Why you need to check your blood pressure

Alison Sage, D.O. in  Healthy Driven Life, Healthy Driven Hearts shared that Heart attack. Stroke. Vision loss. Sexual dysfunction are some of the problems you face if your blood pressure gets too high.It’s important to note that high blood pressure comes without symptoms. You don’t feel a thing. Meanwhile, your arteries are being damaged.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common. The American Heart Association reports one out of three Americans older than 20 have high blood pressure. That’s 85 million people.

So how do you know if you have high blood pressure? Have your doctor measure it. If it’s normal, have it checked again in a year or two. If it’s high, your doctor may want you to try measuring it at home to get a bigger picture of the pressure over time.

You can purchase a blood pressure monitor at your local pharmacy or online. Look for one with a cuff that fits around your arm. This Consumer Reports article lays out some features to look for in a home blood pressure monitor.

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Cardiac rehab key to recovery and new lifestyle

Jana Tindall, RN and Lisa Reid, MS from Healthy Driven Hearts shared that cardiopulmonary rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is an essential part of your continued care following a heart attack, heart failure or a heart procedure, such as angioplasty and stent, heart surgery or transplant.

Your doctor will likely recommend you make some changes in your life, and cardiac rehab is key to helping you implement these lifestyle changes and restore your heart health. In fact, cardiac rehab decreases the risk of a future heart event by stabilizing, slowing or even reversing the progression of cardiovascular disease.

The process starts when you are in the hospital, and continues on an outpatient basis with the goal of continuing and/or integrating fitness and wellness into your daily life.

The program consists of three phases and is led by registered nurses, exercise physiologists and respiratory therapists:

    • Phase 1 is focused on educating you in the hospital. You are given information regarding your specific heart condition, activity/home walking program, nutrition, medications, risk factor and lifestyle changes, and emergency planning.

 

    • Phase 2 begins 3-4 weeks following your hospitalization. You receive an individualized treatment plan and work toward personalized goals with the cardiac rehab team. The team works closely with you as you progress through the program. They monitor your heart rate and blood pressure to evaluate for possible concerns as well as improvements. You attend an exercise program in cardiac rehab 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Each 60-minute session consists of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching. There is also an educational component that consists of topics such as stress management, nutrition, risk factor management and overall cardiac education.

 

    • Phase 3 is a non-monitored, self-directed exercise program offered to you after you complete phase 2. It is important to continue to exercise on your own and make fitness a regular habit. This program is open to anyone who has participated in a cardiac rehab program or has a doctor referral.

 

Cardiac rehab doesn’t change the past, but it can improve your heart’s future. Your participation and completion of the program will give you the confidence to live well with heart disease.

If you or someone you know may be eligible for cardiac rehab, speak to your doctor and obtain an order for cardiac rehab. You will need to verify your insurance coverage prior to beginning cardiac rehab.

Don’t Let Sunburn Ruin Your Summer Months

With the summer months heating up, you may be spending more time out in the sun. Whether you’re off to a beach getaway or just enjoying the outdoors, it’s easy to forget the importance of sun protection. In the event of sunburn, follow these tips from Men’s Healthfor some quick relief:

Stay Hydrated
Hydrating from within will be key to speeding the healing, which should take about a week. “If the skin barrier is disrupted, your skin may not be maintaining hydration as well as it would otherwise,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC.

Rehydrate
Your skin needs a topical fix to rehydrate, and aloe is the perfect sunburn-healer. You’ll want to avoid moisturizers that contain petroleum, benzocaine or lidocaine, as petroleum products trap the heat in your skin (ouch) and the other two no-no ingredients can be irritants according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you’re truly uncomfortable, an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream can help calm the burn and fight inflammation and itching.

Remember, using sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to begin with can help you avoid sunburn this summer. If you happen to experience sunburn, you can follow these tips to avoid having your bad sunburn ruin a great summer vacation.

7 Reasons Why Laughter Is Good for You

Con for Care located in Wheaton, IL,  www.comforcare.com/illinois/central-dupage, asks if you have had a good laugh lately? Laughter connects people, eases trouble and makes the day brighter. It releases stress, activates learning, burns calories and supports memory. In short, laughter is good for you.
Why is laughter so beneficial? Here are seven reasons:
  1. Laughter triggers feel-good chemicals. Bursting into laughter stimulates endorphins. This releases dopamine in the brain, which promotes feelings of pleasure and well-being. It even relieves pain.
  2. Laughter helps learning. According to research from the University College London, when people try to understand jokes, it activates parts of the brain important to learning and understanding.
  3. Laughter improves short-term memory. Research at Loma Linda University revealed older adults who watched 20 minutes of funny videos prior to memory recall tests did significantly better than adults who were asked to wait quietly. The researchers report laughter reduces stress levels, and when stress is lowered, memory improves. Making time to laugh may be especially helpful for older adults who are experiencing memory loss.
  4. Laughter engages the whole brain. Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma waves throughout the entire brain. It provides the brain with a workout that promotes clear thinking, focus and thought integration. Brain MRI studies show laughter has brain effects similar to meditation.
  5. Laughter burns calories. While laughter alone isn’t an aerobic workout, it requires more energy than sitting still. A Vanderbilt University study
    reported episodes of laughter use 10 to 20 percent more energy than sitting in a reclining position. The duration and intensity of the laugh affect the amount of calories used. The energy expended laughing is comparable to sedentary activities such as light clerical work or playing a card game.
  6. Laughter makes exercise fun. Laughter both strengthens and relaxes muscles. According to a recent study, combining laughter with a physical activity program emphasizing strength, balance and flexibility improves older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance, confidence and motivation. “The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” Celeste Greene, lead author of the study, said.
  7. Laughter fosters relationships. Telling a joke might open the door to new relationships. An Oxford University study found when participants who did not know each other had good laugh together, they shared significantly more personal information. The research supports the premise laughter encourages relationship development.

7 Reasons Why Laughter Is Good for You

ComForCare, located at211 E. Illinois St., Wheaton, IL, helps clients live their best life possible. Their in-home care includes meaningful activities that combine companionship, reminiscence, stimulation and laughter. Here’s a sample of some of the great advise they love to share:

Had a good laugh lately? Laughter connects people, eases trouble and makes the day brighter. It releases stress, activates learning, burns calories and supports memory. In short, laughter is good for you.
Why is laughter so beneficial? Here are seven reasons:
  1. Laughter triggers feel-good chemicals. Bursting into laughter stimulates endorphins. This releases dopamine in the brain, which promotes feelings of pleasure and well-being. It even relieves pain.
  2. Laughter helps learning. According to research from the University College London, when people try to understand jokes, it activates parts of the brain important to learning and understanding.
  3. Laughter improves short-term memory. Research at Loma Linda University revealed older adults who watched 20 minutes of funny videos prior to memory recall tests did significantly better than adults who were asked to wait quietly. The researchers report laughter reduces stress levels, and when stress is lowered, memory improves. Making time to laugh may be especially helpful for older adults who are experiencing memory loss.
  4. Laughter engages the whole brain. Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma waves throughout the entire brain. It provides the brain with a workout that promotes clear thinking, focus and thought integration. Brain MRI studies show laughter has brain effects similar to meditation.
  5. Laughter burns calories. While laughter alone isn’t an aerobic workout, it requires more energy than sitting still. A Vanderbilt University study
    reported episodes of laughter use 10 to 20 percent more energy than sitting in a reclining position. The duration and intensity of the laugh affect the amount of calories used. The energy expended laughing is comparable to sedentary activities such as light clerical work or playing a card game.
  6. Laughter makes exercise fun. Laughter both strengthens and relaxes muscles. According to a recent study, combining laughter with a physical activity program emphasizing strength, balance and flexibility improves older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance, confidence and motivation. “The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” Celeste Greene, lead author of the study, said.
  7. Laughter fosters relationships. Telling a joke might open the door to new relationships. An Oxford University study found when participants who did not know each other had good laugh together, they shared significantly more personal information. The research supports the premise laughter encourages relationship development.

Diabetes More Common Among Children

Monifa Thomas wrote for the Cook County Health & Hospitals System that type 2 diabetes used to be rare among children and teens younger than 18. But as a recent study highlighted, that is no longer the case.

The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study , funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes increased by 4.8 percent between 2002 and 2012, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in April.

In the United States, 29.1 million people are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and about 208,000 people younger than 20 years are living with diagnosed diabetes.

“That young people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a higher rate is concerning, because diabetes can lessen a person’s quality of life and shorten their life expectancy,” said Dr. Denise Cunill, a pediatrician and medical director at Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s Logan Square Health Center.

Though a reason for the increase in type 2 diabetes wasn’t analyzed in the SEARCH study, it is believed to be tied to the high rates of childhood obesity in the United States. The percentage of children with obesity in America has more than tripled since the 1970s, and today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity, according to the CDC .

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels, and it is often associated with being overweight or obese.

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5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight, 20 Minutes at a Time

Paige Smitha freelance health and lifestyle writer, editor and perpetual optimist from Southern California wrote for My Fitness Pal that committing to losing weight is a big enough challenge on its own, and even more challenging if you have a jam-packed schedule. You may think you need to block off a big chunk of time to hit the gym or cook meals from scratch, but that’s not the case. Even if you have just 20 minutes to spare, you can use that time to stay active, dial in your diet and make serious progress.

 

Try these five 20-minute activities to conquer your weight-loss goals.

1. DO A HIIT WORKOUT

If you only have 20 minutes a day to exercise, ACE-certified personal trainer Amanda Dalesays you should focus on HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. Add resistance by using weights, kettlebells or resistance bands.

“Working in high-intensity intervals burns fat faster than working at a steady-state intensity,” says Dale echoing many studies, “and the afterburn effect of working out at high intensity means you’ll burn more calories after the workout as well.”

2. STOCK UP ON HEALTHY STAPLES AT THE MARKET

A good grocery store haul can simplify your meal prep process and help you make smart food choices day in and day out.

Dietitian Kimberly Gomer, director of nutrition at Miami’s Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa,recommends buying whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. “Stock up on fruits, veggies, whole grains [like] oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice, plant protein [such as] beans and lentils, egg whites, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and some salmon and chicken breast,” she says.

It’s also important to pick up easy, nutrient-rich snack foods to help manage your appetite throughout the day, according to dietitian Cara Harbstreet of Street Smart Nutrition. Think: fresh fruit, raw nuts and protein bars.


READ MORE > YOUR QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO CREATING A CALORIE DEFICIT


3. GO FOR A WALK AFTER LUNCH

Carve out an extra 20 minutes during your afternoon break to get moving. “Taking a walk after a meal won’t necessarily negate [your] calorie intake,” says Dale, “but it can [increase] the rate at which food moves through [your] stomach, resulting in lower blood sugar,” which, in turn, helps stabilize your appetite and reduce cravings.

4. PREP DINNER INGREDIENTS FOR THE WEEK

Planning your dinners in advance is a foolproof way to ensure you’re eating nutritious, satisfying meals each night. Harbstreet recommends preparing your main ingredients first, whether that means roasting veggies, cooking a batch of quinoa or making salad dressing. “Then, when it comes time to reheat and serve, I [just] add my favorite toppings, seasonings and spices so I can avoid boredom with the same foods,” she says. Check out our Beginners Guide to Meal Planning for more info.

5. ADD INTERVALS TO YOUR CARDIO

Your cardio workout doesn’t have to be a long slog to be effective, according to Dale. To get your heart rate up and simultaneously burn more fat, experiment with a progressive interval workout. “Instead of running 20 minutes at a 6.0 speed” for example, she says, “try running one minute at 9.0 and walking 30 seconds at 4.0, progressively adding 10 seconds to the running and recovery times until you’ve reached 20 minutes.” For more details, we recommend this short treadmill workout.

If running isn’t your favorite form of cardio, you can incorporate intervals like these into a cycling, swimming or jump-roping workout for the same effect.

 

Combo of smaller meds may just be the dose to lower blood pressure

The American Heart Association posted that combined smaller doses of blood pressure medications may be effective with fewer side effects than standard single doses, according to preliminary research.

In the first review to compare quarter-dose therapy to standard dose and placebo, researchers found that two medications in combination was just as effective as one standard dose of blood pressure-lowering medication. They also found that four medications in combination, each at a quarter dose, was nearly twice as effective as one standard dose.

The side effects from single and dual quarter-dose therapies were about the same as from placebo and much less than from a standard dose of a single antihypertensive medication, researchers said. There was little information on side effects for the quadruple quarter dose therapy.

“Widespread control of blood pressure is generally low, even in high-income countries,” said Anthony Rodgers, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., professor at The George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “Because high blood pressure is so common and serious, even small improvements in management can have a large impact on public health.”

Each class of high blood pressure medications has different possible side effects, including weakness, dizziness, insomnia, headache and muscle cramps.

Researchers analyzed and compared results from 42 trials involving 20,284 people with high blood pressure on various doses of medications or taking no medication.

The review included many different types of medications from the five main classes of drugs to treat hypertension, including ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blocker and thiazides.

While low-dose combinations for blood pressure control is promising, there still isn’t enough research to warrant a change in how doctors prescribe blood pressure-lowering therapies and only a few low dose combinations are available, researchers said.

“This new approach to treatment needs more research before it can be recommended more widely,” Rodgers said. “The findings have not yet been tested in large long-term trials. People should not reduce the doses of their current medications.”

The study is published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

Top 5 Nutrients to Boost Men’s Health

 

Jennifer McGrath, L.Ac., Dipl.OM  at 1S132 Summit Ave. Ste 105c in Oakbrook Terrace, IL  shared that Men have different nutritional requirements than women, due to their unique physiology. These are the five key nutrients for men’s health to keep in mind when planning that next meal.

Magnesium
Magnesium plays a key role in many important bodily functions, including the immune system, energy production, digestion and nerve and muscle activity. A man lacking in magnesium may experience painful muscle spasms and cramps, anxiety, lethargy, or an irregular heartbeat. To stave off these symptoms of magnesium deficiency incorporate dark leafy vegetables, yogurt, bananas, black beans or almonds into your daily diet.

Another way your body can absorb magnesium is through a soothing foot bath or a soak in the tub with Epsom salt. The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt will penetrate through the skin as you relax. A couple tablespoons are all that is required for a foot bath, and about a cup is recommended for the bathtub.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because the skin produces it when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium, which in turn contributes to strong teeth and bones. This nutrient also provides some protection against cancer. Foods high in Vitamin D include fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, cheese, and mushrooms

Vitamin B12
This versatile vitamin is responsible for red blood cell production, DNA production, bone health and maintaining the cardiovascular system. It is necessary for certain neurological functions and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Foods high in Vitamin B12 include shellfish, red meat, cheese, eggs, yogurt and milk.

There are no plant-based options rich in B12, so those on a vegan diet may want to consider adding fortified cereals, nutritional yeast or supplements in order to reach their daily requirements of vitamin B12.

Potassium
This nutrient serves many vital functions to keep the body healthy and strong. It delivers nourishment into the cells and removes toxins and waste products from them. Potassium also maintains the balance between the fluids and electrolytes in the body and is responsible for nerve health and muscle contraction. A lack of potassium can cause a host of symptoms including nausea, muscle cramping and heart palpitations. Potassium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, potatoes (with the skin on), squash, yogurt, bananas, white beans, and mushrooms.

Iodine
Iodine is a trace mineral that helps convert food into energy. It also plays a significant role in thyroid health and has the job of producing thyroid hormones. Consuming inadequate amounts of iodine can cause memory problems, weight gain, muscle fatigue, persistent tiredness and feeling cold.
Foods with plenty of iodine in them include kelp, hiziki, kombu, yogurt, seafood (such as cod, sea bass and haddock), cheese, potatoes, navy beans, cranberries and strawberries.

Are You Getting Enough Iron?

Jenny Sugar from POPSUGAR  shared that if  you get plenty of sleep and you’re not catching a cold, yet lately you feel run-down, have crazy headaches, and can’t focus at work, it may have something to do with how much iron you’re getting in your diet.

An adult woman should aim for 18 milligrams of iron a day, and if you’re not reaching this goal, you may have anemia, an iron deficiency. Our bodies need iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen. If your cells aren’t getting oxygen, that explains the tired, foggy head. You may also notice pale skin, brittle nails, and cold hands.

You may be at risk for low levels of iron if you tend to have heavy periods, are pregnant, or just had a baby. Other at-risk individuals include endurance athletes, vegans, and individuals who donate blood frequently or have a condition that makes it hard to absorb nutrients from food. You can take iron supplements, but they may cause an upset stomach, heartburn, or constipation, so it’s best to get your iron from food. Check out the list below to see which foods contain the most iron so you can be sure to get your fill.

 

FOOD AMOUNT IRON (MG)
Apricot, dried 1/2 cup halves 1.2
Artichoke 1 medium 0.7
Asparagus, cooked 1/2 cup 0.8
Barley, cooked 1 cup 2.1
Beans (garbanzo) 1/2 cup 1.6
Beans (kidney) 1/2 cup 2
Beans (lima) 1/2 cup 2.3
Beans (pinto) 1/2 cup 1.8
Broccoli, cooked 1/2 cup 0.5
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 0.8
Cashews 1/4 cup 2
Cashew butter 2 tbsp. 1.6
Egg 1 large 0.7
Flaxseed, ground 1 tbsp. 0.4
Fortified cereal such as Wheat Chex 3/4 cup 13.5
Ground beef 1 patty 1.9
Kale, raw 1cup 1.1
Lentils 1/2 cup 3.3
Molasses 1 tbsp 0.9
Oats 1 cup 3.4
Oysters, cooked 3 oz 10.2
Peanuts 1/4 cup 0.6
Peanut butter 2 tbsp. 0.6
Pine nuts 1/4 cup 1.9
Potatoes, with the skin 1 small 1.5
Pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup 5.2
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 2.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 0.8
Salmon 3 oz. 0.9
Shrimp, cooked 3 oz. 2.6
Soybeans (edamame) 1/2 cup 1.8
Spinach, raw 1 cup 0.8
Steak 3 oz. 3.2
Sun-dried tomatoes 1/4 cup 1.2
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 1.8
Sunflower seed butter 2 tbsp. 1.6
Tofu, extra firm 1/2 block 4.3
Turkey (dark meat) 3 oz. 2.1

 

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
Product Credit: Fleur du Mal Bra, Underwear + Robe