Stress, the Holidays, and Your Blood Pressure


Stress, the Holidays, and Your Blood Pressure

For the 80 million Americans with high blood pressure, the hectic holiday crunch is cause for a little extra caution.


Things to watch out for:

  • Salty snacks: There’s no shortage of salty snacks around the holidays, but we aware that increased sodium intake has been shown to increase blood pressure and causes the body to retain fluids that place an increased burden on your heart.
  • Holiday Stress: For some, the holidays bring great joy, but for others, the crowds, the quest to find the perfect gift, the economic uncertainty, the back to back parties, missing loved ones, and the lack of sleep that goes with the hustle and bustle of the season can be overwhelming. And while not all stress is bad, chronic stress can cause your body to go into high gear for days and weeks at a time which may not directly cause an increase in blood pressure but can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices as a coping mechanism to combat the stresses of the holiday season.
  • Take Your Medication: It is quite literally sabotaging yourself if you don’t take the medications that your doctor has prescribed. The holidays can be stressful and hectic, but don’t forget or skip taking them as is can literally increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Beware of over the counter medications: Colds and the flu run rampant this time of the year. Many of the over the counter medications that combat colds and the flu can increase your blood pressure. Always check with your doctor and/or pharmacist before mixing your medications.



This holiday season, take time to relax and remember what’s important. Go for a walk or a run. Volunteer your time to help others; it will help you keep perspective and helping others in need can help you feel less isolated.  



Understanding Blood Pressure

How do I read my blood pressure?

Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers:

  • Systolic (top number) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats or contracts.
  • Diastolic (bottom number) measures the pressure in the arteries during the rest period while the chambers are refilling with blood.

Which number is more important, top (systolic) or bottom (diastolic)?

Typically more attention is given to the top number (the systolic blood pressure) as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50 years old. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term build-up of plaque, and increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

When is an individual considered to be at risk for hypertension?


The chart above shows the ranges of blood pressure readings that are considered normal or could be cause for concern.

Why is managing blood pressure important?

Possible health consequences that can happen over time when high blood pressure is left untreated include:

Damage to the heart and coronary arteries, including heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in the arteries that cause them to harden), stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, erectile dysfunction, memory loss, fluid in the lungs, Angina, Peripheral artery disease

When should I take my blood pressure?

It is important to remember that blood pressure can fluctuate so taking readings at home is beneficial for monitoring blood pressure. Remember to take readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening, or as your healthcare professional recommends.



What do I do if I am diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension)?

When your blood pressure is 140 or higher for your systolic pressure (top number) OR 90 or higher for your diastolic pressure (bottom number), a healthcare provider may prescribe a medication to help you maintain a healthy blood pressure. In addition to medication your healthcare provider will recommend following these guidelines:



Sources: American Heart Association


Should I exercise when I’m sick?

Should I exercise when I’m sick?

You wake up Monday morning with a runny nose and a scratchy throat, but you had every intention of doing a full-blown work out today. Should you still work out even though you are in the midst of a cold? Many of us dedicated to our daily exercise routines go back and forth with this dilemma. The simplest answer is to allow a few days of rest. However, for most individuals dedicated to their fitness routines that isn’t an option. If you choose to continue to exercise use the suggested guidelines for exercising when dealing with an illness.


  • When you feel a cold or flu coming on it is okay to continue to exercise. However, if your symptoms worsen after a workout then consider cutting back to 50% of your effort /intensity. For example, try walking for your desired workout time instead of running. Cutting back on the number of sets during strength training sessions is another way to reduce intensity when dealing with illness.


  • Use the above -the-neck rule: If your symptoms include a runny nose, dry cough, or sneezing, you should be fine to exercise. But if your symptoms are below the neck, such a chest congestion, muscle aches, upset stomach, etc., make sure to rest. If you have a fever you are contagious for the first five to seven days.


  • It is important to drink plenty of water and get extra sleep to help with the recovery process. Also refrain from consuming alcohol. When you decide to return to your normal exercise routine remember to do it gradually. Starting at 75% will help you ease back into exercising, while reducing the risk of increasing your recovery time. Always listen to your own body.


Source:  Raul Seballos, M.D., vice-chair of the department of preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic


Fight Back against Parkinson’s Disease


Fight Back against Parkinson’s Disease




Have you ever tried buttoning up your shirt with gloves on? How about handwriting a letter in a moving car? What if you tried walking around during the day with shoe laces that will suddenly tie themselves together? What I’ve just described is what over a million Americans with Parkinson’s experience everyday of their life.


This condition has a way of chipping away at the seemingly simple things we do on a daily bases, first, by physically altering the way a person moves their limbs, walks and eventually stands up. But, social isolation, depression, and cognitive decline can also slowly take their life away.


The good news for you or that person you know with Parkinson’s is that we have found a way to FIGHT BACK! A way to stand up to Parkinson’s and live a good, full life, with hope and dignity! It is called Rock Steady Boxing, a nationally recognized and global movement to combat this progressive, degenerative neurological disorder.


Rock Steady Boxing at Bonita Bay will offer a challenging workout that is fun and appropriate for this group. Boxing seeks to improve the very elements Parkinson’s disease takes away, agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, balance, hand-eye coordination, footwork and overall strength. Each facet is trained under the supervision of caring professionals in a group setting with other folks going through the same thing together. One of the greatest benefits of this program is the social interaction between the members as they share similar struggles and fight the same battle. The exercises bring in traditional boxing style moves while adjusting for each person’s fitness level. Before you go out and buy a mouth guard though, these are non-contact exercises so no one gets hurt but everyone gets a great workout!


Men and women, young and old, newly diagnosed and those living with it for decades… each and every person affected by Parkinson’s as well as their loved ones and caregivers should attend the lecture on December 12th at 11:15am . Dr. Amanda Avila, a Neurologist and Movement Disorder Specialist and the Medical Director for Hope Parkinson’s program in Fort Myers will give an overview of the disease including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options and the latest research. We will also hear from Dr. Heather Ault and Naturopath Teresa Spano from Integrative Medicine on the nutritional approach for managing Parkinson’s. Finally, we will preview the details of our upcoming programs for those with Parkinson’s including Rock Steady Boxing.


Please call to pre-register for this event.