High Blood Pressure AKA Hypertension: What You Need to Know

High blood pressure (aka hypertension) is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death among Americans. High blood pressure also can result in other conditions such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. 

If you have high blood pressure, you and your health care provider need to work together as a team to reduce it. The two of you need to agree on goals and make a plan and timetable for reaching your goals. 

Blood pressure is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded blood pressureas two numbers—systolic pressure (as the heart beats) “over” diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats)—for example, 130/80 mmHg. Monitoring your blood pressure at home between visits to your doctor can be helpful. 

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, your blood pressure rises as your body weight increases. Losing even 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure—and losing weight has the biggest effect on those who are overweight and already have hypertension.

Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. All you need is 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity on most days of the week. Examples of such activities are brisk walking, bicycling, raking leaves, and gardening. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. 

What you eat affects your chances of getting high blood pressure. A healthy eating plan can both reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and lower a blood pressure that is already too high. For an overall eating plan, consider the DASH diet, which stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” You can reduce your blood pressure by eating foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. The DASH eating plan includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and has low amounts of fats, red meats, sweets, and sugared beverages. It is also high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. Eating foods lower in salt and sodium also can reduce blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, unfortunately the lifestyle habits noted above may not be enough to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level. In addition to eating healthy and staying active, you may need to take medication. There are many drugs available to lower blood pressure. They work in various ways. Often patients need to use two or more drugs to bring their blood pressure down enough to be healthy.

If you are suffering from obesity, and diet and exercise alone aren’t working to lower your weight, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our experts can help you find a treatment to fits your unique situation. Call (702) 487-6000 to schedule an appointment.

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Start Small for Big Results

If you are obese or overweight, exercise can be a tricky topic. Often, working out with extra weight becomes a vicious, negative cycle. Excess body weight puts stress on your joints, bones, and connective tissue, so when you do try to start a regular exercise routine, you end up hurting yourself, making many workouts too uncomfortable or even impossible to do. However, even though your knees probably hurt, your back probably hurts, and you probably already don’t feel good, you must start somewhere.

At the risk of generalizing, often gyms just aren’t that big-person friendly. When you’re obese, walking into a space where other people are already fit can be quite intimidating. On the other hand, for some, going to the gym is what motivates them, and there are certainly good choices for overweight and obese people. Cross-trainers and recumbent bikes all alleviate impact on the joints and lower back as do swimming and aqua aerobics.

For those who wish for something that doesn’t require machines or specialized equipment, here are some simple ways to get started at home:

  • Make A Plan Find the smallest thing you can do right now and commit to doing it every day. “Today I will walk around the block.” Or “Today I will spend 10 minutes doing chair exercises.”  Once you’ve met your small goal for the week, you can always add just a little more to it.
  • Enlist Support — Find someone in your life – a colleague, family member, or next-door neighbor – who will support and encourage you. The use of social support is an undisputed strategy for success. You don’t need another lecture about the health dangers of being overweight; you need positive motivation to make healthier choices.
  • Start Slow — The goal is to start exercising little by little, not to overdo it and end up frustrated, burnt out, or hurt right away. Gentle, easy exercise is the way to begin!

Just as not exercising becomes a routine, so can doing simple and easy workouts. Soon you’ll be craving something a little more challenging. Listen to your body and be aware of problems, but the bottom line is that most of us can do some kind of physical activity to make us healthier.

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How Much Water is Enough?

You may have heard that you should aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. How much you should actually drink is more individualized than you might think. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) currently recommends that men should drink at least 104 ounces of water per day, which is 13 cups.

They say women should drink at least 72 ounces, which is 9 cups. Even still, the answer to exactly how much water you should drink isn’t so simple.

While the eight glasses rule is a good start, it isn’t based on solid, well-researched information. Your body weight is made up of 60 percent water. While every system in your body needs water to function, your recommended intake is based on factors including your sex, age, activity level, and others, such as if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

The current IOM recommendation for people ages 19 and older is around 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. However, this is your overall fluid intake per day, including anything you eat or drink containing water in it, like fruits or vegetables.

Of this total, men should drink around 13 cups from beverages. For women, it’s 9 cups.
If you find it challenging to get in all that water each day, here are a few tips to help:

  • Measure out the water you plan to drink for the day. This gives you a visual reminder as well as lets you see your progress throughout the day.
  • Have a plan. Have a certain amount you want to get in by lunch time. Set aside what is left for the afternoon, perhaps making it so there will be a smaller amount remaining for the early evening.
  • As you sip your way through the day if you find you’re not going to make it, add some fresh squeezed lemon to your water and a few drops of natural sweetener.

In addition to the general health benefits of proper hydration, for years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help. Also, food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are interested in bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment with VIPSurg. Drs. Tsuda and Ryan are ready to help you find the right solution for your unique situation.

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Resolve to Happy and Healthy in 2018

The new year can be an exciting time — the promise of new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s also a good time to recommit to your health and well-being. Creating health resolutions is easy enough. Sticking to them past the month of January, however, is another story.

These are the resolutions health professionals wish you would make and keep in 2018:

  • Practice mindful eating – In these days of technology and devices, it’s common to eat with your eyes glued to a screen. Unfortunately, distracted eating often leads to overeating. Slow down and pay attention to your food, pausing to put down the fork or spoon between bites. It’s easier to notice when you feel full, plus you’re more likely to enjoy the foods you eat. Resolve to cut down on guilty pleasures, but don’t prohibit them completely. Enjoy your cravings once in a while, and it will make staying on track the rest of the time easier.
  • Chill out and rest up — According to Johns Hopkins sleep expert Rachel Salas, M.D., when it’s time to sleep, it’s time to chill – literally. Lowering the thermostat to 68 degrees or colder before you tuck into bed can help you sleep better. Darken your room by drawing the curtains or dimming the display on your alarm clock to really get that quality sleep. If vowing to get eight hours of sleep every night is totally unrealistic, tell yourself you’ll go to bed 15 minutes earlier than your usual 2018 goals listbedtime. Keep shifting that number earlier and earlier. If you keep doing it, eventually you will be going to sleep at an hour that makes better sense for your life.
  • Be grateful — Take some time at the beginning or end of the day to reflect on what you’re grateful for. Reminding ourselves of the small, everyday positive aspects of our lives helps to develop a sense of balance and perspective that can enhance well-being. Research has shown that those who regularly journal what they’re grateful for sleep better, work out more, and visit the doctor less. If keeping a journal isn’t for you, you can download gratitude-centric apps for your smartphone.
  • Find 30 minutes a day to walk — Getting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day can be as simple as taking a walk. If you’re very busy, take three 10-minute walks throughout your day. Make it fun! Grab a partner at work to get you through your lunch routine, or have a friend or family member meet you for an evening stroll. Instead of worrying about working out during the week, focus on accumulating more steps during your day-to-day activities. Even 500 extra steps for five days can lead to significant changes. You can schedule breaks during the day to stroll around the block or walk to your coworkers’ desks instead of emailing. This way, you’re focusing on overall wellness rather than just shedding pounds. Making small, daily changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator may seem minor, but they can make a big difference for your heart in the long run.

Happy, Healthy, New Year from all of us at VIP Surg!

Health and the Holidays – How to Focus on Fun Not Food

Let’s face the facts here — most holidays are associated with certain foods. Our holiday gatherings usually revolve around an extravagant meal. Christmas at your house might not be the same without your aunt’s creamy corn casserole, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus of the day. Instead, get into the other rituals a holiday brings.

Lead an Activity

We’re not suggesting you forgo or even minimize the importance of the holiday feast or traditional foods, but adding in some physical activity is something that’s good for the whole group. You can be creative, but here are some holiday themed activities to get everyone up and moving:

  • Caroling – who doesn’t love belting out a holiday tune? And what fun it is to hear people laughing outside (2)singing, open your door, and see a group of neighbors reveling in holiday spirit! Basically, this is a walk with plenty of stops for resting for those older or less fit among us.
  • Cut your own tree – Don’t buy a tree from a roadside lot where the trees have been drying out for weeks. Instead, visit a tree farm where you can cut your own. The tree will be fresher and often less expensive than they are at the lot. Also, you will burn calories (and fight some of the blood-sugar effects of the sweets you’ve been sneaking) by tromping around the grounds in search of the perfect tree. *Added bonus: Your family will have one more pleasant holiday memory to look back on of a lovely walk through a pine forest with loved ones.
  • Be inventive – nobody knows your family and friends better than you, right? Maybe a little friendly competition is in order. Perhaps your family enjoys a game of flag football or even musical chairs can get the heart pumping.

The point is — try to add some fun group activities that will get you and others moving.

Be Selective at the Table

Some of the more fattening or unhealthy choices on the table will be common foods that you could eat any time of the year. Opt instead for the holiday specialties if you want to “spend” your calories wisely.

  • Choose baked sweet potatoes over the cream and butter-laden mashed potatoes on the buffet.
  • Pour the gravy and sauces lightly. You may not be able to control what’s being served at a holiday meal, but you can make the turkey, roast beef, and even mashed potatoes and stuffing much healthier by skipping the sauce or gravy or ladling on just a small amount.
  • Indulge in only the most special holiday treats. Skip the store-bought baked goods, but do save some calories in your ‘budget’ to sample treats that are homemade and special to your family, such as your grandma’s special Yule log cake.

Teaching yourself what is worth indulging in and what to skip is much like budgeting your money: Do you want to blow it on mundane things that you can buy anywhere? Or do you want to spend it on a very special, one-of-a-kind souvenir? Don’t completely deprive yourself on festive days – your willpower will eventually be overwhelmed, and you’ll end up overeating.

All of us at VIP Surg wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

 

 

 

Tips for Enjoying a Healthy Thanksgiving

Let’s be candid, shall we? During any holiday—especially Thanksgiving—people have a lot of food put in front of them. Many times, it is way too much food for even the best of metabolisms to handle without putting on a few pounds. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could still enjoy the holidays and yet never gain an ounce?

During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to go overboard with the calories and consumption. Temptations of gooey pecan pie and dense sweet potatoes topped with crackly marshmallows make it seem impossible to be disciplined.

However, eating healthfully on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to forgo all your favorite foods. If you’ve got your eating under control for the majority of the time, go ahead and have a piece of pie — just don’t lose control entirely.

Keep your willpower and your wits about you by using these tips:

  1. Stick to healthy portions.

Just one plate of Thanksgiving food is all you get. Fill up half your plate with vegetables,fruit, and a whole wheat roll, a quarter of it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and a quarter of it with turkey or ham. The more colorful your plate, the better – so get lots of leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers, and beets in your veggie selection. If you fill up on those lower caloric density and higher nutrition things, you’re going to feel full, but not bloated and tired, because it’s a lighter far.

It’s a holiday, so indulge a bit if your diet allows it. If you’re going to eat dessert, make sure you allot for the calories elsewhere – don’t go back for that second helping of marshmallow sweet potatoes, and instead opt for the cranberry salad.

  1. Eat before you indulge.

Don’t starve yourself during the early part of Thanksgiving Day, with the idea that you’re just “saving room” for all the food, or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later.

If you’re going to a Thanksgiving lunch, be sure you eat breakfast before. If you’re going to a dinner, be sure you eat lunch or have a snack in the afternoon. You should have your normal meals because whenever we get over-hungry, we tend to overeat.

  1. Substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones.

There are plenty of ways to make Thanksgiving fare healthier. For mashed potatoes, consider mixing in chicken broth, herbs, or roasted garlic to perk up the flavor instead of adding in butter. For green bean casserole, swap out fried onions with toasted almonds for a less-oily alternative, and instead of having cranberry sauce, opt instead to make a cranberry salad. For dips, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream — the consistency is similar, but yogurt has less fat and more protein.

  1. Drink lots of water and take a walk after eating.

Many times, when people think they are hungry, they are really just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you’ll lower the risk of overeating. Keep in mind that alcohol not only has lots of calories, but it’s effects can also lower your willpower for keeping to your healthy lifestyle.

It’s also a good idea to take a walk after eating to get your metabolism going instead of laying on the couch. Ultimately, you’ll sleep much better that night if you do a little exercise after eating rather that falling into a food coma.

All of us at VIP Surg wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving! We are here to help with your bariatric and general surgery needs.

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Rates of Obesity are on the Rise

The global obesity rate has nearly doubled since 1980, and there are now over 200Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.51.03 AM million obese men and nearly 300 million obese women, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. In the United States, more than one third of adults (or 78.6 million people) are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Obesity is usually defined by using a ratio of height to weight called body mass index (BMI), which usually correlates with a person’s level of body fat. According to the CDC, an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

At a fundamental level, obesity occurs when people regularly eat more calories than they burn, but actually a number of factors can contribute to obesity, including:

  • lack of physical activity
  • lack of sleep
  • genetics and certain medications that slow calorie burn, increase appetite, or cause water retention, such as corticosteroids, antidepressants, or some seizure medications

Modern culture, conveniences, and other environmental factors also, in part, contribute to obesity. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, environmental factors that promote obesity include:

  • oversized food portions
  • busy work schedules that don’t allow for physical activity
  • lack of access to healthy foods at supermarkets
  • lack of safe places for physical activity

Because friends share similar environments and carry out activities together that may contribute to weight gain, obesity has also been found to “spread” socially among friends according to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Certain health conditions also can lead to weight gain, including:

  • Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid gland that slows metabolism and causes fatigue and weakness
  • PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome — which affects up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age and can also lead to excess body hair and reproductive problems
  • Cushing’s syndrome — which stems from an overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands and is characterized by weight gain in the upper body, face and neck
  • Prader-Willi syndrome– a rare condition in which people never feel full, and so they want to eat constantly, according to the Mayo Clinic

Although there are lots of fad diets, such short-term dietary changes are not the best way to maintain a healthy weight, the CDC says. Instead, people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Even small amounts of weight loss — such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight – can have health benefits, the CDC says.

For people who are still severely obese after attempting to lose weight through diet and exercise, other treatments, such as bariatric surgery, may be an option. Bariatric surgery is recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or more, or if they have a serious health problem related to their obesity and have a BMI of 35 or more. In many cases, people with a BMI of 30 or more are eligible for one type of bariatric surgery if they also have at least one health problem linked with obesity.

If you’re struggling with obesity and live in the Las Vegas area, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Our experts can help find the right treatment for you.