KRON 4 | Payoffs from Losing Just Five Pounds

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If you resolved to lose weight at the beginning of the year, but haven’t reached your goal, here’s some good news. You really don’t have to lose that much weight to reap huge health benefits.

How Losing Just Five Pounds Boosts Your Health

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Lower Blood Pressure

  • The American Heart Association says if you are overweight, losing as little as five pounds may help lower blood pressure.
  • Lowering blood pressure reduces risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, and kidney failure.
  • The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says for every 20 pounds you lose, you can drop systolic pressure 5-20 points. That is, drop a pound, drop a point.

Improve Urinary Incontinence (UI)

Simbolo toilette, bagno uomo e donnaLosing weight reduces risk factors for many medical conditions, especially heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Now, there’s a new benefit that can be added to the long list of health benefits: reduced urinary incontinence (involuntary urination). About 25 million Americans have urinary incontinence and about 25% are men. About half of U.S. women over age 65 leak.

Causes and Cures for UI

  • Gravity, aging tissue, and hormonal changes all contribute to urinary incontinence.
  • Increased pressure on the bladder during pregnancy and as well a weakened or stretched pelvic floor from childbirth can cause incontinence.
  • Losing five pounds can reduce the stress on the pelvic floor and reduce incontinence significantly.
  • A UCSF study of over 338 women (average age of 53), those who lost an average of just three pounds reported 28% fewer urinary incontinence episodes. Those that lost 17 pounds had 47% fewer episodes. These outcomes improved quality of life measures. The study strongly suggests weight loss decreases incontinence episodes, and a reduction of intra-abdominal pressure (due to central obesity, i.e., belly fat) on the bladder and pelvic floor is possibly why.

Weight loss is an effective, nonsurgical, and noninvasive treatment and should be considered a first line therapy for incontinence. Incontinence drugs have side effects (e.g., dry mouth, dry skin, dry eyes, constipation, upset stomach), and it has been reported that 50% of women discontinue drug treatment within one year because of the side effects.

Improve and Prevent Arthritis Symptoms

  • Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
  • When you carry extra pounds it puts huge pressure on your joints and puts you at risk of osteoarthritis (degenerative “wear and tear arthritis”).
  • In knee osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. As the cartilage wears away, the protective space between the bones decreases. The deterioration of the “shock absorber” can result in bone rubbing on bone, pain, stiffness, loss of movement in the affected joint, and painful bone spurs.
  • Wake Forest University conducted an 18-month diet and exercise study on sedentary, overweight, older adults with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. They concluded that for each pound of weight lost, each knee bears four pounds less pressure per step.

Amount of Knee Pressure When Walking

Senior woman power walking on a Gulf Coast beach.

  • If you lose five pounds, you reduce 20 pounds of pressure bearing down on each knee which can lessen pain.
  • When walking one mile (assuming 2,000 strides per mile), a five-pound loss in weight would be a reduction of more than 40,000 pounds of accumulated pressure on each knee.
  • Walking on an incline, walking up/down stairs, squatting, and jogging significantly reduce pressure on each knee even more.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Aim for losing a little weight versus a lot. It’s less daunting and the scientific evidence is clear. You’ll receive the health payoffs long before you drop large amounts of weight.

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KRON 4 | Salt Affects More Than Blood Pressure

VIDEO: You may think you’re one of the lucky ones who can eat unlimited bags of chips and other troves of salt; and yet, it doesn’t affect your blood pressure. But according to research published in the American College of Cardiology, excess sodium can adversely affect other target organs even if you don’t have hypertension.

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Blood Vessels

Studies show elevated sodium levels can cause the inner lining of blood vessels (called the endothelium) to “malfunction”. The following occurs as a result:

  1. Vessels stiffen. Arteries that become less elastic and lose their contractility (ability to fully contract and relax) make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. Eventually, the heart wears out (heart failure).
  2. Vessels become sticky. Think of the lining of your blood vessels as being slick like Teflon. An unhealthy endothelium is sticky like Velcro and causes plaque to attach. Plaque builds up in the brain too — leading to Alzheimer’s.
  3. The body breeds dangerous inflammation. Inflammation may cause plaque inside blood vessels to crack, rupture, and dislodge from arterial walls. The body responds like with any other injury by causing blood to clot. Clots clog up vessel freeways and block blood flow to the heart (heart attack) or brain (stroke). Inflammation is also the key reason behind why heart attacks are more likely to occur after getting the flu.

NOTE: Eating too much sugar can have the same effect on the endothelium as an excessive intake of sodium.

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Research found that elevated sodium levels may increase the wall thickness of the heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle). This thickening can lead to cardiac issues, such as:

  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden cardiac arrest (sudden loss of heart function)
  • Heart failure (inability of the heart to pump enough blood throughout the body)

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for this muscle tissue enlargement, but it was also found in healthy people with NORMAL blood pressure who consumed high amounts of sodium.


Healthy kidneys remove extra fluid and waste from the blood. Studies found that a high Continue reading “KRON 4 | Salt Affects More Than Blood Pressure”

When a Lower Blood Pressure is NOT Better

Blood Pressure Monitor_If you’ve been managing your blood pressure, you’re probably well aware of its high’s and low’s. You delight in a low blood pressure, but when your diastolic pressure (represented by the bottom number in your blood pressure reading) is low, you may be at risk for the following:

  • New-onset heart failure
  • Brain atrophy
  • Increased mortality if you have chronic kidney disease

Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure within your arteries as it flows through them. It’s the pressure between heartbeats, that is, when your heart is at rest. Your systolic blood pressure (represented by the top number in your blood pressure reading) measures the amount of pressure that your blood exerts on vessels when your heart contracts or ‘beats’.

Isolated Diastolic Hypotension

“Isolated diastolic hypotension” (IDH) is a condition that occurs when your diastolic blood pressure is low (less than 60 mm Hg), but your systolic blood pressure is 100 mm Hg and above.

If you’ve been congratulated for having a good systolic blood pressure (less than 120 mm Hg — or even less than 130 mm Hg), don’t be so quick to start your celebratory dance. What’s your diastolic blood pressure? Many clinicians don’t consider a low diastolic blood pressure reading as problematic.  Continue reading “When a Lower Blood Pressure is NOT Better”

10 Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Readings

In “The #1 Biggest Mistake That Affects Blood Pressure Readings“, wrong blood pressure cuff size topped the list as one of the most frequent errors made when measuring blood pressure. Be conscious of the following factors the next time you get a blood pressure reading. They can affect it by 5 to 50 points, and artificially high or low readings could affect your medical treatment.

1. Arm Position

Correct blood pressure arm position

Your palm should be facing up and your arm should be supported and horizontal at the level of the midpoint of your sternum (chest bone) which is at the approximate level of the right atrium of your heart. It may be necessary to place a pillow under your arm or adjust the chair or table to achieve the correct position.

  • If your upper arm is BELOW the level of the right atrium, your blood pressure readings will be too high (blood is flowing down into the arm).
  • If the upper arm is ABOVE heart level, the readings will be too low (blood is flowing down from the arm).

Researchers studied a group of outpatients to determine the effects of arm position on blood pressure measurements. Blood pressures were taken and compared in the following arm positions:

  1. Sitting with arms hanging down and elbows resting on the armrests of a chair (i.e., the elbow is at a right angle)
  2. Sitting with arms supported at the level of the mid-sternum
Blood pressure should be read with arm supported at the level of the mid-sternum

The results showed that blood pressure readings were significantly higher when sitting with arms on the armrest of the chair. Readings can be over 10 mm Hg higher in both systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) pressures.

Blood pressure readings are elevated significantly when the arm is hanging down.

In another study of 100 random emergency room patients, blood pressures were compared in two positions: 1) Arm lax and hanging down parallel to the body and 2) Arm in the “correct” position. Among the seated patients, 22% of them were diagnosed with hypertension, but twice as many patients were diagnosed with high blood pressure with the arm hanging down. Be sure to note the position of your arm whenever a clinician takes your blood pressure.   Continue reading “10 Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Readings”

The #1 Biggest Mistake That Affects Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure_dollarphotoclub_15479127_600x400Have you ever had your blood pressure taken and were surprised to discover that it was higher or lower than you expected? Did you know that simple variations can cause your blood pressure reading to deviate between 5 and 50 points? Beware… the most common error when measuring blood pressure is improper blood pressure cuff size.

Whether you take your own blood pressure at home or rely on a clinician to do so, using the wrong size cuff happens frequently. Since your blood pressure reading predicts your risk of stroke, heart disease and renal failure and assesses your need for hypertensive medications, you want to be sure the reading isn’t artificially low or elevated.

Why Cuff Size Matters

An essential part of measuring a blood pressure involves compressing the artery, so that no blood flows through it. The “cuff” is the part that wraps around your arm and the bladder inside inflates to apply the compression. It is CRITICAL that the cuff is the right size.

When the Cuff is Too Small

BP Cuff_AdultWhen the cuff size is too small, your blood pressure will be artificially HIGH — and can deviate by as much as 50 mmHg. This happens because the undersized cuff may not be able to completely close off the artery. It has to inflate a lot and you’ll get a higher reading. The result: a false diagnosis and over-treatment. It’s not uncommon that some obese people are incorrectly diagnosed with high blood pressure when it is actually normal.

When the Cuff is Too Large

Large BP CuffWhen the cuff size is too big, your blood pressure will be artificially LOW — but may not deviate as much as from the error of using a cuff that’s too small. It will read low because the bladder in the cuff will overlap (covering more than 100% of your arm), so the cuff ends up inflating on itself. In other words, it will cut off the supply of blood too easily and you’ll get a lower reading. Taking your blood pressure with a cuff that’s too large is dangerous because you and your doctor may think your blood pressure is normal and not as high as it actually is.

NOTE: When you’re exercising, your blood pressure is expected to rise, but the wrong size cuff could produce a reading that’s low or too high which could be problematic and symptomatic of cardiovascular disease.

Why This Mistake Occurs So Frequently

Using the wrong size cuff is mainly due to a laxity in protocol and/or by the clinician or a lack of emphasis on proper blood pressure cuff sizing in medical training. As a result, neglecting cuff size becomes the standard practice in the everyday work environment, i.e., in doctors’ offices and in both outpatient and inpatient hospital facilities.

Measuring for Cuff Size

Measuring tape

Use a flexible measuring tape (not metal) and measure the circumference of your arm at about the midpoint between your shoulder and elbow. (Allow your arm to relax and hang down at the side of your body.) If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can also use a piece of string or ribbon. Your cuff size will be determined by your arm size.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: After measuring your arm, MEMORIZE ITS SIZE! Whenever you get your blood pressure taken, ask the clinician the cuff’s range (it’s printed on the cuff).  Blood pressure cuffs do not come in uniform sizes, so you have to know your arm size. You may be an Adult Small in one cuff, but that could vary depending on the manufacturer.

Up Next! … “10 Factors That Can Affect Blood Pressure Readings(i.e., arm position, posture, and your bladder)