Author Archive

Renewed Knee for Active Portneuf Volunteer

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Renewed Knee for Active Portneuf Volunteer

About three and a half years ago, Karen Knowlton injured her knee in a fall. She tried knee injections, physical therapy, and even a knee brace to help relieve the pain. No matter what she tried, her knee never seemed to recover from her fall. Karen consulted her doctor and decided that a knee replacement was the best option to help her resume her active lifestyle.

As a Portneuf Medical Center volunteer, Karen knew choosing Portneuf for her knee replacement would be the best choice. On March 5, 2019, Karen received a total knee replacement. She described her medical staff as pleasant and friendly. Each staff member explained what they were going to do and they were more than willing to answer any questions.

“I was really pleased with my treatment while in the hospital, both before and after surgery,” says Karen. “The nurses were attentive and quick to help whenever Karen pushed the button for assistance.”

Karen felt very comfortable during her hospital stay. Her pain was controlled well, while she found the hospital bed very comfortable, and the food tastier than expected. She noted how the nurses always asked for her approval before they allowed a visitor to come into her room and appreciated how the staff members communicated with her.

Before Karen was released to go home, she received the appropriate training to help her fully recover at home. The staff encouraged her to get up and move around without being overbearing. Karen felt that each staff member took their time to explain each step and personally cared to talk to her and her husband.

“Considering that few look forward to surgery or a hospital stay, it was a really good experience,” Karen said. “I can’t even single out one or two individuals for extraordinary care, as they were all extraordinary in my opinion.”

Preventing Kidney Disease

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Preventing Kidney Disease

According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in three Americans is at risk for developing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Patients do not realize that they are having kidney issues and many are unaware of the symptoms. If you are experiencing conditions such as high blood pressure, anemia (low amount of healthy red blood cells), weakening bones or if you are concerned about the health of your kidneys, it is important to contact your primary care provider. If you have a family history of kidney problems, being aware is even more critical. The early detection of CKD is key in the success of addressing it.

Partnering with your specialist and your primary care physician is beneficial when it comes to kidney care. If you are worried about kidney problems, it is important to understand more about the symptoms you are experiencing. This is the first step in taking control of your kidney health. A specialist can explain how the kidneys remove waste and balance the fluids in your body, as well as determine how to keep your kidneys healthy.

Here are some of the ways you can take control of your kidneys’ health:

  • Take the medications prescribed by your doctor
  • Limit consumption of foods high in saturated fats, protein, sodium and potassium
  • Exercise regularly

Although kidneys don’t complain, they are vital to the way our bodies function and key to maintaining good health.  If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms or if you have a family history of kidney disease, please contact Portneuf Medical Group – Nephrology at 208-239-3899.

Preventing Kidney Stones through What You Eat

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Preventing Kidney Stones through What You Eat

If you have ever experienced a kidney stone, you will do whatever it takes to prevent them from forming again. Kidneys act like the filtration system of the body, they process 190 quarts of blood per day and eliminate excess water.

“When we have too high a concentration of various substances and minerals in the urine, tiny crystals will form, which are the beginning of a kidney stone,” said Jason Orien, MD, Portneuf Urology. “The concentration of these substances in the urine depends on several factors including how much fluid we drink, foods we eat, medications we take, and various disorders of the GI tract or parathyroid gland.”

According to Dr. Orien, here are some way to help prevent kidney stones:

  • Drink more water. Aim to drink 100 oz. of fluid per day, preferably water.
  • Control your salt intake. Foods such as bread, pizza and processed foods typically contain high amounts of sodium; this may lead to kidney stone formation.
  • Increase your citrate intake. Citric acid will minimize your risk of developing kidney stones. Lemons and limes have the most citric acid; it may be beneficial to make a homemade lemonade.
  • Regulate your calcium intake. Keep your calcium intake at a normal level, without taking too much or having too little.

“I often recommend patients add lemon juice to their water, and in some cases prescribe medication that contains citrate,” said Dr.Orien.

The symptoms of a kidney stone may include flank pain (discomfort in your upper abdomen, back and sides), blood in the urine, nausea, vomiting, sometimes fever or an increase in frequency of urination. Kidney stones are typically diagnosed with a CT scan, ultrasound or x-ray. If you feel the symptoms of a kidney stone, please see your primary care physician. If you are feeling severe pain, fever or chills, go to the emergency room.

Some kidney stones will pass on their own without surgery. Others, depending on the size of the stone and severity of symptoms, may require more aggressive treatment. Kidney stones may not be life-threatening, but can lead to an infection in the urinary system or lead to sepsis.


Idaho Vein Center earns reaccreditation by IAC

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019


Portneuf Medical Center – Idaho Vein Center earns reaccreditation by IAC

Employees in photo listed from left to right: Gregg Taylor RVT; Jean Goodnough RVT; Julio Vasquez MD; Lisa Hansen PA-C; Courtney Shuff CMA; and Kimberly Saiz RMA Clinical Coordinator.

Pocatello, ID – More than one half of Americans age 50 and older are affected by varicose veins. Varicose veins occur when the valves in the leg veins no longer function, causing blood to pool in the legs. In some cases, this condition progresses to a more serious form of venous disease called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Whether to relieve symptoms and/or improve appearance, treating varicose veins can be performed by vein centers that specialize in the evaluation and management of superficial venous disorders.

There are many factors that contribute to the accurate diagnosis, treatment and management of venous disease.  The training and experience of the physician or healthcare professional examining the patient, the skill and knowledge of the technologist performing the vascular ultrasound, the type of equipment used, among others, contribute to a positive patient outcome and quality results.

Obtaining national accreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indicator of consistent quality care and a dedication to continuous improvement.

We are pleased to announce that the Idaho Vein Center at Portneuf Medical Center has been granted reaccreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), which is the most reputable national accreditation body in the field of Vascular Ultrasound and Vein Centers.  The Idaho Vein Center is the only accredited Vein Center by the IAC in the state of Idaho, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins and venous clots.  A separate reaccreditation has been obtained for the Idaho Vein Center which focuses on high quality Vascular Ultrasound of the carotid arteries of the neck along with both venous and arterial ultrasound of the legs.  The Idaho Vein Center was granted initial accreditation in 2012 by the IAC, and has maintained without interruption this high level of achievement.

The latest accreditations awarded to the Idaho Vein Center of Portneuf Medical Center demonstrate the facility’s ongoing commitment to providing quality patient care in vascular testing and comprehensive management of diseases of the veins.

The Idaho Vein Center is located at 444 Hospital Way, Suite 777 and it can be reached calling 208-239-1650.

Note: Portneuf Medical Center is a regional referral hospital for southern and eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. From our Cancer Center and Level II NICU to our cardiology care and Level II Trauma Center, our dedicated doctors, nurses and staff stand ready to help families in the region.

Should Cell Phones Be a Part of Your Nightly Routine?

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Should Cell Phones Be a Part of Your Nightly Routine?

How often is your cell phone out of reach? Cell phones have become a huge part of our everyday lives. This digital device has become a source of information, internet access and communication. While it often makes our lives easier, it has the potential to cause harm to your mental and physical wellness. Digital devices can steal more time than expected and, without self-control, can do more harm to your health, especially around bedtime.

Using a digital device around bedtime can worsen your quality of sleep and here’s why:

Blue light is detrimental to your sleep patterns. Blue light, which is the wavelength from devices, tricks your brain into thinking you are in sunlight. When your brain thinks it is daytime, it delays melatonin production; melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When your melatonin is delayed, it becomes harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Notifications will wake you up. The sound of a ring tone, text tone or notification while you are in bed will surely disturb the process of falling asleep or staying asleep. If you’re afraid to turn your phone on silent in case of an urgent call, look into your phone settings as many phone settings will allow calls to come through from assigned individuals, even on silent mode. Most smartphones have a sleep schedule where you can set the times for your cell phone to go on and off silent mode.

Your stress levels will increase. Checking your emails and texts may add more stress and make you feel the urgent need to respond. Stressing over emails and messages before going to sleep may increase cortisol levels, ultimately, pushing off melatonin production.

As you get ready for bed, it is important to limit your usage of electronic activities. If you absolutely must have your cell phone near you, turn on the silent mode, some phones also refer to this as “Do Not Disturb” mode. Check if your phone screen can also go into a night mode, which primarily uses red light instead of blue light making the screen less intense and dimmer for your eyes.

The Mental Effects of Daylight Savings and Circadian Rhythm

Monday, March 11th, 2019

The Mental Effects of Daylight Savings and Circadian Rhythm

Each spring, we move our clocks forward an hour, the change is known to cause disruptions to the body’s internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is what makes you feel tired and helps you wake up naturally. In fact, your sleep schedules are mostly based off of the 24 hour day and night cycle.

Daylight savings may throw off your internal clock, but it also may have significant effects on the body. Depending on your habits, it may be easier for some people to adjust to the time shift than others. The spring is a more difficult transition compared to the fall. According to the American Academy of Neurology, “Researchers found that the overall rate of ischemic stroke was 8 percent higher during the first two days after a daylight saving time transition. People with cancer were 25 percent more likely to have a stroke after daylight saving time than during another period. The risk was also higher for those over age 65, who were 20 percent more likely to have a stroke right after the transition.”

The following Monday after daylight savings, research has found that people get 40 minutes less sleep, which may lead to greater negative health effects in the following days.

Here are a few ways to cope and transition into the new daylight schedule:

  • Don’t consume caffeine at least 6-8 hours before bedtime
  • Eat dinner a few hours before bedtime
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep
  • Dim your lights closer to bedtime to encourage melatonin production, which helps you fall asleep
  • Avoid using your smart phone or watching television around bedtime, as the blue light from screens may affect your ability to sleep

While daylight savings is a time of transition for our bodies, it too is one of our key markers that spring is just around the corner!


How Bad Are Diet Sodas Really?

Friday, March 1st, 2019

How Bad Are Diet Sodas Really?

By: Eva Sorrentino, MS, RD, LD

The short answer: everything in moderation. Diet sodas are not the most recommended beverage if you ask any dietitian but they are not all bad. Diet sodas are sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, asesulfame-potassium, or stevia. Artificial sweeteners can cause bloating or abdominal discomfort and some people have aversion to the taste.

Some studies have tied an increase use of artificial sweeteners with increased craving for sweets, weight gain, and cardiovascular problems but long term studies are still inconclusive. Whether you chose regular or diet sodas, they have no nutritional value. Carbonated beverage have been shown to break down teeth enamel and over long term and excessive use, can cause brittle bones. Weight gain happens when we consume more calories that we burn off throughout the day so if you are watching calories, a calorie-free beverage like diet soda can help cut down on excess calorie intake. In general, one or two sodas a day will not cause problems.

If you are looking for a healthier version, chose a diet soda that is sweetened with a natural calorie free sweetener such as stevia or try infusing fruit in plain water. Try these refreshing combinations:

Slice washed fruit and add to 1 cup of water (tap or bottled)

  • Lemon blueberry-1 lemon wedge with handful of blueberries
  • Raspberry lime-1 lime wedge, 5-8 raspberries
  • Citrus-1 slice grapefruit, 1 slice orange
  • Cucumber mint-2-3 fresh mint leaves, 3-4 slices cucumber
  • Mixed berry-5-6 each sliced strawberry, raspberries, blackberries

Recognizing Eating Disorders

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Recognizing Eating Disorders

This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  An eating disorder in general is any disturbance in an eating pattern or eating behavior that is intended to control body weight, and impairs physical or mental health. Typically an eating disorder presents with abnormal eating patterns, obsessive thoughts about body image or weight, or distorted image of nutrition.  The American Psychiatric Association classifies eating disorder in to three main categories:

  1. Anorexia Nervosa
  2. Bulimia Nervosa
  3. Eating disorders not otherwise specified
    • This category includes newer identified disorders such as anorexia athletica, diabulemia, and binge eating disorder.

Eating disorders can happen to anyone: from elementary school to the elderly and are seen in both males and females. We typically think of models or young teenage girls as the ideal person to develop an eating disorder but anyone can develop a disorder.  Social pressure, weight stigma, bullying, body image, historical trauma, and type 1 diabetes are just some of the risk factors.

There can be severe health consequences if eating disorders are not caught early including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, and endocrine. When calories are severely restricted, muscles-including the heart, start to break down. It can cause fertility issues, increase risk of infections and decreased immune system.  Lack of nutrients will cause hair, skin, and nails to become dry and brittle.  Frequent vomiting or use of laxatives can cause irritation of the digestive system.

Eating disorders are not all about food. People with eating disorders tend to have other issues such as perfectionism, denial, impulse control, manipulative behavior, trust issues, power issues, or family/social issues. For this reason, it takes a team approach to help someone with an eating disorder and often psychiatric help has to occur before nutrition therapy starts. Each person will go through stages of recovery and some will recover faster than others but there is always help available to those that need it.

References: ADA Nutrition Care Manual

Obesity and Menopause: A Growing Concern

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Obesity and Menopause: A Growing Concern

In the US over 2 million women a year enter menopause, that’s 6000 women per day! While each woman experiences menopause differently, there are a few classic symptoms. One in particular is the tendency to gain a little weight. During the menopause transition, many women gain approximately 5 pounds, however some women gain 10 or more pounds.

There are a number of reasons for this increase. The decline in estrogen does play a role in increasing the fat in your midsection. We know that lean body mass decreases with age, which is compounded by the more sedentary lifestyle of women. Additionally, sleep deprivation has also been associated with weight gain. For many of us we need to eat less and exercise more just to maintain our current weight.

Statistically, two out of every three women in the US are overweight or obese. Extra weight leads too many diseases that affect women such as heart disease, diabetes and many cancers. With such high risks, it is time to talk!

This month’s Red Hot Mamas is focused on causes and solutions for weight gain during menopause. Come join us on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Our topic is “Obesity and Menopause.” We will talk about individual factors that can make you gain weight and healthy way help you in prevent obesity.

This seminar will be held in the Pebble Creek Conference Room at the Portneuf Medical Center on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Doors open at 6:00 pm; the presentation begins at 6:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served. To reserve a seat, visit or call 208-239-2033. To learn more about Portneuf’s upcoming seminars, including Red Hot Mamas®, be sure to like Portneuf Medical Center on Facebook.

Foods to Avoid to Prevent Heart Disease

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Foods to Avoid to Prevent Heart Disease

How often do you consume processed foods? Are you taking frozen meals to work or grabbing fast food? Choosing these options frequently can increase your risk of high cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin levels, all which can lead to life-threatening heart disease. Here are a few foods to limit or completely avoid:

  • Processed meats. Processed foods in general have high levels of salt and other preservatives. Meats such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami and other deli meats are detrimental to the heart. A few slices of deli meat can contain half the recommended level of sodium for an entire day.
  • Processed grains and carbohydrates. Foods such as white bread, white rice and low-fiber cereal may produce high spikes in blood sugar while increasing fat.
  • Candy. Diets with high sugar may increase risk of obesity, inflammation, high cholesterol and diabetes. Each of these factors may turn into a greater risk of heart disease.
  • Soft drinks and sugar-filled drinks. Americans are consuming more calories within their drinks in addition to food. Sugary drinks may increase your chances of gaining weight and add additional calories.
  • Fast food. Fast food restaurants tend to use lower quality ingredients and unhealthy cooking methods. A combination of saturated fats from animals combined with carbohydrate can have a deteriorating effect on heart health. Frying methods also create trans-fat which may lead to an increase of high cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
  • Frozen Meals. Most frozen dinners are filled with at least 600 milligrams of sodium.

Improving your diet may have a great impact on your long-term health. It may be difficult to completely cut these foods out, so set a goal to limit these foods in your diet. High levels of salt, preservatives and sugar will increase your chances of high blood pressure, blood sugar and obesity all potentially leading to heart disease. The best way to make a change is by focusing on what you should eat, rather than focusing on what is off-limits.