Thursday, August 09, 2018

Blood Pressure Swing Can Be Bad For Heart!

Any healthy adults who are not using any hypertensive medications is said to have high blood pressure if 3 to 6 elevated blood pressure measurements are recorded over several months. If the 2 pressures (systolic vs diastolic) fall in different categories, the higher one is used to determine the severity of hypertension. For instance, the normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. So if one has a reading of 130/80 or 120/90 mmHg, he or she is still considered as having high blood pressure. This is the standard definition of high blood pressure, determined by the Joint National Committee (JNC) on Detection, Evaluation, and Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure.

High blood pressure or hypertension is a risk factor for many diseases including heart disease, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure. While sustained high blood pressure is not desirable, big swings in blood pressure may be equally bad for the health, warned by a recent study.

Researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City tracked and reviewed medical records of 10,903 patients. They found that those patients whose systolic blood pressure varied by as much as 30 or 40 points between doctor visits were more likely to die over 5 years of follow-up than those with less extreme variances in their blood pressure. Results of the study was reported at the 2017 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, CA, on November 13.

Fluctuations in blood pressure may, in fact, raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease or failure, vision loss, sexual dysfunction and peripheral artery disease. An earlier finding published online July 27, 2015 in ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’ suggested that people with wide variations in systolic blood pressure readings were linked to a higher risk of heart attack, fatal heart failure and stroke. Researchers analysed data from a major trial involving the use of medicines to fight high blood pressure and high cholesterol for nearly 26,000 patients.

Compared to patients whose blood pressure remained stable, an average blood pressure variation of about 15 mmHg was found to link to a 30 percent raised risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and a 46 percent raised risk of stroke. The risk for death from any cause was increased by 58 percent, too.

In another study published August 9, 2016 in journal ‘BMJ’ indicated that long term variability in blood pressure might put a person at the same risk for cardiac problems and mortality outcomes as high cholesterol.

White coat hypertension (blood pressure is higher at the doctor's office often because the patient is anxious about the appointment), medications, emotional upset, anxiety, and stress, temperature, as well as street drugs are some of the possible factors that can cause fluctuations in blood pressure.

To manage blood pressure fluctuations, one should see a doctor to determine the underlying cause. The doctor will review the medical history, get to know the patient’s lifestyle and perform some tests. Sometimes, medications can be prescribed to stablize the blood pressure and to prevent dangerous swings in blood pressure. Meanwhile, patient may have to make some lifestyle changes, for instance, stop smoking, eat more fruits, engage regular exercise, limit alcohol consumption, find ways to reduce stress, consume less sodium (salt), and lower caffeine intake.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Drinking Tea Prevent Heart Disease?

It is believed that tea has beneficial health effects, including cancer prevention, weight loss, skin improvement, protection the brain from Alzheimer's and dementia, and helps lower blood sugar because it is a good source of the compounds known as catechins and epicatechins. Find our more at:

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Can Taking Probiotics Prevent Heart Disease?

Research also indicated that taking probiotics regularly may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and keep the lipid levels healthy. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood triglycerides are all risk factors for heart disease. Good management of these risk factors can reduce the risk of heart disease. Click the following link for more details:

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Can Meditation Help Cut Heart Disease Risk?

Being a 7000-year-old practice, meditation is a technique used to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state by focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity. Meditation may be employed to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increase peace, perception and wellbeing. Stress is a risk factor for heart disease. 

Research on meditation and cardiovascular health is limited, but some studies did suggest that meditation may boost the defense against heart disease. In fact, there is some evidence that meditation may speed up activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved in lowering blood pressure and heart rate during periods of relaxation.

According to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) published September 28, 2017 in the ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’, the studies on meditation suggest a possible benefit of meditation on heart disease risk reduction.

The attention was focused on the effects of various sitting meditation practices, including mindful meditation, Samatha, Zen meditation, and transcendental meditation, and excluding combined mind-body practices like yoga and Tai Chi. This is because the physical activity involved in such practices has already been shown to benefit heart disease risk.

In their review of previously published studies, researchers found that meditation is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and depression and improved sleep quality and general wellbeing. The researchers also reported that meditation may also help to lower high blood pressure, help people who smoke quit, and may help lower heart attack risk. 

One of the studies being reviewed involved 201 people with coronary artery disease participated in either a transcendental meditation program or a health education program. Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation that involves sitting with the eyes closed and repeating a mantra. After about 5 years, mortality and the number of heart attacks or strokes was significantly lower in those in the meditation group.

While the findings suggested that meditation has a possible benefit on cardiovascular risk, researchers emphasize that more high-quality, large-scale clinical trials is needed before any conclusions can be made.

Nevertheless, as stated by the researchers, meditation may be a low-cost, low-risk practice that can be used together with conventional strategies like diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications.

Generally, other health experts not involving in the study agree that meditation may help lower the risk of heart disease by countering the impact of stress on the body. When people are under stress, their fight or flight response can be triggered, leading to a release of stress hormones and spikes in blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption and a release of inflammatory chemicals in the body. Meditation can trigger the opposite of a fight or flight response, encouraging the body to slow down and improving risk factors for heart disease like metabolic problems or inflammation.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Chronic Coughing Can Be A Sign Of Heart Failure!

Coughing actually helps the body get rid of substances that do not belong in the lungs and windpipe, like inhaled dirt or food, and things that are irritating to the air passages. Nevertheless, a cough may be an important sign that heart failure treatment is adequate or even that the treatment may be causing problems. Find out more at:

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Getting Blood Pressure Reading On A Smartphone?

Hypertension, or more commonly known as high blood pressure, is a growing worldwide problem. 45 percent of people in developed nations and 55 percent of people in developing nations have hypertension and do not even know it. Without appropriate control, hypertension can ultimately lead to heart disease, stroke and chronic kidney disease.

People with hypertension may not have any symptoms at all. So, the first step is to regularly check the blood pressure using sphygmomanometer or blood pressure monitor. The monitor can be manual or digital, battery-powered. The size of blood pressure monitor has been reduced since it was first made but they are still not small enough for users to carry around.

Good news is that, one can soon use a finger to touch a smartphone case to have instant and accurate blood pressure readings. Researchers from Michigan State University, University of Maryland, and Chonnam National University, Korea revealed in March 7, 2018 issue of ‘Science Translational Medicine’ that they developed a sensor that turns a smartphone into a device capable of checking a person’s blood pressure. Smartphones are very common nowadays, with 2.5-hour daily usage by average adult. The researcher argue that people are more apt to use a blood pressure monitor if it is embedded in a smartphone device.

According to researchers, they invented a special phone case, using high-tech 3-D printing, that contains an embedded optical sensor on top of a force sensor. The optical sensor is photoplethysmography (PPG), which is an inexpensive optical tool that measures blood volume changes, and the force sensor is a thin-filmed force transducer that measures applied pressure. PPG has already been used to measure heart rate. Some fitness trackers and even the Samsung Galaxy are equipped with PPG heart rate monitors.

When a user presses a finger onto the sensor, it provides measurable pressure on an artery in the finger in the same way that a blood pressure cuff squeezes an artery in the arm. That information is then fed to a smartphone app to convert the data to a real-time blood pressure reading, displayed on the phone. The usability of the device was tested on 30 people and found that about 90 percent could position their finger correctly and get consistent readings after only 1 or 2 attempts.

The new device could indeed help improve rates of blood pressure measurement, and lead to better blood pressure control so as to reduce the incidence of strokes and heart attacks. But as any other medical devices, more rigorous testing must be done before it can become standard and make available to the public for use.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Heart Disease Prevention - Will Workplace Noise Cause Heart Disease?

A recent study by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) stressed that reducing workplace noise levels can not only prevent hearing loss but also have impact on blood pressure and cholesterol. Click the following link to find out more:

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Can Aerobic Exercise Help Diastolic Dysfunction?

When the heart beats, it squeezes and relaxes. The squeezing phase of the cycle is when the heart muscle contracts and ejects blood into the arteries and it is called systole. The relaxation phase is when the heart fills with blood to prepare for the next heartbeat and it is called diastole.

Sometimes, a stiffening of the heart muscle affects the diastolic phase of the heartbeat, making it more difficult for the relaxing heart muscle to completely fill with blood. This problem is known as diastolic dysfunction, which can eventually lead to diastolic heart failure. As some studies indicated, up to 75 percent of elderly women had diastolic dysfunction. While it is less common in men, its risk increases with age and studies have shown prevalence of 50 percent in men older than 70.

High blood pressure is the most common cause of diastolic dysfunction. Abnormal rhythms, fast heart rate, sudden increase in blood pressure, increased salt intake, excessive fluid consumption and insufficient blood flow to the heart muscles may stress the heart and lead to diastolic dysfunction.

Patients with diastolic dysfunction typically have a limited exercise capacity. They tend to complain of dyspnea (shortness of breath) easily on activities which they could do comfortably in the past. But recent evidence strongly suggests that a program of aerobic exercise can actually improve the symptoms of diastolic dysfunction and enhance quality of life. Patients may begin to reverse the stiffness of the heart muscle and prevent the onset of diastolic heart failure.

Randomized trials in patients with diastolic dysfunction have demonstrated that regular aerobic training (but not weight lifting or strength training) for 3 to 4 months can significantly improve exercise capacity, symptoms of shortness of breath with exertion, and quality of life measures. There is evidence indicating that strength training may worsen the problem by causing the heart muscle to hypertrophy (thicken) in a way that increases cardiac stiffness. Aerobic exercise, including walking, cycling, or jogging, is a form of exercise in which the energy demands of the muscles are met by consuming oxygen.

The latest findings published January 8, 2018 in journal ‘Circulation’ reported that exercise can reverse damage to sedentary, aging hearts and provide protection against future heart failure by preventing the increase in cardiac stiffness with sufficient exercise, and if it is begun in time. The study was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM), which is a collaboration between UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Researchers pointed out that heart stiffening often shows up in middle age in people who do not exercise and are not fit, leaving them with small, stiff chambers that cannot pump blood as well. At the end of the 2-year study, those who had exercised for 30 minutes 4 to 5 times a week showed an 18 percent improvement in their maximum oxygen intake during exercise and a more than 25 percent improvement in compliance, or elasticity, of the left ventricular muscle of the heart.