Finding the perfect gift can be a daunting task. Does your list include those hard-to-shop-for folks that already seem to have everything? As a doctor, I may be biased, but a gift that brings them health may be the one item that keeps giving all year long.
High blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney disease in the United States today. A blood pressure cuff may seem an odd gift until you consider new research that suggests that blood pressure should be even lower than previously thought. A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine details the SPRINT study which showed compelling evidence that blood pressure should be controlled to less than 120 mm Hg systolic (that's the top number). The study was stopped early because the treatment group with the lower blood pressure target experienced a 25% reduction in heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and death. Therefore, having a cuff at home to monitor blood pressure control and symptoms is essential if you are trying to achieve lower targeted blood pressure. Home monitoring has been shown to achieve better blood pressure control and can help your physician monitor the safety and effectiveness of your medications. A recent review of blood pressure cuffs might give you some holiday shopping ideas.
Although joining a health club as a New Year's resolution may be a cliché, it might be the best gift for a friend or family member that needs an extra push to start a healthy lifestyle. At least 150 minutes of increased activity per week is recommended to reduce risks of heart disease and stroke. This recommendation is also beneficial for preventing or slowing the progression of kidney disease. The activity does not have to be strenuous. Walking, swimming and the stationary bicycle are all excellent activities to reduce risk of heart and kidney disease.
Another gift idea to motivate a health kick is one of those ubiquitous fitness trackers you can wear on your wrist. Tracking your activity, exercise, food, and weight can serve as a powerful incentive to finally get fit and live a healthier life. Exercise keeps the body strong and healthy and has also been shown to decrease blood pressure and improve control of diabetes, thereby reducing your risk for kidney disease. Other benefits include increased muscle strength, lowered blood fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides), better sleep, and better control of body weight.
Finally, consider giving the gift of your time to spark that loved one to take his or her health seriously. It can be as simple as giving a gift certificate promising at least 30 minutes of your time weekly to go for a walk or a gym class. This may be one way to save on the credit card statements but still give someone a heartfelt gift of health.
The National Kidney Foundation has more information on healthy habits for kidney health.