8 Great High-Tech Health Gadgets

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Striving to lose weight? Want to sleep better or exercise more? There are tons of gadgets and apps out there that can help. From devices that track your activity (and even your dog’s!), to sensors that give insight into your sleep patterns, to a bracelet that actually reminds you when to apply sunscreen, here are our top picks of high-tech health gadgets.

Wearable activity trackers

Brand names: Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP24, Garmin vivofit, Misfit Shine and others

What they do: Track your activity day and night with a wearable fitness tracker. Most devices can track steps, sleep and calories burned. Plus — they sync with a computer or smartphone.

Approximate cost: $50-$150

Why we love them: Wearables are fun gadgets to help you increase activity throughout the day, especially if you compete with friends and family using the device’s app.

Smart scales

Brand names: Fitbug WoW, Fitbit Aria, Withings Smart Body Analyzer and others

What they do: Measure weight, body mass index, body composition and more while syncing data wirelessly to free smartphone apps.

Approximate cost: $75-$150

Why we love them: Any tool that helps make weight loss easier is on our wish list!

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Headphone headbands

Brand Names: RunPhones, Tooks Sportband, HVLO Headphones

What they do: Keep your ears toasty while you listen to your books or music on a jog.

Approximate cost: $20 – $60

Why we love them: The headphone/headband combination means one less piece of gear to fuss over. Plus — wearing a headband over regular headphones can hurt your ears.

Slouch stoppers

Brand names: Lumo Lift, iPosture and others

What they do: These monitor your posture and notify you if you’re slouching.

Approximate cost: $25-$100

Why we love them: Sitting pretty isn’t just for looks. It can help relieve back pain and stiffness caused by slouching.

Sleep sensors

Brand names: Beddit, Withings Aura Smart Sleep System, Emfit QS

What they do: Track your sleep patterns and sleep environment and send personal feedback wirelessly to your phone. Unlike wearable fitness trackers, these devices stay in the bedroom.

Approximate cost: $150 – $300

Why we love them: Wearable activity trackers may be all the rage, but if you just want better insight on your sleep, these devices are great options.

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Sun-smart bracelet

Brand name: JUNE by netatmo

What it does: Measures your sun exposure throughout the day and reminds you when to apply sunscreen or head for the shade.

Approximate cost: $100

Why we love it: No more accidental sunburns — which means younger, healthier skin.

Cool pedometers

Brand names: Striiv Smart Pedometer, Hammacher Schlemmer Smart Pedometer, MilestonePod

What they do: Track steps, distance and monitor progress over time. The Striiv doesn’t require a smartphone. Hammacher Schlemmer’s model plugs directly into your smartphone. MilestonePod syncs wirelessly to your smartphone.

Approximate cost: $25-$100

Why we love them: Unlike old-school pedometers, they provide motivating feedback and can turn getting more steps into a game.

Fido’s fitness tracker

Brand name: Whistle Activity Monitor

What it does: Tracks your pup’s daily activity with a small device that attaches to a collar and syncs to the Whistle app on your iOS or Android device.

Approximate cost: $100

Why we love it: Discovering how much our dogs actually move when we’re not around can give us insight into their health and behavior — and let us know if we need to provide more playtime. And hitting the park with your pooch is a great way to get exercise for yourself too!

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

For more healthy tips and medical information, continue to check in on the Denton Regional Urgent Care blog. At Denton Regional Urgent Care, we have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine. We offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it, even after hours or on the weekend as well.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

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Reduce Stress at Work for a Healthy Heart

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Is cleaning out the refrigerator (yes, including that green glob at the back) more appealing than putting up with stress at work? If so, it may be time to save your sanity, and maybe your heart.

Doctors have always worried about men’s and women’s hearts caving in to job stress, because those with a high job strain face up to a 40 percent higher risk of heart attacks and surgery for blocked arteries.

So what should you do? Try these strategies to reduce stress on the job:

  • Don’t mutter, “Calm down.” Move. The best way to counter the fight-or-flight stress response is to get active. Do push-ups against your office wall. Hike the hallways or walk around the block. Activity is a BOGO: You relieve tension and condition your heart.
  • Add color. Take charge of your space. Splashes of color from posters, photos, flowers or even a throw rug can improve your mood and your productivity. A combination of red and green is better than dull white, black and brown. In one study, those muted colors made people duller, too, scoring 12 points lower on IQ tests.
  • Take time for tea. Polyphenols in black tea may reduce stress hormones in your blood and help your body shed tension faster.
  • Instead of upsetting family life every night by taking work home (50 percent of people do), declare once a week official “FAB” night, as in Forget About Business. Watch a funny movie together. Tell jokes at dinner. Laugh it up. You’ll feel your tension fade, and your family will draw closer.

Additionally, research shows that – much like a healthy diet and regular exercise – a joyful, enthusiastic disposition and positive attitude may help keep your heart free of disease.

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In one 10-year study, people who scored high in emotions like joy, enthusiasm and contentment had a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease compared with folks who experienced those good feelings less frequently. More research is needed to confirm the link between a positive attitude and a healthy, good heart, but other research has already done a pretty good job proving the other side of the coin – that negative emotions like anger, hostility and depression can increase the risk of heart disease.

In addition to setting the stage for a good heart, studies have shown that happiness can boost your immune system, nip your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and help you live longer in general. And who doesn’t want to feel happy, anyway? It certainly makes life easier.

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

For more healthy tips and medical information, continue to check in on the Denton Regional Urgent Care blog. At Denton Regional Urgent Care, we have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine. We offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it, even after hours or on the weekend as well.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

What the new blood pressure guidelines mean for you

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For the first time in 14 years, the American Heart Association changed their blood pressure guidelines. The new guidelines have lowered the number for what’s considered high blood pressure, also called hypertension. The result: Nearly half of American adults are now considered hypertensive.

Find out more about the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, plus how to check your numbers and lower your hypertension risk.

How to understand your numbers
Blood pressure is depicted as a fraction or a division equation, with a larger number on top and a small number on the bottom, separated by a slash.

The top number is systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure inside the arteries when the heart contracts or beats. The bottom number, diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries at rest, between heartbeats. So, a blood pressure reading that’s 120/80 means the systolic blood pressure is 120 and diastolic is 80.

“If your blood pressure is high, your heart muscle is pumping against high resistance,” explains Khalil Afsh, MD, an internist and clinical lipidologist with Orange Park Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida.

Given enough time pumping against high resistance, says Dr. Afsh, the heart will hypertrophy, or grow bigger. This can lead to impaired blood flow, arrhythmia and cardiac arrest.

Under the new guidelines, approximately 103 million adults in the US have high blood pressure. Prior to the new guideline release, about 70 million Americans had hypertension. It’s in your best interest to know your numbers because high blood pressure can lead to a host of problems, such as artery damage, stroke, heart attack and even kidney and eye damage.

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What’s changed under the new guidelines
The guidelines for what’s considered normal blood pressure have remained the same: A blood pressure reading of less than 120 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic is considered normal. However, the new guidelines now define hypertension as a reading above 130 mm Hg systolic or 80 mm Hg diastolic. This is a change from the old definition of hypertension—140/90 and higher.

Under new guidelines, 46 percent of American adults will be considered hypertensive, up from 32 percent under old guidelines.

The new guidelines also eliminated the category of prehypertension, once defined as a blood pressure reading between 120 and 139 systolic or 80 to 89 diastolic. Now, the guidelines list:

  • Elevated: Systolic between 120 and 129 and diastolic less than 80
  • Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and 139 or diastolic between 80-89
  • Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90—previously classified as stage 1

If your reading shows systolic blood pressure above 180 or diastolic above 120, this is considered a hypertensive crisis, and patients should seek prompt medical care.

Research suggests complications can arise before blood pressure reaches 140/90. These changes will encourage early intervention to prevent any further increase in blood pressure levels and reduce the likelihood of hypertension-related complications, like stroke, vision loss and heart attack.

But pressure that’s too low can cause its own set of problems. Hypotension, or low blood pressure, can lead to blurry vision, confusion, dizziness, fainting, lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and weakness. Sudden and drastic drops in blood pressure can starve vital organs like the heart and brain of oxygen. Hypotension, unlike hypertension, doesn’t have a hard and fast range. As long as your low blood pressure doesn’t cause any symptoms, you don’t need to worry.

Tools of the trade: How to measure your blood pressure
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury or mm Hg. Why mercury? Take a closer look at the blood pressure cuff the nurse or doctor puts around your arm. The cuff is called a sphygmomanometer and, even today, many contain mercury to measure barometric pressure in the arteries, according to Afsh.

The cuff is inflated to squeeze the artery and prevent blood from flowing, then the air is released. When the blood starts flowing again, the doctor or nurse will look at the pressure reading and determine the systolic blood pressure. “When the pulse goes away, we’re measuring diastolic blood pressure,” says Afsh.

Afsh says he tests blood pressure at least once more after a reading comes back high. “When someone comes to our practice and we find high blood pressure, we ask the patient to relax and then measure again,” he says. “Anxiety can raise blood pressure.”

Talking while your blood pressure is being monitored or having a full bladder can also throw the reading off. Sometimes someone can have high blood pressure in one arm and not the other due to a problem with their veins, adds Afsh. “I usually go with the lower reading because when you have high blood pressure in one arm, there’s probably a blockage.”

You might want to get a device to monitor your blood pressure at home. Many people’s readings are higher in the doctor’s office than they are at home because doctors make them nervous; it’s a phenomenon known as white coat hypertension.

Look for a device that takes measurements from the upper arm and can be used on both arms. It’s a good idea to bring the device to your healthcare provider’s office to make sure it works correctly and you know how to use it properly.

What you can do about high blood pressure
There is no cure for high blood pressure, but a combination of lifestyle modifications and medication can help manage the condition, and reduce your risk of complications. Your doctor is most adept to guide you through the changes you should be making, which might include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting salt intake
  • Scaling back alcohol consumption
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Upping daily physical activity
  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Sticking to your medication schedule

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

For more healthy tips and medical information, continue to check in on the Denton Regional Urgent Care blog. At Denton Regional Urgent Care, we have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine. We offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it, even after hours or on the weekend as well.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

5 Healthy Food Gift Ideas

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Want to bring a little good cheer into a friend’s life? Here’s our list of five healthy food gift ideas that will make everyone happier (including you, because giving is a great feeling).

1. Walnuts

It may sound like a boring gift, but did you know that eating 12 halves of walnuts daily could increase your lifespan up to 20 percent?! Munching on this healthy snack 30 minutes before mealtime is an effective way to control appetite and keep your arteries clear! Pair a half  pound bag of walnuts with some of the below gifts, or give them to family members as a stocking stuffer!

2. Dark Chocolate

Yes, you read that right! Gift a half pound of dark, 70 percent cacao chocolate as a healthy present this holiday season! One ounce daily can reduce heart attack and stroke risk by 30 percent, while preventing some cancers. This gift also pairs well with some of the other gift suggestions like walnuts, coffee and wine.

3. Coffee

Coffee has many health benefits, so consider adding some java to your gift list this year! Your daily dose of coffee (three cups) can cut stroke risk by 30 percent and may help prevent some cancers, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes. This makes a great gift on its own, or paired with dark chocolate.

4. Wine

A bottle of red wine makes a great gift, and even has health benefits! Wine boosts the “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, and reduces the “bad” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, keeping everything from the brain to sexual functions up and running.

5. Garlic goodness

Garlic-infused olive oil delivers an immune-boosting, heart-healthy flavor and keeps your joints healthy! This is a great gift for the cook in the family, or any foodie friends, and is easy to find. This is also a great gift to pair with some fresh bread and maybe even a bottle of wine.

This content originally appeared on the website of HCA partner sharecare.com.

For more healthy tips and medical information, continue to check in on the Denton Regional Urgent Care blog. At Denton Regional Urgent Care, we have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine. We offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it, even after hours or on the weekend as well.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

20 Essentials for Your First-Aid Kit

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You should always keep a first-aid kit in your home. It should be kept within easy reach of an adult but should be stored away from children. Having a well-stocked first-aid kit is essential to ensuring the right supplies to deal with an emergency at a moment’s notice.

First-aid kits can be purchased at a local drugstore or you can put one together yourself. If you make the decision to make one yourself, chose a container that is spacious and easy to open and carry. Plastic tackle boxes, for example, make great homemade first-aid kit containers.

If you decide to make your own kit, here are 20 essential supplies you will need to make sure to include:

    • A first-aid manual
    • Different sized sterile gauze pads
    • Adhesive tape
    • Band-Aids in several sizes
    • Elastic bandage (like an Ace wrap)
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Antiseptic solution (like hydrogen peroxide)
    • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen
    • Tweezers
    • Scissors
    • Disposable instant cold packs
    • Alcohol wipes
    • Plastic non-latex gloves
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • A blanket
    • Mouthpiece for administering CPR (can be purchased at the drugstore)
    • Calamine lotion
    • A splint
    • Thermometer

 

iStock-483048153.jpgMake sure to read the entire first-aid manual to understand how to use the contents of your first-aid kit. Not doing this could put you in a tough situation if there ever came a time to use one of the supplies.

Check your first aid-kit regularly. Some things in your first-aid kit you might not ever use, but some might frequently run out like Band-Aids. Replace the missing items so you have them in the future. A well-kept first-aid kit is a necessity in every home to help you handle an emergency in your household.

For more healthy tips and medical information, continue to check in on the Denton Regional Urgent Care blog. At Denton Regional Urgent Care, we have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine. We offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it, even after hours or on the weekend as well.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

Three Signs of Diabetes You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Because its symptoms can be difficult to identify, diabetes can cause a number of problems before it’s diagnosed. Your body’s cells rely on glucose to give them energy, but, if you’ve got diabetes, your body cannot handle high blood glucose.

As your body digests carbohydrates, fruits and other foods with high sugar content, it creates glucose. Once it’s created, glucose moves through your blood. Your body relies on insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas) to turn glucose into energy. However, those with diabetes do not produce usable insulin, so they must rely on injections of the hormone.

Unfortunately, 9% of the United States population suffers from diabetes. If you’re one of the 29 million people that’s developed diabetes, but are unaware, there are three major signs you should not ignore.

  1. Frequent Urination: Anything more than 3 liters a day is considered abnormal and should be taken seriously. (Normal daily urine output is anywhere from one to two liters.)
  2. Increased Thirst: If you feel thirsty constantly despite taking in an adequate amount of water each day, it may be a sign of diabetes. It is recommended that if you experience increased thirst for a number of days, you should seek medical care to get tested for diabetes.
  3. Increased Appetite: Although increased appetite could be a result of intense exercise, it may also be a symptom of diabetes. When a heightened appetite is linked to diabetes, the feeling will not go away, even after you’ve eaten.

When left untreated, diabetes symptoms can lead to life-threatening metabolic crises. Complications from diabetes include nerve damage, kidney damage, poor blood circulation and even death.

If you’re concerned you may have diabetes, consider visiting Denton Regional Urgent Care. We have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

 

 

 

Precautions to Take If Heart Disease Runs In Your Family

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If heart disease runs in your family, you may be worried you will develop it too. However, your family’s history doesn’t have to have an effect on you if you take initiative. While genetics are a large factor behind heart disease, so is lifestyle and not taking preventative measures. Below are a few precautions to take if heart disease is in your genes.

Tell Your Doctor

Fill your doctor in on any family members that have suffered a heart attack or stroke. It’s also a good idea to let your doctor know if you have a family member with a heart murmur or heart rhythm problem. Immediate family members such as parents, brothers or sisters matter the most.

See a Doctor Regularly

It’s essential that you see a doctor routinely. You should get basic screening tests such as blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checks. Your doctor will also want to know basics such as your weight, your activity level and if you’re a smoker. Your doctor may also recommend some basic cardiology tests such as an EKG, stress test or echocardiogram.

Assess Your Lifestyle

While you can’t change your genetics, you can control your lifestyle choices. Take a step back and take a look at your diet, activity level, smoking habits, etc. Find out where you can clean things up and start small. Maybe you can cut down to one soda a day or start working out three days a week. Any improvements will help reduce your risk of heart disease.

If heart disease runs in your family, you should see a doctor for routine screening. Consider visiting Denton Regional Urgent Care–we have physicians that are board-eligible in family medicine or emergency medicine, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.