Posts Tagged hypertension

Hypertension Grows Among Young Adults

Is it being out on there own and eating what they want the problem?  Maybe it’s not having time for playing sports and running now that they have a job?  Whatever the cause, young adults are increasingly turning up with hypertension.  They think they are healthy so may not even go to the doctor, but this is a dangerous trend.  It looks like the problem with childhood obesity is catching up with those children now that they are adults.   The study, published in Epidemiology, showed that almost 20% of young adults aged 24-32 had hypertension which is significantly higher than predicted.  50% of them didn’t know they were hypertensive.

People who just got out of college have a lot of life to live to be starting their adulthood off this way.  Is the lack of parental supervision the thing that’s making it easy to eat more Big Macs and fries?  Or the easy stop to pick up fast food dinners on the way home from the hectic new job?  Simple blood tests can pick up warning signs and these people need to start paying attention and taking care of themselves now!  If they don’t, we will all be paying for it in the long run - with our tax money.

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Itchy Skin Goes A Lot Deeper

Who would have thought that psoriasis, that pesky, itchy skin disease, could be other than an irritant?  If you thought your troubles ended there, you are wrong, very wrong.  Apparently, psoriasis is associated with a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome.  The more severe the psoriasis, the higher the association.  And, it’s not limited to metabolic syndrome, a precursor to Diabetes Type 2, but also to obesity and hypertension.  Although the reasons aren’t clear, it may be that psoriasis is a systemic disease either having wide-ranging effects on the body or that those with a disposition to develop metabolic syndrome, Diabetes and hypertension have immune issues that also cause psoriasis.

The research, presented at the Society for Investigative Dermatology, was included only in abstracts and not papers that have published yet and more studies are needed.  Whatever the cause, 0ne of the results may be that doctors will recommend more metabolic syndrome screenings for their patients who have psoriasis.  Psoriasis increased the incidence of metabolic syndrome by 40% and children with psoriasis also had a much higher rate of obesity (approximately 50% versus 30%).  If I had psoriasis, I would be running to my doctor’s office for testing and treatment!  I wonder if proper treatment of psoriasis would reduce the chances of developing metabolic syndrome or Type 2 Diabetes?  At this point, we don’t know, but you may want to jump on it…

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Hold the Salt…Or Pass it?

Modern science is a wonderful thing, we’re living longer and getting old later.  But sometimes the results of all the science and research are confusing.  New research completely contradicts all of the dire warnings about sodium causing hypertension and heart disease.  I don’t know whether to follow FDA recommendations to cut down on salt or load up on it.  The suspense is killing me!  One study isn’t enough to base a lifestyle on but it sures raises a lot of questions about medical advice that’s been plastered all over the media and in your doctor’s office.  The salt industry must be ecstatic.

The down and dirty is that a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the study participants with the lowest level of salt in their urine had the highest rate of deadly heart disease.  A smaller number of those with higher levels of sodium died from heart disease.  Overall there have been a large number of studies that point toward high sodium intake contributing to hypertension and heart disease so it’s too early to go crazy with the salt shaker.  Tests that measure your risk of heart disease go a long way toward identifying who is in the greatest danger.  Science is constantly showing us it’s weaknesses in really being able to predict the best path toward a long healthy life.  It’s still up for grabs!

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How ‘Bout a Diet Coke with That Burger?

So your one concession to being healthy is to have a diet soda?  Not so fast!  You are doing as much or more harm by ordering the diet drink as you are by ordering the burger and fries in the first place.  Unfortunately, it looks like water is the only thing that’s safe.  The newest study, conducted by Dr. Nehal N. Mehta, director of inflammatory risk cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania and Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and presented at the American Stroke Association conference, found that daily diet soda drinkers are at a 61% higher risk of stroke and heart attack.

The specific reason isn’t clear yet.  Is it something in the soda itself?  Is it that those who drink diet soda are filling those extra calories with unhealthy foods (burgers/pizza/fries)?  A prior study has already linked high consumption of diet soda to metabolic syndrome.  The study controlled for other risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  They also monitored calorie intake but not what those calories consisted of.  So, although you may not need to dump your daily diet soda habit yet, if you are already at high risk, it couldn’t hurt.   There don’t seem to be many shortcuts to the healthy lifestyle.  We thought diet soda might be one, but don’t pat yourself on the back for switching from sugary soda.  The jury is still out!

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Heart Health – We’re Not There Yet

It comes as no surprise, based on all the news about obesity in the United States, that we aren’t where we should be on overall heart health.  A new report from the American Heart Association says that we’re making progress on mortality, fewer deaths due to better care when someone has a heart attack or stroke, but a large increase in medical care and procedures to treat cardiovascular disease.  heart surgery

The association reports that “the death rate from heart diseases declined 27.8 percent from 1997 to 2007 (the most recent final data available), and the stroke death rate fell 44.8 percent.  However, during the same period, the total number of inpatient cardiovascular operations and procedures increased 27 percent.”

These statistics point out that people are still not taking care of themselves and are depending on modern medicine to save their lives.  C’mon folks!  Additonal statistics show that 67% of American adults are overweight, approximately 20% smoke tobacco and we’re sharing all that bad behavior with our children.  The number of overweight children has risen from 5% to 20% and already 19.5% of high schoolers report consistent tobacco use.

The cost of care for people who refuse to take responsibility for their own health is being borne by all of us.  It cost us $286 billion dollars in 2007 for treatment and lost productivity due to cardiovascular disease, more than any other disease.  I’m tired of all the money that is necessary for these folks.  Take notice and get busy taking care of yourself!  The American Heart Association has a “2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.”  Get your cholesterol tests, the VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) and PLAC for Lp-PLA2 tests are the most advanced on the market today, and help us all get there, reduce costs and save even more lives.

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The Battle Against Obesity Goes On…

The FDA is close to approving a new diet medication and some doctors are saying, “Finally!”  No, it’s not approved yet and certainly isn’t perfect so stay on your diet!  But, as Americans continue to struggle with weight problems and the huge range of health issues they bring with it, doctors may have something they could prescribe to obese patients who can’t lose weight on their own.  The medication, Contrave, combines two previously tested drugs, naltrexone and bupropion, although they weren’t originally developed or tested for weight loss efficacy.  Naltrexone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction and alcohol dependence, is being combined with buproprion, a drug used to treat depression and smoking cessation.  In combination the drugs appear to be effective for weight loss.  3,200 obese patients participated in a clinical trial and 30% lost 5% of their body weight.  This is the minimum amount of weight loss required for the FDA to judge a weight loss drug effective.  It isn’t as much as many people will hope for and also raises blood pressure. 

Some doctors say that the weight loss is counteracted by the health risk of increased blood pressure.  It still looks like the most effective and safest way to lose weight is through diet and exercise.  The participants in the control group, those not taking Contrave, who lost weight saw a drop in their blood pressure.  There are weight loss methods that have been available since the 1950s, but key is eating less and getting moving.  Start now and don’t wait for the perfect solution!  You are your own best weapon.

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Coffee May Help Your Heart

Many Americans like, or even need, to start their day with a hot cup of joe.  It turns out that your daily coffee habit might help your heart and prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD).  Researcher Christina Chrysohoou, M.D., Ph.D. with the University of Athens will be presenting a paper on this subject to the European Society of Cardiology this week  that indicates that one or two cups of coffee helped test subjects retain flexibility of the aorta.  Polyphenol compounds in coffee appear to provide this increased flexibility.  Hypertension reduces aortic flexibility.  Lower flexibility has been linked to more cardiovascular events because the aorta is less responsive to signals to expand.  The study was conducted on the Greek island of Ikaria and  test subjects consumed Greek coffee blends which have higher phenol levels than coffee found in the United States.  Phenol compounds are thought to be protective for the heart and to provide higher aortic distensibility.

There are many tests that can indicate a person’s tendency toward CVD beyond the standard cholesterol tests generally administered for tracking heart health.  Newer tests can look even more closely at cholesterol levels and similar CVD indicators, the Vertical Auto Profile, or VAP test, and the PLAC test that looks at levels of Lp-PLA2, lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2, a biomarker for cardiovascular disease that goes beyond traditional tests.  Lp-PLA2 is a pro-inflammatory enzyme that is implicated in the formation of rupture prone plaque.  Plaque rupture and thrombosis are the cause of the majority of cardiovascular events.   Lp-PLA2 may be a novel, independent risk marker for cardiovascular disease and drinking a moderate amount of coffee high in phenol compounds may be an easy way to prevent it.

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FDA Plans to Limit Salt in Processed Foods

The majority of the salt that most Americans consume comes from processed foods.  With the increase in hypertension and resulting strokes and heart attacks, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to work with the food industry to gradually decrease the amount of sodium in these foods.  Because Americans have become used to the taste of a lot of salt and we eat so much processed food it is difficult for many of us to control the amount of sodium we take in.  77% of sodium comes from processed foods while only 6% is added at the table and only 5% when we cook.  The remainder of salt is naturally occurring.  The Washington Post reported that the FDA will try to recalibrate the American palate to a less salty one and that it will have to be a gradual change to manage an entire generation’s tastes.

The obvious solution is to cook at home more, buy fresh produce and prepare it ourselves.  Unfortunately, the sad state of how many of us zoom through our lives leaves little time for preparing fresh food.  We resort to food that is prepared by large manufacturers who add salt not only to preserve food, but because salty food sells better.  Some of the recently marketed low sodium products have not sold well, which is why the FDA says that it needs to make the change slowly so we become accustomed to the lower levels and still think that the food tastes good.  And food manufacturers won’t conform if people won’t buy the food.  Tests are available that can monitor your overall health and measure your sodium levels and many other essential chemicals in your system.  High levels of sodium have been shown to cause hypertension, a dangerous condition.  Encouraging lower salt consumption will be good for all of us and many of us can use all the help we can get to be healthier.

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Do You Know Your Diabetes Risk?

Today is a day set aside by the American Diabetes Association to alert people to their risk for Type 2 diabetes.  57 million people are currently at risk for developing this condition that has no cure and causes many other health issues if left untreated.  They ask, “What will you do to stop diabetes?”.  On their website, the ADA offers a Diabetes Risk Test, an online quiz that asks a few quick questions to help determine your potential risk for developing diabetes.  Key things that increase your risk is being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle and having hypertension, or high blood pressure.  If you worry that you or a loved one may be at risk have your blood sugar tested today and get the answers you need to protect yourself.

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