bloodpressure

Controlling High Blood Pressure

Frankie Hoover, PA-C
Novant Health Lexington Primary Care

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It is important to control high blood pressure because it increases the risk of stroke.

“High blood pressure is the one of the most important preventable risk factors for stroke,” says Frankie Hoover, a Physician Assistant with Novant Health Lexington Primary Care. “The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk for a possible stroke and other health consequences.”

Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. In people who do not have diabetes or kidney disease, treatment for high blood pressure is usually started when three separate blood pressure readings show readings of 140 or higher for systolic blood pressure (top number) or 90 or higher for diastolic blood pressure (bottom number).

“If you are found to have high blood pressure by your healthcare provider,” comments Hoover, “he/she may first recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight, improving your diet, and increasing your exercise. If these lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure, then medication may be necessary.”

Many medications are available to treat high blood pressure. Your healthcare provider may start you on one medication or a combination of medications to control your blood pressure. Once you begin taking blood pressure medication, you may have to continue taking it for a long time, perhaps even for the rest of your life.

“Unfortunately, some people with high blood pressure stop taking their medication,” says Hoover. “If their blood pressure returns to normal on medication, they may feel they no longer need the medication. But normal blood pressure means the medication is doing its job. Halting medication will allow blood pressure to rise again, putting them at risk for stroke and other complications of hypertension.”

Reasons people frequently give for stopping medication:
• Unpleasant side effects, such as dizziness, fatigue, or cough
• Cost of the medication
• Lack of information about hypertension and how important it is to control

“If you experience unpleasant side effects, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider,” encourages Hoover. “Your provider may be able to switch you to a different medication, as there are many different classes of antihypertensive medications to choose from. The goal is to find medication(s) with few, if any side effects.”

“If the cost of the medication is a concern, your doctor may be able to prescribe an effective but less expensive alternative,” says Hoover. If you have questions about high blood pressure and its treatment, talk to your healthcare provider.

Here are some tips on how to remember to take your blood pressure medicine:
• Take it at same time each day.
• Take it with meals or with daily activities like brushing your teeth.
• Use a pill box marked with the days of the week.
• Keep a medication calendar near your medicine and mark off when you’ve taken each dose.
• Post a reminder note where you’ll see it or set a daily alarm on your phone.

For more information, visit nhlexingtonprimarycare.org or call Novant Health Lexington Primary Care at (336) 248-8692.

wintersick

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM TO STAY WELL

By Susan Hilton RN, MSN & Certified Aromatherapist

You already know that your immune system helps fight harmful bacteria and other invaders on and in your body. But you might not know it also influences virtually every other system in your body — from your hormones to your nervous system. Your immune system is a collection of white blood cells scattered throughout your body, and there are two major goals for immune cells:

1. Addressing issues INSIDE your cells.

2. Attacking infections on the OUTSIDE of the cells.

Your immune system needs to be in great shape during this season of colds and flu. We are unfortunately more likely to spread germs among one another this time of year. It’s in the winter months when we also seek comfort in carb-heavy foods and sweets. While there is something to be said for treating the symptoms of illness with natural remedies, the best way to fight a cold or the flu is to prevent it from ever happening. The truth is that a high-functioning immune system will be able to successfully battle the flu and even the common cold without expensive prescriptions or preventative injections.

Let’s look at five ways to improve your immune system and stay healthy this winter.

1. Limit or Eliminate Processed Foods – Processed carbohydrates including white flours and certainly sugar can wreak havoc on your immune health, spreading inflammation and compromising your ability to ward off illness. Alcohol can also hinder immune function. Though this may be the time of year for indulgence and celebration, limit these toxins if you want to make it through the season without getting sick.

2. Stock up on Whole, Organic Produce – Fruits and vegetables can provide numerous antioxidants and vitamins that your immune system needs to function properly. Try to add fresh produce in place of the processed carbs you would normally eat. Juicing or making green smoothies can also help tremendously when it comes to boosting immunity.

3. Herbal and Essential Oil Protections – There are all-natural herbs and therapeutic grade essential oils that can do wonders for immune health. Elderberry, Echinacea, and Cinnamon are all good options to keep on hand for making protective herbal teas. Cooking with extra garlic, turmeric, and ginger can also boost your immune system. When choosing essential oils, look for those with anti-virus and anti-bacteria therapeutic components. These can be diffused in your home to help everyone in the household stay healthy.

4. Relax – This time of year it’s normal to be a little more stressed than usual. Make sure you are taking time to get plenty of sleep and unwind. Also, daily exercise isn’t only important for your fitness, but also for your mental health and ultimately your immune health.

5. Vitamin D – The “sunshine vitamin” is especially important this time of year especially with the sun being more difficult to get during the winter. Make sure you are spending some time in the sun, whenever it decides to show its face. And if your winter doesn’t allow you the sun you need, consider adding a supplement just for the colder, darker months.

In order to stay healthy, you need to have healthy habits. Tis the season for colds and flu, but you don’t have to be a statistic this year. Eat right, get active, and keep your immune system functioning as it should. If you do get sick, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, consume some immune-boosting foods, and try some therapeutic grade essential oils to help you feel better.

The Nature Cottage specializes in health and wellness products and treatments featuring therapeutic grade essential oils. We are now located at 21 South Main Street in Lexington. Come in to talk with our educated staff. Susan Hilton is a Registered Nurse and Certified Aromatherapist. She will be happy to help you with your health and wellness needs. Please come in to see us or contact us by logging onto thenaturecottage.com or calling us at 336-843-4297.

dancing

Dance of Parents is “A Love Unaltered By Time” – Devotional

By Donna Tobin Smith

It happened many years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had gone to visit my daddy in the nursing home. When I walked into the room, Daddy’s noisy snore let me know that he was sound asleep once again. It was my third visit to the nursing home that week and no matter what time of the day I went, Daddy was never awake. So I talked to the man who shared the room with my father.

“I don’t understand it,” the man said to me with a puzzled look on his face. “Even though I see it with my own eyes every day, I just can’t explain it. Your father is different when your mother is here. When your dad is awake, he’s usually talking loud and he’s restless. He doesn’t understand what the nurses are doing when they try to care for him and he doesn’t like it. But when your mother is here, he’s like a different person. I can see the calming effect she has on him. Her voice, her touch. It really is amazing to watch.”

I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had seen it, too. My father let my mother do things for him that he would have resisted if others had tried. Although dementia had ravaged his memory, he let her shave his face with an electric razor and clip his fingernails while she gently explained what she was doing and why she was doing it.

“It’s the fifty-three years,” I had explained to my daddy’s roommate. Their anniversary was that month. Fifty-three years of good times and hard times. Fifty-three years of one day at a time, sharing a love that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 7).

A love that had never failed.

My mother and father met at a square dance way back in the 1950s. Some of my most precious memories of my parents are of them dancing together. From the time he was a boy, Daddy had made a name for himself as a dancer. When Daddy was just a child, he loved to dance on a stump to collect nickels that people tossed his way to show how much they liked his smooth moves. As he twirled my mother across the dance floor, Daddy had an undeniable gentle rhythm that made people move back and watch in wonder. My mother, a wonderful dancer herself, was his perfect partner.

But as their anniversary approached that year, the lights had dimmed and the music had faded. He was in bed all the time. Every move was hard and he often grimaced in pain. Yet my mother sat by his bedside day after day, lovingly stroking his face and patting his head, gently passing butterfly kisses across his forehead.

It was in those sweet moments that I knew that the dance of my parents was far from over. It was a dance that would last into eternity. It was a dance of perfect rhythm, borne of devotion and adversity. It was a dance blessed and ordained by a holy God with a perfect purpose and plan.

Perhaps the words of “The Anniversary Song” say it best. “The night seemed to fade into blossoming dawn. The sun shone anew but the dance lingered on. Could we but relive that sweet moment sublime, we’d find that our love is unaltered by time.” (Lyrics by Pleyer and Ivanonici.)

I have seen with my own eyes that even heaven and earth do no separate the kind of love that my parents shared.

So Mama and Daddy, I hope you dance.

Someday.

On golden streets.

No. I know you will dance.

dark-chocolate-red-wine-truffles

Red Wine Dark Chocolate Truffles

What better idea than combining one of the many loves in your life, chocolate, with one of the other loves, spirits? We all love a good cause for celebration, and what better way to enjoy holiday festivities or love-centered holidays than with chocolate! These divine, delicate treats take the best of both worlds and meet in holy matrimony.

Red Wine Dark Chocolate Truffles
These romantically rich bite size treats are excitingly naughty as they tiptoe across your taste buds. Don’t even think about hiding them in the back of your fridge. They’ll be too amazing to escape your memory.
Makes: 24 Truffles
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

8 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 Tbsp. dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tsp. confectionary/ powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. espresso powder
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Chop chocolate and place in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Heat cream in a small sauce pan over medium high heat until it starts to form small bubbles along the side. Pour hot cream over chocolate. Add wine, powdered sugar, vanilla and espresso powder. Slowly whisk together until chocolate is melted and smooth. Once fully incorporated, place the bowl in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours until chocolate has formed.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Lightly dust a plate or pie dish with cocoa powder. With a small scoop or melon baller, scoop chocolate and form it into a ball. Gently roll the ball in the cocoa powder with fingers. Once cocoa covers the chocolate ball, place on baking sheet. Continue process until all the balls are covered.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!