University of Pennsylvania Health System

Penn Health and Wellness

Monday, June 24, 2013

First Bilateral Hand Transplant in Region Performed at Penn Medicine

The first bilateral hand transplant in the Greater Philadelphia region was recently performed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Under the leadership of the Penn Transplant Institute, the extensive 11 1/2-hour procedure was performed by Penn’s Hand Transplant Program in close partnership with the Gift of Life Donor Program.

Penn’s Hand Transplant Program is a joint venture of the Penn Transplant Institute, Penn Orthopaedics and Penn Plastic Surgery. The multidisciplinary team is dedicated to working together to restore independence to amputees who have lost their arms and legs

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summertime Injuries – Penn is Here to Help

Summer is finally here and with it comes trips to the pool, going to the beach, outdoor runs, tending to our gardens, and firing up the grill. Kids are out of school and begging you to play basketball, soccer or other outdoor activities.

For some, these extra activities are a kind of seasonal re-commitment to fitness, weight loss and relaxation. But for a few, some of these activities can lead to unexpected injuries and accidents, some even needing serious medical attention. And, as the motto goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Which means, knowing where to go if anything does happen is a good idea to have in mind.

In case of injury, whether a sprained ankle, broken foot or any other musculoskeletal injury, the orthopaedic team at Penn Medicine is ready to help. In most cases, you can even see a physician on the same day.
Highly skilled and highly specialized, Penn Orthopaedic physicians treat each joint condition, spinal disorder or sports injury with a personalized approach. With ten orthopaedic subspecialties, physicians at Penn Orthopaedics not only treat more complex conditions — they are uniquely qualified to treat each condition individually.

Penn Orthopaedics offer same-day appointments for:
  • Foot and ankle
  • General orthopaedics
  • Hand and wrist
  • Joint replacement
  • Neuro orthopaedics
  • Orthopaedic oncology
  • Shoulder and elbow
  • Spine
  • Sports medicine
  • Trauma and fracture care
“You call with any musculoskeletal need and we’ll see you that day,” says L. Scott Levin, MD, chair of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Please be safe and enjoy this summer. If you need us, we’re a call or a click away.

Atrial Fibrillation: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention Methods

Does your heart ever feel like it’s racing or doing somersaults in your chest?

Approximately 2.5 million Americans experience atrial fibrillation (AFib) each year. This common heart disorder occurs when electrical signals in the heart become irregular, causing the heart to beat out of rhythm. The normal range for a heart rate is 60 to 100 beats a minute while the heart rate in atrial fibrillation may range from 100 to 175 beats a minute.

Causes and Symptoms
Causes of atrial fibrillation vary and range from existing heart problems to infections to chronic conditions like obesity and sleep apnea.  Common risk factors and conditions that may cause AFib are:
  • Congenital heart defects (defects you are born with)
  • Heart attack, or a damaged heart muscle from a past heart attack
  • Heart valve diseases
  • Heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Substances or drugs, including alcohol, caffeine, or stimulants 
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation vary and many people are unaware they have AFib until it’s diagnosed during a regular physical exam. While the most common symptom is a fast or irregular heartbeat, others who have AFib may also experience lightheadedness, shortness of breath, lack of energy and chest pain. The biggest danger of atrial fibrillation is to leave it untreated.  If you experience symptoms, call your physician immediately.

How You Can Defend Against AFib
Since atrial fibrillation is often caused by conditions that cause damage or place extra strain on the heart, making simple lifestyle changes to improve your heart health may help protect against AFib.
  • Don't smoke. Avoid alcohol and stimulants.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil. 
  • Stay active. Get regular exercise on most days of the week. Your physician can suggest a safe level of exercise for you. 
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure. 
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in your target range.
  • Find ways to cope with stress.
For additional information on atrial fibrillation and treatment options, download Penn’s Guide to AFib.

Why Choose Penn Medicine for AFib Care
Penn Medicine’s Cardiac Arrhythmia Program is one of the largest in the country and performs more than six times the national standard of AFib ablations procedures. So patients like Dominic, a retired Philadelphia police officer, receive the most advanced care from an experienced team of physicians, nurses and support staff.

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