Healthy Tips – January/February 2019


Topics This Issue:

Put Your Heart First This Valentine’s Season 

What’s on your Valentine’s Day list this year? A dozen red roses? A box of gourmet chocolates? A romantic getaway or tickets to the big game? These excellent choices may cause hearts to flitter—a great reminder that with all the love going around, our hearts need love, too!

As one in four deaths are caused by heart disease, American Heart Month in February is a great time for some uplifting activities that our hearts can fall in love with.

Ask your heart to dance

It’s not always easy to exercise in winter, so why not get creative? Bust a move and clean your house to music. Try your hand at an indoor climbing wall. Play laser tag with the kids. Go ice skating, or try yoga, Pilates or water aerobics. As you dance about, remember that signs of heart attack vary for men and women; if you don’t feel quite right, be sure to seek care.

Take your heart to dinner

Love with every “fiber” of your being—by keeping fiber and whole grains in your meals! High-fiber diets have been shown to lower blood pressure and encourage a healthy weight. (While we’re on the topic of fiber, February is a great time to schedule your colonoscopy!)

Find a partner your heart can trust

Every heart has a story to tell. When it comes to choosing health care providers, let your heart in on the decision. PacMed’s team features some of the longest-serving doctors in the region, who invest in doing right by patients over the long haul.

If you’re looking for someone new, drop in for a visit—including our state-of-the art Nuclear Cardiology department at our First Hill clinic, led by Dr. Philip Massey and assisted by Dr. Keiko Aikawa. Just call 206.505.1300 or use our online appointment request form.

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Don’t Try This Alone: Teamwork Can Boost New Year’s Resolutions

January is over, and those resolutions are fading. It’s amazing how quickly our resolve dissolves. The problem, according to two PacMed physical therapists (PTs)—who have decades of experience walking people back from devastating setbacks—could be trying to change all on your own.

When PacMed’s Aysha Morgan, PT, DPT, first met Sandy,* she’d “had a very severe stroke a few years ago and was only being pushed around in a wheelchair…. She felt the only thing she could do was move one arm. She couldn’t stand, she couldn’t transfer, she definitely couldn’t walk.”

“I took one look at her, and I thought, ‘No, no, no—there’s potential in this woman!’” says Aysha. “Let’s see what kind of potential you have that’s going to make your life easier.” Over the course of the year, Aysha worked with Sandy, helping her stand, then take a step, then two steps and finally walk with a cane.

When our beliefs keep us from changing, it helps to connect with someone else who sees our potential—like Aysha did for Sandy. Stephanie Clements, PT, who manages PacMed’s team of 15 physical therapists, encourages the team to see potential by keeping the whole person in mind. “Once you find out more about them, then they start to tell you more about what they’re capable of doing, or what their dream is to do.... You’re more than your diagnosis,” she says.

Stephanie sees the best outcomes among people who make social connections part of their health routine: “The ones that do very well are the ones that go to the community center three times a week. So they’ve got a group… it’s socializing. They are in the same boat; they are all wanting the same thing.”

To read more about this approach to change, visit

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Nutrition Corner: Get that Blood Pressure in a Healthy Range

February is heart health month! You can do a lot to prevent heart disease, and one of the best ways is to get control over your blood pressure. High blood pressure is diagnosed when the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high, meaning over 140/90 mmHg. These two numbers demonstrate the pressure of blood flowing through your blood vessels. Unfortunately, a high amount of pressure over a long time can cause damage or changes to the important vessels, increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke.

If you have high blood pressure, here are three ways to start:

  1. Ask for help. First, talk to your doctor about possible medications to control blood pressure. There are many different kinds depending on your unique body. While most of us don’t like taking medications, they do have their place in bringing your blood pressure numbers into a normal range fairly quickly. The benefits far outweigh the damage that can accumulate in your body without this swift control. Of course, medication isn’t the only thing you should focus on; nutrition and exercise are close second and third steps.
  2. Eat smart. You also need to review any dietary habits that can contribute to high blood pressure. The first two places to focus on are reducing excess sodium and eating more vegetables. Sodium is directly linked to increasing blood pressure over time. Aim for less than 2400mg of sodium per day (or about 1 teaspoon). Foods with high sodium include fast foods, soups, pizza and cheesy foods. Second, increasing vegetables in your diet to 5-7 servings per day means your body gets more potassium and other nutrients that help manage blood pressure. Some good choices are sweet potatoes, kale and avocados. Additionally, foods that have high amounts of nitric oxide (beets, spinach, celery) help lower blood pressure by improving vascular function and blood flow. How do you start? Track your salt and vegetable intake on paper or with an app like to meet these recommendations. Want more information? Read about the DASH diet.
  3. Exercise. Exercise is critical to keeping your blood pressure in range. Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity movement, paired with some strength exercises. At a loss for ideas? Try walking during your lunch break, stretching at your workstation, walking your dog (or a neighbor’s!) or trying an exercise class at your local gym or community center.

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Caramelized Beet and Sweet Onion Soup

Beets are rich in nutrients, including folate and potassium. They also have a high nitrate content, which has been studied for its heart-healthy benefits and ability to lower blood pressure.

Recipe by Jackie Newgent, RDN, from

Serves 4 Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 large beet, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon aged red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 half-inch-thick slices of whole-grain baguette, cut on a diagonal
  • 1 1/2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature


Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and beets, and cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are fully softened, richly colored and have a distinct caramelized aroma.

Add minced garlic and thyme, and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add broth, vinegar, salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until flavors have fully developed and beets are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475°F. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and rub toast slices with halved garlic clove. Spread goat cheese on one side of each toast slice. Ladle soup into bowls, and top each bowl with a piece of goat cheese toast. If desired, sprinkle with additional fresh thyme.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1 rounded cup of soup and 1 goat-cheese toast

Calories 200, Total Fat 8g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 680mg, Carbohydrate 32g, Dietary Fiber 5g, Natural Sugars 13g, Protein 6g, Potassium 281mg

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Mediterranean Diet Rated “Best Diet” for 2019

On January 2, US News and World Report unveiled the Mediterranean diet as its Best Overall Diet for 2019. In addition, the Mediterranean diet also came in first for easiest diet to follow, best diet for healthy eating, best diet for plant-based eating and best diet for diabetes. Learn more in this CNN article.

The health of Mediterranean nutrition is no surprise. Numerous studies have shown that Greeks, Italians, French and Spaniards along the Mediterranean coast often live long, healthy lives. Meals from the sunny region have been linked to reduced risk for high cholesterol, diabetes, dementia, depression, memory loss and breast cancer. The diet has also been found to support weight loss, strong bones and a healthy heart.

The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating, not a structured diet. It has no rigid rules and offers lots of choice and variety. It even promotes a glass of red wine and the occasional treat! Many call it a lifestyle, with frequent socializing over meals, mindful eating and daily exercise such as walking.

Meals emphasize simple cooking and include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, beans and legumes. Dishes lean heavily on olive oil and flavorful herbs and spices, and fish and seafood are eaten at least twice a week. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt are enjoyed in moderation. Sweets and red meat are saved for special occasions. Finally, red wine and plenty of water round out the diet.

Check out this sample one-day menu to whet your appetite. “Buon appetito! Kalí órexi! ¡Buen provecho! Bon appétit!”

The Living Well Alliance is run by Pacific Medical Centers. Call us today at 206.621.4419 for more information or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


*Some patient names in this publication have been changed for privacy.

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