October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual month-long campaign to create awareness of the disease, is upon us. One of the most successful campaigns in support of medical research, funding and action, Breast Cancer Awareness highlights the importance of better overall health for women across the United States – well beyond breast health. As a multi-specialty medical and surgical practice offering Gastroenterology, Urology, Rheumatology, Internal Medicine, Dermatology, Pediatrics and Podiatry, Premier Medical Group of the Hudson Valley is working to take gender-specific diagnoses, treatment and care to a whole new level.
As a population, women have significantly different medical needs than men. In a study reported by HealthDay, research found that “stress triggers different physical and mental reactions in women and men with heart disease” citing that “stress had a greater impact on blood pressure and heart rate in men, while women were more likely to experience decreased blood flow to the heart and increased clumping of blood cells associated with clot formation. Women also had a greater increase in negative emotions and a larger decline in positive emotions” while performing a variety of mentally stressful tasks. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, but until recently, many symptoms and forms of treatment fell under guidelines specific to the male population, only.
Women’s stress is on the rise at a greater rate than men. According to a study “Stress and Gender: 2010” by the American Psychological Association almost half of all women (49 percent) surveyed said their stress has increased over the past five years, compared to four in 10 (39 percent) men. Women wear many hats such as wife, mother, teacher, chauffer, chef, working professional, and caregiver. Women frequently put the well-being of others ahead of their own, not recognizing the negative impact on their health, both mental and physical.
Dr. Zana Nikolla of Premier Medical Group Gastroenterology Division, a prominent female physician and head of Premier’s Motility and Manometry research, reports that her patients reflect this national trend. Studies have shown that psychological stress plays a part in the function of the gastro intestinal (GI) tract, resulting in disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, often exacerbating associated symptoms. While the GI tract of men and women are relatively the same, women tend to suffer from unique conditions due to fluctuations in hormone levels during pregnancy, delivery, menopause, and as a result of stress, lack of exercise and other factors.
In 2013, Premier Medical Group opened one of the only centers in the Hudson Valley to focus on women’s unique health requirements. The Premier Women’s Center for Continence and Sexual Health takes a positive and forward-thinking stand in combating the stigma of female-centric disease and irregularity. Dr. Daniel Katz, head urologist of the Center which is located in Poughkeepsie, saw the pressing need for the facility’s compassionate and scientific approach: “When I came to the community as a general urologist over 20 years ago, I noticed that no one was treating the full range of women’s pelvic floor and continence issues in a systematic, comprehensive and discreet fashion. I realized that if you did treat these concerns, and treated them successfully in a comfortable environment, you could have a significant impact on someone’s life. These may not be life or death situations, but the changes possible are dramatic and more than a few patients have told us we have ‘given them back their life.’ That is a very rewarding statement for a doctor to hear. It makes us very proud to offer our community this level of care.” Premier Women’s Center combines up-to-date medical treatments with collaborative decision making and individualized patient treatment strategies for health concerns, including urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and sexual health issues.
Additionally, Premier Medical Group’s Clinical Research Department has conducted over 300 clinical trials in the last 20 years. It is because of these trials that a variety of drugs have been approved for use, along with research studies that have specifically helped women living with female sexual dysfunction, nocturia, vaginal atrophy, and pelvic organ prolapse.