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High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Tied to Future Heart Risks

FRIDAY, Nov. 15, 2019 — Pregnancy-related high blood pressure puts women at higher risk of heart disease later on, new research suggests.

In the study, researchers analyzed an average of seven years of follow-up data on more than 220,000 women in the United Kingdom. Those who had gestational high blood pressure or preeclampsia in at least one pregnancy had stiffer arteries, and two to five times the rate of chronic high blood pressure later on, the findings showed.

These women were more likely to develop heart problems, including coronary artery disease, heart failure and valve disease, according to the report published online Nov. 11 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Up to half the risk was driven by chronic high blood pressure, the investigators found. That “implies that treating high blood pressure may be especially important in this population,” said study lead author Dr. Michael Honigberg. He’s a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Future research could assess new ways of treating high blood pressure (“hypertension”) or simply treating it more aggressively in women who have had it at least once during pregnancy, Honigberg suggested.

“Research over the past decade has shown there are sex-specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease among women,” Honigberg said in a hospital news release. “But there were still some significant gaps in our understanding of those risks, and one gap is whether the elevated risk persists long-term after a hypertensive pregnancy, or whether other women ‘catch up’ as cardiovascular risk increases with age in the population overall.”

Doctors are still figuring out how to predict and prevent high blood pressure problems during pregnancy, he noted. “But what we can do is look ahead and try to mitigate the risk of these women developing cardiovascular disease later in life,” Honigberg said.

That includes heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as exercise, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and controlling weight. Some women may also benefit from medication, he explained.

“You’d be shocked at how few physicians who aren’t obstetrician/gynecologists — including cardiologists — ask their female patients if they’ve had a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy,” Honigberg said. “This research really underscores the importance of clinicians asking about this history, and of women sharing it.”

More information

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about heart disease.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Ask a Stoner: Do Humans (and Bees) Get High From Marijuana Honey?

Dear Stoner: Can bees pollinate marijuana? Would it get them high if they did?
Weed Keeper

Dear Weed Keeper: According to the beesearch we’ve read, insects don’t have endocannabinoid systems — the receptors we have in our bodies that react to CBD, THC and other cannabinoids from the plant. Without those receptors, bees don’t get stoned from pollinating weed (unfortunately for them, because bees could sure use a little stress relief right now), but that doesn’t stop them from doing it.

Like orange blossom, clove and other flowers that beekeepers use for persuading bees to make honey, the cannabis plant can also be a main source of nectar or pollen for bees, though further beesearch shows that they view the plant as more of a last resort. Still, there are companies popping up with hemp and marijuana honey, claiming to be made from bee nectar collected off cannabis plants. While these CBD- and THC-infused honeys usually have cannabinoids added to the honey before they’re packaged and sold to consumers, legit beekeepers say the straight-from-the-hive stuff is still very much infused. You can find THC honey in Colorado dispensaries and CBD honey in health food stores.

Marijuana Deals Near You

Send questions to marijuana@westword.com.


Toke of the Town

AHA News: Scientists Find Biological Link Between High Blood Pressure and Breast Cancer

FRIDAY, Sept. 6, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Researchers have identified a protein that may be a risk factor for both high blood pressure and breast cancer.

Previous studies have found women with high blood pressure have about a 15% increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to women with normal blood pressure. High levels of the protein GRK4 (G-protein coupled receptor kinase 4) have been shown to cause high blood pressure, also called hypertension. The new study, presented Friday at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, showed the GRK4 protein was present in breast cancer cells but not in normal breast cells.

“Cancer and hypertension share common risk factors,” said Dr. Wei Yue, the study’s lead investigator and a research scientist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville. “Our laboratory’s previous research on GRK4 found that it is regulated by an oncogene called c-Myc, which plays a role in many cancers, including breast cancer. This led us to hypothesize that GRK4 could be a link.”

Nearly half of all adults with high blood pressure are women. After age 65, women are more likely than men to have high blood pressure. Pregnancy, birth control medications and menopause can all increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. If left untreated, it can cause health problems such as heart disease, stroke and vision loss.

In women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death.

“While previous studies have shown that breast cancer risk is increased in hypertensive women, this study adds to the current knowledge by providing the molecular mechanisms that underlie this association,” said Dr. Vesna D. Garovic, chair of the division of Nephrology and Hypertension Research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Garovic, who was not involved in the new research, said studies like this one that identify the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways that cause a disease to develop can provide new insights into treatment options.

Not all breast tumors are the same. The study looked for GRK4 in two specific types of breast cancer, known as hormone-sensitive and triple-negative.

“Our conclusion may not be applicable to other types of breast cancer,” said Yue.

Garovic noted GRK4 genetic variations may not be the same in all racial groups. Studies that look for GRK4 in women with breast cancer across racial and ethnic groups, she said, may provide insights into previously reported race-based differences in tumor type, treatment response and outcomes.

GRK4 is one of seven GRK proteins. Other studies have looked for GRK2 and GRK5 in different types of cancers, but Yue said their group is the first to look for a link between GRK4, high blood pressure and breast cancer. “No one else is working on this,” she said.

Yue said this molecule is unique because it’s not normally expressed – meaning made into a protein by a gene – in breast tissues, making it a potential target for drug development.

“A drug that targeted GRK4 could potentially be used to treat the patients with hypertension and breast cancer.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Got High Blood Pressure? Get Your Flu Shot

SUNDAY, Sept. 1, 2019 — If you have high blood pressure, getting a flu shot could save your life, researchers say.

A new study found that patients with high blood pressure who got a flu shot had a nearly 18% lower risk of dying during flu season.

Previous research has found that the stress flu puts on the body may trigger heart attacks and strokes. Patients with high blood pressure already are at increased risk for both.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from Denmark on more than 608,000 people, aged 18 to 100, with high blood pressure during nine flu seasons, from 2007 to 2016.

The investigators looked at how many patients got a flu shot before each flu season and how many died.

After adjusting for patient characteristics — such as age, health problems and medications — in a given flu season, flu vaccination was associated with an 18% lower risk of death from any cause; a 16% lower risk of death from any cardiovascular cause; and a 10% lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke.

The findings were to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), in Paris. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Given these results, it is my belief that all patients with high blood pressure should have an annual flu vaccination,” said first author Daniel Modin, a research associate at the University of Copenhagen. “Vaccination is safe, cheap, readily available and decreases influenza infection. On top of that, our study suggests that it could also protect against fatal heart attacks and strokes, and deaths from other causes.”

Modin noted that during the nine flu seasons studied, vaccine coverage ranged from 26% to 36%, meaning that many patients with high blood pressure were unprotected.

“If you have high blood pressure, it would be worth discussing vaccination with your doctor,” Modin said in an ESC news release.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on flu vaccination.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Ask a Stoner: Getting High for the Movies

Dear Stoner: What’s the best way to get high at the movies? It doesn’t need to be literally at the movies, but right before, at least.
Roger Eburnt

Dear Roger: Getting high for the movies is like getting high before traveling on an airplane, but with two differences: time and sleep. Because most movies don’t last longer than two hours, you’ll have to schedule any edible eating precisely. An edible takes anywhere from thirty minutes to over two hours to kick in, so you could be stoned before the previews end or sober until the final credits. And since falling asleep during a movie isn’t nearly as desirable as falling asleep on a plane, you don’t want to get otherworldly stoned before arriving. (Getting too stoned will also kill any chance of remembering specific quotes or scenes.)

If there's an empty back row in a lightly-filled theater, take advantage of it.

If there’s an empty back row in a lightly-filled theater, take advantage of it.

It all boils down to how well you know your body’s response to cannabis, and how greedy you are. If you know how quickly certain edibles work for you, you could easily arrange to feel the effects throughout the movie. If walking through the theater red-eyed and becoming victim to the expensive concession stand aren’t issues for you, then burn heavy in the parking lot beforehand — or just bring your hash pen and go for an empty back row…

Marijuana Deals Near You

Send questions to marijuana@westword.com.


Toke of the Town

Ask a Stoner: Playing Sports High

Dear Stoner: I like to enjoy a joint on the golf course, but getting high makes me play terribly. Are there any sports that I can play high without becoming a total train wreck?
Burnie

Dear Burnie: Believe it or not, there are professional sports leagues that consider cannabis a performance-enhancing drug. While that performance enhancement is usually associated with pain tolerance and recovery, not speed, strength or coordination, some athletes and weekend warriors believe that smoking or ingesting cannabis can help them enjoy playing and training without compromising performance.

Toke up and lace up, but don't toke too much.EXPAND

Toke up and lace up, but don’t toke too much.

Brandon Marshall

Unfortunately for your golf game, most of these reported benefits come in training exercises, like biking, jogging, hiking and so on — but regular shmucks like you and me can still have a toke before playing a round of eighteen or hitting the basketball court. Just know that you’re playing with fire: Overdoing it will end your drive, and a long warm-up session is critical so that you don’t overthink out there. Even then, you might get overwhelmed if the strain isn’t right.

Send questions to marijuana@westword.com.


Toke of the Town

High Levels of Estrogen in Womb Might Raise Autism Risk

MONDAY, July 29, 2019 — New British research is bolstering the theory that elevated levels of sex hormones in the uterus could play a role in autism risk.

Prior studies had already implicated higher uterine concentrations of male sex hormones — androgens — in increasing the odds for an autism spectrum disorder, noted a team led by Simon Baron-Cohen. He directs the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge.

That prior finding might help explain why autism is so much more prevalent in boys than girls.

However, the latest research from the Cambridge team suggests that exposure to high levels of estrogen hormones in the womb might also raise the odds for autism.

In the new study, Baron-Cohen and his colleagues tested samples of amniotic fluid from 98 individuals sampled by the Danish Biobank, a repository of amniotic samples from more than 100,000 pregnancies.

The 98 individuals went on to develop an autism spectrum disorder.

The researchers looked specifically at amniotic levels of four different estrogen-like hormones.

The investigators compared levels for the 98 people with autism against those from amniotic samples of 177 people who did not have the disorder. This time, Baron-Cohen’s group found an even stronger relationship to autism than was seen with high levels of male sex hormones.

“This new finding supports the idea that increased prenatal sex steroid hormones are one of the potential causes for the condition,” Baron-Cohen said in a university news release. “Genetics is well established as another [cause], and these hormones likely interact with genetic factors to affect the developing fetal brain.”

Dr. Ruth Milanaik is an autism expert who directs the neonatal neurodevelopmental follow-up program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Reviewing the new findings, she agreed that there is probably no single cause for autism.

“This is a strong study that brings us a step closer to understanding the roots of this issue, but by all means [it is] not a definitive cause,” Milanaik said. “Further research is needed in all areas in order to fully understand the implications of these findings.”

For his part, Baron-Cohen stressed that testing uterine hormone levels in pregnancy to gauge future autism risk is not the goal here.

“We are interested in understanding autism, not preventing it,” he said, adding that the findings shouldn’t be used to develop such a screening test.

In fact, it’s not yet even clear what might cause sex hormone levels to rise in the womb, the researchers said.

According to study co-author Alex Tsompanidis, a graduate student at Cambridge, “These elevated hormones could be coming from the mother, the baby or the placenta. Our next step should be to study all these possible sources and how they interact during pregnancy.”

The findings were published online July 29 in Molecular Psychiatry.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on autism.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

But most teens have never sent or received a sex text, the new study found. It focused on about 5,600 students in American middle and high schools, ages 12 to 17.

By Kayla McKiski
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Parents of budding teens can breathe a little easier: A new study says adolescent “sexting” is not an epidemic.

On the other hand, it’s not disappearing, either, despite campaigns to curb it.

“Sexting is perceived as an epidemic because the news highlights extreme cases that involve tragic outcomes, and because it goes against standards of morality and decency that are historically entrenched,” said study author Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University.

But most teens have never sent or received a sex text, the new study found. It focused on about 5,600 students in American middle and high schools, ages 12 to 17.

Of those, about 14% had ever sent a sexually or explicit image or had received one.

For this study, researchers defined sexting as the exchange of nude or semi-nude photos or videos via text or private messaging on social media.

Other researchers have included sexually suggestive or explicit texts. Hinduja said his team didn’t include those, because they can’t lead to sextortion, child pornography charges or related fallout.

About 11% of the students said they had sent a sext to a boyfriend or girlfriend — and about 64% did so when asked to, the study found. But only 43% complied with a request from someone who was not a current romantic partner.

Boys were much more likely to have sent and received a sext from a current partner, but boys and girls were equally likely to receive them from others.

About 4% said they had shared an explicit image sent to them with someone else, without permission — and about as many suspected this had happened to them.

Hinduja said though dishonest responses were removed from the findings, “it is possible that the frequency of sexting among middle schoolers and high schoolers across the United States may be underrepresented in our research.”

While teen sexting is not rampant, the numbers have remained steady over the years, prompting many to question the effectiveness of campaigns to prevent it.

Continued

“Teens sext for a variety of reasons — the most popular are sexual exploration, fun, flirtation and to communicate sexual intent,” said Michelle Drouin, a psychology professor at Purdue University-Fort Wayne in Indianapolis. “In some ways it is part of sexual exploration in a digital age. Many teens do it — it’s not a ‘bad kid’ issue.”

Nonetheless, sexting has been linked to psychological trauma among adolescents.

“The young adults I survey sometimes feel distress about the nude or nearly nude photos they have sent,” said Drouin, who wasn’t involved with the study. “I think the only way to curb teen sexting is through targeted education. Sexting should definitely be a standard component of sex education.”

Hinduja said efforts to discourage sexting should not aim to stifle sexual development. Instead, they should focus on the seriousness of potential consequences — legal, financial, reputational, social or otherwise, he said.

For future research, his team is interested in exploring the best ways to deter teens from sexting.

“Are there any messages that resonate more powerfully so that they second-guess taking and sending a nude?” Hinduja said. “Do the consequences they hear about concern them at all? Do they have an invincibility complex about these sorts of things?”

In the meantime, letting teens know that a relatively small proportion of their peers engage in sexting may be a deterrent, he said.

“It underscores that it is not as normal, commonplace, or widespread as they might believe,” Hinduja said in a Florida Atlantic University news release.

The study was published recently in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. It was co-authored by Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Patchin and Hinduja are co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., professor of criminology and criminal justice and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter; Michelle Drouin, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Purdue University-Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and senior research scientist, Parkview Research Center, Fort Wayne;Archives of Sexual Behavior, July 15, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Exercising When You Have High Blood Pressure

FRIDAY, July 5, 2019 — High blood pressure is a serious risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other life-threatening medical conditions. While many people need medication and dietary changes to control their blood pressure, exercise is a key component of nearly every management plan.

Scientists know that exercise causes the body to adapt in ways that lower blood pressure, but there’s no single formula guaranteed to work for everyone. However, there are general guidelines regarding four key aspects of exercise.

Frequency: Aim to do aerobic exercise on a daily basis and strength training twice a week (on non-consecutive days to allow for muscle repair).

Intensity: Aim for moderate intensity exercise to start. For aerobic workouts, that means reaching between 60% and 70% of your maximum target heart rate (or 220 minus your age). Evidence suggests that higher intensity exercise can result in greater reduction of high blood pressure, but at the moment the risks aren’t clear.

Duration: Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity a day, increasing to 60 minutes if possible. If time or ability is a problem, work out in 10-minute segments that add up to your daily total. Strength training should target all major muscle groups using weight that enables you to complete two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps each.

Type: Effective aerobic activities that are easy to start with are walking, cycling and swimming. Strength training can be done with free weights, weight machines, stretchy resistance bands and/or your own bodyweight (pushups, for instance).

Working with your doctor on your exercise plan is a must. He or she may suggest testing to determine your ideal target heart rate during vigorous activity. If you’re on high blood pressure medication, you’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t affect your ability to exercise.

More information

The American Heart Association has a complete guide to exercising with hypertension online.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

High Arsenic Levels Found in 2 Bottled Water Brands

High levels of arsenic were found in two brands of bottled water sold at Whole Foods, Target and Walmart, the Center for Environmental Health in California says.

The nonprofit group found that the brands Penafiel, owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper, and Starkey, owned by Whole Foods, contain levels of arsenic that are higher than tap water and violate California guidelines, USA Today reported.

High levels of arsenic can cause reproductive damage and cancer, and products that violate recommended state levels of arsenic must carry a warning, according to California law.

Research also shows that arsenic can cause hormone disruption and organ damage, especially in children.

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports released findings that the same brands of bottle water contained nearly double the federal limit of arsenic in water, USA Today reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not recalled either brand of bottled water.

Whole Foods and Keurig Dr. Pepper did not respond to requests for comment from USA Today.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Overweight Kids Are at Risk for High Blood Pressure

FRIDAY, June 14, 2019 — Overweight preschoolers have twice the odds of developing high blood pressure by age 6, putting them at risk of heart attack and stroke later in life.

And those odds begin building as early as age 4, a new study reports.

“The myth that excess weight in children has no consequences hampers the prevention and control of this health problem,” said study author Dr. Inaki Galan, from Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid, Spain.

“Parents need to be more physically active with young children and provide a healthy diet,” Galan added. “Women should shed extra pounds before becoming pregnant, avoid gaining excess weight during pregnancy, and quit smoking, as these are all established risk factors for childhood obesity.”

For the study, Galan and his team looked at the weight and blood pressure of nearly 1,800 4-year-olds. The children were tested again at age 6.

Compared with kids who maintained a healthy weight throughout the study, those who were obese had nearly triple the risk of developing high blood pressure between ages of 4 and 6.

Kids who lost weight did not have the increased risk, the study found.

The report was published June 13 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

“There is a chain of risk, whereby overweight and obesity lead to high blood pressure, which heightens the chance of cardiovascular disease if allowed to track into adulthood,” Galan said in a journal news release. “But the results show that children who return to a normal weight also regain a healthy blood pressure.”

More information

The American Heart Association offers more about high blood pressure in children.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: June 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Expert Panel Backs PrEP for People at High HIV Risk

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A daily pill that can block transmission of HIV should be prescribed to people at high risk of infection with the AIDS-causing virus, according to a highly influential panel of experts.

The treatment — called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — has proven highly effective at preventing HIV spread in clinical trials, an evidence review by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded.

The task force gave PrEP its highest-level recommendation, a grade A, which means that the potential benefit of the treatment is substantial and backed by strong medical evidence.

Best known as the two-drug combo pill Truvada (emtricitabinetenofovir), the medication prevents HIV from establishing a permanent infection in people exposed through sex or injection drug use, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Even though HIV is not in the media as much as it used to be, it’s still a major public health problem in the U.S., with almost 40,000 people getting HIV every year,” USPSTF Chairman Dr. Doug Owens said. “These are quite effective interventions that can help reduce new HIV infection.”

An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and more than 700,000 have died of AIDS since the first cases were reported in 1981, the task force said.

The grade A recommendation should help expand insurance coverage of the pricy medication and get it into the hands of people who need it, experts said.

The USPSTF regularly issues evidence-based guidance on preventive health practices, and the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) obliges insurance companies to cover preventive measures that receive strong task force recommendations.

“We have seen firsthand at our clinics how the scale up of PrEP can dramatically decrease the rates of new HIV infection, and improve the quality of life for those individuals who have access to this intervention,” said Dr. Antonio Urbina. He is an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

Continued

“Besides near-perfect protection against HIV, PrEP is a good gateway for young adults to access preventive and primary care services,” Urbina added.

With the task force’s “bold” recommendation, “the elusive goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. now seems possible,” Urbina said.

But obstacles remain. The only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for PrEP, Truvada, currently costs $ 20,000 a year, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“The real challenge with PrEP isn’t how good it works once you take it,” Walensky said. “We know it’s over 90% effective in people who are taking the drug.”

Instead, people who should be taking PrEP face a number of barriers, not the least of which is its cost, she said.

“The challenge with PrEP’s value in HIV prevention is the number of people who walk in the door and get it, the number of prescribers who are willing and able and knowledgeable to give it, and the ability of people willing to take it reliably once they’re prescribed it,” Walensky said.

The task force emphasized that PrEP is not for everyone. Groups at high risk of HIV infection who should be on PrEP include:

  • Men who have sex with other men and are in a relationship with an HIV-positive person; who use condoms inconsistently; or who have had a sexually transmitted disease within the past six months.
  • Heterosexual women or men whose sex partner is HIV-positive; who use condoms inconsistently with a partner whose HIV status is unknown; or who have contracted syphilis or gonorrhea within the past six months.
  • People who inject drugs and regularly share needles.

PrEP prescriptions are most often written in the Northeast and the West, “but we also know the epidemic is in the South,” Walensky said.

Southern states are least likely to have expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, preventing insurance access to many, and people at high HIV risk in the South also face social stigma in seeking out PrEP, she added.

“This is a really bold and wonderful step forward that needs to be applauded, but I also don’t at all think we can let down any sort of guard to say this is going to be the answer,” Walensky said. “It probably doesn’t do all of the heavy lifting for the patients who need it most.”

The task force recommendation was published online June 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Doug Owens, M.D., M.S., chairman, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; Antonio Urbina, M.D., associate professor of infectious diseases, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., infectious disease specialist and co-director, Medical Practice Evaluation Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston;  June 11, 2019,Journal of the American Medical Association, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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AHA News: Many With High Blood Pressure Aren’t Worried. Should They Be?

FRIDAY, May 24, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because there are no obvious warning signs.

That might explain why nearly half of people diagnosed with it aren’t worried about having a heart attack or stroke, according to a new survey. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, greatly increases the chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

“Even when people are educated that they’re at risk, they might not be worried because they don’t feel bad,” said Dr. Michael Rakotz, vice president of health outcomes at the American Medical Association.

In the survey, 55% of respondents with high blood pressure said they worry they’ll have a heart attack and 56% say they worry they’ll have a stroke. That compares with a little more than one-third of Americans overall in the survey who worry about heart attack or stroke.

The Ipsos Public Affairs online survey was conducted for the AMA and American Heart Association. It surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults in April, with results carrying a level of 90% confidence.

Possible reasons for the disconnect include the lack of symptoms and difficulty maintaining healthy lifestyle changes that can help control high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, many people with high blood pressure might be unaware of the life-altering effects for survivors after a stroke or heart attack. In particular, stroke survivors may lose basic abilities and have to relearn basic living functions.

“You can’t communicate with your loved ones, you can’t care for yourself,” for a while after the event and sometimes permanently, said Sondra DePalma, a physician assistant with the PinnacleHealth Cardiovascular Institute in Harrisburg, Pa.

“From society’s standpoint, the cost is the loss of a worker and more support required to provide for that person,” she said.

The survey also reported these figures among respondents with high blood pressure:

  • 22% checked their blood pressure in the prior week.
  • 40% said their most recent reading was uncontrolled, or higher than 130/80.
  • 16% said they don’t need to keep track of their readings when they’re taking medication.

DePalma and Rakotz said health care providers have an important role to play to help people understand their risks and take precautions. However, they also have to find the time to do it.

“Part of the problem is that doctors are asked do so much now,” Rakotz said. “Appointments are getting shorter and the list of things we have to cover for prevention and health maintenance is getting longer.”

A big part of the solution is to build awareness through initiatives such as LowerYourHBP.org and stories about the real-life consequences. Such stories are showing up in a series of videos launched this spring by the AHA, AMA and the Ad Council.

Still, the survey results indicate much more is to be done.

“We need to continue to work to get real stories out there,” Rakotz said. “And we need to do a better job of motivating people to take charge of their health and raising awareness that together we can create a plan to bring their blood pressure under control.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: May 2019

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