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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).

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Modest Salt Reduction Lowers BP

Modest salt restriction significantly reduces stroke and heart attack risk.

A systematic literature review found that modestly reducing salt intake was associated with an average blood pressure reduction of 4.18/2.06 mm Hg (systolic/diastolic). This reduction from the current average daily salt intake of 9-12 grams to 5-6 grams results in a significant (P<0.001) benefit to blood pressure, and in turn reduces risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

PositiveTip: Think twice before grabbing the salt shaker! Ask: have you tasted the food and does it really need more?

A Re-Evaluation

"Hello, Susan. Come in and sit down. I've been expecting you." Dr. Robbins came from behind his desk, motioning to a leather arm chair.

"Good afternoon, Dr. Robbins," Susan responded."Yes, mother's heart attack got my attention." She perched on the edge of the chair, tightly clutching her purse.

"I suspect it did," he mused aloud, leaning against the edge of his desk. "But we already had a conversation about her condition at the hospital, so I suspect that this visit isn't about her."

"No, it's not." Susan looked up at him. "It's about me. What are my chances of having the same thing? You know that my father died of congestive heart failure just two years ago. He was only seventy."

"Yes, I remember."

"He wasn't that old. Seventy isn't that old," she hurried on, "and mother is only sixty-eight. What's wrong with us?"

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Junk Foods or Pathogens?

Should foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat be called "pathogens"?

Canadian researchers have suggested high-calorie foods once considered "treats" be renamed "pathogens" because they are so readily available around the clock. Dietary patterns high in these sugary and salty foods are associated with hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These authors believe that "junk food" is too mild a term for these deadly delights, and take the government to task for inadequate regulation of these products.

PositiveTip: How many of these "pathogens" do you include in your diet? Think honestly!

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Interarm BP Differences Increase Risks

BP mismatch between arms may signal big risks.

A small, British study has revealed that interarm differences in systolic blood pressure of 10mm Hg or more are associated with 3-4 fold greater risks of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events including all-cause death. It is suspected that interarm differences are associated with peripheral vascular disease. This study needs to be replicated in larger studies to better understand the significance of between-arm differences.

PositiveTip: If you have more than 10 mm Hg systolic pressure difference between arms, ask your doctor what you should be doing to prevent possible serious outcomes.

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Light Physical Activity Good for the Kidneys

One hour of light physical activity per day improved kidney filteration rates by 3-6%.

A new analysis of the NHANES data finds that individuals who spent more than an hour a day in light physical activity had 3-6% better kidney filtration rates than those who had less than an hour. Authors also cited earlier research which found sedentary individuals had 2.2 times the risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those who were active. 

PositiveTip:  Get moving! It will help your kidneys stay healthy and keep you happy.


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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!

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Deep Sleep May Help Prevent Hypertension

Older men with poor sleep architecture experienced more hypertension.

Healthy sleep includes a phase called slow-wave, or deep sleep. Researchers have found that older men with normal blood pressures, but who had the lowest levels of slow-wave sleep saw an 80% greater risk of being hypertensive 3.4 years later compared with those who had the higest levels--even after adjustment for age, race, BMI, and total sleep duration. There is growing evidence that sleep architecture influences metabolic functions.

PositiveTip: How is your sleep architecture? Regular times for sleeping, daily physical activity, and light eveing meals can help optimize it.

Strokes in Pregnancy Skyrocket

In the last 10 years the incidence of strokes among pregnant women has increased by more than 50%. Although strokes have decreased among older women, they are rising in young and middle aged women.

Hospitalizations for pregnancy-related strokes and "mini strokes" jumped from 4,100 in 1995 to 6,300 in 2006. This is a 54 percent increase. Data supporting this discovery was mined from federal hospitalization statistics in all 50 states. 

Strokes during pregnancy are largely due to high blood pressure issues in women who are overweight or obese. High blood pressure in pregnancy is particularly harmful, both for baby and mother. Part of the problem also comes from women having babies later in life when high blood pressure is more common. 

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Abdominal Obesity Predicts Chronic Diseases and Mortality

Abdominal obesity is more prevalent in diabetics, hypertensives, and CAD patients.

Swiss researchers found that abdominal obesity (AO) is highly prevalent in coronary artery disease patients and among those who have significantly higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, lower HDL-cholesterol levels and higher triglyceride levels than non-abdominal obese patients. AO patients also have higher resting heart rates, which is a strong predictor of mortality.

PositiveTip: A calorie-restricted vegetarian diet and exercise are shown to reduce abdominal fat significantly more than a regular calorie-restricted diet and exercise. Also exercise reduces the resting heart rate as you become more fit.