Scripps Tips- June 2008

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Amazing Stories of Survival Highlight Cancer Survivor’s Day Celebrations in June
Cancer Survivor’s Day events will take place throughout June, and several San Diegans have amazing personal stories of courage, perseverance and compassion to share. For example:

  • A Zimbabwe native who puts hundreds of AIDS orphans through school in the African village where she was raised – while battling breast cancer at Scripps Mercy Hospital. Tsitsi Mutseta finished her last treatment in April and recently graduated from SDSU with a degree in health sciences.
  • A North County mother and daughter who not only dress and talk alike – they were also diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day in 2007, and underwent surgery on the same day in the same hospital. Together, Sue and Pattie Hopkins are now on the path to recovery.
  • A former competitive ice skater who lost her arm to cancer at age 13 and now at age 37 has started a fitness support group for women with cancer. Angie Bagnas founded the San Diego Chapter of Team Survivor, a non-profit group that offers various fitness programs to those affected by cancer.

To arrange an interview with a Scripps Cancer Center physician and patient, please contact Steve Carpowich at 858-678-7183, or

Robotic-Assisted Heart Surgery Cuts Recovery Time in Half
The Scripps Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery Program has ushered in a new era for patient care with the addition of robot-assisted cardiothoracic (heart) capabilities. Normal cardiac surgical repair requires the surgeon to open the breastbone and spread the ribs to access the heart, which can lead to prolonged healing time, increased risk of infection and other serious complications. Minimally invasive robotic surgery offers a number of benefits over this traditional surgery, including faster recovery, less blood loss and scarring, and shorter hospital stays. Scripps cardiac surgeons James Hemp, M.D. and Jeffrey Tyner, M.D., now perform several cardiothoracic procedures robotically, making only five small incisions on the right side of the chest. For more information, or to arrange and interview with Dr. Hemp or Dr. Tyner, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at 619-686-3787 or

GPS Technology Used to Provide 3-D Color-coded Maps of the Heart
Patients with irregular heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, can now take advantage of the latest in advanced treatment options at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Through highly sophisticated and targeted 3-D mapping and a new system that integrates CT and MRI scans, physicians are able to view the electrical activity of the heart through real-time data on 3-D, color-coded cardiac maps. This allows them to accurately identify arrhythmia and promptly treat the condition — all in one procedure. For more information about this story, contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142, or

Summer Safety Tips Can Help Save Lives
With the early heat waves we’ve seen this spring, we could be in for an especially hot summer. Infants and the elderly are particularly susceptible to sun and heat-related illness. But anyone can be at risk and sun and heat-related illness can become serious or even deadly if unattended. Scripps Health offers courses and presentations, which are open to the public so people can learn how to protect their skin, prevent and recognize heat-related illnesses, and stay safe this summer. To schedule an interview with a Scripps physician to discuss important summer sun safety tips, please contact Jori Victor at or 858-678-7137

Does a More Challenging Job Keep Your Brain Smarter – For Longer?
Researchers from Duke University Medical Center found that the more mentally challenging the job, the better memory and other cognitive abilities held up with age, regardless of intelligence level or years of education. Furthermore, the benefits of thinking hard at work were greatest among people who scored lower on IQ tests as children. Conversely, those whose occupation is more physically demanding is associated with a decline in intellectual abilities later in life. Michael Lobatz, M.D., board-certified neurologist and medical director of the rehabilitation center at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, is available to talk about these interesting findings. To arrange an interview with Dr. Lobatz please contact Lisa MacDonald at 760-633-6761 or

What Does Your Cholesterol Number Say About You?
Did you know that half of all heart attack victims have normal cholesterol readings? Cholesterol numbers can be misleading, since they don’t account for factors such as exercise, age, diet or medicines taken. To help people prevent coronary artery disease and heart attacks, doctors need to help patients understand their overall picture of health and make lifestyle changes to live healthier lives. Cardiologist Christopher Suhar, M.D., of Scripps Clinic/Scripps Green Hospital is available to discuss what your cholesterol number really says about you and how you can prevent coronary heart disease and heart attacks. To arrange an interview with Dr. Suhar, please contact Ian Wright at 858-652-5519 or

Falling – A Growing Problem for Those Over 65
An overlooked problem and rarely discussed cause of death among those over 65 and older is injury suffered after a fall. In 2005, nearly 16,000 seniors died as a result of such an injury. Additionally, in that same year there were 2 million emergency room visits for falling incidents. With millions of baby boomers heading into this age group, it is an issue that needs attention. Michael Lobatz, M.D., board-certified neurologist and medical director of the rehabilitation center at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, is available to talk about these types of injuries, how to avoid them and rehabilitation treatments used by the hospital to improve balance and stability. To arrange an interview with Dr. Lobatz, please contact Lisa MacDonald at 760-633-6761 or

More Than 180,000 Men Will Be Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer This Year
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in the United States. One in six American men will develop prostate cancer in the course of his lifetime, and according to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 186,320 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. While this cancer is very prevalent, it also is very treatable when detected early. Carol Salem, M.D., urologic oncology surgeon, is available to discuss the latest in detection and treatment options. For more information, or to arrange and interview, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at 619-686-3787 or

Happy and Healthy Summer Feet
No one flaunts those killer heels like the gals of just released film, Sex and the City. But, before you run out and buy new summer shoes you might want to heed the warnings your feet are giving you – because, aches and pains can indicate a more serious health issue. A new study suggests that walking down stairs while wearing heels raises the chance of foot and ankle injuries and yet a second study shows that flip-flops may lead to lower-leg pain. So, just what is a gal to do? To schedule an interview with a Scripps physician to learn about the best summer shoes for your health, please contact Jori Victor at or 858-678-7137.

Halt Your Headaches
Say goodbye to migraine misery. Caused by many different factors, headaches can range from being infrequent and an annoying nuisance to a debilitating condition. Jack Schim, M.D., a board-certified neurologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas will offer a free community presentation on how to prevent and treat headaches of all kinds Tuesday, June 17. For more information or to book Dr. Schim as an in-studio guest, please contact Lisa MacDonald at 760-633-6761 or

Neurologist Addresses Advances in Neurological Disorders
Neurological disorders strike an estimated 50 million Americans each year. Among the most notable of these disorders are Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Huntington’s. Dee Silver, M.D., board-certified neurologist, will address the latest treatment options for these and other neuro-degenerative diseases in his free upcoming community presentation on neurological disorders Thursday, June 12. For more information about this topic or to book Dr. Silver as an in-studio guest, contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142, or

Ease Chronic Back Pain
Timothy Peppers, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery and spinal disorders will discuss back pain, spinal disorders and the latest treatments available to ease chronic back pain Thursday, June 26. For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Peppers, please contact Lisa MacDonald at 760-633-6761 or