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eNewsletter September 2022 – Blood Pressure & Diabetes, the Sugar Trap, Migraine Misery

 

 

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YIKES! I’m Too Young to Have High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
By: DANIEL LAMPHIER, M.D.
A growing number of young adults are dealing with high blood pressure and diabetes.

FIND OUT WHY

Hand reaching for a sweet


Escape the Sugar Trap
By: IZABELA PLUCINSKA, CRNP
Do you know how much sugar you may be consuming each day? The answer may alarm you.

SEE HOW

a man with a migraine


Not Just a Headache: The painful facts about migraines
By: TRANG M. PHAM, M.D.
Migraines are common and can be debilitating. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available.

LEARN MORE


Cosmetic/Aesthetic Services and Botox for Migraines
Now you can reduce facial lines, wrinkles, spots and blemishes the non-surgical way. The board-certified providers at our Bowie office are experienced in the cosmetic use of chemical peels and neurotoxins such as Botox. Our Pasadena office also offers Botox injections for cosmetic purposes and the treatment of migraine headaches. Visit the Bowie and Pasadena webpages to learn more, or call to schedule a consultation: 410-741-0865 (Bowie) or 410-255-2700 (Pasadena).

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Maryland Primary Care Physicians
HealthWise Volume 36, Summer 2022 | Locations | Find us on Facebook

 

YIKES! I’m Too Young to Have High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

By: DANIEL LAMPHIER, M.D.

When you hear “high blood pressure” and “diabetes,” do you think of health problems your parents or grandparents may have? Unfortunately, a growing number of young adults are dealing with these dangerous conditions. In fact, Millennials (born 1981-1996) are now being diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes at greater rates than any other age group.

What’s the cause of this unhealthy trend? Mostly, it’s lifestyle: Millennials eat a lot of processed and fast foods with high levels of calories, sugar, salt and fat. And they tend to be less active, preferring screen time to physical activity. As a result, about 70% of young adults are overweight or obese.

The bad news

Being overweight is a major risk factor for many chronic health issues, especially high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Left untreated, these two diseases can have life-long, devastating effects on your health.

High blood pressure (or hypertension) occurs when the force of circulating blood against the walls of arteries is too high. People with high blood pressure are 3.6 times more likely to get type 2 diabetes, 3.5 times more likely to have narrowed or blocked arteries, and five times more likely to suffer a stroke or heart failure. It’s called “the silent killer” because it often has no symptoms and most people don’t know they have it. The only way to detect it is to get your blood pressure checked by a health professional.

Type 2 diabetes results when your body can’t properly manage sugar, resulting in too much sugar circulating in your bloodstream. Diabetes greatly increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, kidney and eye disease, poor circulation and nerve damage. There’s no cure for diabetes but it can be managed through diet and medicine.

The good news

By making some basic lifestyle changes, you can greatly lower your risk for getting high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, or successfully manage the diseases if you already have them. In fact, some patients are able to improve their condition to the point that they no longer need to take medicine. Here are eight health strategies that apply to both high blood pressure and diabetes.

1. Eat healthy. No surprise here: a healthy diet can lower both high blood pressure and diabetes.

  • Consume fewer processed foods and fast foods that are high in salt and fat.
  • Avoid sweet snacks, desserts and sugary drinks such as sodas, fruit juices and fancy coffees.
  • Get plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Choose nonfat dairy and lean meats, such as skinless chicken and fish.
  • Carbohydrates turn into sugar, so if you’re diabetic watch your carb intake.
  • No foods are strictly off-limits but focus on eating only as much as your body needs.

2. Reduce salt (sodium) in your diet. There is a strong link between sodium and high blood pressure, so reducing your salt intake is key.

  • Read food labels. Look for low-sodium versions of foods and beverages.
  • Eat fewer processed foods like canned soups, lunch meats and boxed meals. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
  • Don’t add salt. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to food.

3. Exercise. Regular physical activity helps bring down your blood sugar and reduce your blood pressure. Plus, it can help you lose extra pounds. You don’t have to join a gym — just walk fast or ride a bike. Aim for 30 minutes of activity that makes you sweat and breathe a little harder on most days of the week.

4. Lose weight. The bad effects of blood pressure and diabetes often climb as your weight increases, so weight loss is one of the best ways to prevent/control them. Losing even a few pounds can help.

5. Manage stress. When you’re stressed, both your blood sugar level and blood pressure go up. Find ways to relieve stress — through deep breathing, yoga, walking or relaxing hobbies.

6. Quit smoking. Diabetes makes you more likely to have health problems like heart disease, eye disease, stroke, kidney disease, blood vessel disease, nerve damage and foot problems. If you smoke, your chance of getting these problems is even higher. Talk with your doctor about ways to quit.

7. Limit your alcohol. Alcohol can make your blood sugar go too high or too low, and it can also raise your blood pressure. Women should have no more than one drink a day and men should have no more than two.

8. Monitor your blood pressure and get regular checkups. Home monitoring can help you track your blood pressure. Your MPCP provider can also evaluate your health situation and help you make a lifestyle plan you can live with.

 

Dr. Daniel Lamphier is a Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC partner and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. He earned his medical degree from George Washington University, School of Medicine & Health Sciences, and cares for patients in the Queenstown office.

Escape the Sugar Trap

By: IZABELA PLUCINSKA, CRNP

At lunch, you enjoy a nice cold soda – containing 12 teaspoons of sugar. On the way home, you stop at your favorite coffee shop for a refreshing Double Vanilla Caramel Mocha Latte – and 18 teaspoons of sugar.

It’s no secret that we eat too much sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day and that men should not exceed nine teaspoons. The reality is a typical American – adult and child – consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day. We are caught in a sugar trap.

Sugar is everywhere

Sugar occurs naturally in many whole foods, and our bodies need it to burn for energy. However, food manufacturers also add sugar to many products to increase flavor or extend shelf life. Sugary drinks, candy, baked goods and sweetened dairy are the main sources of added sugar. But even foods like soups, bread, cured meats, tomato sauce and ketchup can have extra sugar, making it easy for us to overdose on the sweet stuff.

While natural foods have sugar, they also contain the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy. Not so with sugary processed foods: they are mostly “empty calories” that give you little nutritional benefit.

Excess sugar consumption can have a serious impact on your health. It is a major factor in obesity, which affects 36% of all adults and 19% of all children. Among other things, obesity can lead to high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Getting free from sugar

Since added sugar is so common, you need to be carefully choosing your foods. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Dump the sweet drinks: Many Americans get about 22% of their total calories from sweetened drinks, including soda, fruit juices, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened coffees. Instead, go with 100% fruit juice, sugar-free flavored water, or diet sodas, if you must have soda. Try to get your calories from foods, not drinks. And try to decrease your need for sweet-tasting foods and drinks generally.
  • Toss the table sugar: Whether it’s white, brown, corn syrup, honey, agave or molasses, it’s all sugar. Cut back on the amount of sweetener you add to foods like cereal, coffee or tea. Try cutting the usual amount you add by half and then keep decreasing it.
  • Favor fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruits: Choose fruit canned in water or natural juice. Avoid fruit canned in syrup, especially heavy syrup. Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, try fresh or dried fruit.
  • Cut back when cooking: When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar in your recipe by one-third to one-half. (You may not notice the difference.) Or reduce sugar by substituting half the amount with unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana. You can also use flavor extracts like almond, vanilla, orange or lemon instead of sugar.
  • Look at the label: Read the ingredients and Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods to find ones with less sugar:
    • Beware of products that list sugar as their first or second ingredient. However, to hide how much sugar they use, food makers may use variety of sweeteners and list each one individually, so read the whole label.
    • Look for the Daily Value (DV) for sugar on the Nutrition Facts label. This is a percentage of the recommended limit for sugar in your daily diet. The label lists both “Total Sugars” and underneath “Added Sugars.” 5% DV or less of added sugar per serving is considered low, while 20% DV or more of added sugar per serving is considered high

Your MPCP provider can also help you plan a healthy diet and suggest other ways to escape the sugar trap.

 

Izabela Plucinska, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, received her Master of Science in Nursing degree from the MGH Institute of Health Professions, with a specialty in Women’s Health. She is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center in Family Practice, and treats patients in the Arnold office.

Not Just a Headache: The painful facts about migraines

By: TRANG M. PHAM, M.D.

More than one in 10 Americans suffer from migraines, but unless you experience them yourself you may have no idea how painful and crippling they can be. Here’s what migraines are and what can be done about them.

Migraine is more than just a bad headache

The cause of migraines is not well understood, but researchers believe they are a neurological disorder caused by brain chemistry imbalance. They cause intense pain (called an attack) that can be throbbing or pounding. But unlike headaches, they often come with other symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, as well as nausea and auras.

Migraines can be with or without auras

Migraines occur with auras 25%-30% of the time, but they often happen without them. Auras come in many forms, including:

  • Flashing spots
  • Wavy lines
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual smells
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Tingling sensations in your face or hands

Migraines can happen often and last a long time

Unlike headaches, which are usually short in duration, the average migraine lasts from four hours to three days — but severe attacks can last weeks, badly impacting a person’s work, family and social life. Some unfortunate people get migraines on 15 or more days per month, a condition called chronic migraine.

Anyone can get migraines

Migraines are more common in women (18%) than men (6%), but children also get them. They happen more in boys than girls, but that seems to switch in the teen years. Migraines seem to peak between the ages of 30 and 49.

Migraines are a serious medical condition

Besides the pain, research indicates a link between migraine and serious health issues, including heart disease, stroke and even suicide:

  • Migraine can increase the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and angina.
  • It can also raise the risk of stroke, coronary events, and other related deaths by 50%.
  • Suicide attempts are three times more likely among those who have migraines compared to those with no history of migraines.

There are effective treatment options

A cure for migraines is still to come, but there are treatment options that can reduce their frequency and severity. For example, a healthcare provider skilled in migraine management can help you identify and manage factors that may trigger attacks, such as:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes in women, including those from oral birth control or hormone replacement therapy
  • Alcohol
  • Bright lights and glare from the sun
  • Loud noises
  • Not getting enough sleep or poor sleeping patterns

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe several types of medicine:

  • Pain-relieving medications – Once a migraine attack begins, you take these to reduce its severity.
  • Preventive medications – You take these to reduce the number of migraines and their severity. You may use them on a daily basis.
  • BOTOX® injections: BOTOX is the only FDA-approved, preventive treatment that is injected by a healthcare provider. MPCP offers BOTOX injections for adults with chronic migraines – they can prevent up to nine headache days a month. Talk to your provider to see if you are eligible, or click here to learn more.

Your healthcare provider can diagnose migraines

If you suspect migraines, no lab or imaging tests are needed to confirm it. Your MPCP provider can make the diagnosis with a medical history and physical exam. In some cases, they may refer you to a migraine specialist.

 

Trang Pham, M.D.Dr. Pham is a Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC partner and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She earned her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College and sees patients in the Pasadena office.