Thursday, March 31, 2011

International Visitors Enjoy Tour of Sentara Potomac Hospital

A group of doctors, hospital administrators, and students visiting the U.S. from the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan toured Sentara Potomac Hospital with Professor Dr. Thomas Wan of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Barbara Huelat, from Huelat Parimucha Healing Design, Sentara Potomac Hospital’s interior design company, was the keynote speaker. Kelly Degler, Sentara Potomac Hospital vice president, and Bill Moss,Potomac Health Foundation, both former students of Dr. Wan, also spoke to the group.

The group enjoyed the guided tours and learning about Sentara Potomac Hospital.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Doctors' Day!

National Doctors' Day is held every year on March 30 and celebrates the contribution of physicians who serve our country by caring for its citizens.

The first Doctors’ Day observance was March 30, 1933, in Winder, Georgia. Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians.

In 1990, legislation was introduced to establish a national Doctors’ Day. Following overwhelming approval by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, on October 30, 1990, March 30 was officially designated as "National Doctor's Day."

Sincere thanks to all of our doctors for everything they do for Sentara Potomac Hospital and the community!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Free Men's Health Seminar

Permanent Solutions for ED and Bladder Control Problems

At this free seminar, a board-certified, fellowship-trained urologist will discuss solutions to erectile dysfunction (ED) and bladder control problems caused by prostate surgery, diabetes and heart disease.

During the program, patients will share their personal success stories. Spouses and partners are encouraged to attend as well.

Saturday, April 9, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Potomac Hospital.

Register online or call 703-221-2500.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ask Our Experts

Confused and overwhelmed with diabetes? Don't be - we're here to help.

My doctor told me that I have diabetes. There’s so much information to learn about my condition and I feel overwhelmed by the changes I have to incorporate into my everyday life. How do I deal with this?

“Your concerns are very common for someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes,” says Nadine Young, R.D., CDE, Coordinator of the Diabetes Management Program at Sentara Potomac Hospital. “Since diabetes is a chronic disease it has to be managed, not cured, which is one reason it’s difficult to deal with at first. Understandably, people just want to ‘fix it’."

“Many who are diagnosed with diabetes feel lost or confused because of the complexity of the disease,” says Young. “The good news is that it’s a diabetes educator’s job to teach you how to manage this disease successfully.”

“Our Diabetes Management Program is staffed with highly trained diabetes educators and registered dietitians who are here to help you,” explains Young. “After we take a detailed medical history, we teach you how to effectively test your blood glucose levels, plan your meals and manage your medications. Our team approach to managing your diabetes can help you avoid or delay the complications of this disease.”

This program is designed to complement your doctor’s care and requires a doctor's prescription. If you or someone you love has diabetes, Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Diabetes Management Program can help. Call 703-670-1767 or 540-659-1800, ext. 1767 for more information or go to

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is your heart working overtime?

Have you ever worked overtime only to go home and fall -- exhausted -- on to your couch? That’s exactly how your heart feels if you have untreated high blood pressure or hypertension. In fact, eventually it will work itself to death.

“The heart is just like any other muscle in your body,” says Dr. Rishabh Sharma, a cardiologist on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s medical staff. “When you work it hard it gets bigger and bigger. Unfortunately, when it gets too big from being overworked, it can actually fail.”

According to Dr. Sharma, high blood pressure also stresses out your arteries. “High blood pressure speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries,” says Dr. Sharma. “When the arteries harden they become narrower and less elastic, which causes a decrease in blood flow to the heart and other organs. In turn, your heart starts working even harder to compensate for the blocked arteries.”

Also, says Dr. Sharma, blood clots can get lodged in narrow arteries. “Blood clots can result in stroke, heart attack and other serious health conditions,” says Dr. Sharma. “It is vital that everyone has their blood pressure checked regularly so that the risk of heart disease and stroke can be decreased.”

Take a Load Off Your Heart

There are ways to reduce your heart’s workload. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding smoking, getting regular exercise, eating healthy foods and controlling your weight, can help decrease or prevent high blood pressure.

“The first course of action is to prevent high blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Sharma. “If you already have high blood pressure, you should still make healthy lifestyle changes and continue to take any medications your doctor has prescribed. Keeping blood pressure in the normal range is paramount to avoiding potentially life-threatening health problems.”

Dr. Rishabh Sharma encourages everyone to have their blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is called the ‘silent killer’ because for many there are no symptoms.

To learn more about doctors on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s medical staff call 703-221-2500 to receive our free Medical Team brochure. You can also request one online.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tired of Counting Sheep?

Sleep Lab helps patients get their zzzzzz

Jim Lavelle was tired. He went to bed every night and slept, but he was exhausted for almost the entire next day. Unbeknown to Lavelle, his problem wasn’t a lack of sleep, it was the lack of quality sleep. Tired of being tired, the Fredericksburg resident scheduled a sleep study at Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Sleep Lab.

“Sleep is imperative to good health,” says pulmonologist Richard Robinson, M.D., who, along with Mark Clinton, M.D., is the medical director of the Sleep Lab at Sentara Potomac. “When people don’t sleep well it affects their physical health, mental health, productivity, their jobs and their relationships. Sleep seems so natural and simple, but the hectic lives that many people live cause many serious sleep problems.”

Most sleep loss is due to poor sleep habits and stress. However, millions of people suffer from undiagnosed sleep disorders including sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy.

“Snoring was my main problem,” says Lavelle. “But my wife also told me that I would stop breathing in the middle of the night. It was determined that my snoring is causing sleep apnea and my extreme fatigue.”

“There are several treatments that we use to help patients get back on track to better sleep,” says Dr. Robinson. “If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue, loss of concentration, dozing off during the day or feeling depressed, you may want to have a sleep study.”

If you think you may have a sleep disorder, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will discuss your concerns with you and determine if you need overnight evaluation at the Sleep Lab.

Fast facts about sleep deprivation

• More than 1,500 people die every year in sleep-related crashes on the roadways.
• Sleep loss costs U.S. employers tens of billions of dollars a year in lost productivity.
• Stress and worry are leading causes of insomnia.
• The large majority of people with sleep disorders are undiagnosed and untreated.
• Sleep problems are associated with many negative health consequences such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke and at-risk behaviors.
• Avoiding caffeine close to bedtime, avoiding alcohol, exercising regularly, establishing a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, and making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool and comfortable can help you get better quality sleep.

Source: National Sleep Foundation

Monday, March 7, 2011

Free Event for Cardiac Patients

Cardiac Update: Stents & Bypass Surgery: What Cardiac Patients Should Know
Presented by interventional cardiologist Narian Rajan, M.D.

During this free seminar interventional cardiologist Dr. Narian Rajan will discuss the ins and outs of diagnosing Coronary Heart Disease and how to manage cardiac risk factors. He’ll also give an overview of the new stents and devices that are now available for cardiac patients. Plus, learn about the advantages and disadvantages of bypass surgery.

Tuesday, March 22, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Sentara Potomac Hospital, Hylton Education Center
Free. Please register online or call 703-221-2500.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Living with Severe Obesity?

Get Your Weight Loss Surgery Questions Answered at our Free Seminar

For those facing the struggles and frustrations of living with obesity, get your weight loss surgery questions answered at our free seminar. Join board-certified weight loss surgeon Dr. Denis Halmi to learn about surgical solutions to weight loss including laparoscopic gastric banding, gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and revisional procedures. Plus, hear first-hand from surgery patients about their experiences.

Fredericksburg Weight Loss Surgery Information Seminar + Patient Panel
Saturday, March 12, 2011
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Fredericksburg Hospitality House, Palm Room, 2801 Plank Road, Fredericksburg

This is a free program, but please register online or call 703-221-22500 or 1-800-Sentara.

Sentara Potomac Hospital is designated a Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. The ASMBS Center of Excellence designation recognizes surgical programs with a demonstrated track record of excellent outcomes in bariatric surgery.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Breaking Down the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Cholesterol

In the world of heart health, cholesterol is a dirty little word. If it’s too high, doctors cringe. If it’s too low, doctors cringe. There’s LDL, HDL, triglycerides, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol -- what does it all mean? We asked Dr. Nikki Waddell, an internist on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s medical staff, about the good, the bad and the ugly of cholesterol and here’s what she said:

Q. What is cholesterol and why is it so bad?
Dr. Waddell: Cholesterol is a waxy substance in your bloodstream that your body needs to produce cell membranes and some hormones. However, too much cholesterol in your system greatly increases your risk for heart disease and stroke because it forms a thick plaque in your arteries that may block blood flow to your heart or brain.

Q. What’s the difference between good and bad cholesterol?
Dr. Waddell:
HDL is considered good cholesterol because high levels of HDL may protect against heart disease. Conversely, high levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, increase heart disease risk because LDL is what causes plaque build-up in the arteries. So, the goal is to have a high number when measuring HDL and a low number when measuring LDL.

Q. How do I know if my HDL and LDL measurements are too high or too low?
Dr. Waddell: Your doctor will explain your cholesterol test results and what you can do to improve your numbers, but the current guidelines are: total cholesterol should be less than 200; LDL (bad) should be less than 100; HDL (good) levels above 60 give some protection against heart disease; and triglycerides should be less than 150.

Q. What are triglycerides?
Dr. Waddell: Triglyceride is a form of fat that’s made in the body. Many people who have elevated triglyceride levels also have high cholesterol. Most people with heart disease have high triglyceride levels – commonly due to obesity, smoking, low physical activity or a high cholesterol diet.

Q. How can you lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels?
Dr. Waddell: The best way to lower cholesterol is by making permanent changes to your diet. You should discuss low cholesterol diet options with your doctor – he or she may refer you to a nutritionist or another healthcare professional to help you make the best nutritional choices. Another great source for those who wish to change their diet is the American Heart Association (

Q. So, all I have to do is eat right?
Dr. Waddell: Well, not exactly. While good nutrition plays a vital role in good health, regular exercise for weight control is equally as important. It’s recommended that everyone exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days. Taking a brisk, 30-minute walk every day will not only improve your cholesterol, it will provide many other health benefits as well.

For most people, changes in diet and exercise are enough to bring your cholesterol down to a reasonable level, but for some, medication may be needed. Either way, making sure your cholesterol is at a desirable level is the smart thing to do.

To find out more about Sentara Potomac Hospital physicians, please call our Health Connection at 703-221-2500 or online at