Women and Heart Disease Across the Lifespan Part 1 (Young Women)

05/26/2010
This is the first of a three part series titled “Women and Heart Disease across the Lifespan.”  On this show we will concentrate on heart conditions that are more likely to affect young women. We will discuss the following conditions: palpitations, tachycardia, pericarditis, conditions that may occur during pregnancy, and premature heart disease.

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Whole Grains May Help Control Blood Pressure

11/17/2009

wholegrainfood

 Previous research has shown that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure.  But the impact of whole grains on men’s blood pressure was unknown. 

 A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (September 2009) followed over 31, 000 men for 18 years.  Men with the highest daily whole grain consumption were 19% less likely to develop high blood pressure versus men who ate the least amount of whole grains.  The lower blood pressures were found regardless of weight, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake.

 So whole grains can help control blood pressure in both women and men.  The current dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 3 ounces or 85 grams of whole grains daily.  Whole grains are richer in nutrients because they retain their bran and germ unlike refined grains.

 “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure, cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “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


Bedtime Aspirin May Help Lower Blood Pressure

09/03/2009

This is an interesting initial evaluation of the effects of a daily low dose aspirin taken just before bedtime.  Patients were randomized to receive aspirin at different times during the day.  All of the patients had pre-hypertension, these are people with borderline high blood pressure readings not yet receiving blood pressure medications.  Blood pressure measurements were evaluated with a 48 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor, prior to starting daily aspirin usage and then 3 months after starting daily aspirin usage.  Blood pressure measurements did not change in patients taking aspirin in the morning upon awakening.  Seventy-one percent of the patients who took aspirin at bedtime experienced a reduction in their blood pressure readings.  No changes in heart rate were observed in any of the patient groups over time.  The researchers believe the aspirin when given at night may be decreasing the nocturnal renin peak and enhancing the production of nitric oxide.  Both of these substances could facilitate blood pressure lowering.

This was a small study and a larger multicenter trial is being developed.  But the take away message is – if you are taking a daily aspirin and have high blood pressure/hypertension or borderline high blood pressure readings it may be more beneficial to take the aspirin dose at bedtime.  Definitely something to discuss with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

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


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.


5 Tips to Lower Blood Pressure

08/04/2009

 

 High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart failure (weakening and enlargement of the heart muscle). About 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure in the United States. Medications of course can help to lower blood pressure and many adults need at least 2 or 3 different medications to control their blood pressure especially as they get older.

Here are a couple of lifestyle changes that can also help lower your blood pressure:

1) Low Sodium (salt) Diet – recommendation is less than 2,000 mg of sodium daily

2) Increase Potassium Rich Foods – recommendation is 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Good food sources of potassium include: Bananas, Dried beans, Tomatoes, Beef, Orange juice/grapefruit juice, Milk, Coffee, Potatoes, Kidney beans, Salmon/Halibut.

3) Exercise – Aim for 30 minutes 5 to 7 days every week

4)Weight loss (if overweight) or maintain healthy weight

5) Use fresh garlic (chop garlic and let sit for 15 minutes – this allows garlic to oxidize and gets converted to allicin which is the heart healthy part of garlic)

The goal blood pressure for all adult men and women is less than 120/80 (this includes adults taking blood pressure medications).

A recent Centers for Disease Control publication stated that ONLY ABOUT 30% of adults with high blood pressure have their blood pressure well controlled!!! This is an important health risk and you need to play an active role – follow the lifestyle changes listed above, monitor your blood pressure regularly, know your numbers, and discuss your blood pressure with your healthcare provider.

“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


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


Preventing Heart Disease in Women

07/11/2009