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Patient Appreciation Day Today at Swedish/Issaquah

Today's the day! Or at least one of the many days that fun things are happening at Swedish.

Today is one of our Patient Appreciation days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Swedish/Issaquah.

If you live or work on the Eastside, we hope you'll have a chance to stop by. Our friends at Coho Café will be providing free samples of a heart-healthy dish and two Swedish dieticians will be on-hand to provide heart-healthy eating advice. (But even if you can't come in person, you'll find over 100 tasty heart healthy recipes that are dietitian approved here. If you try one out, come back & share in the comments if you liked it!)

We’re also offering 200 free blood pressure screenings on a first-come-first-serve basis. Free stress-relieving massages will also be given throughout the event.

Speaking of stress, if you're stressed that you can't stop by, you can still participate in the fun online. Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.(Pacific Time), find and tweet the answer of this question to @Swedish:

“What is the American Heart Association recommendation for healthy blood pressure?”

Remember, you need to include "@Swedish" in your tweet so we can see your response! We'll provide the answer at noon, and one person who answers correctly will be randomly selected and awarded a Gene Juarez gift certificate for a 60-minute, stress-relieving massage. (You'll need to be local and willing to pick up the gift card in person - make sure you're following @Swedish on Twitter so we can DM you if you win!).

Traditional and New Technology in Treating Vascular Disease

On a daily basis, we see patients who are seeking treatment for hardening of the arteries, typically in the legs or neck (PAD-peripheral arterial disease); weakening of the main artery in the abdomen (AAA-abdominal aortic aneurysm); and varicose veins. In each case, there are traditional ways of being treated (what we call “Open” Vascular Surgery) as well as innovative alternatives (what we call “Endovascular” Surgery).

How do we arrive at our recommendations and how do you decide what’s best for you?

It helps if your Vascular Surgeon performs both types of procedures rather than just one since s/he can draw on personal experience as well as the results of research, to tailor treatment to your specific needs.

You have to consider the trade-offs between short and long term risks and benefits.

  • For AAA and varicose veins, endovascular techniques have virtually replaced traditional treatment given their low risk of complications and excellent outcomes, and both are well supported by the literature.
  • In PAD – from the carotid arteries in the neck to various arteries in the legs – results of newer technologies are a “mixed bag.”

If you are referred to and seen by a Vascular Surgeon, be sure and discuss traditional and endovascular treatment options before you make your final decision.

Diagnosing Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

(Ed. note - As it is heart month, we asked Dr. Rocco Ciocca, Chief of Vascular Surgery, to explain a little more about heart attacks and peripheral artery disease.)

In the last blog we defined a condition known as PAD, which is a constellation of problems related to narrowing of the arteries outside the heart.

PAD, If left untreated, can lead to having a stroke, worsening high blood pressure, difficulty walking, non-healing sores on the legs and feet and in extreme cases gangrene necessitating amputation of the involved body part.

I briefly mentioned how it can be diagnosed and would like to describe that in more detail here.

The great news is that doctors do not need order a bunch of painful or expensive tests to diagnosis PAD. The best and most cost-effective test is a thorough history and physical exam. During that, the health care provider will listen to your symptoms and ask questions about your medical history and your risk factors.

The major risk factors for PAD are:

  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • high cholesterol levels

Heart Attack and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

(Ed. note - As it is heart month, we asked Dr. Rocco Ciocca, Chief of Vascular Surgery, to explain a little more about heart attacks and peripheral artery disease.)

Most people are familiar with the phrase “heart attack” and know that it can be a life threatening condition.

The most common case of a “heart attack” or myocardial infarction is the sudden closure or clotting of a vessel or vessels that supply blood and thus oxygen and other nutrients to the heart. The heart is a muscle and without adequate blood flow the muscle dies. The most common case of a heart attack is “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerotic disease of the arteries. The disease, which is most commonly related to various risk factors such as age, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high suger levels in the blood (diabetes), causes abnormal blockages to develop in critical blood vessels in the body limiting flow. The blood vessels of the heart are not the only vessels affected.

In fact, hardening of the arteries is a systemic (total body) process that involves many other blood vessels of the body. When it involves the other peripheral arteries of the body it is know as PAD, peripheral artery disease. The diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of PAD are managed by vascular specialists such as vascular surgeons.

Focus on the Positive

This February for Heart Health Month, let's focus on the positive.

Too often when discussing eating for heart health we focus on the things we should be decreasing (sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar) rather than focusing on the many positive things we could be adding to our diets.

So what can you add to your food intake for heart health?

We know from national surveys that the majority of Americans are not consuming recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, diary, seafood, and heart healthy oils. This translates to a lack of important nutrients, such as Vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and fiber.

Think of one healthful item from each category above that you could add into your diet over the month of February. Here is a list of one of my favorite foods from each category to give you some ideas.

Healthy Highlights of Chocolate

Flip the calendar to February and just like Pavlov’s dogs, you may immediately salivate for dark chocolate, bright red roses and heart shaped everything. You may think that Valentine’s day is a romantic holiday fueled by Victoria’s Secret, florists and chocolatiers, but there is a reason for everyone to celebrate this Heart Healthy Month. For the 40 plus percent of people flying solo this season (the ones that rolled eyes at the heart encircling the 14th on the office calendar), there are reasons why you too should read on and learn of the health highlights of this ‘guilty pleasure’.

First - learning the language of chocolate and discovering the nutrients hidden in this gift from earth can empower you to look beyond the diet taboo and instead intentionally enjoy the benefits chocolate has to offer (perhaps innocently on more than one occasion per year).

Within the fruit pods of the Theobroma cacao tree lie cacao beans, the preliminary form of chocolate harboring the health benefits which transform the reputation of this guilty pleasure into an innocent delight. Cacao refers to the tropical tree (see image below) and bean, and is not to be confused with the term cocoa.

There are approximately 20-60 cacao beans per pod, which are removed from their pods, undergo fermentation and then are dried, roasted, and crushed. The resulting nibs are separated from their shells. You can purchase cacao nibs at natural foods stores (Whole Foods, PCC, Madison Market). These nibs are then ground to extract cocoa butter while producing a brown paste known as chocolate liquor during the extraction process.

When further extraction is performed, the cocoa mass that results can be ground to produce unsweetened cocoa powder. Unsweetened chocolate, the most commonly recognized form of chocolate by consumers, is made by mixing heated chocolate liquor with cocoa butter and sometimes lecithin. Bittersweet, semisweet, or simply sweet chocolate has sugar, vanilla and lecithin added.

Now that you are more fluent in the language of chocolate, you can advance to learn of the nutrients and other components in chocolate contributing to its health benefits.

Simple, heart-healthy Super Bowl recipe and advice from a cardiologist

It's heart month, and with the Super Bowl this weekend (and suggestions from the media that sporting events may trigger heart attacks), I decided to whip up my low-fat, smokey, heart-healthy three-cheese fondue, as well as ask cardiologist Mark Reisman, MD, for some tips.

Low-fat, smokey, three-cheese fondue (serves 6)

Ingredients

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