Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes Awareness Month


Diabetes Awareness Month

Striving for a life free of diabetes and its burdens

November is Diabetes Awareness month. The number of Americans living with diabetes is staggering: the Centers for Disease Control reported in July of 2017 that nearly 100 million people living in the U.S. have diabetes or pre-diabetes. The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population – have diabetes. As diabetes is becoming more prevalent in our communities, culturally, there is a concern that adults are treating their diagnoses as a condition that can be managed with medication, not as a disease that can cause long-term damage if left untreated. This month on HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates, we discussed the impact of diabetes in the Capital Region from the medical and community health perspectives.

Theresa Beshara is a Nurse Practitioner in Family Health at St. Peter’s Hospital Diabetes and Endocrine Care Center. She has almost twenty years of experience working with diabetics, their families, and caregivers. Theresa attributes bad lifestyle choices as one of the main factors contributing to our nation’s diabetes problem. “We are more sedentary (than earlier generations); we don’t tend to exercise as much. Our diets are better than they were 20 years ago, but we still enjoy fast food meals. We do eat a lot more carbs, and it’s a matter of genetics: we can’t change that piece.” Diabetes does have a hereditary element; it tends to run in families. However, for most people living with diabetes, it is usually a combination of both genetics and lifestyle choices that influence risk factors.

“I think there is a stigma right now with Type 1 that you cause yourself to have it when really it is an auto-immune disease,” says Laura Greenaway, Development Director of the American Diabetes Association in Albany. On our recent HeartTalk episode, Laura shared her family history, how her sister was diagnosed with Type 1 and how different her childhood home went without sodas, sugary snacks, and candies that could be found in her friends and neighbors kitchens. “With Type 2, there is a misbelief that you ate too much, and people aren’t aware of the hereditary factor. Diabetes is a disease that isn’t talked about because it’s not visible. What we are trying to do is help educate people about the different causes, ways to prevent it, and what their risk is.”

As diabetes detection has improved through innovations in technology and testing, nothing replaces the importance of having a yearly discussion with your health care provider on your risk. It’s a talk that needs to happen earlier in life. “If we can get our teenagers to work with their parents to make better food choices, get them involved with an exercise program or school sports, those two things will help with prevention,” said Theresa Beshara. When we talk about the long-term damage unmanaged diabetes does to the body, it’s alarming how an excessive amount of sugar in the system, over time, affects the arteries and blood vessels. As the cardiovascular system stiffens, it causes the heart to work harder to push blood throughout the body. What takes years to develop eventually becomes high blood pressure or atherosclerosis, both triggers for stroke, kidney issues, peripheral vascular disease, and heart failure. This is the mission of the American Diabetes Association, a life free of diabetes and its burdens. “Diabetes is more than blood sugar monitoring; it is a disease that affects every organ in your body and can cause long-term damage if untreated. It is something we all should want to prevent,” said Greenaway.

Awareness. Education. Engagement. Prevention. Those are the goals for the American Diabetes Association during November. “When we talk with physicians or diabetes educators, our partners in the community awareness programs, we talk about the day to day things that people can do,” stated Felix Perez, Market Director for the American Diabetes Association. Capital Cardiology Associates is proud to join the cause to encourage at least 30-minutes of daily activity or exercise, a heart-healthy diet, living smoke-free, and making responsible choices with alcoholic beverages. If you’re ready to make a difference, stand up and be counted by clicking here.

Written by: Michael Arce, host of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates

High blood pressure causes brain lesions later in life

High blood pressure causes brain lesions later in life


Your heart and brain health are connected

How high blood pressure causes brain lesions later in life

Your heart and brain health are connected. Two studies regarding memory loss in seniors indicate that instead of being a sign of simply aging, short-term memory loss could be a symptom of the effects of hypertension or high blood pressure.

Controlling your blood pressure younger in life will have an impact on your memory later in life. Researchers from University College London in the U.K. studied high blood pressure in men from 36 to 43 years old led to smaller brain volume at 69 to 71. What they recently reported was that high and rising blood pressure in middle age was associated with brain function later in life. The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high. It’s been a known risk factor for heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. The new study exploring uncontrolled HBP as a risk factor for dementia connected brain and heart health.

“This has been a real game-changer for us in the past few months,” says Dr. Robert Benton, Director of Clinical Research at Capital Cardiology Associates. With around 15–20% of our blood going to the brain, physicians have long understood the importance of blood flow and reducing blockages or flow to the body’s most essential organ. In the UK study, doctors found white matter brain lesions, a sign of blood vessel damage in the brain, an indicator of aging, and a risk factor for cognitive decline. Dr. Benton acknowledged that showing adults the damage uncontrolled blood pressure is doing to their brain would be an effective awareness tool. “I wish we had a brain CT score as we do for heart patients,” he said. Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring is a scan that uses an x-ray focused on the functions of your heart. The images show cardiologists the amount of plaque in the arteries of the heart that has calcified or hardened. This can blockage or narrowing of the arteries is an indicator of atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease (CAD). People with a higher content of calcium (score) of calcium have an increased risk of heart attack or cardiac events. “In just a few seconds, we could get a better picture of spots on the brain associated with HBP. That’s one of the things on my wish lists for tests! I think this would really get the message across. ‘This tiny bit of scar on your brain could let to forgetting where your keys are, or worse,” added Dr. Benton.

In the SPRINT MIND trial published in January, investigators from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, looked into whether aggressively lowering blood pressure could protect the heart, kidney, and brain over five years. Aggressively lowering blood pressure in hypertensive older adults did not significantly reduce dementia risk, SPRINT MIND investigators reported. “The real question becomes when you frequently decrease blood pressure through medication, sometimes in older people, dizziness or disorientation can be a negative side effect,” Dr. Benton commented. This is a challenge that physicians face when prescribing treatment. “You have a symptom and sign that is very clear and distressing. What do people complain about when they get older? Forgetfulness. Now there is evidence linking that lack of controlled blood pressure with objective evidence of damage to the brain. This has led me to be more aggressive in the last several months in presenting this issue with patients: you could lose memory due to uncontrolled high blood pressure. Your health today affects how you will live in the future. No one wants to lose their independence over hypertension and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Benton.

Written by Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator, Capital Cardiology Associates
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Eating Fresh and Healthy for your Heart

Eating Fresh and Healthy for your Heart


Eating Fresh
and Healthy
for your Heart

How to sneak “good foods” into your daily meals

Eat right. Get exercise. Live healthy. Whether you are watching the morning talk shows, talking with friends, visiting family, or scrolling through your newsfeed; at some point in the day, you come across a new diet, “superfood,” or way of eating that enhances your health and happiness. Why? Nearly 90% of Americans fall below the fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations — we all struggle to find creative ways to make healthy choices every day.

Super foods

Every season, there is a new “superfood” that catches media attention and appears in everything from salads, smoothies, to side dishes. Blueberries, salmon, kale, and acai are just a few examples of foods that have garnered the superfood label. Most nutrition experts disagree with the definition of a superfood, calling it a marketing term. Catrina is the owner of Catrina K Fitness. As a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist with a specialization in Nutrition, she explained how companies created the term to market their products through media hype. “I think if you look at it this way if you ever go to a dietician and ask them, ‘what superfoods do you recommend?’ They will tell you there is no such thing as a superfood. If you go to your doctor and ask, ‘what superfood should I take for heart disease?’ They are never going to tell you that goji berries are the way to go.”

What is essential is to do your research when you come across a new food that has nutritional or health benefits. Blueberries, kale, and sweet potatoes, for example, often get more attention because of the research given to them versus other berries, leafy greens, or squash. Most of the exciting superfoods fit into the exotic category, like acai berry, that might be healthy but are not more nutritional on their own over less exciting or expensive fruits. Another tip is to check the nutrition labels of drinks or products made from superfruits – the added sugar may be the reason you prefer the taste.

Catrina also pointed out that “too much of a good thing is a good thing” when trying to maximize the benefits of superfoods. She advises adding them to snacks and meals instead of making them the primary serving. “Make sure you’re not telling yourself, ‘this is going to cure my illnesses.’ It’s a treat just like anything else, and moderation is key. No one food will cure you, and none of them are superior to other foods. Fruits and vegetables are great and healthy for you, but there is no superfood.”

Healthy foods and picky eaters

“Children aren’t the only picky eaters at the dinner table. There is a fair share of adults who push fruits and veggies to the side in favor of mac and cheese. Some of these adults are even us. If you are trying to change your diet plan, Catrina advises getting ideas on how to sneak healthy foods into some of your favorite dishes. “Let’s say your husband is a huge mac and cheese fan, throw in some broccoli or chop up some peppers and onions and see if they even notice.” The key to successfully eating healthy is to start slow with incremental changes, especially when dealing with picky eaters. “I’m also not a big believer in forcing children to finish the plate. Don’t tell them they have to eat their vegetables to earn dessert. These actions put negative connotations with healthy foods. I’m a big believer in the “test and try method”; put the food on their plate and wait to see what they eat. Alternatively, encourage them to try or taste it. With a little help, your picky eater will soon make good choices on their own,” Catrina said.

The tough part for home cooks is getting new ideas for old dishes. Catrina’s suggestion may come from a surprising source. “I always get ideas from restaurants,” she revealed. “If you get grilled asparagus from somewhere and you really like it then start grilling it at home!” There are a couple of ways to bring that restaurant dish taste to your home kitchen. One, is browsing for healthy copycat takeout recipes online. Love that grab-and-go breakfast burrito? There’s a quick and healthy way to make it that doesn’t require pulling up to the drive-thru window! A change you will notice in “healthy home dishes” is a noticeable reduction for salt, fat, and sugar in the recipes. These ingredients are added to dishes by chefs for flavor, seasoning, or as a preservative. Many store-bought frozen foods, canned, or pre-packaged foods are high in sodium so try to use fresh ingredients when possible.

“Another big tip is seasoning,” adds Catrina. “The reason you like dishes in a restaurant and not at home is because you’re just heating a vegetable and throwing it on a plate. There are other ways to cook vegetables besides microwaving them, like grilling or oven-roasting them. Once you learn how to season, roast, and add olive oil or dressing to your veggies, you will taste the difference. Try different flavors to see if they encourage everyone in the house to eat it or if it makes you want to make it more.”

Healthy eating for the whole family

The goal for every busy home cook is to make one meal that everyone can enjoy. A simple tip to encourage interest in meals is inviting your children to help make them. Studies show that children are more excited about eating healthy foods when they are involved. Give them age-appropriate tasks and keep a step-stool handy. Not only does prepping one meal saves time in the kitchen, but it also saves money for the household. The average American household spends over $4,350 on food every year. When you add dining out, we pay another $3,000 at restaurants, take-out/delivery, and quick-service vendors.

The other challenge with healthy eating is that eating healthy is often more expensive. Catrina acknowledged the difficult choice parents make when trying to balance their time, budget, and nutrition needs. “This is a difficult socio-economic topic. It is hard to tell a family that is not making much money, ‘you need to cook everything at home.’ Unfortunately, in our society, fast food or convenience foods are the less expensive alternative. This is a fact that no one fully addresses. However, it is just about managing your time, managing your money, finding what your family likes, maybe learning how to bulk shop for those items, and also not demonizing food. If you can only afford a few cans of tuna for your protein that week, or less expensive cuts of meat, that’s fine. Make the smart choices that are best for your family’s health and get creative in making healthy dishes. Eggs are a great source of protein. Serving them with breakfast, let’s children know that there are other foods on the plate, not just the sugary, sweet, or carb options.”

Written by Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator, Capital Cardiology Associates
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

National Nursing Shortage

National Nursing Shortage


The Need For Nurses – Now

“Nurses are the backbone in so many instances that deliver direct patient care.”

A perfect storm is developing that will lead to a national nursing shortage in the coming years. Since 2009, The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has projected “a shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows.” They have identified four areas that are contributing to the oncoming demand: lack of interest in nursing, the aging population, the expanding roles of nurses in primary care due to health care policy changes, and the ongoing bottlenecks in nursing education. Health care professionals are working to find a solution to address the two to three million Baby Boomers who will age into Medicare every year for the next 30 years. Joanne McCarthy, RN and Operations Manager of Capital Cardiology Associates, described how the shortage would impact the patients level of care. “Most of the time, when patients are complaining about things in the hospital, it’s about not getting enough attention. I think that reflects on the staffing shortage. I recently shared a presentation on Joy in the Workplace. 50% of physicians complain of burnout, over a third of nurses on their first year on the job are looking for a new employer based on exhaustion. I think the burnout is because there are not enough nurses to go around. When hospitals look at overhead, inevitably that is going to trickle down to how to try and do more with less.”

“Nurses are the backbone in so many instances that deliver direct patient care.” Maryellen King, NP

Capital Cardiology Associates

The need for new nurses

The median age of RNs is currently 46 years old with the largest group now in their 50s. A projected one million RNs that will retire by 2030, leaving severe shortages of nurses in areas of the country. A 2017 report from The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis states that by 2030, the number of registered nurses needed in the United States is estimated to skyrocket by 28.4% from 2.8 million to 3.6 million. California is expected to be short the most registered nurses (45,500), while Alaska is projected to have the most job vacancies (22.7%). In other industries, there is a future generation ready to step in to fill the voids. However, in nursing, there are education barriers and unique challenges facing the new wave of providers. Traditionally, young people interested in a nursing career would volunteer at their local hospital. Maryellen King, NP with Capital Cardiology Associates, began her career in high school. “I was working in a local hospital, bringing books to patients, helping the nurses with changing the linens, giving patients water, and I really liked what I was doing. I am a caregiver at heart. From there, I went to a diploma school of nursing, which that option of living and learning at the hospital is not available anymore. If you want to be a registered nurse now, programs are usually in college — starting with an associates degree program, then you can sit for your nursing license exam or baccalaureate degree. There is a push today for more nurses to be bachelor’s prepared.”

What is a Registered Nurse? Get the answers in this video.

In 2017, New York State enacted the BS in 10 Law based on the recommendation of The Institute of Medicine, who called for at least 80% of the RN population to be baccalaureate prepared by 2020. Nurses who graduate from a New York State diploma or associate degree program must now obtain a baccalaureate degree in Nursing within ten years of becoming a nurse. This new legislation which was intended to improve the overall quality of care by providing better patient outcomes from more educated nurses has created another barrier in the profession: a lack of teachers.

Martha Desmond, RN is the Nursing Department Chairperson at Hudson Valley Community College, she recalls the push for higher education for nurses that began in 1964 with the American Nurses Association House of Delegates first adopted a motion supporting baccalaureate education. “I’ve been a nurse for 40 years. When I graduated, a long time ago, they spoke about this. The whole thought on the BS in 10 is that the theory that is offered for the bachelor’s degree is very important. What’s offered on the associates level is skill sets, critical thinking, but you are not getting the next level of theory or the in-depth medical knowledge that comes with the bachelor’s program. Politically, this has been pushed for years. I think this makes for a better nurse, allowing them to think better on their feet and provide better patient care.”

The BS in 10 law is designed to promote higher education for RN’s while also creating leadership opportunities in education, management, and patient care. The legislation also encourages continuous learning. The medical field is always evolving with innovations and technology, driving new procedures and methods of care and treatment. As in most professional careers, current certifications and continuing education are valued among employees and employers. Currently, New York is the only State with such legislation, but New Jersey and Rhode Island have put forth BSN in 10 bills that have not passed. North Dakota had a similar law in 1987 but was forced to abandon it in 2003 due to a shortage of nurses. There are also 33 states known as “compact states” that recognize a valid RN license obtained in another compact state, allowing that nurse to practice without further requirements.

It is fair to note that with the BS in 10 law in place, New York is the Top 5 States with the least demand for nurses in 2030. The projections show an “overage” of around 18,000 more nurses than what the market calls. “Where I see the problem is on the education side,” shares Martha Desmond. The active RN’s aren’t the only ones looking at retirement: one-third of the current nursing faculty workforce in baccalaureate and graduate programs are expected to retire by 2025. “If we don’t start paying the educators more, there will be a shortage of younger faculty. That’s my fear. What’s going to happen to nursing educators?” The American Associate of Colleges of Nursing reported in March 2017 that the average salary for a master’s prepared Assistant Professor in schools of nursing was $78,575. The average salary of a nurse practitioner with that level of education is $97,083.

Navigating through the perfect storm

Many prospective nursing students seek nursing programs at community colleges or private schools, in large part because nursing schools run by hospitals closed in the mid-1980s. At that time, community colleges became a popular alternative. “Hudson Valley’s applicant pool has always been significantly high. I think it’s because of the cost and value of the program. For example, this year, we have had 900 applicants for our fall program that teaches 100 students,” states Desmond.

Hudson Valley Community College also created an option based on the growing demand of students returning to school for an education needed to start a new career path. The Advanced Option allows eligible students (BA degree) to begin the Nursing program in the summer, condensing two core clinical nursing courses (Nursing 1 and Nursing 2) in the first term. They’ll go into the traditional Nursing 3 in the fall and complete their studies the following spring with Nursing 4, where you will have the option to start taking courses towards your BSN degree through Empire State College. “I’m getting students with degrees in Biology, Psychology who are saying, ‘What I am going to do with this? I thought I wanted a career in research, but it’s not for me.’  They want to be a nurse. Because of the demand of these students, we have created this option,” says Desmond.

There are also online RN to BSN programs available to students. SUNY Empire State College (ESC) RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for RN’s looking for part-time, online, or face-to-face courses. Most ESC students enroll on a part-time basis and complete the program in about 24-36 months. The University of Buffalo offers a two-year track BNS programs. Graduates report high satisfaction with the overall program, calling it a “transformational” experience. A BS in 10 years actually takes less time than you think, once you’ve completed to your associate’s degree in nursing certification, you are more than halfway to your BSN.

Looking back on the factors leading to the projected nursing shortage, it’s refreshing to learn that there is still interest in the field. “I wasn’t thinking about how far I could go with nursing, I was thinking about my options,” recalls Joanne McCarthy. “The flexible hours, you don’t have to work in a hospital, and when most women have to consider the needs of your family — when you have to balance that as a nurse, you still have a good job and make time to be home to take care of your family as well. When I worked three 10 hour shifts or three 12 hours, I looked at it this way; you’re out more but your home more. I personally think for those who have to meet the demands of family and career — it’s a great field. You can be a school nurse, a camp nurse, work for an insurance company, for a doctors office, you can work for the State. Some jobs let you work from home because of Telemedicine. There are plenty of options. I don’t know why someone wouldn’t consider nursing. And, if you want the critical medical experience, you can do that too.”

Capital Cardiology Associates currently has openings Medical Assistants and Registered Nurses. To view our opportunities, click below​.

Written by: Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator, Capital Cardiology Associates
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.