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Cold and Flu Season is Here

With cold and flu season amost here one of the frequently asked questions from patients is, “when should I get vaccinated?” The answer is, you should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins.

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.

Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

To schedule your flu shot contact your primary care clinician. (Schedule below).

Should you get sick know that you can be treated at one of our ExpressCare locations. (Andover or Riverwalk/ Lawrence) visit https://pmaonline.com/express-care/ to schedule an appointment online and for site hours.

 

Pentucket Medical Leadership Transition

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of Tom Fazio, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Pentucket Medical Associates and John Sarro, Executive Director. Dr. Fazio has been a member of the group for 41 years and Pentucket’s physician leader for the past 30 years. John has been the group’s administrator for 15 years and associated with the Partners HealthCare System for 20 years.   

Both have contributed significantly to the successful growth of Pentucket Medical. Under their leadership, Pentucket Medical has become the premier medical group in Northeast Massachusetts. Join us in thanking Tom and John for their years of tireless commitment and dedication to the patients and the clinical and support staffs of Pentucket Medical and in wishing them well in this next phase of their lives.

We are pleased to announce the following succession and transition plans for Pentucket Medical. Effective October 1, Garrett Bomba, MD will assume the role of Chief Physician Officer, and Jason Khalil will become Executive Director.

Dr. Bomba is board certified in emergency medicine and has been the medical director of ExpressCare the Pentucket Medical urgent care service for the past 8 years. Jason Khalil has served as the Senior Director of Finance for Pentucket Medical for the past 7 years. Both are well respected not only for their professional skills and knowledge but also their commitment to exceptional patient care and a great patient experience.

Please join us in welcoming Garrett and Jason as they assume their new roles.

 

Top: Left to Right: John Sarro, Dr. Tom Fazio Lower: Left to Right: Jason Khalil, Dr. Garrett Bomba

 

 

Study Links Diet Soda to Strokes, Death Research shows doubling of stroke risk for some women over 50 

A study of more than 80,000 women ages 50 to 79 links drinking two or more diet drinks a day with an increased risk for certain kinds of stroke, coronary artery disease and death.

Published in the journal Stroke, a publication of the American Heart Association, the study follows other research that previously connected the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda and other beverages with a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other conditions.

But the study released is one of the first to look at the link between drinking artificially sweetened beverages and the risk of certain types of stroke in a large, racially diverse group of older women.

“Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet,” noted lead study author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, in a statement. “Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless, and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.”

Compared with women who drank diet drinks less than once a week or not at all, women who drank two or more artificially sweetened beverages per day were:

   23 percent more likely to have a stroke
   31 percent more likely to have a clot-caused (ischemic) stroke
   29 percent more likely to develop heart disease 
   16 percent more likely to die from any cause

The risks were found to be higher in women who consumed diet drinks two or more times a day, more than doubling the risk of a clot-caused stroke among women without previous heart disease or diabetes, obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes, and African American women without previous heart disease or diabetes.

While the study identifies the notable link between diet beverages and, in particular, small artery strokes, the study authors pointed out that it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship because it was based on self-reported information about drink consumption. The self-reported study data also did not name specific artificial sweeteners in the colas, sodas and fruit drinks.

cite: by Harriet Edleson, AARP, February 14, 2019

https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2019/diet-soda-health-risks-women.html

 

Self Care is Not Selfish. Even at Work.

 

Self-care is simple; it encompasses a few basics that, when added together, make you a happier, more centered person.  It is learning to find the right balance, especially when work has gotten you into the habit of blowing off a meal or skipping exercise, all while burning the midnight oil.  You’re going to crash. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.

  

Below are 10 ideas about how to add self-care into your work life:

  • Get up, stretch, and move.
  • Snack smartly (nutrition plays a huge role in your ability to cope with stress).
  • Take three deep breaths at key intervals or critical moments throughout your day.
  • Journal for one minute about a positive experience at work each day.
  • Take a walk during your lunch break.
  • Make a playlist that motivates you.
  • Write down three things that you are grateful for at work.  Give yourself a few activities away from the computer.
  • Do some yoga poses.
  • Have lunch with co-workers outside the office.

It is good to care about others, but you should not forget to care for yourself. This means doing the things you enjoy and making time to do them every day.

Cite: https://www.td.org/insights/self-care-is-not-selfish

 

The Surprising Benefits of Walking

 

The next time you have a check-up, don’t be surprised if your doctor hands you a prescription to walk. Yes, this simple activity that you’ve been doing since you were about a year old is now being touted as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” in the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course, you probably know that any physical activity, including walking, is a boon to your overall health. But walking in particular comes with a host of benefits.

Here’s a list of five that may surprise you.

It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes

Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

It helps tame a sweet tooth

A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.

It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. 

Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.

It eases joint pain

Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.

It boosts immune function. 

Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

Cite: Harvard Medical University News

 

Wellness Wednesday: Sometimes all You Need to Do is Breathe

 

Breathing exercises offer an extremely simple, effective, and convenient way to relieve stress and reverse your stress response, reducing the negative effects of chronic stress. There are definite benefits of breathing exercises. While simple diaphragmic breathing can provide relaxation and stress relief, there are several different types of breathing exercises to try, each with its own twist. Here are several breathing exercises, some of which are commonly recommended, some of which are unique, and all of which can each offer help in managing stress. This is an easy exercise that only takes a few minutes. Here’s how.

Mindful Diaphragmic Breathing

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start to notice your breath. Before you begin to alter it, pay attention to the pace and depth. Are you taking deep breaths or shallow ones? Are you breathing quickly or slowly? (Becoming aware of your breathing can help you to become more mindful of your body’s response to stress, and can help you to notice when you need to deliberately relax your breathing.)

Counted Breathing

Counting your breaths can be helpful, both for pacing and as a form of meditation. This technique helps with pacing–it enables you to elongate your breath and stretch out your exhales. There are a few ways to do this.

As you inhale, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth, then breathe through your nose and slowly count down from five; on the exhale, let the air escape through your mouth and count back up to eight. Then repeat. This helps you to really empty your lungs and relax into each breath.

A variation of this is known as “4-7-8 breathing,” and is recommended by wellness expert Dr. Andrew Weil. With this option, you inhale for a count of four, wait for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. This allows you to pause between breaths and really slow things down.
You may also find your own pace. Experiment with whatever ratio feels comfortable to you, and see if it helps you to feel relaxed. The act of counting as you breathe still helps you to maintain a steady pace and keep your mind on your breath and the present moment, so it is still more effective than simply breathing regularly and unconsciously.

Visualization Breathing: Inflating the Balloon

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, imagine that your abdomen is inflating with air like a balloon. As you exhale, imagine that the air is escaping the balloon slowly. Remember, you do not have to force the air out; it simply escapes on its own, in its own time. You may want to imagine the balloon as your favorite color, or that you are floating higher in the sky with each breath if this is relaxing for you. Regardless, the “inflating balloon” visualization can help you to breathe deeply from your diaphragm rather than engaging in shallow breathing that can come from stress.

Visualization Breathing: Releasing Your Stress

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start diaphragmic breathing. As you inhale, imagine that all the stress in your body is coming from your extremities and into your chest. Then, as you exhale, imagine that the stress is leaving your body through your breath and dissipating right in front of you. Slowly, deliberately repeat the process. After several breaths, you should feel your stress begin to subside.

Deep, Cleansing Breath

Sometimes all you need to release stress from your shoulders, back, or the rest of your body is a few big, cleansing breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and take in as much air as you comfortably can. Then release it, and really focus on emptying your lungs. (Many people hold air in their lungs after an exhale, so emptying your lungs on a deep exhale can help you to get more fresh oxygen into them.) Repeat this breathing exercise for a few breaths and release the tension in your back, your shoulders, and anywhere else it tends to reside.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This breathing exercise variation has been practiced for thousands of years as a form of meditative breathing. As you inhale, place your finger over your right nostril and only breathe through your left. On the exhale, switch nostrils and only breathe through your right. You can breathe at whatever pace is comfortable for you, either a 5-8 ratio, a 4-7-8 ratio or whatever pace feels most relaxing for you (see “counted breathing,” above).

 

Cite: VerywellMind.com
 

Meet the Expert Speaker Series on Tuesday Feb 19, 6pm

 

Dr. Brenda Jimenez, Gastroenterologist will be presenting 

Family History and Herediatary Colorectal Cancer at 

On Tuesday February 19 from 6-7pm 

Holy Family Hospital-Haverhill Auditorium 140 Lincoln Avenue Haverhill, MA

To RSVP email: george.nugent@steward.org or call 978-887-0151 ext: 4897