The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa focuses on Heart Health for February

The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa focuses on Heart Health for February

With February being Heart Health Awareness Month the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group seeks to expand on the American Heart Association’s (AHA) focus on heart health. Dr. Tara Bartlett, D.O. shares some tips on what women need to be on the lookout for, along with some ideas for staying healthy.

With February being Heart Health Awareness Month the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group seeks to expand on the American Heart Association’s (AHA) focus on heart health. In this article the group shares some tips on what women need to be on the lookout for, along with some tips for staying healthy.

According to the AHA women may have a slightly lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (35 percent compared to 37.4 percent for men) but they are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than are men. As many as one out of three deaths among women are attributed to heart disease. Perhaps the most alarming statistic is the one that puts 90 percent of all women in the crosshairs for having one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.

It’s all about healthy living

There is some good news in the world of facts about women and heart health – 80 percent of heart disease and stroke events could be prevented simply by making a few lifestyle changes. Becoming educated about cardiovascular disease is also important. At the top of the list of increasing a woman’s chance of surviving cardiovascular disease is learning the signs and symptoms of heart disease and heart attacks before they happen. Among the things women can to do get and stay heart healthy includes: taking up a healthy diet of whole foods (avoiding processed alternatives), keeping weight at a normal BMI level, getting plenty of exercise (at least 20 minutes a day), controlling high blood pressure if you have it, avoiding excess salt and not smoking.

Fitness is a factor for women of all ages, and even more significant for those who have known risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Making specific lifestyle changes is one of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart.

Signs to watch out for

When it comes to heart attacks, a cardiovascular event can be very different for women when compared to what men experience. Women’s symptoms tend to be much milder and less specific than men’s and may include seemingly innocuous symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, indigestion and weakness in the arms. Some women experience a sense of foreboding for no apparent reason. These symptoms are often missed, or dismissed, by women and misdiagnosed by health care professionals.

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about the fact that women are often treated less aggressively by medical professionals once they’ve had a heart attack. They are also reportedly less likely than men to receive medications that prevent future heart events such as beta blockers, statins and ACE inhibitors.

When women are empowered to understand the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, they have a greater opportunity to be proactive about their own healthcare. It’s more important than ever for women to be educated about heart disease, as it’s the leading cause of death for both women and men in this country.

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit the website.

Mediterranean diet may boost fertility in women undergoing IVF

women who follow a 'Mediterranean' diet in the six months before assisted reproductive treatment have a significantly better chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a live baby than women who did not.

New research has found that women who follow a ‘Mediterranean’ diet in the six months before assisted reproductive treatment have a significantly better chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a live baby than women who did not.

New research has found that women who follow a “Mediterranean” diet in the six months before assisted reproductive treatment have a significantly better chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a live baby than women who did not.

Researchers asked women about their diet before they underwent in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment and found that those who ate more fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, fish and olive oil, and less red meat, had a 65-68% greater likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy and birth compared to women with the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean-style diet.

The study, which is published today (Tuesday) in Human Reproduction, focused on dietary patterns rather than individual nutrients, foods or food groups. It assessed the diet of 244 women via a food frequency questionnaire when they enrolled at an Assisted Conception Unity in Athens, Greece, for their first IVF treatment. The questionnaire asked them about how often they ate certain groups of food in the preceding six months; the results gave the women a MedDiet Score, which ranged from 0-55 with higher scores indicating greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet. The women were aged between 22-41 and were non-obese (body mass index of less than 30 kg/m2).

Researchers, led by Associate Professor Nikos Yiannakouris at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University of Athens, divided the women into three groups depending on their MedDiet Score: the first group had scores between 18 to 30, the second scored between 31-35 and the third group scored between 36 to 47.

They found that compared to the 86 women in the highest scoring group, the 79 women in the lowest scoring group had significantly lower rates of pregnancies (29% versus 50%) and live births (26.6% versus 48.8%). When the researchers looked at women younger than 35 years old, they found that every five-point improvement in the MedDiet Score was linked with an approximately 2.7 times higher likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy and live birth.

Overall, 229 women (93.9%) had at least one embryo transferred to their wombs; 138 (56%) had a successful implantation; 104 (42.6%) achieved a clinical pregnancy (one that can be confirmed by ultrasound); and 99 (40.5%) gave birth to a live baby.

“The important message from our study is that women attempting fertility should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, because greater adherence to this healthy dietary pattern may help increase the chances of successful pregnancy and delivering a live baby,” said Prof Yiannakouris.

“It should be noted that when it comes to conceiving a baby, diet and lifestyle are just as important for men as for women. Previous work from our research group among the male partners of our study has suggested that adherence to the Mediterranean diet may also help improve semen quality. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of dietary influences and diet quality on fertility, and support a favourable role for the Mediterranean diet on assisted reproduction performance.”

The researchers did not find any association between diet and the chances of successful pregnancies and live births among women aged 35 and older. However, they believe this is because hormonal changes, fewer available eggs and other changes that women experience as they get older could mask the influences of environmental factors such as diet.

Prof Yiannakouris said: “The fact that in our study a favourable effect of the Mediterranean diet was evident only among women younger than 35 years doesn’t mean that eating a healthy diet is not as important for older women. Our results suggest the need for additional research not only among older women, but also among women with obesity problems and in women conceiving naturally.”

The researchers say that their findings cannot be generalised to all women trying to become pregnant, nor to obese women or women attending other infertility clinics around the world. They point out that their findings show that a Mediterranean diet is only linked to improved IVF outcomes and they cannot show that it causes the improved chances of pregnancy and birth.

“Our findings provide support that couples undergoing infertility treatment may benefit by adhering to the Mediterranean diet (a diet widely accepted for its positive effects on human health); however, whether or not advice to adhere more closely to this traditional diet would improve assisted reproduction performance needs to be addressed in future intervention studies. Moreover, our results should be explored and confirmed in other populations within and beyond the Mediterranean region. Clearly more research and intervention studies are needed to elucidate the role of diet quality in assisted reproductive performance, to reveal underlying mechanisms, and for developing nutritional guidelines for women to further improve fertility treatment and success rates.

“As more couples worldwide face infertility problems and seek access to assisted reproduction technologies to conceive, it is essential for them to receive counselling on the importance of dietary influences and of adopting a healthy lifestyle,” concluded Prof Yiannakouris.


Story Source:

Materials provided by European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal References:

Dimitrios Karayiannis, Meropi D Kontogianni, Christina Mendorou, Minas Mastrominas, Nikos Yiannakouris. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and IVF success rate among non-obese women attempting fertility. Human Reproduction, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/humrep/dey003

Dimitrios Karayiannis, Meropi D. Kontogianni, Christina Mendorou, Lygeri Douka, Minas Mastrominas, Nikos Yiannakouris. Association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and semen quality parameters in male partners of couples attempting fertility. Human Reproduction, 2016; DOI: 10.1093/humrep/dew288


Read this article on Science Daily: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. “Mediterranean diet may help women receiving IVF to achieve successful pregnancies.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180129223846.htm.

Risk of heart disease goes up with breast cancer treatment

Some breast cancer therapies can damage the heart and healthcare providers should carefully monitor breast cancer treatment effects on the heart. Breast cancer survivors, especially older women, are more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure rather than breast cancer.Some breast cancer therapies can damage the heart and healthcare providers should carefully monitor breast cancer treatment effects on the heart. Breast cancer survivors, especially older women, are more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure rather than breast cancer.

Breast cancer patients may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases including heart failure and may benefit from a treatment approach that weighs the benefits of specific therapies against potential damage to the heart, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association published in its journal Circulation.

The statement is an overview of what we currently know about risk factors common to both heart disease and breast cancer, the potential heart damage from some breast cancer treatments, and suggested strategies to prevent or minimize the damage. Breast cancer survivors, especially older women over the age of 65, are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer, underscoring the importance of effectively managing heart disease risk factors during and following cancer treatment.

“Any patient who is going to undergo breast cancer treatment, whether they have heart disease at the beginning or not, should be aware of the potential effects of the treatments on their heart,” said Laxmi Mehta, M.D., chair of the writing group for the new scientific statement. “This should not deter or scare patients from undergoing breast cancer treatment, but should allow them to make informed decisions with their doctor on the best cancer treatment for them.”

During cancer treatments, patients should pay attention not only to their breast health, but also to their general health, including their heart, said Dr. Mehta, who is director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program and an associate professor of medicine at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

For example, some cancer treatments, such as HER-2 targeted therapies, can cause weakening of the heart muscle, a condition known as heart failure. HER-2 is a specific type of breast cancer. In some cases, the reduction in heart function is temporary and cessation of the treatment and/or the addition of heart medicines can improve function. But in some breast cancer patients, heart failure can be permanent. Because of this, the early development of heart failure can signal a need to slow down and/or alter a patient’s breast cancer treatment because of the risk for worsening the condition or the development of permanent heart failure.

Some small studies suggest that administering common chemotherapy agents in new ways may reduce heart disease risks. Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug used in breast cancer therapy that can lead to the damage of heart cells. Studies have shown that when doxorubicin is administered slowly, rather than all at once, patients may have a lower risk of heart failure.

In addition, a drug called dexrazoxane that could reduce cell damage has recently been approved for patients with metastatic breast cancer who receive high doses of doxorubicin. More studies will need to be done to confirm whether the results of the smaller studies are seen in larger groups of patients.

Other treatments, such as radiation, can affect the heart arteries and cause the development of coronary artery disease or blockages. Some breast cancer treatment agents, such as anthracyclines, can result in abnormal heart rhythms that in some patients are benign but in others can lead to life-threatening heart rhythms. And, some treatments — like antimetabolites — can cause spasm of the heart arteries, which can cause chest pain symptoms but could lead to heart attacks as well.

Heart disease and breast cancer share a number of risk factors, including advanced age, poor diet, family history, physical inactivity and tobacco use. The fact that these diseases share some risk factors suggests that there are lifestyle choices, primarily diet and exercise, that could help decrease the risks of developing both diseases. Healthcare providers should monitor a woman’s heart health before, during and after breast cancer treatment.

Adherence to a number of ideal heart health behaviors or factors from the American Heart Association’s’ Life’s Simple 7 is associated with a trend towards a lower incidence of breast cancer. Life’s Simple 7 includes being physically active, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

“Fortunately, with the advances in breast cancer treatment, there has been a growing number of survivors. However, during and after the treatment of breast cancer, having optimal control of heart disease risk factors is important, because older breast cancer survivors are more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer,” Dr. Mehta said. “And that’s why Life’s Simple 7 is important for all patients with and without breast cancer.”

Although there are an estimated 47.8 million women in the U.S. who are living with cardiovascular diseases and approximately 3 million breast cancer survivors, many people regard breast cancer as the primary threat to women’s health. It is important to recognize the overlap of heart disease and breast cancer as both entities impact survival.

Story Source: Read this article on Science Daily: American Heart Association. “Breast cancer treatments may increase the risk of heart disease: American Heart Association scientific statement.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180201085812.htm.


The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com

Mothers over 40 more at risk of preterm birth

Maternal age over 40 is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth Mothers aged 30-34 years old may have the lowest risk of preterm birth
Pregnant mothers aged 40 and over may have an increased risk for preterm birth, regardless of confounding factors, according to a new study.
Pregnant mothers aged 40 and over may have an increased risk for preterm birth, regardless of confounding factors, according to a study published January 31, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Florent Fuchs from CHU Sainte Justine, Canada and colleagues.

Maternal age at pregnancy has been increasing worldwide and so has the risk for preterm birth. However, the association between maternal age and preterm birth remains a topic of ongoing research.

Fuchs and colleagues sought to investigate the impact of maternal age on preterm birth in a large cohort. The researchers analyzed the previously-collected data from the QUARISMA randomized controlled trial, which had taken place in 32 hospitals in Quebec, Canada, from 2008 to 2011.

The researchers identified five different age groups among the 165,282 pregnancies included in the study, and compared them based on maternal characteristics, gestational and obstetric complications, and risk factors for prematurity. Some of the known risk factors identified more commonly in older mothers (40 and over) included placental praevia, gestational diabetes, medical history, use of assisted reproduction technologies and occurrence of an invasive procedure. On the other hand, nulliparity, past drug use and smoking were more prevalent in younger mothers (30 and under).

Even after adjusting for confounding factors, the researchers found that advanced maternal age (40 or over) was associated with preterm birth. Meanwhile, a maternal age of 30-34 years was associated with the lowest risk of prematurity.


Read this article on Science Daily:  “Maternal age over 40 is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth: Mothers aged 30-34 years old may have the lowest risk of preterm birth.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180131160346.htm.


About Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group

The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Call for an appointment today: (707) 579-1102. Visit our website: www.womensobgynmed.com

Recent study reveals reproductive risk factors of heart disease and stroke for women

Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group talks about a new study while emphasizing that healthcare providers need to be vigilant about screening women for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group talks about a new study while emphasizing that healthcare providers need to be vigilant about screening women for cardiovascular disease.

Research containing new data on risk factors for heart attack and stroke comes from a very large study of more than half a million men and women of up to the age of 69 who were recruited between 2006 and 2010. Ultimately the health of 267,440 women and 215,088 men was tracked over the course of the study, or until participants had their first heart attack or stroke, whichever came first. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease when they entered the study. From this, more than 9,000 cases of cardiovascular disease were recorded, a third of which were in women.

Highlights of the study found higher risk factors for women who experienced:

  • periods starting before age 12 (10% increased risk)
  • early menopause (33% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, 42% of stroke)
  • pregnancy complications (up to 44% higher risk depending on factor)
  • Hysterectomy (12% cardiovascular disease, heart disease 20%)

This study was large, and the researchers determined a range of potentially influential factors (see full results here).

“This study is particularly important for healthcare providers,” explains Dr. Lela Emad of the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa. “Routine screening for cardiovascular issues is something we do for our patients and something we might be able to target better now, given this new information. This is something every healthcare provider needs to be aware of.”

Heart Disease: a serious health factor for women

The American Heart Association says cardiovascular diseases and stroke cause one out of three deaths in women every year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases. A whopping ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke and fewer women survive heart attacks then do men.

More than 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure, less than 50 percent of those with heart failure live a full five years following diagnosis. The deadly duo of heart disease and stroke are among the most prevalent and costly health complications today. Heart disease or stroke wreak havoc on people’s lives measured in increased medical bills, lost wages and decreased quality of living.

  • 5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in the United States
  • 800,000 deaths occur from heart disease each year, a total of 1 in every 3 deaths – about the same number as die from cancer, respiratory disease and accidents – combined
  • 150,000 of deaths from heart disease occur in people under age 65
  • $320 billion in health care costs and lost productivity were attributed to heart disease and stroke in 2011

The top five ways to manage heart disease include; controlling high blood pressure (with the help of a healthcare provider), a daily routine of physical activity (at least 20 minutes per day), eat whole foods (avoid processed alternatives), avoid excess salt and quit smoking.

“Fitness is a factor for women of all ages, and even more significant for those who have known risk factors for heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Emad.  “Lifestyle changes such as exercising, dieting, quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine are all examples of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart.”

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit our website.

 

Can working nights increase a woman’s cancer risk?

Among female nurses alone, those who worked the night shift had an increased risk of breast (58 percent), gastrointestinal (35 percent), and lung cancer (28 percent) compared with those that did not work night shifts. Of all the occupations analyzed, nurses had the highest risk of developing breast cancer if they worked the night shift.

Researchers performed a meta-analysis using data from 61 articles comprising 114,628 cancer cases and 3,909,152 participants from North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The articles consisted of 26 cohort studies, 24 case-control studies, and 11 nested case-control studies. These studies were analyzed for an association between long-term night shift work and risk of 11 types of cancer. A further analysis was conducted, which looked specifically at long-term night shift work and risk of six types of cancer among female nurses.

Overall, long-term night shift work among women increased the risk of cancer by 19 percent. When analyzing specific cancers, the researchers found that this population had an increased risk of skin (41 percent), breast (32 percent), and gastrointestinal cancer (18 percent) compared with women who did not perform long-term night shift work. After stratifying the participants by location, researcher Xuelei Ma found that an increased risk of breast cancer was only found among female night shift workers in North America and Europe.

“We were surprised to see the association between night shift work and breast cancer risk only among women in North America and Europe,” said Ma. “It is possible that women in these locations have higher sex hormone levels, which have been positively associated with hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer.”

Among female nurses alone, those who worked the night shift had an increased risk of breast (58 percent), gastrointestinal (35 percent), and lung cancer (28 percent) compared with those that did not work night shifts. Of all the occupations analyzed, nurses had the highest risk of developing breast cancer if they worked the night shift.

“Nurses that worked the night shift were of a medical background and may have been more likely to undergo screening examinations,” noted Ma. “Another possible explanation for the increased cancer risk in this population may relate to the job requirements of night shift nursing, such as more intensive shifts.”

The researchers also performed a dose-response meta-analysis among breast cancer studies that involved three or more levels of exposure. They found that the risk of breast cancer increased by 3.3 percent for every five years of night shift work.

“By systematically integrating a multitude of previous data, we found that night shift work was positively associated with several common cancers in women,” said Ma. “The results of this research suggest the need for health protection programs for long-term female night shift workers.

“Our study indicates that night shift work serves as a risk factor for common cancers in women,” said Ma. “These results might help establish and implement effective measures to protect female night shifters. Long-term night shift workers should have regular physical examinations and cancer screenings.

“Given the expanding prevalence of shift work worldwide and the heavy public burden of cancers, we initiated this study to draw public attention to this issue so that more large cohort studies will be conducted to confirm these associations,” he added.

A limitation of this work is a lack of consistency between studies regarding the definition of “long-term” night shift work, with definitions including “working during the night” and “working at least three nights per month.” Additional limitations include significant between-study heterogeneity and publication bias.


Read this article on ScienceDaily: American Association for Cancer Research. “Female night shift workers may have increased risk of common cancers.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180108090118.htm.

New study reveals: Women Really are Better Survivors

Women survive crises better than men Newborn girls are hardier than newborn boys during famines, epidemics
Women today tend to live longer than men almost everywhere worldwide — in some countries by more than a decade. Now, three centuries of historical records show that women don’t just outlive men in normal times: They’re also more likely to survive even in the worst of circumstances, such as famines and epidemics.
Women today tend to live longer than men almost everywhere worldwide — in some countries by more than a decade.

Now, three centuries of historical records show that women don’t just outlive men in normal times: They’re more likely to survive even in the worst of circumstances, such as famines and epidemics, researchers report.

Most of the life expectancy gender gap was due to a female survival advantage in infancy rather than adulthood, the researchers found. In times of adversity, newborn girls are more likely to survive.

The fact that women have an edge in infancy, when behavioral differences between the sexes are minimal, supports the idea that explanation is at least partly biological, the researchers say.

Led by Virginia Zarulli, an assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark, and James Vaupel, a research professor at Duke University, the team analyzed mortality data going back roughly 250 years for people whose lives were cut short by famine, disease or other misfortunes.

The data spanned seven populations in which the life expectancy for one or both sexes was a dismal 20 years or less. Among them were working and former slaves in Trinidad and the United States in the early 1800s, famine victims in Sweden, Ireland and the Ukraine in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and Icelanders affected by the 1846 and 1882 measles epidemics.

In Liberia, for example, freed American slaves who relocated to the West African country in the 1800s experienced the highest mortality rates ever recorded. More than 40 percent died during their first year, presumably wiped out by tropical diseases they had little resistance to. Babies born during that time rarely made it past their second birthday.

Another group of people living in Ireland in the 1840s famously starved when a potato blight caused widespread crop failure. Life expectancy plummeted by more than 15 years.

Overall the researchers discovered that, even when mortality was very high for both sexes, women still lived longer than men by six months to almost four years on average.

Girls born during the famine that struck Ukraine in 1933, for example, lived to 10.85, and boys to 7.3 — a 50 percent difference.

When the researchers broke the results down by age group, they found that most of the female survival advantage comes from differences in infant mortality. Newborn girls are hardier than newborn boys.

The results suggest that the life expectancy gender gap can’t be fully explained by behavioral and social differences between the sexes, such as risk-taking or violence.

Instead, the female advantage in times of crisis may be largely due to biological factors such as genetics or hormones. Estrogens, for example, have been shown to enhance the body’s immune defenses against infectious disease.

“Our results add another piece to the puzzle of gender differences in survival,” the researchers said.

The findings were published Jan. 8, 2018, in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Read this article on Science Daily:

Duke University. “Women survive crises better than men: Newborn girls are hardier than newborn boys during famines, epidemics.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180109105941.htm>.

Researchers use MRI for the first time ever in effort to decode early labor

Scientists are using the latest imaging techniques usually used to map the brain to try and understand why some pregnant women miscarry or go into early labor.
Scientists are using the latest imaging techniques usually used to map the brain to try and understand why some pregnant women miscarry or go into early labor.

They have developed 3D images of the cervix, the load bearing organ which lies at the base of the womb and stops a developing baby from descending into the birth canal before the due date.

Around a quarter of miscarriages during the fourth to sixth month of pregnancy (mid-trimester) occur because of weaknesses in the cervix.

The researchers at the University of Leeds hope by developing a detailed image of its structure, they can develop ways of monitoring women for signs of potential problems before they become pregnant.

Mr Nigel Simpson, Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said: “Ultrasound monitoring is used to identify women at risk — where their cervix is unable to support the pregnancy. But little is known about why that problem develops.

“This research is attempting to answer that question.”

MRI techniques were used to create 3D images of the cervix. This is the first time extremely high resolution imaging has been used to understand the detailed micro-structure of this organ.

The research is published in the international obstetrics and gynaecology journal, BJOG.

James Nott, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and lead author, said: “A lot of our understanding of the biology of the cervix is rooted in research carried out 50 years ago.

“By applying the imaging techniques that have been used on the brain, we can get a much clearer understanding of the tissue architecture that gives the cervix its unique biomechanical properties.”

The images reveal a fibrous structure running along the upper part of the cervix. The fibres are much more pronounced near to where it joins the womb. The fibres are made of collagen and smooth muscle and form a ring around the upper aspect of the cervical canal.

During pregnancy, these fibres provide a strong supporting barrier — keeping the fetus and amniotic sac in place and preventing micro-organisms from entering the uterus.

The images reveal that these support tissues are less prominent further down the cervix as it joins the birth canal.

During labour, the body releases chemicals which result in the cervix opening and allowing the baby to enter the birth canal.

But there are medical conditions where earlier in the pregnancy, the cervix fails to support the baby, leading to a miscarriage or premature birth.

Mr Simpson said: “This study’s findings have encouraged us to explore new imaging techniques to check the integrity of these fibres before or during pregnancy in order to identify at-risk mums, intervene earlier, and so prevent late pregnancy loss and pre-term birth.”

The study was funded by Cerebra, the charity for children with brain conditions.

The scientists used diffusion tensor MRI, which is a technology that can remotely sense different types of tissue based on their water content.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Leeds. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. JP Nott, E Pervolaraki, AP Benson, EA Bonney, JD Pickering, N Wilkinson, NAB Simpson. Diffusion tensor imaging determines three-dimensional architecture of human cervix: a cross-sectional study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.15002

Read this article on ScienceDaily, 20 December 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171220121758.htm.

Start the New Year Right: Quit the nicotine habit using the latest research model for success

In addition to lowering the effects of nicotine withdrawal, exercise is by far the best thing women can do to improve health.The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group shares insight into how women who have a nicotine habit can take advantage of the latest research trends for quitting that might just guarantee success; starting an exercise routine.

Smoking is a bad habit for anyone and for women it poses very specific problems, particularly for pregnant women and women who are considering pregnancy. “Now is the perfect time for women of all ages to make a commitment to stop smoking,” says Dr. Lela Emad Obstetrician & Gynecologist. “In light of the latest research, we’re asking all of our patients who smoke or use nicotine products, to make the commitment to change this one lifestyle habit, and start the New Year on a better track toward health.”

The Study 

Experts at St George’s University of London set out to understand the underlying mechanism that seems to be exercise’s way of supporting the body against nicotine dependence and withdrawal. The study revealed that even moderate exercise noticeably reduces the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. The findings help to validate the protective effect of exercise during smoking cessation; against the development of physical dependence, which may help smokers in giving up the habit by reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

The Impact of Smoking

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States, despite a significant decline in the number of people who smoke. More than 16 million Americans have at least one disease caused by smoking.

“If exercise works to decrease the symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal, then taking up an exercise routine and quitting the habit go hand in hand,” Dr. Emad says. “Statistics show that only 30 percent of women quit smoking when they find out they are pregnant, if we could make a dent in that number, it will have a positive impact on the well-being of both mothers and their children.”

Cigarette smoking alone kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. It causes direct damage to the body, which can lead to long-term health problems. We’ve all heard that smoking causes cancer, lung and heart disease, and stroke, but smoking also causes specific problems for women’s health including:

  • Decreased bone density
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Gum disease
  • Ulcers
  • Depression
  • Menstrual problems
  • Low birth-weight
  • Pre-term delivery

In addition to lowering the effects of nicotine withdrawal, exercise is by far the best thing women can do to improve health. Exercise has been found to increase a person’s overall energy level and it releases endorphins—which in turn increases a person’s happiness quotient. Ongoing research suggests that as little as 2.5 hours weekly (about 20 minutes a day) of moderate aerobic exercise such as walking provides all the major health benefits a body needs to stay healthy.

“What a great resolution for women of all ages to make for this New Year; stop smoking, start exercising,” Dr. Emad said.

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information call (707) 579-1102 or visit the Women’s OB/GYN website.

Discontinuance of Hormone Therapy May Be Hazardous to the Heart

A new study demonstrates that the risk of cardiac and stroke death actually increases in the first year after discontinuation of HT.
Hormone therapy (HT) continues to be a hotly debated topic. The benefits of estrogen to the heart, however, appear to be universally accepted. A new study demonstrates that the risk of cardiac and stroke death actually increases in the first year after discontinuation of HT. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Since publication of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trial data, there has been significant disagreement over the various risks and benefits of HT. What remains relatively unchallenged is the fact that estrogen has rapid beneficial vascular effects and that shorter periods between the onset of menopause and the initiation of HT provide greater protection against cardiovascular disease. This beneficial relationship between HT and protection against heart disease has led to the speculation that withdrawal from HT could result in clinically significant changes in arterial function. Although previous studies have shown that termination of estradiol-based HT led to significant increases in the risk of cardiac and stroke deaths, particularly during the first year, these results were questioned because women with documented heart problems had not been excluded from the study.

This study, however, involving more than 400,000 Finnish women excluded women with prior cardiac or stroke events. The results of the study, published in the article “Increased cardiac and stroke death risk in the first year after discontinuation of postmenopausal hormone therapy,” showed that discontinuation of HT was associated with an increased risk of cardiac and stroke death during the first posttreatment year, especially in women who discontinued HT aged younger than 60 years. This increased risk was not observed in women aged 60 years or older at the time of discontinuation.

“Since the initial Women’s Health Initiative reports, studies have shown that hormone therapy has many benefits and is safer than originally thought. This is especially true for symptomatic menopausal women younger than age 60 and within 10 years of menopause, as these women had fewer heart events and less risk of mortality,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “This new study suggests that younger women may have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke during the first year of discontinuation. Thus, women and their healthcare providers need to consider the benefits and risks of starting and stopping hormone therapy before making any decisions.”


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Materials provided by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Read this article on ScienceDaily.com: The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). “Risk of cardiac and stroke death increases after discontinuing hormone therapy: Highest risk occurs in first year after discontinuation, especially in women aged younger than 60 years.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171108124156.htm.