The doctors Payson Regional Medical Center brought to the community last year (and in previous years) are following a tradition that started 100 years ago. Payson’s first resident doctor, Christian Risser, hung out his shingle in 1912. He served the community and outlying areas until his death in 1933. One of his descendants, another Christian Risser, is still serving the Rim Country’s needs at the Risser-Thomas Eye Clinic.
After the first Dr. Risser’s death in 1933, it was another 21 years before the wheels were put in motion to bring permanent medical care to the Rim Country. During the interim, residents had been served by itinerant physicians or those who only lived in the area for a short while.
According to historian Stan Brown, the Payson Junior Woman’s Club started efforts to raise funds for a health clinic in 1954. Their clinic building was dedicated in 1956 and staffed twice a week by doctors visiting from the Valley. A resident physician was recruited in 1957 — Dr. David Gilbert.
The Payson Regional Medical Center can trace its roots back to that little clinic built, equipped and staffed by donations raised and volunteers from the Payson Junior Woman’s Club. That heritage is acknowledged to this day by the hospital’s auxiliary, The Pink Ladies (and their male counterparts).
PRMC evolved over the years into the award-winning facility that now serves the Rim Country. Those efforts continue with millions of dollars in equipment and facility improvements and ongoing recruitment of physicians specializing in a variety of disciplines.
One of these newly recruited physicians is cardiologist Dr. Toby Paulson, who joined PRMC in September. He sat down with The Rim Review to talk about good heart health for those 50 and older.
Paulson said the things that are important to good heart health are an active lifestyle; a consciousness about diet with mindfulness about foods that are lower in cholesterol and sodium (read the labels on your food, he said); avoid tobacco and tobacco products; if you use alcohol, including wine, do so in moderation (he said grape juice does as much good as wine); and keep blood pressure at a healthy level.
Talk with your doctor about what numbers represent a “good/health level” for you. Cholesterol and blood pressure that is trending upward should be addressed through diet therapy and medications.
Listen to your body — a heartbeat that is racing out of control, heavy or out of rhythm could suggest blood pressure problems. Paulson said the home monitoring devices on the market are reliable, but should be checked and calibrated once a year to make sure the readings continue to be accurate. This check can be done at just about any physician’s office, he said. Another indicator of elevated blood pressure is swelling, especially in the lower extremities, since it might be causing fluid retention.
Too much salt could cause this as well. Paulson said sodium should be limited to two grams (2,000 milligrams) per day and he also said to be cautious with salt substitutes.
Changes in your energy level and ability to maintain a normal activity level could also be an indicator of cardiac health issues. Paulson said sleep apnea could also impact cardiac health. Sleep apnea could be a problem if you are waking yourself with your snoring, your partner tells you that you sometimes stop breathing while sleeping, you wake unrested or with a morning headache or have daytime fatigue.
Other risk factors for cardiac health issues are family history, existing conditions and/or lifestyle choices such as diabetes, smoking, high total cholesterol and/or low good cholesterol. When looking at family history, Paulson said consider the health of your parents and siblings and both sets of grandparents.
To learn more about determining your cardiac health, talk to your primary care provider.