TVHC Blog

Teton Valley Health Care's blog

Health ABCs from a PA-C: The latest BEAT on high blood pressure

High blood pressure is a common medical concern. It’s often referred to as “the silent killer” because it causes much damage to the heart before symptoms are felt. Luckily, it’s easy to diagnose with regular wellness checks. Annual wellness exams are generally covered by insurance, too.

What is normal?

In a normally healthy person, high blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as > 140 (systolic value)/ 90 (diastolic value) from two random readings. Mild hypertension is defined as systolic value of 140-159 and diastolic value of 90-99.

Systolic pressure measures the peak pressure in the arteries when the ventricles contract, and diastolic pressure measures the minimum amount of pressure in the arteries when the ventricles are filling with blood. Both numbers are important, and any elevation in either number is used to diagnose hypertension.

Action steps

If you have mild hypertension, you may wonder if you should start prescription therapy. Evidence shows that treating mild hypertension reduces your risk for a heart attack in the future. But you have options to try before starting one of the many pharmaceuticals.

  1. Yoga has shown to improve blood pressure if practiced regularly once daily for 6-12 months.
  2. Daily meditation for at least 20 minutes has shown to reduce blood pressure.
  3. Garlic has a modest effect on your blood pressure and can be found in pill form.
  4. Fish Oil lowers triglycerides, which improves blood vessel health, which in turn reduces cardiovascular risk.

Consult with your provider to see what therapy is best for you.

Monitoring your blood pressure is an important aspect of staying healthy. Everyone should have at least one general wellness check (which screens for medical problems such as high blood pressure) with a provider annually.

With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, most insurers are now required to cover an annual wellness exam. Check with your insurer to confirm you benefits prior to making an appointment.

Anna Gunderson, PA-C is a nationally certified Physician Assistant. She works at the Driggs and Victor Health Clinics and is currently accepting new patients. Call (208) 354-2302 to make an appointment or visit tvhcare.org for more information on the services offered at Teton Valley Health Care.

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Good Choice, Bad Choice: Fālyər

Failure (fāl yǝr) noun

1. Lack of success synonyms: nonfulfillment, defeat, foundering, debacle

2. Informal: flop, megaflop, dud, ne’er do well, dud, busted flush

I’ve been quiet on the blog lately and usually when I’m quiet, it’s because something has happened that must be processed through my 5 phases of Realization:

  1. Disbelief
  2. Inner scolding
  3. Rationalization aka Flimsy Excuse-making
  4. Acceptance along with inner scolding
  5. Realization = moving forward, along with occasional bursts of inner scolding

The reality is this: I did not meet my wellness goal of lowering my BMI. In fact, I’ve stayed exactly the same in terms of BMI.

  1. Ms. Disbelief says, I can’t believe 12 months have gone by!
  2. If I’d shown some willpower, I’d be in great shape today says the Scolder.
  3. At least my BMI didn’t get worse, according to Rationalizing Ann.
  4. It’s my own fault for not taking this seriously, now I need to commit and try again.
  5. Realization: I have the tools, I know what I need to do, I’ve learned a lot about what motivates me and now I’ll put it all together and succeed. I can’t continue to be a busted flush ne’er do well.

There’s a little trick I play on myself that’s worth about 100,000 calories. (This is top secret information.) This is what happens: Let’s pretend I’ve had a good day of exercising and eating well. I praise myself. I prowl around the kitchen, making a mental list of the locations of all of the high calorie foods. Then, I wait for my husband and teenagers to clear out. When the coast is clear, I quietly pocket a cookie, scarf a spoonful of ice cream, or chug a chocolate milk. Then I scoot off, almost smug in my knowledge that I’ve gotten away with it again!

And what exactly have I gotten away with? NOTHING. While I’ve been able to host secret hoovering sessions, the resulting pounds are visible to everyone. Somehow, eating non-healthy foods in private is similar to the belief that breaking up a cookie into small pieces reduces the caloric intake: No witnesses, no calories. It never happened folks! My capacity for magical thinking is boundless.

Over the past month, I’ve been declining unhealthy foods and replacing them with better choices. I’ve skipped the cinnamon rolls and taken the watermelon slices instead. I’ve made myself get out and walk more, do more yard work and generally be wiser about how I spend my hours. I KNOW what I need to do, I’ve LEARNED how to build and use the tools toward better health, and having that knowledge is simply not enough.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know how much I like quotes. Here’s a good one by Legouvé “To live is not to learn, but to apply.”

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  Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

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Becoming Rubilicious: What color should my tutu be?

The past couple weeks have been quite exciting. I have started up walking in the evenings because summer is here and I want to take advantage of every minute of the outdoors as possible. It is so pretty with great views of the mountains. I can get some fresh air and vitamin D and–my favorite–it is FREE to walk and jog. I don’t have to worry about monthly dues or having the right equipment. All I have to do is get out, walk and enjoy.

Our Employee Wellness program at Teton Valley Health Care also encourages us to get out and enjoy the mountain air. We’ve been doing some group hikes after work, and we went on our first hike of the season earlier this month.

I’d never been on Sheeps Bridge trail in Teton Canyon. It was a great, mellow hike with wildflowers in bloom. This was a great teaser and warm up for my ultimate goal this summer, to hike Table Mountain.

While the rest of my coworkers (and their dogs) had a fairly uneventful trek in and out of the Canyon, my trip was not with out a minor technological mishap. As we  got to the end of the trail, we walked around the creek for a little bit before turning back. The creek water was gushing. It looked so beautiful and welcoming. So naturally I went to feel the water, and as I bent down to touch it, I noticed something falling out of my shirt. Instantly, I knew what it was. I said to myself “Oh, there goes my phone!”

 

Here I am at the bridge, before I lost my phone!

Here I am at the bridge, before I lost my phone!

But I didn’t mind too much, really. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so light about losing something so expensive. The whole thing was quite funny, if you ask me. Maybe my lack of reaction was because I’m trying to simplify my life with less expensive things … Well, maybe not. The next day I went out and bought another expensive phone!

My family also came to visit us recently from Arizona. They stayed with us for two weeks. It was fun having them here. They enjoyed our small town Fourth of July style (meaning just the parade, lol). I was sad to see them leave, but it’s always great to see family!

Last weekend I did the Tin Cup Challenge. I completed my second 5K!

My wellness goals for the summer include:
1. Do three 5K (2 down 1 to go. YAY!)
2. Try to hike up to Table Mountain (meaning go as far as I can) by the end of the summer

My son, Colby, and I celebrated at the Tin Cup finish line.

My son, Colby, and I celebrated at the Tin Cup finish line.

I did run most of the Tin Cup 5K, I proudly can say. As I was getting tired, my little bad angel started to tell me “you can’t do it, just give up” but then my good angel started to tell me “yes you can, you are almost there, just think of your goals and how far you have come.” So then my will power kicked in and I was able to finish out at 40 minutes, 12 seconds. Not bad for a newbie, right!

Don’t forget you can still donate to your favorite valley nonprofit through the TCC until July 28. The Teton Valley Hospital Foundation is a participating nonprofit, and the organization would be grateful for your support.

I’m registered to do my third 5K on Aug. 16, which I can’t wait for because it is a neon color run (way too fun!).

I need your help on choosing what color tutu I should make for the neon color run! Send me your ideas on the TVHC facebook page, or leave a comment on this post below, and tag your suggestions, #rubistutu. I have to stay stylish, even when I run!

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

 

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