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Gut Microbiome Mediates Hypertension

Changes in gut microbiome may increase blood pressure.

In mouse experiments, researchers have found a high-salt diet leads to depletion of a species of Lactobacillus in the gut, which in turn increases particular lymphocytes that result in a rise in blood pressure (and type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis). Supplementation of the mouse diet with the depleted species of lactobacilli reversed these changes. A small study of salt-sensitive humans found similar results. 

PositiveTip: Carefully controlling sodium intake, especially when salt-sensitive, may help reduce hypertension.

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New Hypertension Guidelines

New norms for hypertension released.

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have defined three new categories of hypertension:

  1. Elevated blood pressure: 120-129 mm Hg systolic, <80 mm Hg diastolic
  2. Stage 1 hypertension: 130-139 mm Hg systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic
  3. Stage 2 hypertension: >140 mm Hg systolic or >90 mm Hg diastolic

Lifestyle modifications are recommended for all groups, in addition to appropriate medication for Stage 1 and 2 hypertension.

PositiveTip: Maintaining normal weight, physical exercise, and a healthy, balanced diet go a long way to preventing hypertension.

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Cardiovascular Response to Energy Drink

Energy drink raises systolic and diastolic blood pressure in healthy adults.

A pilot study found consumption of the energy drink, Rockstar, increased blood pressure in healthy young adult subjects. Within 30 minutes of consuming one can (16 oz), systolic blood pressure rose an average of 6.2% compared to 3.1% after a placebo drink. Diastolic blood pressure rose 6.8% vs. 0%. More research is needed to know if these changes will influence clinical cardiovascular risk.

PositiveTip: Until more is known it is probably best to avoid the use of energy drinks.

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Pistachios Help Stress

Pistachio nuts may improve stress response and blood pressure in diabetics.

Penn State researchers randomized two groups of type-2 diabetics to different diets. All consumed a heart healthy diet, but the experimental group's diet included 2 daily servings of pistachios.  Researchers provided all the meals for 4 weeks. The blood vessels of those eating the pistachios remained more relaxed and open during a cold water challenge and stressful mental test. They also found real world measures of blood pressure were lower.

Positive Tip: Unsalted pistachios in moderation may be a good addition to a healthy diet.


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Fitness Puts a Cap on Blood Pressure

Fit men experience less progressively rising blood pressures with age.

Many people believe it is inevitable that the older they get the higher their blood pressure will be. A study which included almost 14,000 healthy men without hypertension, cardiovascular disease or cancer were followed for nearly 40 years. Highly fit men reached abnormal systolic blood pressures a decade later than men in the low fitness category. These findings may not apply to women, or nonwhite men; as these groups were not included in the study.

PositiveTip: Keep a younger blood pressure! Stay physically fit.

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Long-term Blood Pressure Patterns Predict Later Disease

Blood pressure trajectories in young adulthood predict coronary artery calcification later in life.

Blood pressures that are elevated at 25 years old and continue rising throughout young adulthood strongly predict subclinical atherosclerosis during middle age. Participants with elevated and increasing blood pressure profiles over the 25 year follow-up experienced 3.7 times the risk of coronary artery calcification at age 50 when compared to those who had low and stable pressures. 

PositiveTip: Lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure during young adulthood can reduce risks later in life.

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Your Spouse's Friends May Influence Your BP

The quality of one spouse's social network may influence the other's blood pressure.

It is recognized that an individual's own social relationships influences  their longevity.  Researchers studied the social network quality of 94 couples free of hypertension, heart disease, or psychological disorders. After adjustments, a greater number of supportive social ties was associated with lower blood pressure, and a larger number of aversive relationships were associated with higher blood pressure in the other spouse.

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Check Your Kids' Blood Pressure!

High blood pressure in childhood linked to heart disease nearly 30 years later.

A 27 year long Finnish study of childhood hypertension strongly indicates it may raise the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease in later life. High blood pressure in childhood appears to lay the groundwork for heart disease in adulthood--strong evidence for primary prevention activities to be initiated early in life.

PositiveTip: If your child has high blood pressure, work diligently to bring it into the normal range.

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Soy May Lower Blood Pressure

A relatively small intake of soy protein may help reduce systolic blood pressure.

Individuals who consumed the most soy protein per day had lower systolic blood pressures than those who ate the least amounts, according to a new study. The top group consumed more than 2.5 mg per day of soy isoflavones. One cup of soy milk contains 22 mg of isoflavones, suggesting that soy consumption does not have to be very high to result in lower pressures. These isoflavones may increase production of nitric oxide which widens blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.

PositiveTip: Struggling with high blood pressure? Try including some soy in your diet.

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High Blood Pressure in College Freshmen Predicts Later Risk

Harvard freshman with pre-hypertension had higher risk in later life.

Men enrolling at Harvard between 1914 and 1952 who reported elevated systolic blood pressure their freshman year experienced a 20% greater risk for coronary heart disease later in life. Those diagnosed with hypertension in middle age had twice the risk of coronary deaths and stroke compared to those with normal blood pressures.

PositiveTip: Have you had your blood pressure checked recently? Get it taken even if you are young!