It seems like not a month goes by without some sort of reminder about heart disease. February was National Heart Month. May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. And for good reason. Heart disease is by far the leading cause of death in the United States.
Heart disease is such a dangerous culprit because it can strike based on a myriad of reasons. For some, obesity is the cause. Other people can be at a normal weight and still have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
That’s why it’s so important to be constantly in tune with what’s going on with your heart. Regular checkups and getting the recommended screenings is essential for maintaining a healthy heart. That’s also why we have brought one of the country’s most gifted interventional cardiologists to southeast Idaho.
Dr. Stutts was named one of the country’s top cardiologists by the Consumers’ Research Council of America and Doctor of the Year at Yavapai Regional Medical Center. While practicing in Idaho Falls he help found the local chapter of Mended Hearts a national organization dedicated to support group activities for people with heart disease and was their physician director while living in Idaho.
Dr. Stutts practiced medicine in Idaho Falls for close to 20 years before relocating to Arizona. His return to Eastern Idaho gives residents access to one of the most experienced heart doctors in the region.
And now, Dr. Stutts is here at Bingham Memorial Hospital full time. After making the transition from his previous work in Arizona, he will be available to see patients on a regular basis. Already, he has pioneered several procedures at our facility, including the first pacemaker implant ever done at Bingham Memorial.
So take some time to care about your heart this month and give Dr. Stutts a call. He is welcoming new patients in Blackfoot at the Medical Plaza Office Building. You can schedule an appointment by calling 785-3897.
Just before he turned 1 year old, Carter Patterson started walking. But when he did, his parents noticed something was wrong with the shape of his feet. Without intervention, he could have had trouble developing normally, possibly resulting in difficulty walking, running and doing other things normal kids do.
Thankfully, Carter’s parents took him to a Shriners screening at Bingham Memorial Hospital, where doctors referred him to the Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City. Expert doctors diagnosed him with a condition known as metatarsus adductus, a foot deformity where the bones in the front part of the foot turn in towards the body.
Thanks to the screening, Carter’s condition was caught early. After spending six months wearing special orthotic shoes while sleeping, his condition was reversed and he was cleared by Shriners doctors. Today, thanks to the compassionate care of the Shriners, Carter runs, jumps and plays just like any other 4-year-old little boy.
The Shriners will hold another free screening clinic this Saturday, April 21 at the Bingham Memorial Medical Plaza. The clinic is free and open to the public and will run from 9 a.m. to noon. No appointments are necessary.
Doctors will be screening for conditions such as:
- club foot
- hand or back problems
- bowed legs myelodysplasia (spina bifida)
- dislocated hips
- missing arm or leg, and
- problems associated with burns
All care provided at Shriners Hospitals is absolutely free of charge.
Over the course of their 87-year history, Shriners Hospitals for Children has provided this specialty care to more than 865,000 children.
All kids 18 and younger are eligible and will be served on a first come, first served basis. Parents should bring their child’ birth certificate, immunization record and custody papers in cases of divorce, to the clinic.
If you know of a child who could benefit from the help of the Shriners, bring them to the first floor of the Bingham Memorial Medical Plaza on Saturday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, call the Idaho Falls or Pocatello Shriners at 542-1176 or 237-9738.
Thanks to the more mild winter we just experienced, we’re also seeing an earlier spring than on average. While this means blooming trees, flowers and grass turning green, it also means allergy season is striking earlier for thousands of people in our area.
The most common seasonal allergy culprits are pollen; namely tree, ragweed or grass pollen. Ragweed pollen season usually peaks later in the year, typically in the late summer.
But tree and grass pollen season is in full swing as buds sprout, grass greens up and the spring winds blow the pollen everywhere. Here are some tips for this allergy season:
Grass pollen levels are largely affected by temperature, time of day and rain. When the weather is dry and windy, grass pollen levels are likely to be higher. Rain tends to keep grass pollen levels down. If you suffer from grass pollen allergies, avoid mowing the lawn or working in it directly after it has been mowed. Avoid the outdoors in the early morning hours, when pollen levels are highest.
Trees are one of the earliest pollen producers. Trees can aggravate your allergy whether or not they are on your property, since trees release large amounts of pollen that can be distributed miles away from the original source. If you buy trees for your yard, look for species that do not aggravate allergies.
As with grass pollen, avoid the outdoors from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., when pollen levels are likely to be higher. Also, keep the windows in your home and car closed as much as possible. If the weather is warm, use the air conditioner in your home instead of using fans that will blow the pollen into the air. Dry your clothes in an automatic dryer rather than hanging them outside, especially in the wind.
Antihistamines and decongestants in the form of eye drops, nasal sprays, liquids, and pills are all effective methods of managing allergy symptoms. Additionally, many over-the-counter medications can relieve allergy symptoms. However, you should consult with a physician before you begin taking any new medications.
Don’t let allergies slow you down this year. If you or someone you love suffers from seasonal allergies, or has any questions about the treatment options available for relief, get help from one of our family practice physicians by calling 785-4100.
Terry Hopkins of Blackfoot was 20 when she started to notice the tremor in her right hand. At first she didn’t think much of it until it started to affect her handwriting. Lines that used to be straight and crisp became wavy and jagged.
After seeing a neurologist, Terry found out she has a little-known neurological disorder known as Essential Tremor, or “ET.” Last year, former U.S. Representative Dennis Moore of Kansas helped push a measure through Congress establishing March as Essential Tremor Awareness Month.
While not life threatening, ET is a serious and progressive condition that can significantly affect a person’s quality of life – socially, professionally and emotionally. People with ET often have difficulty with everyday activities such as getting dressed, eating, drinking, speaking or writing.
For Terry, the progression of the disease was evident as the tremors spread from her right hand to her left, and then eventually to her head and neck.
“It’s difficult to write,” she says. “I try to do as much as I can on the computer; paying bills and corresponding with friends.”
Terry often finds herself in public speaking roles, and has to explain her condition, which many people often mistake for Parkinson’s disease or even just nervousness.
“It can be very distracting both to me and other people,” she says. “I just have to be up front and tell people ‘Please don’t pay attention to that. Focus instead on what I’m saying.’”
Thanks to former Rep. Moore and people like Terry, the word is getting out about ET.
“March is an important time for all those affected by ET,” said Catherine Rice, executive director of the International Essential Tremor Foundation. “We truly believe that where there is awareness, there is hope. The designation of March as National Essential Tremor Awareness Month provides our organization with another platform to educate the public about the condition, as well as raise much needed funds to find a cure.”
Terry and others who deal with ET in their lives have to largely rely on medication to control the tremors, but those can have side effects such as drowsiness, which makes it difficult or impossible to drive.
“I just want people to be aware of Essential Tremor. I want them to be aware that when people shake, it’s probably something,” she says of her desire to raise awareness of the condition. “Quite often, especially when you’re younger, it can be managed to a certain extent.”
Medicine is a fascinating thing. More than just the application of science and technology, it includes a human element that makes being a doctor one of the most challenging, rewarding and important professions in the world.
Many of us take our health for granted. Only when we become sick or injured do we realize the true importance of medicine and the people who devote their lives to practicing it. Referring to the work of physicians, Dr. Elmer Hess, a former president of the American Medical Association, once wrote: “There is no greater reward in our profession than the knowledge that God has entrusted us with the physical care of His people. The Almighty has reserved for Himself the power to create life, but He has assigned to a few of us the responsibility of keeping in good repair the bodies in which this life is sustained.”
That reverence for human life and individual dignity is both the hallmark of a good doctor and the key to truly beneficial advances in medicine. That is why today we celebrate National Doctors’ Day. It’s a day to sit back and reflect on the physicians in our community and the tremendous impact they have on our lives. We depend on them to heal us, make us feel better and provide physical and mental comfort.
All those who serve as licensed physicians have engaged in years of study and training, often at great financial cost. Most endure long and unpredictable hours, and many must cope with the conflicting demands of work and family life.
We know how important great doctors are to any community. That’s why we spent the last year adding over a dozen new physicians to our staff; to make sure you have the peace of mind knowing you’re surrounded by the best health care possible, given by the best physicians out there.
And so, we at Bingham Memorial Hospital stand together and say thank you to the men and women who have devoted their lives to the study and practice of medicine. Thank you for the sacrifices you make and the care you give. Your knowledge and dedication make all our lives better.
March is National Nutrition Month, a time when we can all take a step back and look at the food we put in our bodies on a daily basis and resolve to make smarter decisions with our diets.
Why is nutrition so important? So often we look at food as entertainment or a social necessity. We forget that food is fuel for our body. The better the fuel, the better our bodies will function.
Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for everyone, but it’s crucial for people who suffer from certain types of conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many more. In these cases, staying away from certain nutrients — like sodium — or eating certain food groups in moderation — like refined carbohydrates — is essential for managing your health condition.
That’s why registered dieticians play such a crucial role in the health care field. In fact, today, March 14, is Registered Dietician Day. RDs are quite literally food and nutrition experts. They have been trained in the science of food — how certain food groups affect your natural body processes and what foods should be avoided or emphasized based on what medical conditions you suffer from.
At Bingham Memorial Hospital, we know how important your diet is to your overall health. That’s why we have licensed, qualified registered dieticians on staff — to help guide our patients’ decisions when it comes to healthy eating.
Whether it’s a LAP BAND patient charting a new eating course for a new way of life, helping diabetes patients make smarter decisions to manage their condition, or if you just want to eat healthier in order to keep your body functioning properly, Kathy Puckett, R.D., C.D.E., can help you map out a plan for your life when it comes to your diet and help you find healthy alternatives to your favorite sinful snacks and dishes.
If you’d like more information about living a healthier life through healthier food choices, contact Kathy by calling 782-3722.
Mary Arland was seemingly running out of solutions. After injuring her back on the job as a nurse in 2004, she had tried surgery, pain medication, physical therapy – you name it – to help ease her back pain. But nothing seemed to help.
As a result, she’d lost her job, her horses and even custody of two of her children due to all the pain medications she was taking and how they were affecting her everyday life.
“At one point I was at up to 20 pills a day just to manage the pain,” says Mary. “I wasn’t living my life. I was just going through the motions trying to get through each day.”
That’s when Dr. Jake Poulter, pain specialist at Bingham Memorial, suggested a spinal cord stimulator. While this technology has been on the market for pain management for a while, new advances are offering patients even more pain relief and options for comfort.
Last year, Medtronic, one of the leaders in nuerostimulation technology, introduced a new spinal cord stimulator that utilizes motion-sensor technology similar to that found in smartphones. This new technology allows patients to experience automatic adjustments in their stimulator when moving positions without having to make manual changes with the handheld device.
When Mary heard about this new technology, she was all for it.
Her device was implanted in early January. Then, just a few weeks ago, Medtronic representatives, under the direction of Dr. Poulter, turned on the motion-sensor features of Mary’s stimulator and calibrated it to Mary’s habitual movements – her posture while walking and sitting, and which side she prefers to sleep on, for example.
The result? Mary’s entire life has now opened back up to new possibilities.
“It’s amazing the effect it’s had on my life,” she says. “Going from taking 20 pills a day to going three or four days without taking any medication in just a few weeks has given me my life back.”
Friends and family say they see the spark back in Mary’s eye, and she’s making plans to go back to her career in nursing.
“The cool thing is to hear what Mary has done with reducing her medication within just six weeks [of having the stimulator implanted],” says Dr. Poulter. “She was very motivated to make this work and that’s a good thing on so many levels. She’s getting her life back.”
Dr. Poulter says anyone with chronic pain, especially in the lower back, arms or legs, is a candidate for nuerostimulation.
So far during American Heart Month, we’ve talked about some of the most common forms of heart disease and being more aware of heart disease in general. Now it’s time to talk about some of the simple steps you can take to protect your heart against disease.
Diet and exercise are two of the most effective tools at protecting against heart disease. A healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce your risk of all the topics we’ve discussed this month, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. It just involves eating less processed foods and getting more fresh fruits, vegetables and grains into your diet. Want to make it easy to remember how to eat healthy every day? Just remember 5-6-5-35.
That’s 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, 6 servings of grain, no more than 6 ounces of meat and no more than 35 percent of daily calories coming from fat. That combination of numbers is the building block and first stepping stone to a healthy diet, according to the National Institutes of Health.
But what about exercise? Not all of us have time to hit the gym for an hour a day, every day. Even just walking for 30 minutes a day can make a dramatic difference to your health. There are little things you can also do every day to burn extra calories.
Next time you hit the grocery store or the mall, park at the far end of the parking lot instead of trying to find the closest spot. At the mall, use the stairs instead of the escalator. Instead of turning on the TV in the evening, take a couple laps around the block. You’ll not only feel better about yourself, but you’ll be protecting your heart as well.
Even with all these suggestions, everyone’s body is different. You have different caloric needs, based on your age, body size and the amount of physical activity you get on a regular basis. Someone sitting at a desk all day needs fewer calories than, say, a construction worker who is performing manual labor.
That’s why it’s so vital to talk to a health care professional to help you come up with a diet and exercise plan that’s right for you. That’s why we’re here. Call us today at 785-4100 and let us help you come up with a heart-healthy plan for your life.
One of the most troubling aspects of heart disease is how many of the leading causes show no noticeable signs until damage has already been done. That’s certainly the case with cholesterol, which we will focus on this week as we continue to highlight ways to keep your heart healthy.
First, what is cholesterol? In essence, it’s a waxy, fat-like substance that can build up in your body, especially in your arteries. Our bodies need some cholesterol in order to survive, but too much of it can be a bad thing for your heart health.
You may have heard of the two different types of cholesterol. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. It’s the type that causes buildups and blockages of arteries. To keep your heart healthy, you want to aim for an LDL level less than 100 mg/dL.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is a type of cholesterol that helps prevent those damaging buildups and blockages in your arteries. Experts recommend making sure your HDL levels are above 60 mg/dL for optimum heart health.
Triglycerides are another form of fat in your blood. If your triglyceride levels are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (above 200 mg/dL) you may need treatment.
But what do all these numbers mean? Simply put, if you have high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol, you run a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease and heart attack.
So how can you prevent dangerous cholesterol levels? The most effective ways are by eating right and exercising. A diet high in healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as an active lifestyle where you’re getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, can help you keep your numbers at a normal level.
But you have to know your numbers in the first place to keep them in check. That’s why regular visits to your family or internal medicine doctor are so vital to keeping your heart healthy. If you haven’t had your cholesterol levels checked in a while, give one of our qualified physicians a call and get on the road to protecting your heart. Call 785-4100 today.
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure. The condition itself usually has no symptoms. You can have it for years without knowing it. During this time, though, high blood pressure can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.
Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you’re feeling fine. If your blood pressure is normal, you can work with your health care team to keep it that way. If your blood pressure is too high, treatment may help prevent damage to your body’s organs.
Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressures. “Systolic” refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. “Diastolic” is blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.
You most often will see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 or below is considered normal. Above those numbers is considered at-risk for high blood pressure. If your numbers are above 140/90 you are considered to have high blood pressure. These numbers apply to most adults who don’t have other medical conditions or who are not on any types of medication.
What can you do about high blood pressure? First, talk to one of our family practice or internal medicine physicians. They will help you find out the underlying reason behind your elevated numbers. You may need to change the foods you eat (a diet high in sodium can contribute to high blood pressure) and change your lifestyle, like becoming more active and getting more exercise.
High blood pressure is sometimes known as the silent killer, because it can do much of its damage without you even knowing it. We invite you to come in and get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Make an appointment with one of our physicians by calling 785-4100 today.