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Illness Prevention

High Blood Pressure, the Silent Killer… or Maybe Not-So-Silent

· Illness Prevention · Comments Off on High Blood Pressure, the Silent Killer… or Maybe Not-So-Silent

So why is high blood pressure called the silent killer?

In some ways, high blood pressure has earned its’ nickname well as a “silent killer.” After all thousands of unsuspecting people become disabled or die from its consequences every year. By the time most people get symptoms of high blood pressure, such as headaches or nosebleeds just to name a couple, the blood pressure is dangerously high.  On its way there, that pressure has been damaging our kidneys, heart, brain, and other organs. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. The killer may be silent, but the damage caused and the lives impacted are far from that.

How does high blood pressure affect us?

According to the CDC, about 75 million United States adults (32%) have high blood pressure and just slightly over half of those (54%) have it under control.  It takes a daily toll killing what averages out to 1,100 Americans dying each day.

So what can we do about high blood pressure?

Fortunately, there is much we can each do:

  1. Lower your sodium intake (no more than 1500 mg daily)
  2. Avoid smoking and using tobacco products.
  3. Be physically active daily
  4. Eat a heart-healthy diet
  5. Keep a healthy weight
  6. Limit alcohol consumption

A good start is looking at our sodium intake.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends up to 1500mg of sodium for ideal cardiovascular health. 90% of Americans consume more than 1500mg (average consumption is 3400mg) and about 90% of Americans are expected to develop high blood pressure in their lifetimes. According to the AHA less sodium in the diet can help to blunt the rise in blood pressure that occurs as we age.

Most of our dietary sodium comes not from the salt-shaker, but from processed foods.  Always try to consume lower-sodium versions of any of your foods, in particular, bread, soups, and cold cuts. Select fresh or frozen poultry that hasn’t been injected with sodium (i.e. broth).

A good source for information on sodium is at


Jose R Santana Jr MD MPH FACP

How to Protect Yourself from the Flu

· Illness Prevention · Comments Off on How to Protect Yourself from the Flu

The flu once again is upon us.  Many will become ill, some will die from it.

As an internist, I have cared for flu patients every single year for over 25 years. I witnessed first-hand the weakness, aches, fever, headache and other symptoms knock so many I care about off their feet, causing them to miss work, school, family events and more. Too often loved ones are then exposed and become ill as well. According to the CDC, during 2017-18, just over a year ago, the flu broke records for deaths and illnesses, killing nearly 80,000 people. That would be a Jumbo 747 jet with 500 passengers going down every day for nearly 6 months!

Who is at highest risk of flu complications?

Pregnant women and those over the age of 65, as well as those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and other conditions are at the highest risk of more severe flu complications. Our immune systems weaken as we age.  In the United States, people over 65 account for 70-85% of flu-related deaths. But keep in mind that over 10,000 adults aged 18-64 died last season in the United States from flu complications, along with nearly 180 children. We are all at risk, so we must take steps to protect ourselves.

How to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the flu.

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all people ages 6 months and older unless you have a contraindication to influenza vaccine. Even if you had the flu this season, you should still get vaccinated since the vaccine contains 3-4 different influenza strains. Rarely people who get the vaccine may have mild flu-like symptoms, but they will not get the flu from the vaccine. It takes 1-2 weeks to develop immunity after the vaccine, so there are some people who may be exposed to the flu before they have immunity and become ill with the flu, but this did not come from the vaccine.

The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu.  Speak to one of our physicians on how to best avoid this all too common illness.

For more information go to

Author: Jose R Santana Jr MD MPH FACP

Dr Santana is a Board-Certified Internist with Private Physician Services, PLLC in Sarasota Florida.