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Posted on Mar 07,2017

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital believes that healthy children start with mom, and that is why the hospital brings A Woman’s Journey health symposium to the area every year. The annual symposium led by Johns Hopkins Medicine has inspired women for more than 20 years to make the most effective health decisions for herself and loved ones.

In the Tampa Bay area, the event has empowered women locally for the past six years. This year, guests attended programs in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota featuring talks from three faculty members at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine about hormones, aging and the immune system.  Below is a recap and key takeaways from the 2017 event:

Hot Topics in Aging Research - Colleen Christmas, M.D.

Christmas is a gerontologist and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She discussed ways to age successfully and her advice included:

  • Medication Management: Keep a running list of your prescriptions, and check them twice.
    • Of all of the prescription pain pills in the world, the United States consumes 70-90 percent of them.
    • 1 in 5 people are taken to the hospital due to medications.
    • If you are taking five or more medications, there is an 80 percent chance that pills could negatively interact with each other.
  • Physical Health: Exercise offers a variety of health benefits, and it doesn’t have to be vigorous.
    • 40 minutes of exercise, three times a week is beneficial.
    • Exercise helps with osteoporosis and balance problems, and can also offer the same benefits to battle depression as anti-depressants.
  • Importance of Sleep: We spend a third of our life sleeping.
    • Every cell in our body creates some type of waste product, and sleeping allows our brain to clear out beta-amyloids, protein fragments that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
    • You have to sleep to learn–your brain rehearses things during sleep, helping to create memories.
  • Brain Health: By age 85, there is a one in two chance of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
    • Women who have a gene called Apolipoprotein E4 (APOE-4) are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s, but their diet can lower the risk.
      • Avoid foods with high fat and trans fats.
      • Vitamin E is important. Good sources are spinach, mangos and kale.
      • Nuts and grains are also beneficial. 

Immune System Gone Awry – Laura Hummers, M.D., Sc.M.

Hummers is a rheumatologist and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As a rheumatologist, she takes care of both patients with arthritis and systemic (areas affected all throughout the body) autoimmune diseases. Hummers shared rheumatology basics, news on breakthrough research and advice:

  • An autoimmune disease is diagnosed when there is evidence in a patient’s blood that they make an antibody – or immune reaction – against proteins in their own cells. Essentially, the body is attacking healthy cells.
  • There are more than 100 autoimmune diseases.
    • Symptoms vary (underactive thyroid, fatigue, weight gain, etc.), so it’s important to know your body and what’s normal for you.
    • The latest research shows that there could be genetic components to autoimmune disease, making some women predisposed. Medications, viruses and bacteria could also be a trigger.
      • Know your family history really well, and establish a strong relationship with your physician. 

Far Reaches of Hormones - Wen Shen, M.D, M.P.H.

Shen is assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with a focus on perimenopausal and post-menopausal women.

  • Zigzagging Ovarian Hormones–While men have a steady decrease of testosterone throughout their life, a woman’s hormones fluctuate.
    • Studies suggest menopause could be linked to hypertension (high blood pressure) and autoimmune diseases.
    • Post-menopause hormone therapy could lead to improved cognitive sharpness and quality of life when catered to a woman’s specific needs.
Learn more about the 2017 A Woman’s Journey.


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