Over-the-Counter Meds to Avoid With Hypertension

08/30/2009

Over-the-Counter Meds to Avoid With Hypertension
from the Heart Health Center

Q: I’m finding that so many over-the-counter medications warn against taking them if you have high blood pressure. Can you tell me why and what medications I should avoid?

A: It’s funny, isn’t it? We often assume that just because a medication is available without a prescription that it must somehow be safer than prescription medications. But the reality is that all drugs can have harmful side effects. Even aspirin can increase the risk of stomach bleeding, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can contribute to liver damage.

Thus, the decision to use a specific medication should always depend on a complete understanding of its potential risks and benefits.

You are correct. Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications can contribute to high blood pressure. Others could interact with your high blood pressure medication, making it less effective. The OTC medications to watch out for include:

Pain relievers. Non-aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Alleve) can increase blood pressure even if you’re already taking an anti-hypertensive medication. They appear to constrict blood vessels and increase the amount of sodium your body holds onto, both of which can cause high blood pressure. Chronic use of high-dose NSAIDs also causes kidney damage, which raises blood pressure.

Oral contraceptives. Birth control pills that contain estrogen can cause high blood pressure in about 5 percent of women who take them. That’s why women with a history of high blood pressure or other risk factors for high blood pressure such as smoking are usually warned not to take estrogen-based contraceptives. Progestin-only pills are a contraceptive option for women with high blood pressure.

© 2009 National Women’s Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC) All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the NWHRC. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.healthywomen.org.

Antihistamines and decongestants. Products containing either of these ingredients (think Benadryl and Sudafed) can increase blood pressure and interact with your blood pressure medications. Check labels of allergy, flu and cold preparations, most of which contain one or both.

Weight-loss preparation. Many of these products contain antihistamines and other substances like caffeine that can increase blood pressure. Instead of taking pills to lose weight, talk to your health care professional about lifestyle changes you can make.

Caffeine. Caffeine, which can increase blood pressure, is found in a surprising number of OTC remedies, including some aspirin formulations.

Herbal remedies. Herbal remedies that contain ephedra, found in some weight-loss supplements, can be dangerous in those with high blood pressure. Also avoid taking gingko, an herbal remedy sometimes used for memory problems, if you are also taking a thiazide diuretic. St. John’s Wort can interact with high blood pressure medications.

If you have high blood pressure, talk with your health care professional about which OTC medications and herbal remedies are safe for occasional use. Also make a point of reading the ingredient lists on OTC remedies and the inserts that come with all products.

 

© 2009 National Women’s Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC) All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the NWHRC. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.healthywomen.org.


6 Affordable and Effective Exercise Essentials

08/26/2009

 If you need inspiration to become more physically active, a push to get going or just want to have more fun, here are six of the best, easy-to-afford and effective pieces of exercise gear.

 Using just one of these regularly will improve your fitness without straining your budget:

Resistance bands: Stretchy and fun, they do the work of weights but pack easily in a purse or pocket. Versatile for several body areas. ($3+)

Jump rope: Remember when you could jump for hours with your friends? You don’t need hours now—just 5 or 10 minutes of jumping (indoors, if you prefer) will boost your activity level and burn calories. ($3+)

Exercise mat: You’ll be more comfortable, with a safer grip, than exercising on a carpet or bare floor. That will help you be active more easily, for a longer time. ($15+)

Hand weights: Keep a set by the computer or TV and use while watching something entertaining. ($5+)

Exercise ball: Sized for your height, most of these come with their own pump for easy inflation (and reinflation). Great for strengthening various muscle groups. Use as a chair and you’ll get a bit of a workout just from balancing on it. ($15+)

Pedometer: Just put it on and in a day or two you’ll be more aware of how much (or little) you’re moving every day. Aim to increase your average daily steps by 5 percent every week until you reach 10,000 steps a day, a goal that the American Heart Association and other experts suggest. Then add more to increase benefits. ($10+)

Often, you can find fitness items such as exercise DVDs, roller skates, workout clothing and more at yard or garage sales for just a dollar or two.

If you’re interested in acquiring big home-gym equipment, yard sales and online community boards are great places to find barely used items. Recently, one site had offerings that included treadmills for $35 to $75, a weight bench for $1 and an elliptical machine for $180. Just remember that you’ll probably have to arrange for transporting the big and heavy pieces—as well as find a space for them in your home.

© 2009 National Women’s Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC) All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the NWHRC. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.healthywomen.org.


Women are Different – Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

08/24/2009

Walk or Bike to Work to Decrease Your Heart Attack Risk

08/21/2009

ride bike

Can walking to work or riding your bicycle really lower your risk for a heart attack?

The CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, published in July 2009 issue of Archive of Internal Medicine) study followed over 2,300 men and women and found that active commuting to and/or from work really did help lower heart disease risk factors.  Unfortunately only 16% of people in the study actually performed active commuting on a daily basis, more men than women.

Men who actively commuted had lower triglyceride (blood fat) levels, lower blood pressures, better insulin levels, lower weights, and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

The number of women who participated in active commuting was too small to determine any significant health benefits but women who performed daily physical activity had healthier numbers.

Numerous factors may not make it feasible for you to walk or bike to your place of employment.  But we always like to say that even SMALL CHANGES can make a difference.  Try getting off the bus or subway one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way to work.  If you have to drive to work, try parking your car further away from the door, which would allow some extra steps.  Take a walk at lunch time.  All Activity Counts!

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and heart failure.  “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009.  For more info visit www.heart-strong.com


Funny Healthy Dog Video

08/14/2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEgJ9qxCQzU


What is Extra-Virgin Olive Oil?

07/29/2009

olive oil

Rachel Ray talks about EVOO all the time, but is it really worth the money? And what exactly is extra-virgin olive oil?
“Extra-virgin” means the olives and pits are ground together into a mash.  This mash concoction is then subjected to several hundred pounds of pressure producing an oil and water.  The water is removed and what is left is called “virgin oil”.  If it contains less than 1% acid and has a superior taste and color it is called “extra-virgin” oil.  Only the best green olives, which take on the personality of the soil from Spain, Greece, Italy and California, make up extra virgin olive oil. 

Olive oil connoisseurs claim that each oil has its own taste and aroma similar to wine.  But unlike wine, olive oil does not age well and should be consumed within one year (best taste is within first 2 months).

Whether you use an expensive brand of extra-virgin olive oil or a less expensive brand remember that all olive oils are considered heart healthy.

For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com


Can a Good Night’s Sleep Lower Blood Pressure?

07/15/2009

200362169-001Not getting a good night’s sleep can make you feel grumpy and tired the following day, but can it also raise your blood pressure?

 A group of 578 adults were followed over five years to assess for sleep patterns and blood pressure changes.  Shorter sleep duration and poor quality sleep were associated with higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings both at baseline and also over the 5-year follow-up period (Archives of Internal Medicine, June 2009). 

Higher blood pressures were seen in males (especially African Americans) that also had the shorter sleep durations.  This finding may partially explain the higher incidence and risk for hypertension in African American men.

 The current recommendation for adults is 7 hours of sleep per night.

 The take home message is to make sure you are getting adequate, restful sleep every night.  This will help control blood pressure in those with hypertension and can help prevent the development of hypertension in people with normal blood pressures.

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz……………..good night now!

 For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com