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Tag Archive | "blood pressure"

What you need to know to control this silent killer


HEA-Blood-pressure

(BPT) – Most people assume they only need to take their medication when they are sick, meaning when they experience symptoms. But in the case of hypertension, this type of thinking could kill you.

Patients who have hypertension are often completely asymptomatic – that’s the reason hypertension is often called the silent killer. The belief that symptoms such as headaches, nose bleeds, nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing are signals to take blood pressure medication is a myth.

Nonadherence to hypertension medication is a huge challenge. Research shows that one in three American adults suffer from high blood pressure, but only 47 percent effectively treat their disease to keep blood pressure levels under control.

Higher risk for heart attack, stroke

Express Scripts’ specialist pharmacist Ed Dannemiller recently spoke with a patient who was 40 days late to refill her blood pressure prescription.

“When I asked her about the delay, she said she only takes her medication when she feels stressed or has a headache. The problem with this is that patients with hypertension may feel perfectly fine before suffering a heart attack or stroke,” says Dannemiller.

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, but consistent levels above 140/90 require medical attention. Simply keeping a patient’s blood pressure under control decreases the risk of heart attack by 25 percent, stroke by 33 percent and heart failure by 50 percent.

But the only way to have a precise measurement is through a blood pressure reading.

Become an engaged patient

“I encourage patients to become engaged in their own health and keep track of their blood pressure readings, which can help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations or ER visits,” Dannemiller explains.

For patients with white-coat hypertension – those whose blood pressure rises from stress in the doctor’s office – a home blood pressure monitor is a good option.

Dannemiller offers these useful tips for patients monitoring their pressure at home:

* Take blood pressure readings in a seated position with arm at the heart level

* To regulate the monitor, discard the first reading

* Keep a record of your blood pressure levels to bring to your doctor’s appointment

This additional data will help your physician better understand your condition and make better medical decisions to ensure healthier outcomes.

Lifestyle changes can help

In addition to staying adherent to blood pressure medication, regardless of symptoms, the following lifestyle modifications also can improve cardiovascular health:

* Consume a heart-healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in salt, fat and cholesterol

* Engage in regular aerobic physical activity

* Manage your weight, limit alcohol consumption and do not smoke

Value of specialized understanding

“Even with lifestyle modifications, most patients need at least two medications to reach their blood pressure goal,” says Dannemiller.

Intervention and education from specialist pharmacists provide an important resource to improve medication adherence. When patients understand the value of their treatment and embrace good cardiovascular health, they bring a little more noise to this silent killer. For more information, visit lab.express-scripts.com.

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Health story of the year: Salt vindicated


(ARA) – Paul T. Meagher sometimes gets disapproving stares when people see him sprinkle his food with salt as he has done since he was a young lad growing up in Ireland. He has a response for such people.
“I tell them you can take my blood pressure right now, or we can have a run around the block, and I guarantee you I’m in better shape than you,” said Meagher, 68, who now lives in Westport, Mass. “I’m fit, at least for my age, and I use salt every day in volume. Hasn’t done me a blind bit of harm, which is the way we put it from where I come from.”
Recent research quantifies Meagher’s experience. In 2011, half a dozen medical studies showed the health benefits of salt or revealed the significant risks of low-sodium diets — providing vindication for this essential nutrient and the people, like Meagher, who love it.
“The vindication of salt is probably the biggest health and nutrition story of the last year,” says Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute. “Everyone knows salt tastes good, but the latest research published in leading medical journals confirms that salt is good for you, too. The medical studies underline what we have been saying for years: science is on salt’s side.”
The new data raises questions about the federal government’s effort to put Americans on a low-salt diet. The Food and Drug Administration is inviting online public comments about ways to reduce sodium consumption. In the past, such invitations have foreshadowed the rollout of new regulations.
The six peer-reviewed medical studies documented:
Type 1 Diabetes risk: In a study of patients with type 1 diabetes, low sodium intake was associated with renal disease and premature death.
Type 2 Diabetes risk: In an Australian study of type 2 diabetes patients, lower sodium was associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
No benefit to salt reduction: A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed eating less salt will not prevent heart attacks, strokes or early death. On the contrary, low-sodium diets increase the likelihood of premature death.
Risk of death: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that lower salt intakes resulted in higher death rates.
Other negative effects of low-salt intakes: An analysis published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed individuals placed on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines-recommended salt levels experienced significant increases in cholesterol and other risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Risk with current U.S. Dietary Guidelines: An analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people who ate salt at the levels recommended by the U.S. government were at greater risk of cardiovascular events.
The research has prompted new scrutiny of the government’s attempts to put all Americans on a low-salt diet. Scientific American reviewed medical studies over several decades and concluded in a headline: “It’s time to end the war on salt.” The respected magazine also said, “The zealous drive by politicians to limit our salt intake has little basis in science.”
Meagher remembers when the federal government told him eggs could be bad for his health. He ignored that advice, too.
“I would rather the federal government stay well away from my kitchen altogether,” Meagher says. “I will continue to eat my boiled eggs from an egg cup, with an egg spoon, and with plenty of salt.”

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