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Non-compliance with Antihypertensive Medications Comes with a Price

High adherence to anti-hypertensive medication therapy lowers risk of cardiovascular disease!

Hypertension is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Is compliance with prescribed anti-hypertenrsive medication regimens beneficial to lower CVD risk? Italian investigators followed almost 19,000 hypertensive patients without CVD at baseline for almost five years in an attempt to answer this question. They found those with high adherence had 38% lower risk for CVD compared to lower adherence. This study examined medications as the agent for anti-hypertensive therapy. Regular physical activity, ideal weight, a healthy, low-sodium diet and less stress may reduce or eliminate the need for these medications as well.

PositiveTip: If you are on medications for hypertension, take them regularly as prescribe to lower your risk of CVD.

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Poor Sleep Associated With Higher Blood Pressure

Your beauty rest may help reduce your blood pressure!

Can reduced sleep time or poor quality sleep increase blood pressure? Researchers have analyzed the associations between sleep behavior and BP in more than 500 adults in mid-life. After adjusting for confounders, short sleep hours predicted significantly increased odds of hypertension over 5 years. Lower sleep duration predicted higher systolic and diastolic BP.

PositiveTip: Getting adequate sleep every night may help lower your blood pressure. Remember: sleep is even easier than exercise!

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Sodium Restriction Helps Resistant Hypertension

Got resistant hypertension? Maybe you should shun the salt shaker!

Resistant hypertension--elevated high blood pressure despite the use of three or more antihypetensive medications--is fairly common, and frustrating to both patient and physician. A small, randomized crossover trial of 12 such patents has demonstrated the effectiveness of a low-sodium diet. The low sodium diet had only 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the high sodium diet contained 7.5 teaspoons of salt. Systolic and diastolic pressures were significantly lowered by 22.7 mmHg and 9.1 mmHG, respectively, while on the low-sodium diet.

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Modifiable Lifestyle Factors Prevent Most Hypertension

Seventy-eight percent of all hypertension could be prevented with the adoption of 6 protective factors!

With so much attention on healthcare reform, perhaps we ought to focus on personal lifestyle reform! The Nurses' Health Study has yet again yielded evidence in favor of a healthy lifestyle. Almost 84,000 women were followed for 14 years. Those who had the lowest risk of hypertension were those who followed basic modifiable risk factors such as body mass index (BMI) of less than 25, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day, compliance with the DASH diet, low use of non-narcotic pain meds, and intake of 400 microg/day of folic acid. Interestingly, the risk for hypertension was 5 times higher in women who were obese compared to those with normal BMI.

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So Much for So Little

Get moving to live a longer and better life!

If people would simply start a walking program of at least 30+ minutes of brisk walking daily beginners: start slower, work up, and break it up into 15 minute sessions), they could positively impact their own health. Many research reports show that compared to sedentary persons, those who exercise regularly have a:

  • 45% reduced risk of cancer
  • 60% reduced risk of diabetes
  • 48% reduced risk of heart disease
  • 62-65% reduced risk of hip fractures
  • 68% fewer strokes
  • 57% decreased rate of developing high blood pressure
  • 34% decreased risk of catching a cold
PositiveTip: Wow! That's a huge benefit for a small investment in physical activity.



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Short Sleep Tends to Promote Hypertension

Turning out the lights earlier may protect you from hypertension.

Observational studies have reported an association between short sleep patterns and hypertension. Now a report comes from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort study finding shorter sleep duration and lower sleep maintenance (an indicator of the quality of sleep) predicted significantly higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. Those taking hypertensive medications were excluded, and results were adjusted for age, race, and sex. Research is needed to determine if more sleep would effectively treat hypertension.

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Good News, Bad News!

Americans are doing better at controlling cardiovascular disease, but not diabetes.

Analysis of Americans between 40 and 85 years of age reveals that between 1999 and 2006 the prevalence of hypertension, coronary heart disease and stroke remained stable, but diabetes rose 2%. Significant improvements were found in control of blood pressure, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, and total cholesterol. However, gaps between white and nonwhite patients did not change, although they were smaller after age 65 when universal Medicare insurance begins.