as many live cultures
  • Plain, nonfat Greek strained yogurt could be the best option because it is rich in calcium and other essential nutrients.  It also has twice as much protein as other yogurts

Need to satisfy your sweet tooth? You can boost the flavor, and sweetness, of plain yogurt by adding fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.

If you are suffering from post-menopausal osteoporosis and would like to control it with diet, you can contact 718-206-6023 at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for an appointment with a nutritionist.

 

Your Spinning World Could be Due to Vertigo.

Have you ever experienced dizziness or a spinning sensation when in fact everything is standing still? You may have experienced vertigo.

Vertigo can cause a person to feel light headed, off balance, spinning, seeing double, or as though they are falling. In severe cases it can be accompanied by nausea, difficulty walking, or loss of balance.

Vertigo is often related to a problem within the inner ear. It may be due to a buildup of fluid and changing pressure (Meniere’s disease), or due to an accumulation of tiny calcium particles called canaliths in the canals of the inner ear ( BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). It may also be caused by an infection, usually viral, in the inner ear. All of these conditions can lead to loss of balance.

Symptoms of vertigo:

 A sensation of movement accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sweating..

 Head positioning leading to dizziness

 Ringing in the ears and changes in hearing

 Abnormal eye movement

 Symptoms that are fairly constant in regularity
A [physician can diagnose vertigo through physical examination that may include a CT scan of the head to see if there are any brain injuries blood tests to see if the blood glucose is normal and an EKG to see if the heart rhythm is normal.

Frequently the symptoms of vertigo will resolve by themselves. Depending on the cause, some form of medical treatment may be necessary. When the cause is due to an infection, medications may be prescribed to cure it, and sometimes steroids will be given to reduce the inflammation. If the problem is being caused by a buildup of fluid in the ear, medication may be prescribed to help reduce it. If vertigo is being caused by an accumulation of tiny calcium crystals, a series of head and neck positioning exercises may be given to help move them out of the inner ear into a location where they can be more easily absorbed by the body. In extreme cases of vertigo, surgery may be needed to resolve the problem.

If you are experiencing symptoms of vertigo and would like to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist, please call 718-206-6742.

Vertigo

Have you ever experienced dizziness or a spinning sensation when in fact everything is standing still? You may have experienced vertigo.

 

Vertigo can cause a person to feel light headed, off balance, spinning, seeing double, or as though they are falling. In severe cases it can be accompanied by nausea, difficulty walking, or loss of balance.

 

Vertigo is often related to a problem within the inner ear. It may be due to a buildup of fluid and changing pressure (Meniere’s disease), or due to an accumulation of tiny calcium particles called canaliths in the canals of the inner ear ( BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). It may also be caused by an infection, usually viral, in the inner ear. All of these conditions can lead to loss of balance.

 

Symptoms of vertigo:

 

  • A sensation of movement accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sweating..

 

  • Head positioning leading to dizziness

 

  • Ringing in the ears and changes in hearing

 

  • Abnormal eye movement

 

  • Symptoms that are fairly constant in regularity

 

 

A [physician can diagnose vertigo through physical examination that may include a CT scan of the head to see if there are any brain injuries blood tests to see if the blood glucose is normal and an EKG to see if the heart rhythm is normal.

 

Frequently the symptoms of vertigo will resolve by themselves. Depending on the cause, some form of medical treatment may be necessary. When the cause is due to an infection, medications may be prescribed to cure it, and sometimes steroids will be given to reduce the inflammation. If the problem is being caused by a buildup of fluid in the ear, medication may be prescribed to help reduce it. If vertigo is being caused by an accumulation of tiny calcium crystals, a series of head and neck positioning exercises may be given to help move them out of the inner ear into a location where they can be more easily absorbed by the body. In extreme cases of vertigo, surgery may be needed to resolve the problem.

 

If you are experiencing symptoms of vertigo and would like to schedule an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist, please call 718-206-6742.

What is Herbal Medicine?

 

Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism or botanical medicine is a method of treating health-related issues, based on the use of plants or plant extracts that may be eaten or applied to the skin.

Herbal remedies are well rooted in medical practice.  Since ancient times, doctors have collected information about herbs to treat a variety of illnesses and to assist with bodily functions.

As a result, more than a quarter of all medicines used today contain active ingredients derived from those same ancient plants. While herbal medicine is not a licensed profession in theUnited States, herbal remedies, in the form of extracts, tinctures, capsules and tablets, as well as teas, may be recommended by healthcare professionals.

Herbal medicine blurs the line between foods and medicines.  Using herbs and spices that have a disease-preventive affect in foods is one of the best ways to take advantage of their healing power.

Herbal medicine has been used to treat or alleviate virtually every possible medical condition.  Some of the most popular herbal remedies and conditions for which they are used include:

  • Aloe – used topically for minor burns, sunburns, skin irritation or inflammation
  • Chamomile Tea – ingested for upset stomach, heartburn, indigestion and colic
  • Echinacea – ingested for colds, flu, and sore throat
  • Garlic – ingested to possibly reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, treat fungal infections and colds
  • Ginger – ingested for nausea and motion sickness and as an anti-inflammatory
  • Peppermint Tea – ingested for indigestion, nausea and other digestive problems
  • Tea Tree Oil – applied topically for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and fungal infections of the toenails and fingernails
  • Tumeric – ingested to combat inflammation and protect against cancer and Alzheimers disease

This information is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended to be medical advice. Before undertaking any course of treatment, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.