By Anjelica Michael
When our dog gets sick, owners tend to wonder if they could have done something to prevent the problem. This could help avoid inconvenient vet visits, and trying get your reluctant pooch to take the pills prescribed.
We caught up with Dr. Catherine McDaniel of the Old Dominion Animal Hospital in McLean to ask what simple things owners can do for their dog ahead of time to side-step illness or other health-related issues.
1. It’s all about the food
McDaniel stressed was feeding your dog a good quality diet, “Not the store brand,” which may be cost effective, but does not compare to other brands. She recommended Science Diet and said that the food quality can really make a difference in your dog’s skin and coat. McDaniel also advises owners to brush your dog’s teeth daily, even though it may be difficult. Bad dental health in dogs can later lead to a multitude of health problems that people don’t realize including heart, liver, and kidney issues.
2. Pooch Pedicure
With the rush of cold weather, McDaniel said it is extremely important to keep the fur around your dogs feet trimmed at all times, “to prevent slipping and sliding.”
“We’ve had a lot of dogs coming in who have slipped on ice,” she said. With excess fur in the way (especially between the pads on their feet,) the dogs feet cannot grip the ground well, which can lead to serious injury through a fall. Along the same lines, McDaniel says that daily brushing can save your dog from later discomfort. If not brushed frequently, she says that “the dog’s fur can become matted, and this can lead to skin sores from irritation.”
3. Always Watch behind the ears
Lastly, McDaniel pointed out that a lot of people don’t check their dog’s ears, but should once a week.
“Dogs are more prone to ear infections than cats,” she said. Moisture can become trapped in a dogs ear, leading to an infection. So when rubbing your furry friend behind the ear, peek inside to see if there is any redness, irritation or if something just doesn’t look right.
These easy tasks done by owners can keep your best friend happy and healthy, while also looking their best. But it is important to remember to keep up with your dog’s yearly veterinary check-ups, McDaniel says that along with yearly heartworm and flea/tick preventative medicines will be essential in warding off health problems in your dog.
Posted by Editorial / Thursday, January 9th, 2014
The Farmer’s Almanac has projected that Virginia will experience a particularly snowy winter this year. It’s about time.
One of our favorite past times during the winter months is enjoying the simple pleasure of gently gliding down a hill of powder on a comfy sleigh. Or nestling with the family on a Toboggan and holding on a long stretch down the slopes. Or speeding like a bullet down the steepest plunges around. Whatever your speed, sledding is a must this winter. Be prepared. —Robert Cameron Fowler
Sonic Snow Tube
When you climb into a tube and tilt yourself over the precipice, you’ve given yourself over to fate, blasting down the slope without any control. Which is why you want something sturdy and insulated, like L.L. Bean’s Sonic Snow Tube, built to last for years and able to zip along any type of snow, be it packed or powdery. Speed: Whoa! Control: It’s in God’s hands now.
Lucky Bums Wooden Toboggan – 48 in.
Get the entire family on the happiest of road trips—straight down a wintry slope. Toboggans are the most beautiful of sleigh rides, and the Lucky Bums Wooden Toboggan has all the features you want: built from smoothed wood, front curl to the leader of your pack to slot their feet into, and a comfy sled pad your family to sit back and enjoy the fun. Speed: Whoa! Control: Make sure you have a clear path.
PT Blaster Sled
Some slopes require the deft touch. When you are gliding past trees and jutting rocks, maneuverability is essential. The PT Blaster Sled, constructed from high-impact plastic and complete with steering, is a great way to navigate the more treacherous hills. Speed: Moderate Control: Easy to pilot.
Pelican Kinder Sleigh
Plastic is efficient, but it lacks winter magic and polish. This nostalgically crafted sleigh by Pelican Sports is perfect for your children, a safe and durable little sleigh that recalls the wooden sleds of yesteryear to mind. Speed: Moderate Control: Make sure you have a clear path.
Snow Sled Saucer Heavy Duty
If you are the straight-forward kind of rider and just want to zip down the slope at awesome speeds, go with a saucer. The Snow Sled Saucer Heavy Duty by MH Sleds is an incredibly sturdy and affordable dish for you to surf the snow on. Speed: Whoa! Control: Surrender to fate on this one.
Enjoy the winter wonderland of the best local hills for a sleigh ride.
A cherished favorite amongst Reston and Herndon residents, this broad and expansive hill beside the Unitarian Church provides enough open space for people of all ages
to glide down the packed-in snow at thrilling speeds. 1625 Wiehle Ave., Reston.
The Big Hill at Wolftrap
A quintessential sledding destination, this big ol’ hill will accommodate an army of sleigh-riders. Expect a smooth, long ride down the slope, which is not to steep and makes for a great time for the entire family. 1551 Trap Road, Vienna.
Do not take the name lightly. This short-but-steep slope will have you jetted off into high speeds—into a condo resting at the bottom of the hill if you’re not careful. Only true thrill seekers should take on this gnarly hill—and make sure to be riding on a sled that is very, very sturdy. Martha Custis Drive and Preston Road, Alexandria
While not as perilous as Suicide Hill, this hill is not a good idea for beginners. Popular and packed, it’s a great destination for more seasoned sledding families to go and enjoy some great powder. 7550 Magarity Road, McLean.
Wintry sledding locales don’t get much cooler than a Civil War monument. Head over the Stone House in Manassas Battlefield Park and you’ll find a hill between 300-400 feet of smooth riding. Speeding down the snow with cannons overlooking on the precipice of the hill is an exciting way to spend your winter holiday. Intersection of Sudley Road and Lee Highway.
Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
“Am I an optimist or a pessimist?” I asked Warren Rojas, the former Northern Virginia Magazine dining editor, at dinner last night. Over fried calamari (with a wasabi aioli at a Chinese restaurant; I’ll get to that in the February issue), we were talking about hope. I want every restaurant meal to be wonderful. Glorious. To flush me with enough fodder to create taste memories forever. But sometimes they don’t. And then I’m heartbroken.
“You have to manage your expectations,” Warren tells me, as I’m about to finish my second year as a restaurant critic.
“So, if I always want the best, but then am disappointed, does this make me a deluded optimist? Or a perpetual pessimist?” We didn’t figure it out.
Eating for the 50 Best Restaurants issue is a balance in presumptions and, after the swallow, reality. Will my favorite restaurants from last year continue producing thoughtful food? Will a new restaurant fail to fulfill its promise? Will an established restaurant suddenly feel more vibrant than ever?
It takes a lot of meals, money and miles to put together a list of upstanding restaurants from Arlington to The Plains, from Lovettsville to Fredericksburg. It also requires some intuition. When the Loudoun County chef shuffle placed some of the area’s top chefs in new restaurants—just before our deadline to close the list—we had to decide how to handle the switches. The magazine’s policy would normally allow the chefs to gain comfort in their new kitchens before formally reviewing the food. But we didn’t have the editorial time in bizarre magazine world where we work on Christmas stories when it’s still jacket-less weather. My editor and I decided to judge them immediately because they were established chefs at established restaurants. It was a time I hoped for the best and a time when these newly rearranged talents rewarded me with lovely dishes. Maybe I am an optimist.
The 2013 Best Restaurants list was compiled differently than last year: Only the top 10 restaurants are ranked and the remainder of the restaurants are compared to other restaurants in that same county, which should help you find a great place to eat, much closer to home.
After the jump: Updates on the list, as the chef shuffles continue.
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
WUSA examines a push for young blue voters in 2013.
Prince George crime continues to fall.
Homeless man killed by police near Ft. Belvoir.
McLean schools are getting mobile.
Posted by Editorial / Thursday, October 24th, 2013
Roger Ebert is quoted as saying that “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” might be the first true horror film, “a subjective psychological fantasy.” The silent German expressionist film, directed by Robert Wiene in 1920, first shocked audiences with a very present danger—that of a somnambulist, or a sleep walker with the ability to use his or her motor skills. You know where this is going.
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
It’s time to ditch the treadmills and hit the trails. Embrace the cool, fall air and take your workout routine outdoors. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner, we’ve got all your running needs covered. Take your position, and brace yourself for that first place finish.
By Lexi Gray Steacy
Thanks in part to government projects such as the Women’s Health Initiative and outreach by celebrities like Angelina Jolie, the risks associated with breast cancer are commonly discussed in the national media. Still, many women may wonder where to begin after determining the need to assess their own risk of developing breast cancer.
Lisa Lilienfield, M.D., of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, says that many good things have resulted from the increased focus on breast cancer over the past few decades, yet there is still a need for more discussion regarding individual symptoms and preventive lifestyle changes for those battling breast cancer.
A great starting point for those investigating their own risk for breast cancer is to first take stock of the family medical history. “Talk to a primary care physician or nurse practitioner about your concerns. It’s important to choose a healthcare provider who will block off a significant amount of time to listen to their patients—30 minutes or more is ideal. The patient should not feel rushed,” Lilienfield says.
Several tests are used to determine a person’s risk of developing breast cancer, provide an assessment of estrogen levels and how the hormones are being metabolized. Lifestyle changes may help to metabolize hormones in a way that minimizes the risk of developing breast cancer.
“Various dietary and lifestyle habits may affect the way your body is metabolizing the estrogen, so people who are overweight, do not exercise, or are diagnosed with endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism may have an increased risk.” Lilienfield suggests eating a number of foods that may improve the way estrogen is metabolized in a person’s body: broccoli, cauliflower and flax seed.
Women living in Northern Virginia are at an advantage when it comes to seeking advice and treatment for breast cancer and other health concerns, Lilienfield says. “I do believe that women in this area have access to quality screening facilities and health education. This area is known for having a fairly well education population, which means many people are aware of many risk factors associated with breast cancer.”
As with any medical condition, being able to identify common misconceptions is also important. When it comes to breast cancer, a common misconception is that hormone replacement therapy should always be avoided in menopause, due to an associated risk of developing breast cancer. Lilienfield says that while certain hormone replacement therapies do in fact carry an increased risk for breast cancer, there are others on the market that have a much lower risk, as they closely mimic the body’s own estrogen. It is important for patients to explore these concerns with health care providers, in order to find safe solutions that will also improve quality of life.
By Carten Cordell
While Congress can’t end the government shutdown, a McLean youth sports league has whipped the gridlock in federal court.
A federal judge ruled that because the park sits on federal land, but is managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority, that the federal government could not restrict McLean Youth Lacrosse’s access to the park. According to McLean Youth Lacrosse’s lawsuit, the group paid Fairfax County Park Authority $5,000 to use the fields this fall, not the federal government.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady is temporary though, as both parties will head back to court in Alexandria Oct. 18 to negotiate a permanent resolution. Until then, play on children.
By Lexi Gray Steacy
Discussions about breast cancer risks in the media and through various outreach groups have led to a higher public interest in accessing screening methods and technologies that identify and treat the illness. Health care providers in Northern Virginia are meeting the needs of their patients by continuing to add new and effective technologies that target the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
3D Mammography Provides Increased Accuracy of Breast Cancer Screenings
For many women, breast cancer screening is an important part of their overall healthcare maintenance—and options for early detection continue to improve throughout the years. 3D mammography is a relatively new technology that visualizes each layer of the breast tissue, providing radiologists the ability to review certain details that are not captured by older mammography tools.
“3D mammography does three important things, including: decreasing the mammogram recall rate; increasing the positive predictive value for whether a lesion is cancerous; and decreasing the benign biopsy rate,” says Deborah Blair, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiology at Invoa Mt. Vernon and a member of the medical staff of Ultrasound Associates in Alexandria.
The improved visibility that comes with 3D mammography may be of special interest to women with dense breast tissue, according to Stephanie Akbari, M.D., medical director of the Reinsch Pierce Family Center for Breast Health at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, where the technology has been offered since late 2012. Traditional mammography may be unable to detect cancerous cells if a woman has dense breasts—which is what happened to Nancy Cappello, Ph.D., founder of the breast cancer awareness organization Are You Dense. Cappello was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer in 2004, after a decade of annual mammograms that failed to detect the illness, due in part to the density of her breasts.
Since Cappello’s story became public, Virginia and several other states have adopted laws that require radiologists to send notification to women about the density levels of their breasts. The technology is a viable add-on even for those women who do not have dense breasts, says Akbari, who adds that 3D mammography can be performed at the same time as traditional digital mammography.
While there is a slightly higher amount of radiation emitted with 3D mammography, there is a lower chance of being called back for a repeat test, which may occur more frequently with traditional digital mammography. “A decrease in recall rates with mammograms also means a decrease in the patient’s anxiety level related to their health,” says Blair. “The benefit of identifying cancer earlier and more accurately outweighs the risk of being exposed to a slightly higher amount of radiation.”
New Technology Improves Outcomes of Lumpectomies
Members of the radiation oncology team at Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) in Arlington, express an awareness of the opinion that most people would define a positive healthcare experience as one that leaves them feeling informed and aware of all available options.
When patients have access to clear and complete information about treatments, it creates a more positive and trusting healthcare environment.
VHC recently expanded its list of tools available to breast cancer patients with the addition of the Margin Probe System, which is designed to lower the need for additional surgery following a lumpectomy. Lumpectomy surgery seeks to remove only the malignant tissue from a patient’s breast, and is one of several surgical options available to breast cancer patients. After a lumpectomy is performed, samples of the excised breast tissue are examined under a microscope to determine if the edges—or margins—contain malignant cells. When malignancy is discovered, the patient must undergo additional surgery, when possible, in an attempt to remove the rest of the cancer. Despite careful planning and attention from the surgical team, a chance exists that malignant tissue will remain in the breast following the procedure. And, the prospect of additional surgery can cause considerable stress for the patient, both mentally and physically, says VHC’s Akbari.
Surgeons at VHC have recognized the benefits of the Margin Probe System for several years, since receiving an opportunity to use this tool during its clinical trial phases. When this technology received FDA approval earlier this year, VHC was able to officially integrate the Margin Probe System into its lumpectomy procedures. “We planned for a year so that we could permanently bring this technology to VHC as soon as possible. It’s important for us to have access to the most effective tools for improving patient outcomes,” Akbari says.
When a patient is informed that more surgery is needed following the initial lumpectomy, it can be traumatic for the patient. “The patient wonders why the surgeons were unable to remove all malignant tissue the first time around. We do everything we can to get it right the first time, but unless a patient undergoes a mastectomy, there is a risk that cancerous tissue remains in the breast,” Akbari adds.
Recognizing the importance of minimizing additional surgery, the team at VHC saw the Margin Probe System as useful tool that can be used in the operating room to help lower the incidence of re-excision following a lumpectomy. During the initial lumpectomy, this tool provides a way for surgeons to perform an immediate assessment of tissue that has been removed from the breast. Samples of the excised breast tissue are still sent for microscopic examination following the surgery, but the Margin Probe offers an additional assessment technique that occurs before the first surgery is finished.
“Margin Probe is a valuable tool in the operating room that can evaluate the breast tissue for malignancies during surgery and potentially eliminate the chance that a patient will need additional surgery. Lumpectomies walk a fine line between taking out too much breast tissue or not enough—and the Margin Probe helps to clarify the correct amount,” Akbari says.
Based on clinical trials on the efficacy of Margin Probe, Akbari expects this technology will dramatically decrease the need to re-excisions following a lumpectomy. In one particular study, the technology lowered the rate of additional surgery by 56 percent. “While the results from the microscope will still be the final determining factor for whether a patient needs an additional surgery, the Margin Probe provides another assessment that is better than the surgeon’s eye alone,” Akbari says.
Robert L. Hong, M.D., medical director of radiation oncology at VHC, says he is excited that his hospital is able to provide a confluence of technologies that rely on one another, each working in parallel to provide the most advanced care for breast cancer patients. Hong adds, “We are working daily to stay on top of possible developments and advances that may be viable additions to the hospital. This requires careful and deliberate consideration, and the search is constant for ways to improve cancer outcomes and quality of life for our patients.”
Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center began offering a new technology to treat patients with early-stage breast cancer through its 2013 introduction of the Xoft Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy System. The Xoft system is used during intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) to deliver a targeted dose of radiation directly to a malignant tumor, which minimizes radiation exposure to healthy surrounding tissue.
David Weintritt, M.D., of Sentara and the National Breast Center in Lorton, says the Xoft system “allows a full course of radiation treatment to be delivered in just one dose during the lumpectomy procedure.”
Sentara will also participate in a clinical study (“A Safety and Efficacy Study of Intra-Operative Radiation Therapy (IORT) Using the Xoft Axxent eBx System at the Time of Breast Conservation Surgery for Early-Stage Breast Cancer”) regarding the Xoft system, and is currently seeking participants. [clinicaltrials.gov]
Improved Options for Post-Surgical Complications
Physicians from the Inova Breast Care Institute were able to drastically improve quality of life for an Alexandria woman suffering from painful lymphedema—the result of lymph node removal during a previous mastectomy. In early 2013, Viola Karbo was the first patient in the Northern Virginia region to undergo a lymph node transplant, a procedure designed to provide relief from the daily discomfort of lymphedema. Healthy lymph nodes were transplanted to Karbo’s affected underarm during the seven-hour surgery in order to recreate the lymphatic flow that existed prior to her mastectomy.
The lymph node transplant was performed by A.N. Mesbahi, M.D. and Mark L. Venturi, M.D., both of the National Center for Plastic Surgery in McLean and the Inova Breast Care Institute in Falls Church. The planning period to perform the lymph node transplant included traveling to Barcelona, Spain for an international meeting on lymphedema, and then to New York City to observe a colleague perform the procedure, according to Mesbahi. Karbo was later referred to the doctors as an ideal candidate for this surgery.
In order to be considered a good candidate for lymph node transplant, says Mesbahi, an individual must have severe lymphedema that is not alleviated through other measures such as lymphatic drainage, massage and compression wraps. The individual must also otherwise be in good health. Prior to her surgery, Karbo had tried a number of methods to improve her lymphedema, without success.
“Lymphedema can really impact a person’s overall quality of life—there is discomfort, dependence on compression wraps, and it can be aesthetically disfiguring. Patients may not be able to wear jewelry like rings, bracelets or watches,” Mesbahi says. “Lymphedema doesn’t have a cure—unfortunately it’s a surgical complication that many people have to learn to live with and manage long-term.”
The ultimate measure of success for Karbo was a significantly increased quality of life that has provided improved hand mobility and less swelling, says Mesbahi. Since Karbo’s surgery was performed, the physicians have heard from a number other individuals throughout the country who are suffering from lymphedema and are interested in pursuing a lymph node transplant; additional lymph node transplants are currently being planned at Inova.
Posted by Carten Cordell / Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Now this is cute.
To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Tyson’s Galleria, the mall will be hosting something new every Saturday in October. This Saturday, The Washington Ballet (TWB) comes to town to make your little ballerina’s wish come true at Breakfast With a Ballerina. Along with DKNY PR guru Aliza Licht and influential fashion blogger Bryanboy, the infamous D.C. troupe will be performing for the general public in the Galleria’s center court (just outside of Saks). Fox 5 Morning News Anchor Allison Seymour will present the event, with ticket-holders enjoying a ballet-specific hair and makeup styling, photographs and breakfast with the ballerinas themselves, and treats from the Ritz-Carlton and chic French bakery Paul.
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »