These Missed Signs Could Be Why Women Are More Likely to Die of Heart Disease

Electrocardiogram - Concept of healthcare, heartbeat shown on monitor - pink

The risk of suffering from a heart attack increases for women after going through menopause.  It seems that estrogen is heart protective, and after the menses stops, estrogen production greatly decreases.  Therefore, heart problems become more of a concern.

It is important to remember that more women die of heart disease each year than men.  This may be attributed to the fact that women do not seek medical attention as quickly as men when possible heart concerns develop.  When suffering a heart attack, most men will describe crushing or squeezing chest pain while women will have no chest pain or simply a fullness feeling in the chest.  Many women during a heart attack may complain of dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and weakness.woman hugging her husband

Please be alert for a women’s special signs of a heart attack, and do not delay a trip to the ER.  Your family and close ones need you!

-Dr. P

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Why Are Colonoscopies Crucial for You and When?

I would like to introduce you to my son, Dr. Michael Polcino III!  He is a board certified colorectal surgeon and surgical oncologist.  Today, he is discussing colorectal cancer and indications for a colonoscopy.  Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer for both men and women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.  My son’s website is: colorectalsurgeryoflongisland.com  His blog: colorectalsurgeryoflongisland.com/blog

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How Effective Is the Latest Egg Freezing Technology?

Fertility and reproductive medicine is constantly changing and expanding as its technology rapidly advances.  Freezing a woman’s eggs can be of great benefit for many conditions such as cancer and infertility.infertility-couple-doctor-fertility-small

Initially, a woman’s eggs, which are called oocytes, were frozen with moderate success.  Ice crystals formed within the oocyte which caused damage and left the egg unusable.

A different freezing process was formulated which froze the oocyte at a much slower rate, which helped to prevent ice crystal formation.  This method, however, had much lower rates of fertilization.

A new method, called vitrification, rapidly cools the oocyte at a rate of 20,000 degrees Celsius per minute!!  The freezing occurs so quickly that it does not allow ice to form. This leads to improved oocyte survival and function, fertilization, and pregnancy rates.  Chromosomal analysis of embryos of previously frozen oocytes versus normal oocytes revealed no difference in incidence of chromosomal abnormalities or congenital anomalies.

Portrait of happy young woman looking at pregnancy test

The new egg freezing technology is very exciting, and we are continuing to learn ways to apply this to both infertile and fertile women!

-Dr. P

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Which Medications Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?

medications-342461_640If you are considering pregnancy or are already pregnant, here are a few of the medications you should not be taking:

  • Benzodiazepine sedatives: these are medications used to help anxiety and insomnia; Xanax and Ativan are two of this class
  • Statins: used to decrease cholesterol; Lipitor and Crestor are in this class
  • Non-contraceptive estrogens
  • Warfarin derivatives: anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • Iodinated glycerol: an expectorant
  • Vitamin A preparations
  • Misoprostol: used to decrease the chance of ulcers when using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Isotretinoin: for acne; Acutane is in this class

Of course this is not the complete list of medications you should not be taking when you are pregnant or considering a pregnancy.  Always remember to review all of your medications with your health care provider when pregnancy is part of your plans.  If a medication is needed, the safest medication or other form of treatment will be part of that discussion.

-Dr. P

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What Happens If You Have Endometriosis, a Cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain

stomach-pain-article-2Chronic pelvic pain can be caused by numerous conditions and can sometimes be very difficult to diagnose.  One cause of chronic pelvic pain is endometriosis, which is many times overlooked in women.  Endometriosis has been called “the great masquerader” because it can present many different symptoms.

Endometriosis is when the endometrium, or the tissue and glands that line the uterus, is found outside the uterine cavity.  Endometriosis may cause painful periods, painful intercourse, and infertility.  The pain usually lasts more than 6 months and can be located deep in the pelvis or in the lower abdomen.  It can occur intermittently throughout the menstrual cycle or continuously.

Before attributing pelvic pain to endometriosis, one must rule out bladder, bowel, musculoskeletal, and psychiatric causes.  In order to definitely diagnose endometriosis, a patient must have minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to visualize the endometrial implants outside the uterus.  During the surgery, the endometrial lesions can be treated in a variety of ways.

The symptoms of endometriosis can be treated medically with pain medications like Motrin, hormonal therapy such as birth control pills, or the Depo-Provera injection.  If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic pelvic pain, please speak to your health care provider to see if endometriosis may be the cause!

-Dr. P

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Why Testing for Thrombophilia Before Using Birth Control Is Important

Raquel Goldstein, RPA-C, MS, is a physician assistant at Dr. Polcino’s office. Today she speaks about thrombophilia’s effect on a woman using birth control. Since about 10% of women will carry thrombophilia, it is important to be informed about this genetic trait and what is recommended if it is identified.

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Are You Prepared for This Summer’s Tiniest Villains?

I was working in my garden, and guess what I discovered yesterday, once again?  I spotted another tick on myself!  Because of this, I thought it would be a great time to discuss ticks all over again – what they do, what you should do if you find one on yourself, and all about Lyme disease.

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Over 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each summer, and 90% occur in 10 states.  New York is one of those states.  This disease is an infection caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which enters the body from a bite of an infected deer tick.

While the tick is attached, it begins to suck blood from the victim, and at this time, it regurgitates the bacteria back into the person’s system.  Most of the infections in humans are caused from the bites of immature ticks called nymphs, which are the size of poppy seeds.  The disease can also be transmitted from the bite of an adult deer tick, but because they are larger they are more likely to be discovered before having time to transmit the disease.

You Found a Tick on Yourself – What Are the Next Steps?

Once you have discovered that a tick is on your body, you remove it with tweezers.  Try to detach it at the base of the tick’s attachment.  If it is removed within 24 to 48 hours, it is unlikely that it has infected you withTick Removal Display Image Lyme disease.  Also, it is important to remember that only 1 in 20 people bitten with an infected tick will develop the disease.  Not every deer tick carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, with usually 1 in 5 being carriers in high risk areas.

An Alternate Way to Remove Those Ticks!

I recently learned about a different way to help remove a tick.  Take a cotton ball and put liquid soap on it.  Cover the discovered tick with the cotton ball and rub the soap on the tick for a few seconds.  Usually the tick will dislodge on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball as you take it away.  Hopefully you will not need to try this method but keep it in the back of your mind.

The Infectious Disease Society of America does not recommend antibiotics for everyone who has been bitten by a tick.  If the rash of Lyme disease develops, then antibiotics are advised.

The rash is the easily noticed circular “bull’s eye” target-like rash.  This rash can begin anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks after the bite.  It starts out being the size of a quarter and can widen to 6 to 9 inches as the bacteria spread out.  If your anxiety of developing the disease is great, many doctors will treat you with doxycycline if you do not have an allergy to the medication.

What Is Most Likely to Happen if You Are Diagnosed with Lyme Disease?

When Lyme disease has been diagnosed because you have the “bull’s eye” rash from a tick bite or a positive blood test, your medical team will usually prescribe an antibiotic regimen.  Depending upon your history of allergies, two of the most common treatments are amoxicillin (500 mg three times a day for 14 to 21 days) or doxycycline (100 mg twice a day for 14 to 21 days).

Bull's Eye Rash (Tick)

Intravenous antibiotic treatments are not often needed, but they are needed when the Lyme infections are more serious.  These would include infections around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or heart (carditis).

I would like to leave you with two interesting facts about Lyme disease.  If for some reason you get the infection and do not obtain treatment with an antibiotic, you have about a 10-15% risk of developing Lyme arthritis, and this needs to be treated with a different antibiotic plan.

Even after treating Lyme disease and having no blood tests pointing to an active disease, about 10-20% of people will not feel well for months, having complaints of being exhausted and joint pain.  Antibiotics do not seem to be the answer for this frustrating condition.  The passage of time is the ultimate treatment.

Enjoy your summer and always check your clothes and body for ticks after working or playing outdoors in a grassy area.  Then take a shower, which removes the ticks off your body and prevents those troublesome bites!

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-Dr. P

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