Category Archives: Heart Health

11 Steps to Lower Your Blood Pressure | Fullerton, CA

High blood pressure is not only a common affliction, but also the precursor of a more serious issue. This is when changes really need to be made in order to improve the way your blood circulates through your system. It isn’t impossible, but it will take an effort getting used to this new way of living…

Monitor blood pressure at home. This will result in a more accurate assessment of your blood pressure.

Exercise regularly. Regular exercise improves blood vessel flexibility and heart function. It can be as simple as walking regularly and may decrease blood pressure by 10 points.

Eat well. The American Heart Association recommends the ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ (DASH) diet. This diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.

Lose weight, if overweight. Losing even 10% of your current weight can make a big difference.

Stop smoking. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and can cause a 20-point increase in your B.P.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Limit to one drink a day for women & two for men.

Limit salt intake. Too much sodium and too little potassium can increase blood pressure in people who are sensitive to salt. Aim for less the 1.5 grams of sodium and more than 4.7 grams of potassium daily.

Sleep at least 7-8 hours a night. Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to high blood pressure and increased chance of developing heart disease.

Reduce stress. Mental and emotional stress can increase blood pressure. Meditation lowers stress and your blood pressure.

Take prescribed blood pressure medication. Taking blood pressure pills can keep you from having a stroke or heart attack.

Blood uric acid. Make sure your level is optimal.

If you would like more information about lowering your blood pressure, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

How to be Gluten-Free | Fullerton, CA

Heart Healthy

We’ve all heard this word before, to almost a nauseating degree as of late – but what is Gluten? Gluten is a common name for a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, kamut, spelt and many oats (due to cross contamination). For some people it is irritating to their body and increases inflammation. It is important to remember that wheat-free is NOT necessarily gluten-free.

Gluten is commonly used as a food additive in processed food, so it can be hidden where you do not expect it to be. Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are ALSO sometimes added to processed foods to make their flavor more appealing and to extend their shelf life, or in some cases to contribute to the food’s structure, such as salt in bread or sugar in cakes. Buying processed foods can lead to people eating more than the recommended amounts of sugar, salt and fat and can be higher in calories due to the high amounts of added sugar or fat. Unless a food package says it is gluten-free, assume it is not.

Examples of common processed & packaged foods that often contain additives:

  • Breakfast cereals and breads
  • Cheese
  • Tinned or canned foods (e.g. vegetables)
  • Savory snacks, such as fries, chips, sausage rolls, pies, pasties, cakes, biscuits
  • Meat products and substitutes, such as bacon, sausage, ham, salami and pâté
  • Stocks & bullions, gravies and sauces
  • Convenience foods, such as microwave meals or ready meals
  • Beer
  • Drinks, such as commercial milk or soft drinks
  • Commercial yogurt
  • Fruit fillings
  • Candy, gum and inexpensive chocolate
  • Energy/granola bars
  • Dry seasonings
  • Commercial salad dressings
  • Dry roasted nuts
  • Imitation seafood
  • Instant coffee

Foods that are ‘fresh’ and naturally gluten-free:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes and nuts

If you would like more information about a gluten-free diet, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

Seven Qualities of the Mindfulness Body Scan | Fullerton, CA

Although in some ways it can seem quite simple, mindfulness is a multifaceted skill. The body scan is a great starting practice because it fundamentally trains so many aspects of working skillfully with experience. Here are seven qualities of mindfulness that should be practiced in the body scan.

Attention. By consciously choosing to place the mind on an object, we are training our capacity to pay attention. Attention is also trained by moving the mind from one object to another, and by coming back to an object when we notice the mind has wandered. Training attention in a body scan is a bit like doing resistance work in the gym—it takes some effort, but it cultivates strength and flexibility. Remember, each time you practice a body scan, you are strengthening the muscles of mindfulness.

Awareness. When they first practice the body scan, most people notice that their mind seems to roam all over the place. We intend to pay attention consistently, but that’s not quite what happens. This is not a problem—part of the practice is to bring awareness to whatever is happening in the mind, even if it’s not exactly what we’d like it to be. Knowing our patterns is the first step to working with them skillfully. With awareness, we are open to the landscape of the mind, able to see the terrain of our being.

Note: Part of the practice is to bring awareness to whatever is happening in the mind, even if it’s not exactly what we’d like it to be.

Embodiment. Repeatedly bringing attention to our bodies balances the tendency to “live in our heads.” The body senses rather than thinks, so, by allowing body sensations to be felt, we can drop into a fuller sensory palette. Living from our bodies, we tune into a mode of perceiving that’s more centered, grounded and directly in touch with the world around us, rather than always getting caught up in concepts.

Letting be. Many of us are used to driving ourselves hard. We think of training as a way to try to force change, push, pull, cajole and badger ourselves into becoming something different. Mindfulness training encourages a different approach. Each time we come back to attention in the body scan, it’s suggested we do so gently. When we notice the mind is wandering, we do so with acceptance—this is just the way the mind is, for now. While we may not always like what we find, we can practice allowing it as our starting point, rather than trying to resist it or try to force change, which just creates struggle and stress.

Note: Many of us are used to driving ourselves hard. We think of training as a way to try to force change, push, pull and badger ourselves into becoming something better. Mindfulness training encourages a different approach. When we notice the mind is wandering, we do so with acceptance—this is just the way the mind is, for now. We can practice allowing it as our starting point, rather than trying to resist it or try to force change, which just creates struggle and stress.

Leaning into unpleasant experiences. As we move into body sensations, we may discover feelings that we don’t like. Discomfort and pain, irritation and boredom, sadness and numbness are all common experiences for people practicing a body scan. Our usual way of meeting these sensations is to try not to meet them—to escape from their unpleasantness by distracting from, ruminating on, or battling with them. Sometimes, though, there isn’t anything we can do to make them go away on demand—physical or emotional pain tends not to listen to reason. So, rather than exacerbating our misery by struggling with it, the body scan teaches us how to lean gently into discomfort. Although this seems counterintuitive, it reduces the unwelcome sensations’ power to derail us. When we approach our experience with interest, although we feel even unpleasant sensations fully, we also drop our attachment to the stressful thoughts and reactions that are typically layered on top of them.

Appreciation. It’s easy to go through life taking things for granted. But contemplate it for a moment. Isn’t it amazing that we have a body at all, and a mind to experience it? By paying attention to body sensations, and noticing what arises in awareness, we incline our interest into being alive, not as a set of philosophical ideas, but as actual phenomena—the very experience of things. This enables us to tune into the actuality of moment-by-moment living, generating appreciation that can nurture a sense of awe and gratitude.

Getting unstuck. When we pay attention with mindfulness, we come to observe and feel the reality that everything is always changing. We notice how stress arises when we try to hold on to pleasant sensations and/or reject painful ones, and we see how sensations are moving, shifting, rising and falling in intensity all the time. We may even see how we are no longer so caught up in ourselves when we drop our sense of fixed identity (“My leg hurts!”) and invite an awareness of the aspects and processes of experience (“There is an ache right now, and a thought about that ache”). Getting unstuck from mistaken assumptions about how things are—and how we are—can start to bring some relief.

Curious to find out more? Click here to continue reading this article.

If you would like more information about mindfulness, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

February Is a Time for Love and Heartache | Fullerton, CA

Because the American Red Cross celebrated Go Red for Women this month, we thought we would take a moment to breakdown the differences between a stroke and a heart attack. After all, many women don’t even know they have an issue because our symptoms aren’t the same as they are for men. And those symptoms that are often chalked up to the flu. We all know women have a higher threshold for pain, and many times women ignore little symptoms as nothing to worry about. Here’s what you should know:

Sweating. Pressure. Nausea. Jaw pain. Believe it or not, these are all symptoms of a heart attack in women. They’re also symptoms that women often brush off as the flu, stress or simply feeling under the weather—which could put their lives in jeopardy. It’s also important to note that women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort.

Symptoms of a stroke:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

If you would like more information about getting more heart healthy, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

Heart Healthy New Year Resolutions | Fullerton, CA

Heart Healthy

Here we are – 2022. And with the new year comes a new set of goals to try to live our healthiest, happiest lives. Some of us go to the gym, others quit a bad habit or two. The point is that now is the time to check in with ourselves in regard to what we want our next year to bring. Because if we don’t, it will likely lead to health problems instead.

Being diagnosed with problems such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol should be a wakeup call to start to strive toward a healthier lifestyle. Good news is, there are many ways to prevent and even go about lowering both your high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Simple changes to your lifestyle will make a big difference to your overall health. And a healthier life will lead to a happier one. Unsure where to start? Here are some ways that will make the changes you’re looking for:

  • Lowering weight and maintaining healthy weight
  • Eat heart healthy meals
  • Become or continue to be more active
  • Reduce blood sugar
  • Manage blood pressure
  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Control cholesterol

Making heart healthy changes before you develop conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol is extremely crucial. Many of us aren’t aware, but heart disease is actually the No. 1 killer in the US, so taking action to keep your heart healthy is very important. If you need tips to becoming healthier, feel free to contact your doctor. They will be more than willing to lead you down the right track.

If you would like more information about getting more heart healthy, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

Stress: Symptoms, Causes and Managing | Fullerton, CA

As we get ready to begin a whole new year, we tend to take stock on things we’d like to change and improve upon. One of the main causes of lots of health issues comes from stress that we carry in our lives. Financial issues, problems at work or home, health problems and social isolation are just some of the major factors that lead to stress in our lives. It is a crazy world we live in, but we need to find ways to curtail our stress levels in order to keep ourselves healthy for the year ahead. Here are some common symptoms of stress:

  • Headaches
  • Backaches
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Irritability
  • Loss of concentration

Chronic stress is believed to raise the risk of increased blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic back pain, depression and a reduced immune response. If you find that you are getting stressed on a frequent basis, try some of these ideas:

  • Discuss your symptoms and your feelings about them.
  • Keep a diary to gain insight into your concerns and emotional patterns.
  • Exercise regularly engaging in both aerobic and weight training.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation deep breathing exercises.
  • Maintain your immune system by eating well balanced meals, exercising regularly and getting sufficient sleep.
  • Avoid destructive behaviors, including overindulgence of alcohol, caffeine or smoking.

Seek professional help if any of your symptoms persist, interfering with your sense of wellbeing and/or your personal/work relationships. You may be prescribed a medication based on your particular symptoms:

Recurrent acute anxiety (episodic anxiety): Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam (Ativan), or Alprazolin (Xanax).

Depression: Selective serotoninuptake inhibitors: Fluoxetin (Prozac), or Paroxetine (Paxil) or other antidepressant medication.

Insomnia: Zaleplon (Sonata), Zolpiden (Ambien) or Temazapan (Restoril).

If you would like more information about dealing with stress, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

What Is an Echocardiogram? | Fullerton, CA

As we continue to age, we will find that health problems will begin to arise and need to be addressed by a doctor. If these issues are mainly in the chest area, additional tests may be conducted. One of these tests is an Echocardiogram. An Echocardiogram (ECHO) is a special non-invasive office ultrasound examination that determines the health of the heart by evaluating both its anatomy and function.

Before you get nervous, please understand not everyone will need a test like this. Who should have an Echocardiogram? Individuals of any age who have any of the following should expect to have one of these tests done in their lifetime:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Heart murmur or other abnormal heart examination finding
  • Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
  • Irregular heart rhythm or palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ankle swelling
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • History of diet pill use
  • History of congenital heart defects

Like we’ve stated before, this is a non-invasive test, but it will be a test that could possibly save your life. As for what results you can expect, an Echocardiogram of your heart will measure the following:

  • The four heart chambers that receive circulating blood (atriums) and then pump the blood (ventricles) to the lungs and body. Both the size of the chambers and the thickness of the chamber walls are measured. (Note: High blood pressure can cause wall thickening and subsequent weakening of the heart muscle.)
  • Pumping function of the heart muscle, while in motion.
  • Heart valve structure including prolapse (MVP) or leaking.
  • Pressure within the heart and lungs in patients with a history of diet pill use.
  • Detects blood clots, masses or infections of the heart.
  • Detects inflammation or fluid accumulation around the heart.

If you would like more information about echocardiograms, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

Five Best Exercise Programs for Your Health* | Fullerton, CA

If you’re not an athlete or serious exerciser — and you just want to work out for your health or to fit in your clothes better — the gym scene can be intimidating. Just having to walk by treadmills, stationary bikes, and weight machines can be enough to make you head straight back home to the couch.

Yet some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or ask you to get fit enough to run a marathon. These “workouts” can do wonders for your health. They’ll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss. No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:

Swimming. You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing. Research has found that swimming can also improve your mental state and put you in a better mood.

Water aerobics is another option. These classes help you burn calories and tone up. Most YMCA’s have water aerobics programs.

Tai chi. This Chinese martial art that combines movement and relaxation is good for both body and mind. In fact, it’s been called “meditation in motion.” Tai chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next. Because the classes are offered at various levels, tai chi is accessible — and valuable — for people of all ages and fitness levels. It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older.

Take a class to help you get started and learn the proper form. You can find tai chi programs at your local YMCA, health club, community center, or senior center.

Strength training. If you believe that strength training is a macho, brawny activity, think again. Lifting light weights won’t bulk up your muscles, but it will keep them strong. If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time –a condition called sarcopenia. Muscle also helps burn calories. The more muscle volume you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s easier to maintain your weight. Similar to other exercise, strength training may also help preserve brain function in later years.

Before starting a weight training program, be sure to learn the proper form. Start light, with just one or two pounds. You should be able to lift the weights 10 times with ease. After a couple of weeks, increase that by a pound or two. If you can easily lift the weights through the entire range of motion more than 12 times, move up to slightly heavier weight.

Walking. Walking is simple, yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood, and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease, for example). A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can even improve memory and resist age-related memory loss.

All you need is a well-fitting and supportive pair of shoes. Start with walking for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Over time, you can start to walk farther and faster, until you’re walking for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week.

Kegel exercises. These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence. While many women are familiar with Kegels, these exercises can benefit men too.

To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze the muscles you would use to prevent yourself from passing urine or gas. Hold the contraction for two or three seconds, then release. Make sure to completely relax your pelvic floor muscles after the contraction. Repeat 10 times. Try to do four to five sets a day.

Many of the things we do for fun (and work) count as exercise. Raking the yard counts as physical activity. So does ballroom dancing and playing with your kids or grandkids. As long as you’re doing some form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and you include two days of strength training a week, you can consider yourself an “active” person.

*For additional information on this and other questions about getting started on a healthy exercise program, buy Starting to Exercise, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

If you would like more information about reducing healthy exercise programs, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

Maintaining Your Blood Pressure During Hot Summer Months | Fullerton, CA

As the weather gets warmer, there is a bigger need to take care of our health. Drink plenty of water, eat light healthy meals and lots of summer fun in the sun are definitely in order and necessary if we are going to keep our systems in working order enduring these extremely dangerous heatwaves. Because heart disease is such a common disease for Americans, it is important that we all try to do our best to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep our blood pumping. Here are just a few of the ways you can keep your heart healthy:

Watch your weight. Blood pressure typically increases as weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure immensely.

Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can help you lower your blood pressure. Consistency is key, as your blood pressure can increase again. The best kind of exercise to lower blood pressure include, walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and dancing.

Maintain a healthy diet. Consuming a diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy can help lower your blood pressure. Be sure to avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, as these foods can increase blood pressure.

Careful with the salt. Even just a small reduction in your sodium intake can reduce blood pressure. To decrease your sodium intake, you can read food labels, eat fewer processed foods and not add salt to meals.

Reduce your stress. To reduce your stress levels, you should take some time to think about what is causing your stress in the first place. Once you figure out what is causing your stress, think about how you can eliminate or reduce it.

If you would like more information about reducing heart issues during the summer, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.

Celebrating American Stroke Month | Fullerton, CA

Heart Health

May is the month we celebrate American Stroke Month, a time to raise stroke awareness. Strokes do not discriminate; they can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. According to the American Stroke Association, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, and that’s in the United States alone.

We shouldn’t stand idly by while this disease ruins and takes the lives of our loved ones, especially when it is preventable, treatable and beatable. The following list is a few things that everyone should know about stroke prevention:

Not just an age thing. Stroke risk does, in fact, increase with age. However, young adults, children and even unborn babies can suffer from a stroke.

Keep calm. High blood pressure is a stroke’s first target. Keeping your blood pressure under control reduces your risk and prevent stroke.

It’s treatable. There are blood clot-busting drugs and medical devices have made stroke largely treatable. However, every second counts, nearly 2 million brain cells die each minute a stroke goes untreated.

Know the signs. By learning the signs and symptoms, you too can save someone from suffering from a stroke. F.A.S.T. is an acronym used to detect the strokes: Face dropping, Arm Weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call 9-1-1. When you can spot the signs, you’ll know that you need to call for help right away.

American Stroke Month wants to help others by increasing their knowledge of strokes, so that they may be able to save a friend, family member or their own life one day. Make it a mission to help build a healthier life for you and the ones you love to prevent against stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

If you would like more information on stroke signs and symptoms, contact Dr. Gordon C. Gunn MD at 714-912-2211 or visit www.gordongunnmd.com to schedule an appointment today. 

Dr. Gunn proudly serves Fullerton and all surrounding areas.