Top doctors: Improving lung function

Dr. Alan S. Multz, Chairman of the Department

Dr. Alan S. Multz, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Nassau University Medical Center. (Credit: Karen Wiles Stabile)

If you're huffing and puffing when you walk up a single flight of stairs, don't blame the building. Your shortness of breath could have something to do with impaired lung function.

"Lung function measures the general ability of the lung to move air in and out of the body, and its ability to absorb oxygen and remove carbon dioxide," explained Dr. Mark J. Rosen, a lung specialist at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

To improve your lung function, here's what you need to know:


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1. SEE A DOCTOR IF YOU'RE SHORT OF BREATH

"Patients frequently ignore shortness of breath or decreased exercise tolerance as a sign of aging or being a little overweight," said Dr. Alan S. Multz, chairman of the department of medicine at NuHealth/Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. "That frequently leads to a delay in diagnosis and treatment for those with conditions or illnesses that predispose a person to the development of poor lung function."

Those conditions include cardiovascular diseases.

Rosen said that people should see a doctor when a lung problem like coughing or shortness of breath lasts longer than expected after a cold. The symptoms may seem to be lung-related, but he said they could be a sign of heart disease.

2. STOP SMOKING

"The best way to improve lung function is to avoid things that damage the lung," Rosen said, and cigarette smoking tops that list. "If you don't smoke, don't start. If you smoke, stop."

The effects of smoking cessation can be dramatic. A study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that asthmatic heavy smokers who quit significantly improved their lung function in just six weeks. The researchers noticed a considerable difference in only one week.

3. LOSE WEIGHT AND EXERCISE

Obesity reduces the ability of the lungs to function by essentially shrinking their overall capacity, Multz explained. And while weight loss can boost the ability of the lungs to function, Rosen said that exercise allows the body to use them more efficiently.

Exercise seems to help even those who refuse to quit smoking. The study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine also found that smokers who were moderate or heavy exercisers significantly lowered their risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Their lung function also declined at a slower rate than smokers who didn't exercise much.

4. CONSIDER MEDICATIONS

Inhalers can improve lung function in people with asthma, a condition that reduces lung function. Multz said that some inhalers are designed to soothe immediate symptoms, and others prevent problems from occurring or control them.

Other drugs also can be prescribed to treat poor lung function. Medications like prednisone, for example, treat the condition by reducing inflammation, he said.

5. ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT 'PULMONARY REHABILITATION'

People with impaired lung function may benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation, which Multz described as an outpatient program that "consists of exercises training and therapeutic exercise, activities that teach one how to exercise properly, education on how to breathe properly, stress reduction, medication education, oxygen therapy and nutritional assessment."

The program, which usually lasts six weeks and requires screening and a doctor's referral, can help people "improve exercise capacity, reduce symptoms and increase the ability to perform activities of daily living, improve quality of life and hopefully reduce hospitalizations," he said.

 

PULMONOLOGISTS

 

This is the 20th installment of a 26-week series in which Newsday presents Castle Connolly's list of top Long Island doctors.

Dr. Daniel Baram

70 North Country Rd.

Port Jefferson

631-473-0037

Dr. Dennis Bernardini

175 E. Main St.

Huntington

631-424-3787

Dr. Alan Blum

444 Merrick Rd.

Lynbrook

516-593-9500

Dr. David Breidbart

6 Ohio Dr.

LSQ Medical Bldg.

Lake Success

516-328-8700

Dr. Michael Cohen

N. Shore Internal Medical Assoc.

560 Northern Blvd.

Great Neck

516-482-0600

Dr. Alan Fein

2800 Marcus Ave.

Dept. Pulmonary Medicine

Lake Success

516-608-2890

Dr. Morton Glaser

60 North Country Rd.

Port Jefferson

631-509-1888

Dr. Richard Eric Gordon

Island Pulmonary Associates

4271 Hempstead Tpke.

Bethpage

516-796-3700

Dr. Harly Greenberg

North Shore LIJ

Sleep Disorders Center

410 Lakeville Rd.

New Hyde Park

516-465-3899

Dr. Benjamin Leeman

20 W. Lincoln Ave.

Valley Stream

516-599-8787

Dr. Alan Mensch

453 S. Oyster Bay Rd.

Plainview

516-433-2922

Dr. Steve Mermelstein

444 Merrick Rd.

Lynbrook

516-593-9500

Dr. Alan Multz

2201 Hempstead Tpke.

East Meadow

516-572-6262

Dr. Ian Newmark

8 Greenfield Rd.

Syosset

516-496-3001

Dr. Michael Niederman

222 Station Plaza N.

Mineola

516-663-2834

Dr. Mark Rosen

410 Lakeville Rd.

New Hyde Park

516-465-5400

Dr. Rita Schulster

442 E. Waukena Ave.

Oceanside

516-599-8234

Dr. Howard Sklarek

325 Meeting House Lane Bldg. 1

Southampton

631-283-8008

Dr. Harry Steinberg

LI Jewish Medical Center

Dept. Medicine

270-05 76th Ave.

New Hyde Park

516-465-5400

Dr. Lawrence Walser

185 Old Country Rd.

Riverhead

631-727-2523

Dr. Gary Wohlberg

370 E. Main St.

Bay Shore

631-666-5864

Dr. Perry Wyner

2 Lincoln Ave.

Rockville Centre

516-536-4960

Dr. Henry Zupnick

158 Hempstead Ave.

Lynbrook

516-593-3541

 

How they were picked

 

Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. is a health care research and information company founded in 1991 by a former medical college board chairman and president to help guide consumers to America's top doctors and hospitals. Castle Connolly's established survey and research process, under the direction of a doctor, involves tens of thousands of doctors and the medical leadership of leading hospitals.

Castle Connolly's team of researchers follows a rigorous screening process to select doctors on national and regional levels. Using mail and telephone surveys, and electronic ballots, they ask physicians and the leadership of top hospitals to identify exceptional doctors. Careful screening of doctors' educational and professional experience is essential to the committee. Not every good physician makes the list. Rather, the list is a way for patients to get started on their search for the best medical professional. Newsday is not part of the selection process.

Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected and profiled as Castle Connolly Top Doctors.

 

To see the whole list . . .

 

Who else is on the list of Top Doctors? More than 6,000 listings are in the New York Metro Area edition of "Top Doctors," published by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The softcover list price is $34.95. For more information, go to castleconnolly.com, or call 800-399-DOCS.

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