Healthy Tips Issue: February 2017


Topics This Issue:

Take Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is the top killer in the United States for many reasons, but you can fight back and take charge of your cardiovascular health.

First, what does heart disease refer to? Most people immediately think of issues caused by the hardening or narrowing of arteries. These include angina, myocardial infarction (“heart attack”) and sudden cardiac death. You might think of these as “plumbing” problems. Heart disease also refers to electrical problems such as irregular heart rhythms and mechanical issues such as heart valve problems. The heart has many integrated systems that all need to work well together for proper function.

The following recommendations apply to all types of heart disease.

1. Know Your Numbers

In study after study, the best treatments revolve around focusing on addressing the risk factors for heart disease. “Your numbers” are measurements of some key risk factors. Knowing your numbers and setting target goals is the first step in taking charge of your heart health. Talk with your primary care provider or cardiologist about these lab values and lifestyle factors:

  • LDL and HDL
  • Blood pressure
  • Diabetes/HbA1c
  • Body mass index
  • Smoker?

You can even print a wallet sized card to record your numbers and your goals!

2. Find a Communicative Doctor

Successful cardiovascular care depends on good communication. So if you are concerned about your heart health, take the time to find a cardiologist you can talk with. Your cardiologist should answer your questions and clearly explain your diagnosis, test results and treatment options.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion! Information is power, and getting a second viewpoint can help you make the right decisions.

3. Build a Team

Knowing that you are not alone in your fight for improved health can decrease stress and worry. Involve your family as much as possible; they can be an invaluable resource. Bring your friends on board too. They can support you in any diet or exercise goals you have.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion! Information is power, and getting a second viewpoint can help you make the right decisions.

Take Care of the Machine

Finally, recognize that your heart is an engine, working inside of a bigger machine. Treat the machine well by eating well, exercising and making sleep a priority. This will help bring your numbers to goal and keep you tuned into your health. (Be sure to consult with your primary care physician before starting a new exercise program.)

Learn more about the PacMed Cardiology team at, or call 206.505.1300 for an appointment.

Heart Attack and Stroke: Do You Know the Symptoms?

While crushing chest pain is the most recognized heart attack symptom in both men and women, as many as one-third of female heart attack patients never experience any chest pain.

Women’s heart attack symptoms may look different. Every woman should learn the signs of heart attack in females and take them seriously.

Most common heart attack signs in women:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Sudden pain or discomfort in the back, arm, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Sudden lightheadedness or cold sweats
  • Sleep disturbances

If you have been experiencing unusual discomfort in your limbs or torso on a continual basis, call your doctor today. If any of these symptoms comes on suddenly, with no identifiable cause, call 911 immediately. Do not wait more than five minutes. Do not attempt to drive yourself for help.

Most common stroke signs in men and women:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking; dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

With these stroke symptoms, call even if the signs have stopped. If treated within three hours, the long-term disability from some common types of stroke can be reduced or avoided.

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Delicious Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe adapted by Christy Goff, MS, RDN, CD

This colorful, mellow soup delivers vegetables and all their nutrients in a tasty, warm bowl.

Serves 6


  • 3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded (also can use frozen)
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 green apples, peeled and cored
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

Optional Condiments:

  • Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally
  • Flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
  • Roasted salted cashews, toasted and chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Cut the squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes.
2. Toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
3. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread it in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until very tender. (If using frozen squash, roast only the apples and onions in the oven until soft and thaw the squash in the microwave 3-5 minutes or until soft.)
4. When the vegetables are done, put them through a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the vegetable stock and puree to the texture you desire. When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough vegetable stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with condiments either on the side or on top of each serving.

Nutritional Information (1 serving = 1/6 of recipe):

Calories: 217, Fat 7g, Sodium: 343mg, Carbohydrate: 29g, Sugar: 13g, Fiber: 7g, Protein: 3g

(Nutritional information does not include optional condiments)

More recipes online! Go to

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Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu Season

By Dr. Ari Gilmore, MD

When the Washington State House of Representatives passed a bill that guaranteed sick leave to employees at companies with more than four employees, Dr. Ari Gilmore was thrilled.

“As doctors, we have a problem with people’s great work ethic, especially if they’re actively coughing,” he says. Dr. Gilmore offers several tips on how to stay healthy during flu season and what to do if you’ve come down with a cold.

Regular hand washing is critical, especially after being in a public place because germs can live on surfaces for a long time. “Avoid touching your face or rubbing your eyes,” he says.

Exercise can also help. “There has been some evidence that regular exercise keeps the immune system up,” says Gilmore. “Also, regular exposure to sauna-type temperatures makes a difference. The elevated body temperature may decrease the activity of a virus. A couple of studies have shown it to impact mild to moderate cold symptoms. So a good day at the gym with a sauna afterward might be good preventive medicine.”

A flu shot is the best bet, especially for people who work in jobs that demand high-volume contact with the public. “Making sure you get your flu shot is probably the most important preventive step,” Gilmore explains.

When to Visit Your Doctor

If you’ve contracted a cold, the best thing to do is stay home—including from your health clinic—at least for the first three days. “If you don’t have a fever, I recommend staying home for the first two or three days. A top mistake is to visit your doctor right away and infect others,” says Gilmore. “Often, we have people coming in on day two. At that point, we don’t have a whole lot of treatment to offer, and you’re just going to spread it around. If it’s been over three days, come in, and we’ll listen to the lung and make sure it hasn’t turned into pneumonia.”

On the flip side, waiting too long to see a doctor can also be problematic. “We’ve had people who’ve had a fever for five or seven days, and by the time they come in, they’re quite ill,” says Gilmore. “For most people, a temperature is going to be resolved in three days. If it’s not, have it checked out.”

The exceptions are those who are at higher risk, including anyone over 65, children under age four with a fever over 101 degrees, or those dealing with other illnesses. “For those particular populations, there are effective treatments like Tamiflu,” says Gilmore. “It’s worth talking to your doctor about.”

Dr. Gilmore practices family medicine at the PacMed Beacon Hill clinic.

For more videos of providers about the flu click here Dr. Bowles, Dr. Bressie, Dr. Gilmore.

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Try the Heart-Healthy DASH Diet

In the spirit of this heart-healthy month, let’s explore the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which is another term for high blood pressure.

This eating plan is well researched for its powerful effect on lowering blood pressure by using food’s own nutrients (specifically potassium, calcium and magnesium). This is why the DASH diet recommends eating more—that is, more of foods that are high in these nutrients!

Specifically, the DASH diet encourages you to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes.The plan also encourages you to eat less—less salt, saturated fat, red meat, sweets and sugary beverages, all of which negatively affect blood pressure.

What’s the Big Deal with High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood hitting against the walls of your arteries (the vessels around your heart). When blood pressure is too high (> 140/90) for an extended period of time, it puts too much strain on the heart, and the heart cannot effectively pump blood around the body. High blood pressure also contributes to atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries), which increases your risk for strokes and congestive heart failure, kidney failure and blindness.

Getting Started with DASH
A good way to start is to simply observe and keep track of your current eating habits. Write down what you eat, how much, when and why. You’ll quickly be able to see where you can start making changes. For example, just decreasing your salt intake while increasing your vegetable intake can have a big impact on lowering blood pressure!

Use these DASH guidelines to find a balance of more nutritious foods and less salty, processed foods.


• More fruits and vegetables (4-5 servings of each per day). Choose fresh, frozen or canned with no salt added.

* To increase flavor, sprinkle vinegar or citrus, add fresh or dried herbs or spices, and try salt-free seasoning blends.

• More whole grains (7-8 servings)—such as whole wheat bread/wraps/pasta, oatmeal and brown rice. Cook without salt, and cut back on instant or flavored mixes.

• More unsalted nuts and seeds (4-5 one-ounce servings per week). Add your own flavorings such as cinnamon for sweet or cayenne pepper for spice.

• More beans/legumes (1-2 servings per week). If canned, rinse to remove extra salt, and add lemon or lime juice to keep them tasty.

• More fresh poultry, fish and lean meat (rather than canned or processed types).


• Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, canned soups or broths.

• Eat less of premixed salad dressings. Make your own with a mixture of olive oil and vinegar, plus a spice or two.

• Buy low- or reduced-sodium or no-salt-added versions of foods and condiments.

(The above recommended intake amounts for the DASH diet are based on 2000 calorie diet.)

Along with choosing a DASH approach to eating, you can make other lifestyle factors to decrease blood pressure. These include maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, drinking less alcohol and taking prescribed drugs as needed. Talk with your provider! And learn more about the DASH diet at the American Heart Association site.

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What Our Biometric Health Screening Can Do for You!

Brought to you by the Living Well Alliance

In general, health screenings give you insight into your current health status so you can take charge of your health and get the care you need.

A biometric health screening measures physical characteristics such as height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and fitness. This screening evaluates an individual’s health status and provides a benchmark that can be used to track changes over time.

Biometric health screenings offered by the Living Well Alliance are conducted by trained health professionals at your worksite. The screening examines your risk for diabetes and heart disease, two leading health issues facing Americans today. Due to their insidious nature, these chronic diseases often go undiagnosed. But with early screenings and regular primary care visits, they can be treated and managed—and sometimes avoided all together.

This Living Well Alliance biometric health screening is confidential, complimentary to employer groups and takes only 15 minutes per person. Participants also have the opportunity to ask questions of our registered dietitian or nurse.

Learn more about scheduling a worksite biometric screening for employees with the Living Well Alliance. You may also contact Christy Goff, RD, by email or at 206.621.4419

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