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hypertension

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Hypertension and its Burden of Disease

Rates of high blood pressure have increased globally over the past 25 years.

Researchers estimate that 874 million adults worldwide have a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher. Analyzing data from 844 population-based studies in 154 countries between 1990 and 2015, scientists attempted to assess the relationship of hypertension to various causes of death. They estimate that 14% of total deaths and 143 million life-years of disability are due to hypertension.

PositiveTip: When a wholesome lifestyle and ideal weight fail to control blood pressure--its time to see your physician and consider medications.

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Set Down That Salt Shaker

CDC reports one in 9 children (8-17 years) has high blood pressure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 90% of U.S. school children consume too much sodium each day. It may come as a surprise that only 10 common foods contribute 40% of the sodium eaten by children. Check out the great resources and infographics to help your family be sodium wise. Remember, healthy eating starts in the home.

PositiveTip: Make healthy eating a "team sport" for the whole family so each member can benefit.

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Dietary Nitrates May Lower Blood Pressure

Drinking beet juice daily may help control hypertension.

Inorganic nitrates found in beet juice are converted to nitric oxide, a vasodilator. In a randomized, double-blind trial, researchers fed subjects 250 mL beet juice or beet juice with the nitrates removed (placebo) daily for 4 weeks. Those getting the regular beet juice saw their mean systolic and diastolic BPs significantly reduced. No changes were observed in  the placebo group. Longer studies are needed to demonstrate long-term benefits.

PositiveTip: Eating beet juice or soup may be a natural way to help control hypertension.

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Lifestyle Matters!

Forty years of lifestyle changes in communities reduce morbidity and mortality.

A 40 year community-based effort in a rural Maine (U.S.) county to help residents control elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, stop smoking, eat healthfully, and exercise more appears to have yielded significant benefits. Compared with other counties in the same state, Franklin's residents have lower mortality rates and fewer hospitalizations resulting in savings of $5.4 million in hospital charges annually after adjusting for income.

PositiveTip: Simple, positive lifestyle changes yield big benefits over time!

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Lifestyle Change, Not Medication for Mild Hypertention?

Is mild hypertension being overdiagnosed?

Almost 40 percent of the world's population have hypertension, and more than half are considered to be mild hypertensives. About half of these are treated with medications, even though there is only limited evidence that this reduces mortality or morbidity. Some researchers are suggesting an overemphasis on drug treatment limits the opportunities to focus on individual and population lifestyle factors.

PositiveTip: If you are hypertensive, ask your physician if lifestyle changes (i.e. physical activity, weight loss, salt reduction) might be effective for you.

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Salt Reduction Makes an Impact in the U.K.

While still too high, the English are benefitting from lower salt consumption.

Between 2003 and 2011 stroke deaths in the U.K. decreased 42% (P<0.001) and ischemic heart disease fell by 40% (P<0.001). During the same time salt intake decreased by 1.4 g/day (P<0.01) measured by 24-hour urinary sodium. The findings of this 8-year study appear to support a key role for lower salt intake. Despite this progress, the 2011 average salt intake in England (8.1 g/day) is still 35% higher than the recommended 6 g/day.

PositiveTip: Make intentional efforts to eat less salty foods!

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Flaxseed Helps Hypertensives

Flaxseed shown to lower blood pressure.

It was a small study, but the results a very encouraging! Over 100 patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) went on a diet containing 30 g of milled flaxseed in foods or a placebo for 6 months. At the end of this double-blind, randomized trial those in the flaxseed group had lower systolic and diastolic pressures than those on the placebo (10 mm Hg and 7 mm Hg, respectively). Those with higher blood pressures saw the greatest benefit.

PositiveTip: Struggling with hypertension? Try some flaxseed in your diet.

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Recreational Excerise Lowers Risk of Hypertension

High to moderate recreational physical activity lowers risk of hypertension.

Researchers found individuals with higher levels of physical activity at significantly lower risk of developing hypertension in the long-term. Data from over 136,000 people was drawn from 13 progressive cohort studies from North American, Europe, and Asia. High and moderate levels of recreational physical activity, not occupational activity, conferred the benefit.

PositiveTip: Adopting an active lifestyle of recreational physical activity can lower your risk of hypertension.

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Occasional Childhood High BP May Predict Hypertension

Episodic childhood high blood pressure may signal adult hypertension.

One blood pressure reading above the 95th percentile (hypertension) before leaving high school resulted in 3 times the risk of adult hypertension after adjusting for age, gender, and BMI. This University of Indiana study began in 1986 with 1117 healthy children who were 12 years old. They were followed until they reached 33 years old. (Reported in an abstract.)

PositiveTip: Children who experience even occasional increases in blood pressure should be monitored closely--and reduce sodium intake, exercise regularly, and lose weight if necessary.

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Increasing Potassium Intake Linked to Lower BP

Increased potassium intake can reduce blood pressure and stroke risk.

A review conducted for the World Health Organization found that increasing potassium intake effectively reduced average blood pressure by 3.49/1.96 mm Hg (systolic/diastolic), although this result was significant only in those with hypertension. Consuming 90-120 mmol of potassium daily (twice the current average) was sufficient to achieve this benefit. This increase lowered the risk of stroke by approximately 25%.

PositiveTip: Eat more potassium-rich foods such as tomato products, sweet potatoes, beet greens, soybeans (click for longer list).