Halting Hypertension Webinar Series

If you ever get nervous about a visit to the doctor’s office or Wellcheck, consider this: blood pressure was first measured in the 1700s by a scientist who inserted a glass tube into the artery of a horse and observed the pressure as blood was pushed up the tube. A century later, a physician developed a way to measure blood pressure without having to pierce the skin (thankfully!). Medicine has come a long way! But it still wasn’t until the mid 19th century that checking blood pressure became a regular part of doctor’s visits. Even then, many doctors did not consider high blood pressure concerning; it was seen as just a normal part of aging. In fact, in 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt was given a clean bill of health, even with a blood pressure of 220/120 (normal blood pressure is less than 120/80)! FDR died only months later from a stroke.

The first effective drugs—without terrible side effects anyway—to lower high blood pressure were developed in the 1950s, but it took a few large, randomized, placebo-controlled studies in the 1960s to finally convince the medical community that high blood pressure should actually be treated. The findings of the studies were resoundingly clear. The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. When high blood pressure was treated, risk was reduced.

Now, in 2019, we know that high blood pressure, known as hypertension, not only should be treated, but that lifestyle modifications can play a huge role in its prevention and management. The foods we eat, how active we are, whether we smoke or not, how we deal with stress, how much alcohol we drink, all play a role in our blood pressure and how likely we are to develop hypertension.

Learn more fascinating facts about hypertension and its prevention by joining our webinar series starting tomorrow (5/14)! We will be hosting four 30-minute webinars on Tuesdays from 12:15 – 12:45pm. If you can’t make it at that time, you can still feel free to register, and you’ll receive the recording as soon as it’s available!

To register, click on the links below:

Tuesday, May 14th: Blood Pressure Basics

Discover the meaning of the blood pressure numbers, how the human body controls blood pressure, symptoms of and risk factors for hypertension, and instructions for getting an accurate blood pressure reading.

Tuesday, May 21st: Nutrition Strategies to Halt Hypertension

Find out which nutrients play an important role in blood pressure regulation, which foods to eat more of, and which foods to only enjoy occasionally, and why the DASH diet remains the gold standard for lowering high blood pressure.

Tuesday, May 28th: Physical Activity Recommendations to Halt Hypertension

We all know that exercise is good for us, but tune in to learn more about the reasons exercise is beneficial for preventing and lowering high blood pressure, and the activities and amount that is recommended for people with hypertension.

Tuesday, June 4th: Managing Stress to Halt Hypertension

Although stress alone may not cause hypertension, unhealthy coping strategies certainly can. We’ll discuss healthy ways to manage stress,  what factors are associated with stress hardiness, what resources are available through MUS Wellness, and we’ll practice a few stress management techniques.

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association (AHA) has some great new resources to help us check in and reconnect with that ever-so-important organ that gives us life every single second.

First, a reminder of the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7: Seven simple health & behavior factors that impact the health of your heart, and by correlation, your overall health.

  • Don’t Smoke, or Stop Smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Engage in regular physical activity
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Manage blood pressure
  • Take care of cholesterol
  • Keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels

Here at MUS Wellness, our message is certainly aligned with these goals, and our annual Wellchecks help you stay connected to many of these factors. In fact, our Spring Wellchecks are just getting started, and you can register for yours by clicking the big orange button right on Montana Moves & Meals homepage!

Want to do a quick heart health assessment?  The AHA has a nifty online quiz that only takes a couple of minutes, and will give you some helpful feedback and suggestions regarding your heart health. To take the quiz, click on the link below.

My Life Check

Finally, here’s a nice AHA infographic that gives some detail about the Life’s Simple 7 and the AHA 2020 Impact goal, a vision of improved American cardiovascular health by 2020. Yes, we can. 🙂

Happy Heart Month!


Cristin’s “Go-To” Healthy Recipes

In my previous post about meal planning, I suggested having ten “go-to” meals that figure regularly into your dinner rotation. These are meals that are relatively quick, easy, healthy, and enjoyed by all in the family. While teaching our Meal Planning Made Easy workshop last fall, one of the attendees requested my personal “go-to” meal list, so I thought I would share it here as well. Plus, these recipes fit the bill if you are looking for a heart healthy recipe to try for this month’s Cook Smart for your Heart challenge! For those of you who haven’t checked out the Montana Meal’s February challenge, we are asking you to cook at least one new-to-you, heart-healthy recipe each week. Heart healthy recipes are those that feature vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fish, lean protein, nuts, seeds, avocados, and other plant-based oils like olive oil and canola oil. Enjoy!


  • Parchment Paper Fish: The absolute best preparation method for fish, in my opinion!
  • Fish TacosThe fish seasoning is the best part of this recipe; you can skip the slaw and sauce if you’re short on time although they definitely make it more flavorful and colorful.



Vegetarian with easy option to add meat:

  • Stir-fryThis is the recipe for the sauce, then I chop up whatever vegetables and proteins that I have on hand and usually serve with cauliflower rice
  • Homemade pizza: I don’t have a recipe for this. Our local grocery store sells raw pizza dough, so I’ll buy some dough and top with tomato sauce, lots of veggies (spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, olives, asparagus, cauliflower, etc.), a couple spoonfuls of goat cheese, and some mozzarella. It’s also easy to make your own crust if you have a little extra time.
  • Taco Salad: Again, this is a meal for which I don’t have a specific recipe, but the link is similar to what I make. My salad typically consists of romaine lettuce, beans, cheese, cilantro, purple cabbage, peppers, and whatever other veggies I might have on hand, plus a seasoned protein (turkey, lean ground beef, game, or tempeh).

Happy Heart-Healthy Cooking (and Eating)!



Giving your Heart some Love

February is American Heart Month! We’ll be celebrating by focusing on your heart and heart health all month long here at Montana Moves & Montana Meals.  After all, exercising, eating well, and managing your stress like a champ are some of the best ways to keep your ticker going strong for years to come!

Today, we’re going to stop and simply appreciate our hearts for the miraculous, wondrous machines that they are with some good ‘ole fun facts.  After all, our hearts are constantly working for us, so the least we can do is show a little appreciation. Here goes:

  • Your heart beats around 100,000 times every day.
    • That adds up to over 2.5 billion times in an average life-span. That’s a lot of reps.
  • The heart continues this constant work rate for the duration of your life despite getting to rest for just over half a second between contractions (much less when you exercise). You’re welcome.
  • Weighing in at a whopping 11 ounces, this super organ pumps around 2000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels every day.
  • The embryonic cells that morph into the heart begin “pulsing” four weeks after conception. The mechanism for this initiation is not fully understood.
  • At rest, the heart pumps about 5 liters of blood every minute. During exercise, this cardiac output can triple, or even  more than quadruple for fit athletes.
  • At rest, it takes a deoxygenated blood cell six seconds to travel from the heart, pick up oxygen, and return to the heart. After being ejected from the left ventricle, a blood cell can travel to the brain, deliver oxygen, and return to the heart in eight seconds.  It takes 16 seconds for a similar round trip to your toes.  Now that’s a fast delivery system!

Let’s be good to our hearts this month (and every month). They certainly are good to us!


Heart Walking (and running)

Your MUS Wellness Team is in Missoula in support of this weekend’s AHA HeartWalk (and 5K) on the UM campus.  It seemed a great way to kickoff Fall Wellcheck season—Wellchecks and Flu Shots are coming to our MUS campuses during October and November!

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and Stroke is the #4 killer.  According to the American Heart Association, an American dies from heart disease or stroke every 39 seconds, yet 60% of adults don’t know their blood pressure or cholesterol numbers.  Lowering blood pressure may decrease heart disease and stroke risk by about 50%.  This is one of several reasons to take advantage of your two free health screenings MUS Wellness provides each year!

Staying physically active is another great way to lower your risk, which is why we’re excited to support the HeartWalk this weekend!  Here is what the AHA guidelines say about exercising for a healthy heart:


UM Employees:  Neal and Cristin will be hosting a drop-in Heart workshop TODAY (Friday, 9/27), from 11am-1pm in UC 332/333.  Drop in for any or all, or just stop by to say hi!

11-11:45, Eating for your Heart, Cristin Stokes

11:45-12:30, Two Feet and a Heartbeat, Neal Andrews

12:30-1:00, HeartTalk Q and A

For more info, or to register, click this link:  https://hearttalk.eventbrite.com/