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Virginia Hospital Center Arlington VA
Virginia Hospital Center is a Leapfrog Top Hospital – Again!
Virginia Hospital Center is a Leapfrog Top Hospital – Again!
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Obesity is a chronic disease that can contribute to dozens of health problems. If you have repeatedly failed supervised diet, medications, exercise, behavior modification programs and other options, if it is challenging for you to lose weight and keep it off, you may consider the surgical procedures. The comprehensive Weight Loss Surgery Program at Virginia Hospital Center will provide you with everything you need to achieve your goal. From our board-certified surgeons, state of the art facility and equipment, to specialized support groups and fitness classes, we are here for you every step of the way to ensure the positive outcome.

After returning home from working abroad in the Foreign Service, Jane Zimmerman, 54, decided it was time to take charge of her health. “I’ve struggled with weight all my life, but it had really gotten out of control the last 10 years,” she says. “I also was having sleep apnea and signs of pre-diabetes.”

Jane attended a free weight loss surgery seminar at Virginia Hospital Center led by bariatric surgeon C. Steeve David, MD, FACS, and discovered the wide range of surgical options and the benefits and disadvantages of each procedure. “I had been considering lap band surgery, but, after consultation with Dr. David, I ended up having a sleeve gastrectomy—a laparoscopic procedure to remove a portion of the stomach.”

“Virginia Hospital Center has a comprehensive weight loss surgery program, offering the full range of weight loss surgery procedures and revision surgery,” says Dr. David of VHC Physician Group–Surgical Specialists. “What’s more, we are constantly evaluating and adopting the newest procedures in our field, including the Orbera™ Intragastric Balloon System and the AspireAssist® device.” Virginia Hospital Center is certified as a comprehensive program by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, which attests to the high quality of the Center and adherence to rigorous national standards.

In the months prior to her surgery, Jane met regularly with Dr. David and the team at Surgical Specialists, including Betsy Crisafulli, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Betsy helped Jane begin a pre-op weight loss program and plan how to adapt to a healthy, high-protein diet after surgery. “Betsy emphasized that surgery is not a cure, but a powerful tool. My success depends on the choices I make,” says Jane.

“Our weight loss surgery team supports patients every step of the way. Patients have a very personalized experience here—one that lasts a lifetime,” says Dr. David. Patients see their surgeon and dietitian for follow-up visits on a regular basis the first two years after surgery and annually thereafter. Attending the Hospital’s Bariatric Surgery Support Group brings patients together who are months or years into their weight loss surgery journey. They discuss feelings and emotions post-surgery, how to overcome challenges and ways to achieve success.

“Dr. David is a very respectful, attentive, compassionate listener. He genuinely enjoys the sense of fulfillment that comes from making a difference in people’s lives, like mine,” says Jane. Before Jane’s surgery, her weight was over 200 pounds and her body mass index was over 35. Surgery was performed on a Monday and she went home the next night. Two weeks later, she was back at work.

“I was well prepared to deal with my post-op recovery and the lifestyle changes I had to make,” says Jane, who has lost more than 65 pounds. “Within a short time, my medical issues disappeared.” About four months after her surgery, Jane and her family returned to Cyprus, where they had once lived. “Scrambling around old ruins—I’m now able to keep up with my son in a way I hadn’t in years and years,” she says. “It is a dream come true.”

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Dr. R. Perrin, Interventional Cardiologist, and Dr. Emily Caster, Clinical Neuropsychology & Psychology of VHC Physician Group interviewed By Sarah Markel, Northern Virginia Magazine

Cardiovascular Disease
Over time, high blood pressure, weight gain and insulin resistance can lead to problems for the heart and vascular system, especially when the underlying sleep problem is not addressed. “The harmful effects of inadequate sleep appear to be cumulative,” says Dr. R. Preston Perrin, medical director of cardiology at Virginia Hospital Center. “The short-term effects add up over time to increase the chance of developing heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.”

Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk for heart attack by about 48 percent and stroke risk by 15 percent even after other factors like diet, genetics, exercise habits and smoking are controlled for. “People don’t understand how significant an impact this can have on your overall cardiovascular health,” says Perrin. “Sleep is one of these things where the more you learn about it, the more you learn that everything truly is interconnected.”

Shortened Lifespan
A study of state workers in Wisconsin found that people with severe, untreated sleep apnea were three times more likely to die than people without sleep apnea. Short sleepers have higher mortality rates, too: A 2010 study conducted at Penn State showed significantly higher death rates from a variety of causes over a 14-year period among men who got less than six hours of sleep per night.

When it comes to sleep deprivation, the best intervention, says Dr. R. Preston Perrin, medical director of cardiology at Virginia Hospital Center, is prevention. “It is absolutely critical to try to get the proper amount of sleep as part of a more holistic health and lifestyle intervention.”

High Blood Pressure
About half a million Northern Virginians live with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. While many factors like diet, lifestyle, and genetics can contribute to the condition, lack of sleep can also cause blood pressure to rise. This is especially true for people who have sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, says Dr. Lawrence Stein, the director of the sleep lab at Virginia Hospital Center.

During deep sleep, the non-REM phase of sleep, the brain slows down and the heart rate drops. People with sleep disorders may spend as little as 4 percent of their night in deep sleep. As a result, the body remains in an aroused state when it should be in repair mode. “Even in the short term, that constant state of arousal increases inflammatory markers that can cause problems like high blood pressure,” Virginia Hospital Center’s medical director of cardiology Dr. R. Preston Perrin says.

Chronic sleep deprivation can make it harder for people who already have hypertension to control the condition. Over time this can add up to major problems. “If you have uncontrolled pressure, you have higher risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as kidney failure,” Perrin says.

Five Tips for Better Sleep
Know when to call in the experts: For some people, home treatments are just not enough to get a good night’s rest. And it’s not just sleep disorders and insomnia that people should keep in mind when trying to sleep. “A lot of things can impair sleep: arthritic problems, acid reflux, asthma, heart disease, post-nasal drip, allergies,” says Dr. Lawrence Stein, the director of the sleep lab at the Virginia Hospital Center. “That’s why we need to look at the whole picture to address sleep disorders.”

Breathe deeply: A growing body of evidence supports mindfulness-based interventions for better sleep, particularly for people with insomnia. In a 2014 study of older adults with insomnia, participants who attended a six-week meditation class had less insomnia, daytime fatigue and depression than a control group who focused solely on improving their sleep habits.

Practice sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene is a set of practices sleep experts recommend to promote good sleep. Kate Alie, a wellness coordinator with the Virginia Department of Health, notes that even though these practices sound like common sense, many people don’t realize how important they are to good sleep. They include using the bedroom only for sleeping, avoiding stimulants for four to six hours before bed and not exercising late in the day. “It may not happen overnight, but when you start adopting these healthier practices, you are going to notice the difference,” Alie says. For the full list of sleep hygiene tips, visit

Create a sleep-friendly environment: Keep electronic devices and work materials out of the bedroom. Because even small amounts of light can interfere with sleep, make sure to keep the room as dark as possible. Blackout shades, heavy curtains, and an eye mask can make a huge difference in quality of sleep, Caster says. Consider using a white noise machine to drown out noise and keep the bedroom at a comfortable cool temperature.

Develop a sleep routine: According to Emily Caster, a clinical psychologist at Virginia Hospital Center who specializes in sleep disorders, one of the most effective sleep hygiene practices is to create a series of bedtime rituals. “Drop physical hints to yourself that it’s bedtime about an hour before sleep,” says Caster. For example, dim the lights, change into comfortable sleepwear and engage in a soothing activity like reading or listening to soft music. “When your body perceives that change, it gets ready for sleep.” It is important to follow this routine at the same time every night, says Caster. “The pattern of habit gets you into sleep mode.”

To read this article, click on the link below.

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Saturday, March 25 - FREE Community Event:
Joint Replacement Surgery - Is It For You?

Our expert panel of physicians, nurses and physical therapists from the Joint Replacement Center will cover everything you need to know about hip and knee replacement, from start to finish. You’ll learn how new advances in pain management are leading to shorter hospital stays of two days or less, and making recovery much more comfortable.

Register Now!

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February Americal Hearth Month

- What does it mean when we say a "family history of heart disease"?
- What are you doing for exercise?
- If you’re experiencing symptoms, you can use the app to actually do an EKG...
- Many patients have read highly provocative stories in non-scientific magazines...

Four Cardiologists Talk About Your Heart Health

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Top Doctors
Richard P. Perrin, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Medical Director, Cardiology Services featured in the Northern Virginia Magazine’s (cover) 2017 Top Doctors issue.

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Betsy Crisafulli, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group, has tips for eating out deliciously AND healthfully!

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The Virginia hospitals getting high satisfaction ratings on both survey questions from 80 percent or more of their patients in 2015 were: Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach, Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, Haymarket Medical Center in Prince William County, Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center and Riverside Doctors’ Hospital Williamsburg.

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