Are you newly diagnosed with diabetes, or struggling to control your blood sugar? If so, DMSE/S programs can help!

October 17, 2016 at 9:43 am | Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment
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Diabetes is a chronic, complex disease. Self management is key, but what does that even mean?  Where do you start? Self Management is the ‘taking of responsibility for one’s own behavior and well being.’   Living well with diabetes means you need to learn new skills and behaviors. This can seem overwhelming during an already stressful time.  DSME/S programs teach you the self management skills you need to truly thrive.

You will first see a nurse or nurse practitioner (who is often usually a Certified Diabetes Educator or CDE).  You will either continue to see that clinician by yourself or attend group classes with other people just like you. Group classes are a great way to learn and be supported by people who know what you’re going through. You are not alone! During appointments or classes, you will learn about important topics like nutrition, exercise, medications and more.  You will also set specific behavioral goals to work towards between each visit.

Research has shown that DSME/S works. It can lower your A1C and stop complications from happening or getting worse. Attending can also improve your quality of life and keep you out of the hospital. Major organizations like the American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics all believe that everyone with diabetes should have DSME/S at some time in their life.

Mass General DSME/S programs are offered at Chelsea, Revere, Charlestown, Internal Medicine Associates, Diabetes Associates and Bulfinch Medical Group. For more information, contact Jen Searl at jsearl@partners.org.

Suzie and Ray: Get a Good Night Sleep!

March 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Comics | Leave a comment
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Suzie and Ray - Sleep

Heart Month: The Health of Your Heart

February 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Posted in Health, Heart Health | Leave a comment
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By Aparna Mani, MD, PhD
MGH Medical Walk-In Unit

Aparna Mani, MD, PhD

The heart is an amazing organ. From the time we’re embryos until the day we die our hearts are constantly beating, ticking away at sixty to one hundred beats per minute.  The heart is the organ in the human body  we most commonly associate with emotions and passions. We can actually feel it beating fast with excitement and slowing down as we rest, sleep and dream. How do we take care of such an important organ? We can best answer this question by taking a close look at what can go wrong with the heart.

The American Heart Association estimates that approximately 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States each year.  What we most often mean when we talk about heart disease is actually coronary heart disease. The heart is a muscular organ and just like any muscle its shape and form directly affect its ability to do its job: pumping blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to every inch of the body. And just like every other organ, the heart muscle needs the right nutrition and care to work properly. It gets its vital nutrients and oxygen not from the blood it holds and pumps out,  but from blood that travels in vessels lying along its outer walls (these vessels are called the coronary arteries). If you were to look straight on at the heart, you would see these vessels wrapping like ivy on the heart’s surface.

The coronary arteries need to remain clean so that blood can flow freely through them to nourish the heart muscle.  Atherosclerotic plaque, a mixture of cholesterol and other debris which can stick to the walls of the coronary arteries, can interfere with the delivery of nutrients to the heart.  In certain spots the lump of sticky plaque can build up to such a degree that it limits or even blocks blood flow through a particular artery. When this happens, the portion of heart muscle that depends on the blood supply from this artery becomes unhealthy, weak, and can even die. But the heart depends on every single muscle fiber to be healthy and strong in order to pump well, so bad blood flow through even a single coronary artery can potentially affect the heart’s important squeezing ability and cause heart disease.

A lot of research has gone into figuring out how to prevent and even get rid of plaque build up in the coronary arteries. Since a major component of plaque is cholesterol, it’s thought that a low cholesterol diet is a key factor for  preventing coronary plaque formation. In addition to diet, smoking and high blood pressure can increase the chances of plaque formation. For unclear reasons, people with diabetes seem to be more prone to developing coronary plaque as well.

Health care providers may recommend aspirin, blood pressure, or cholesterol lowering medications for good heart health.  Maintaining a healthy diet low in sodium and cholesterol, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your blood sugar in good control and quitting smoking can also help prevent plaque buildup and resulting heart disease. So take this moment to listen to your heart and talk with your health care provider about taking steps toward beating heart disease.

A Cholesterol Q & A

September 28, 2012 at 10:56 am | Posted in Guest Post, Health, Heart Health | 3 Comments
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By Aparna Mani, MD, PhD
MGH Medical Walk-In Unit

Aparna Mani, MD, PhD

We hear about cholesterol almost as often as we hear about the weather on the news these days – but what is it really and why is it such a hot topic?  Cholesterol is actually a type of fat particle that travels around in the bloodstream. It’s true that we get cholesterol from food, but our body also makes its own cholesterol in the liver. In fact, the liver can produce all the cholesterol our body needs even if we do not take in any cholesterol from our diet.  Foods that are high in cholesterol include mostly animal sources like meats, eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy products like whole milk and butter. Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, tofu and grains contain little to no cholesterol.

So what do we need cholesterol for?  Well, cholesterol is used for a couple of different things.  It’s a component of the outer layer of all of the cells in our body, it helps to make vitamin D and hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and it helps in the digestion of fats in the intestine. 

What’s the story about the good versus bad cholesterol?  To understand this a bit better, we need to take a closer look at how cholesterol gets around the body.  Because cholesterol does not mix easily with blood, it’s carried around in the bloodstream by a particle that acts as a kind of vehicle called a lipoprotein. There are several types of lipoproteins, but the ones you have probably heard of are HDL and LDL.  The LDL particles carry cholesterol around and deliver it wherever it’s needed in our body.  However, if we have too much LDL, the excess cholesterol can be deposited on the walls of our blood vessels.

Why is this a bad thing?  The deposits of cholesterol in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply our heart, can form plaque. It’s exactly this plaque that can eventually rupture and cause a blockage in a coronary artery, leading to a heart attack. This is why LDL is often referred to as ’bad’ cholesterol.  But let’s look at another particle:  HDL cholesterol. What makes HDL different is that instead of depositing cholesterol in various parts of our body (including blood vessels), it picks up any extra cholesterol that is lying around and brings it back to the liver. The liver can take this extra cholesterol and either make it into something useful or recycle it.  This is why HDL is referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol.

The balance between LDL and HDL in our body is important.  We want to keep the levels of LDL low and the levels of HDL high so  our body can function well without creating too much cholesterol or plaque build-up in our blood vessels. Some of us might have a genetic predisposition that determines our LDL and HDL levels, but we also have a role in striking this balance through diet and lifestyle.  By eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains we can keep our LDL low.  Healthy activities such as exercise and refraining from smoking also help to strike the right balance between HDL and LDL cholesterol. Some of us may need medications to modify our cholesterol levels in addition to following healthy habits.  According to the American Heart Association, adults should get their cholesterol levels checked periodically so  their health care provider can make recommendations for keeping their cholesterol levels in good balance.

A Home Gardening Experiment: Harvest

August 23, 2012 at 9:00 am | Posted in Guest Post | Leave a comment
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By Chrisanne Sikora
Social Media Coordinator

Let me get this out of the way first:  I have tomatoes!!!

Tomato plants (give or take an oak tree)Okay, now I’ll back up a bit.  Last time I checked in, I’d just transplanted my seedlings from the kitchen greenhouse to the backyard.  That was back in early June, and almost immediately afterward we had a little cold spell.  My tomato seedlings went into shock and of the ten that were planted only about three looked like they were going to make it.  Though that was a little disappointing, there wasn’t much I could do about it – can’t control the weather after all.  What I did do was spread some mulch over the garden bed to protect the roots, and watered.  Every day.  If I’ve learned one thing it’s that tomatoes are thirsty little things.

Delicate yellow flowers

As it turns out, most of the seedlings recovered from the cold snap and I soon had about a half dozen thriving tomato plants (and one oak tree trying to pass itself off as one.  If you look closely at the picture above, you can see it hiding in the middle of the pack).  Right before I went on vacation in July, I noticed a few little yellow flowers popping up on some of the vines – a good sign that tomatoes were not far behind.

Young green tomatoesSure enough when I got back home there were still a few yellow flowers here and there, and a number of little green tomatoes.  The vines had also grown another several inches while I was away and they’re now peeking up over the bottom of the deck.  Amazing how they went from scrawny not-sure-they’re-going-to-make-it seedlings to a mini jungle in about a month and a half.

So after a few false starts, I’d say my home gardening experiment was ultimately a success.  A few tomatoes have already started turning orange, and there’s enough young fruit that I expect to have home grown tomatoes in my salad for the rest of summer and into the fall.  Hmm, what should I try growing next year?

Tomato harvestGot any good tips for a newbie gardener, or a suggestion for my next gardening  adventure?  Leave me a comment below.


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