Church Services Help Lower Blood Pressure

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Dec 272011

The research also revealed that the frequency of attending the church also has an impact on lower blood pressure levels. We found that the more often the participants went to church the lower their blood pressure,” Torgeir Sorensen, from the School of Theology and Religious Psychology Centre at Sykehuset Innlandet said.

Previous studies in the U.S. suggested the link, but as 40 per cent of Americans regularly go to church its health benefits were treated as a coincidence, the Daily Mail reported.

“Previous research from the United States has shown that there is a possible link between people who attend church and blood pressure.”

“About 40 per cent of the U.S. population goes to church on a weekly basis, while the corresponding figure in Nord-Trondelag County, where the research was carried out, is 4 per cent.”

“For that reason, we did not expect to find any correlation between going to church and blood pressure in Nord-Trondelag.”

But, the Norwegian researchers, who had just four per cent of churchgoers among their 120,000 participants, were astonished to see they too had lower blood pressure.

“Our findings, however, are almost identical to those previously reported from the United States, so we were really surprised,” Sorensen added.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine.


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Risk for Brain Tumor Doubles With High Blood Pressure

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Dec 232011

Following the Analysis of  health records over 10 years of 580,000 patients researchers found that the overall risk is double for people with the highest blood pressure levels, compared to those with the lowest. While, it increases up to fourfold for people with meningioma and high blood pressure. The most common tumors that were diagnosed during the study were meningioma and glioma.

However, the experts did not have any data whether the participants were taking any medication for treating hypertension which could have affected the results. Therefore, they have cautioned that more examination is required before they can definitively say that high blood pressure increases the risk of brain tumors. The study was published in the Journal of Hypertension.


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Blood Pressure Medicine Gives Longer Life, Clinical Trial Reveals

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Dec 222011

The randomized trial included 4,736 patients aged 60 and over who had high blood pressure. Some were given a drug called chlorthalidone and others were given a sugar pill for a 4.5 year period beginning in 1985.

At the end of the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program (SHEP) trial, all participants were advised to begin following the drug regimen.

Recently, researchers in New Jersey decided to go back over the data, in consultation with the National Death Index, to see if the therapy had any impact on long-term life expectancy.

Indeed, they found that those who had taken chlorthalidone lived several months longer than those who had taken the placebo, according to the findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Those who took the drug lived 158 days longer before dying of cardiovascular causes than people who had taken the placebo, and 105 days longer when it came to dying of any cause.

“The gain in life expectancy free from cardiovascular death corresponds with one day (0.89 days) gained per month of treatment,” said the study.

“For all-cause mortality, the gain in life expectancy from one month of antihypertensive drug treatment was estimated at a half day (0.59 days).”

The study, led by John Kostis of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, should send a “strong message” to patients and doctors about the benefits of anti-hypertensive therapy, it concluded.

Left uncontrolled, high blood pressure — defined as 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or above most of the time — can lead to heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease.

About one in three US adults has hypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Aging, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


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Rise In Blood Pressure In Middle Age Signals Stroke Risk

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Dec 212011

Men and women who developed high blood pressure in middle age or who started out with high blood pressure had an estimated 30 percent increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who kept their blood pressure low.

Previous estimates of a person�fs risk of cardiovascular disease were based on a single blood pressure measurement. The higher the blood pressure reading, the greater the risk. The new Northwestern Medicine study expands on that by showing a more accurate predictor is a change in blood pressure from age 41 to 55.

The study is published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

�gWe found the longer we can prevent hypertension or postpone it, the lower the risk for cardiovascular disease,�h said lead author Norrina Allen, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. �gEven for people with normal blood pressure, we want to make sure they keep it at that level, and it doesn�ft start increasing over time.�h

�gThere hasn�ft been as much of a focus on keeping it low when people are in their 40�Œs and 50�Œs,�h Allen added. �gThat�fs before a lot of people start focusing on cardiovascular disease risk factors. We�fve shown it�fs vital to start early.�h

People that maintain or reduce their blood pressure to normal levels by age 55 have the lowest lifetime risk for a heart attack or a stroke.

The study used data from 61,585 participants in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project. Starting with baseline blood pressure readings at age 41, researchers measured blood pressure again at age 55, then followed the patients until the occurrence of a first heart attack or stroke, death or age 95.

Blood pressure links for men and women

Men who developed high blood pressure in middle age or who started out with high blood pressure had a 70 percent risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to a 41 percent risk for men who maintained low blood pressure or whose blood pressure decreased during the time period. Women who developed high blood pressure had almost a 50 percent risk of a heart attack or stroke compared to a 22 percent risk for those who kept their blood pressure low or saw a decrease.

Men generally have a 55 percent risk of cardiovascular disease in their lifetimes; women have a 40 percent risk.

�gOur research suggests people can take preventive steps to keep their blood pressure low early on to reduce their chances of a heart attack or stroke,�h said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, study co-author, chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern�fs Feinberg School and a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. �gMaintaining a healthy diet, combined with exercise and weight control, can help reduce blood pressure levels and, consequently, your risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.�h


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Blood Pressure Medicines Lower Stroke Risk

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Dec 122011

Prehypertension, which affects more than 50 million adults in the United States, is blood pressure ranging between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg. Hypertension is 140/90 mm Hg or higher.

“Our study pertains to people with pre-hypertensive blood pressure levels and shows that the excess risk of stroke associated with these high-normal readings (top number 120-140) can be altered by taking blood pressure pills,” said Ilke Sipahi, M.D., lead author of the study and associate director of Heart Failure and Transplantation at the Harrington-McLaughlin Heart and Vascular Institute in Cleveland, Ohio.

In a meta-analysis of 16 studies, researchers examined data that compared anti-hypertensive drugs against placebo in 70,664 people with average baseline blood pressure levels within the pre-hypertensive range. The researchers found:

Patients taking blood pressure-lowering medicines had a 22 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those taking a placebo. This effect was observed across all classes of anti-hypertensive drugs studied.

No significant reduction in the risk of heart attack occurred, but there was a trend toward lower cardiovascular death in patients taking blood pressure medications compared to those on placebo.

To prevent one stroke in the study population, 169 people had to be treated with a blood pressure-lowering medication for an average 4.3 years.

American Heart Association treatment guidelines call for lifestyle changes, not medications, to reduce blood pressure in people with prehypertension. Those lifestyle changes include weight loss, physical activity, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in salt and fat, and keeping alcohol consumption moderate (no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women).

“We do not think that giving blood pressure medicine instead of implementing the lifestyle changes is the way to go,” Sipahi said. “However, the clear-cut reduction in the risk of stroke with blood pressure pills is important and may be complementary to lifestyle changes.”

The cost of long-term therapy and the risks associated with blood pressure medicines need to be discussed extensively within the medical community before undertaking guideline changes, Sipahi said.


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Dialysis Patients' Heart Health Differently Affected by Blood Pressure Drugs

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Dec 112011

The study appears in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN). The results indicate that certain dialysis patients may benefit more from one drug while some should opt for the other.

About 20% of kidney disease patients die within one year after they start dialysis and more than half die after five years—mostly from heart disease. Two classes of drugs, called angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), act in a similar way to prevent and treat heart disease in the general population. Studies of the drugs in dialysis patients are scarce.

ACE inhibitors and ARBs primarily lower blood pressure, but they also decrease inflammation and can produce other beneficial effects for patients. T. Alp Ikizler, MD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center) and his colleagues looked to see if there is a difference between ACE inhibitor and ARB treatments on dialysis patients’ heart health.

The researchers randomized 15 dialysis patients to receive an ACE inhibitor, an ARB, or a placebo for one week. Then patients received no treatment for three weeks, after which they were again randomized to receive an ACE inhibitor, an ARB, or a placebo for one week. This wash-out/treatment cycle was then conducted once more. Tests were conducted after each treatment cycle.

The investigators found that ARBs were more effective at fighting inflammation while ACE inhibitors were better at preventing blood vessel damage. Both of these properties could help prevent heart disease. The results suggest that ACE inhibitors and ARBs have different effects on dialysis patients’ heart health that go beyond their similar blood pressure–lowering capabilities.

“The implication is that the choice of each of the drugs in dialysis patients could depend on the profile of each individual considered for treatment, which would be a more personalized approach to therapy,” said Dr. Ikizler. This implies that different dialysis patients might respond to each drug differently and that some would get the most benefit from ACE inhibitors while others would benefit more from ARBs. The findings emphasize the need for a long-term randomized clinical trial to compare the effects of ARBs and ACE inhibitors on different aspects of heart health in dialysis patients.


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Blood Pressure Pills may Help Reduce Risk of Stroke in People With Above Normal Blood Pressure

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Dec 102011

Doctors do not prescribe blood pressure drugs to those people whose blood pressure levels are above normal, but are not high enough to be considered as suffering from high blood pressure.

However researchers led by Dr Ilke Sipahi, from the Harrington-McLaughlin Heart and Vascular Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, said that taking a preventive dose will reduce the risk of strokes among such patients.

The researchers used data from 16 studies involving more than 70,664 people and found that a daily pill reduced the risk of strokes by 22 percent. “Our study pertains to people with prehypertensive blood pressure levels and shows that the excess risk of stroke associated with these readings can be altered by taking blood pressure pills”, Dr Sipahi said. The study has been published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.


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Blood Pressure and Stroke Risk Become Complex

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Nov 192011

The findings, from a team of scientists led by Bruce Ovbiagele, MD, professor of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, are published in the November 16 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The 5-year study examined the cases of 20,330 patients (age 50 years and older) at 695 centers in 35 countries who had suffered a recent non-cardioembolic ischemic stroke, which is caused by drifting blood clots formed outside of the heart. Patients were categorized by their average Systolic blood pressure (SBP) level: very low-normal (less than 120 mmHg), low-normal (120 to less than 130 mm Hg), high-normal (130 to less than 140 mm Hg), high (140 to less than 150 mm Hg) and very high (150 mm Hg or greater).

The occurrence rate for the primary or first stroke was highest in patients with a very high SBP (14.1 percent), followed by patients with high SBP (8.7 percent). Next came patients with very low-normal SBP at 8 percent, low-normal SBP at 7.2 percent and then high-normal SBP at 6.8 percent. The occurrence rate for a second stroke or other vascular event followed the same pattern.

SBP is the maximum pressure applied to arterial walls as blood is pumped through the body. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) is the minimum. Typically, normal blood pressure is defined as less than 120 mm Hg for SBP and less than 80 mm Hg for DBP.

“For most patients at high vascular risk, including diabetics, the general approach has been that much lower is much better,” said Ovbiagele. “For stroke patients, whose condition is most strongly related to elevated blood pressure, it has been believed that much, much lower is much, much better, and that the relationship of SBP with stroke was likely a linear one.”

The new findings indicate the association between blood pressure and stroke risk is more complicated than previously suspected. While the researchers said it was not surprising to find that higher-than-normal SBP levels boosted recurrent stroke risk, it was somewhat unexpected to discover the same effect among patients with very low SBP levels.

The apparent narrowing of what constitutes a “healthy” SBP for stroke patients may not be the only relevant factor. Ovbiagele said timing also appears to be important because the effects were most pronounced in the first six months after the primary stroke.

“It”s conceivable that the brain may still require a certain threshold of blood perfusion early-on after the index vascular brain injury and so is susceptible to more strokes if SBP dips below that threshold. This is just a theory, but there are a couple of other clinical studies that suggest early BP reduction after an acute stroke may be associated with some harm.”

Ovbiagele said the message to patients and clinicians is that “it increasingly appears there is no one-size-fits-all approach with regard to treating blood pressure to prevent stroke. This study and other recent data now suggest that there are several factors to take into consideration when lowering blood pressure to prevent stroke, including the age of the patient, level of blood pressure, any history of prior stroke, type of prior stroke and timing of prior stroke.”

Co-authors of the study are Hans-Christopher Diener, Department of Neurology, University of Duiberg-Essen, Germany; Salim Yusuf, Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Canada; Renee H. Martin, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina; Daniel Cotton and Richard Vinisko, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc, Connecticut; Geoffrey A. Donnan, National Stroke Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia; Philip M. Bath, Stroke Trials Unit, University of Nottingham, England.


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Diabetes, High Blood Pressure Set to Explode in India, Doctors Warn

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Nov 092011

The two-year study of nearly 16,000 adults in eight states found that 21 percent of patients with family doctors and consultants had diabetes and hypertension.

Just over a third (35 percent) had diabetes, while nearly half (46 percent) had hypertension, according to the Screening India’s Twin Epidemic or SITE research, which was published on Monday.

Shashank Joshi, a consultant endocrinologist at the private Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, said in a statement that the results indicated that the conditions “are indeed becoming a twin epidemic across the country”.

He added: “What is even more worrisome is that 70 percent of the patients surveyed have ‘uncontrolled’ diabetes, including diabetics who are currently undergoing treatment.

“This figure not only demands immediate attention but also the implementation of necessary measures.”

The research, backed by Aventis Pharma, a unit of French healthcare group Sanofi, also found that seven percent of diabetics and 22 percent of people with high blood pressure were unaware they had the condition.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes affects some 346 million across the globe.

Both diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are affecting a growing number of people across Asia because of a combination of genetic factors, plus changing diets and a more sedentary lifestyle as a result of increasingly urban living.

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High Blood Pressure may Blunt Ability of Recognizing Emotions

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Nov 052011

The study was led by Dr James McCubbin who said that hypertension patients suffered from what he called “emotional dampening” and said that their understanding of emotions was similar to when reading an email without any smiley faces which are used to express emotions through words.

Dr McCubbin enrolled 106 African American people in the study where he conducted a special test to check the volunteers’ ability to recognize emotions. He said that the ability to recognize emotions was weaker among those who had hypertension.

“It’s like living in a world of email without smiley faces. We put smiley faces in emails to show when we are just kidding. Otherwise some people may misinterpret our humor and get angry”, Dr McCubbin said. The study has been published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.


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