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Recent blog posts

Healthcare Ratings: How They Stack Up.

Posted on in Heart Health

Over the years, most people have relied on recommendations from friends and family when choosing a doctor or hospitals. With the rise of the Internet, easily and often accessed by health consumers, ratings and rankings boomed. To be an informed consumer, it’s good to understand what information each rating uses and how it is compiled. Here’s a brief overview.

Organizations compile their ratings with different information, from different sources with different formulas to make the data consumer-friendly. Here are the most common ways in which ratings are generated:

Medically Reviewed by Scot Schultz, MD

Over 300,000 patients with coronary artery disease undergo heart bypass surgery each year. Hear the words “heart bypass surgery,” you might think of the traditional approach which includes stopping the patient’s heart for about an hour.  During this time, blood is diverted into a heart-lung machine that keeps the patient alive, while the surgeon sews arteries or veins from the leg or arm beyond the blocked arteries on the heart.

Hip Joint Replacement: Getting You Back to Normal

Posted on in Orthopedics

Total Joint Replacement is one of the safest and most reliable treatments in medicine.

Our hip joints are incredibly designed to serve us well.  However, wear and tear, disease or injury can lead to medical treatment and even surgery.

Medically reviewed by
Gary Ferguson, MD

As women age or have babies, many suffer urinary leakage or incontinence and feel that it’s a problem they “just have to live with.” But there is help for women with stress incontinence along with others who feel they have to go to the bathroom even when their bladder isn’t full (urge incontinence).

New Mammography Study: Too Much Mammography? No!

Posted on in Cancer

Medically Reviewed by
Noel Phipps, MD

In early February 2014, the Canadian National Breast Cancer Study published an article in the British Medical Journal, essentially saying, “Long-term follow-up does not support (mammogram) screening in women under 60.”

Atrial fibrillation is a major risk factor for stroke, making a person 5 times more likely to suffer stroke. 

WHAT IS IT?  Atrial Fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat. It is caused when the two upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat rapidly and unpredictably, producing a changeable heartbeat. 

A woman’s uterus is held in place in her pelvis by muscles and ligaments. However, aging, menopause and pregnancy can weaken the support, allowing the uterus to drop into the vagina. This is prolapse.

“Symptoms of pelvic prolapse range from a low backache to painful sexual intercourse and frequent urination,” says McLeod Gynecologist Dr. Brad Campbell. “In the most severe cases, a woman’s organs can appear outside her vagina.”

Here’s a quick multiple-choice quiz. Given the topic of the article, we’re expecting a perfect score.

Question:  Which of the following is the greatest cause of the extraordinary increase in hip and knee replacement surgeries:

A temporary fluttering in the chest.  An extra or skipped beat.  This is something that almost everyone has experienced.  It's usually nothing but could be a sign of something more serious. 

The Problem. Think of the heart like a machine that requires electrical impulses to travel through it in a certain path to keep blood pumping regularly.  When the impulses don’t travel in the correct path, the heart’s chambers (2 upper atriums, 2 lower ventricles) don’t expand and contract in a coordinated manner. A rapid beating in the upper chambers prevents the heart from pumping blood adequately to the lower chambers. At times the heart may beat too fast or too slowly. 

Medically reviewed by Wallace Vaught, MD

“I gotta go. I gotta go! Oops. I didn’t make it.”   It’s not funny. It’s a struggle that some 15 million American men and women struggle with everyday: urge incontinence – the sudden feeling of a need to urinate even if the bladder is not full. Even a rush to the nearest bathroom may not be fast enough to avoid urine leakage from their overactive bladder.

Young Women Beware of an ACL Tear

Posted on in Orthopedics

A pop! The sound of cracking! A feeling of glass breaking!  Descriptions may differ. But each represents the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee joint – a problem that is 8 times more likely to affect teenage females than males.

What is an ACL Tear?  The ACL is one of four ligaments that stabilize the knee.  It’s a rubber band-like fiber about the size of your little finger that runs through the knee joint, attaching the thigh to the shin.

The waiting room air crackled with anxiety. Beth paged through an old Red Book magazine not really paying attention to the articles. Across the room, Rhonda checked her watch to see how long she’d been waiting. Both had the same thought: “Will I be able to get pregnant?”

Beth was diagnosed with fibroids, a tumor-like, non-cancerous growth in her uterus. Rhonda’s last visit confirmed that she had endometriosis, where the material that normally grows as a lining in the uterus, starts growing outside.

A person’s heart has four valves. Two of them do the most work.  The mitral valve pumps blood between the heart’s two left chambers. The aortic valve controls blood flowing from your heart into the body’s main blood vessel. 

Two common problems happen with valves.  In one case, the valve can’t close properly.  In the other, the valve opening narrows, limiting the amount of blood that can flow through.

Finding the right surgeon for knee or hip joint replacement is much the same as finding any other doctor or specialist. Ask your other physicians. Find people who have had total joint replacement surgery. 

Yet, ironically, the sources that may be in question – according to the Harvard Medical School Publications – are third-party rating sites.

Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – watched their parent’s age and decided that an inactive middle age wasn’t for them.  Golfing, biking, tennis, basketball, running, skiing – 50 became the new 40, 60 became the new 50...or was it the new 40? Those Boomers just wouldn’t stop moving -- until their knees and hips started aching. Now hitting 60+, the joints are aching more and the body parts are wearing out. 

Arthritis, compounded by wear-and-tear on knees and hips, has sparked a sharp jump in the number of total joint replacements.  Osteoarthritis is the most common reason that joints fail.  It is a degenerative disease that deteriorates the cushioning cartilage in joints, leaving bone grinding on bone. Ironically, the repetitive motion of exercise by Boomers trying to stay fit can actually trigger the arthritis. 

Uterine Fibroids Can Be Painful

Posted on in Women's Health

Not long ago, Brenda thought it was just part of being a woman. Not just her monthly period, but the pain and bleeding that bothered her throughout the month. Some days Brenda couldn’t work. She missed her daughter’s dance recital. Her constant need for a bathroom made her hesitate to go out with friends. And her pain took the romance out of sex with her husband.

Today, Brenda’s life is much better, since visiting her personal physician and learning three important facts: 1) Her problems are due to fibroids growing in her uterus, 2) they can be easily treated and 3) fibroids are benign, NOT cancerous.

“The heart’s 4 valves can malfunction in two primary ways,” says McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Scot Schultz.  “A valve can fail to open all the way or a narrowing can block the flow of blood. Or a valve may fail to close all the way, allowing some blood leak the wrong way.”

Many people with heart valve disease have no symptoms.  Fatigue or tiredness is one of the most common, along with heart irregularities that some people may describe as “palpitations.”

What to Expect After Incontinence Surgery

Posted on in Women's Health

Most women who undergo surgery for their urinary leakage see a significant improvement in their condition along with a reduction in the symptoms.  The most common procedure for stress incontinence cures 70-90% of the women who choose this option.  

“Every woman recovers at a different rate,” says McLeod Gynecologist Dr. Brad Campbell. “Your doctor will probably schedule an appointment following the surgery to review your recovery. In addition to improving your incontinence, other topics you may want to discuss are pain, fatigue and returning to work.”

This article is one of three outlining signs & symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of heart valve problems.

“Your heart has 4 valves that are essentially flaps of tissue,” says McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Scot Schultz. “The main job of the valves is keeping the blood flowing in one direction through the heart and body.  Valves are very busy body parts – opening and closing about 100,000 times a day.”

Total knee joint replacement surgery has been performed for about 30 years. Over those years, incremental improvements in materials and designs have raised the expected life of the “new” knees to 10 to 20 years. 

Two developments are causing a noteworthy change in patients and expectations. Where knee replacements had been reserved for patients over 65, because of the limited life of the replacements, now younger, more active patients are seeking relief from pain and limited mobility. Secondly, the FDA has approved a replacement that claims a 30-year lifetime of use.

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services at McLeod Health. It should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for health care by your physician.
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