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Blood pressure in gray area? You're still facing stroke risk
March 12th, 2014
04:02 PM ET

Blood pressure in gray area? You're still facing stroke risk

Nearly one-third of Americans have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When it’s not under control, it can lead to heart damage, stroke and even death.

Now new research suggests anyone with blood pressure even slightly higher than the optimal 120/80 may be more likely to have a stroke –including those patients who are diagnosed as pre-hypertensive.

The research, which is published in the Wednesday online issue of Neurology, looked at 19 studies done on the risk of developing stroke in people with "pre-hypertension," or blood pressure that falls in the gray area, between 120/80 and 140/90. More than 760,000 participants were followed for time periods ranging from four to 36 years.

The analysis found people who were pre-hypertensive were 66% more likely to develop a stroke than people who had normal blood pressure. The results were the same even when investigators adjusted for other stroke risk factors, such as diabetes and smoking.

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Vegetarian diet may lower your blood pressure
A cup of edamame contains 676 mg of potassium, which may help lower your blood pressure.
February 24th, 2014
04:01 PM ET

Vegetarian diet may lower your blood pressure

Nearly a third of American adults have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Often called the "silent killer" because it provides few warning signs, hypertension increases a patient's risk for heart attack and stroke.

New research suggests eating a vegetarian diet could help combat this deadly disease.

A healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mm HG. Previous studies have shown that each increase of 20/10 mm Hg in that number doubles the patient's risk of cardiovascular disease. But lowering that top number just 5 mm HG can reduce your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease by about 7%. And eating more fruits and vegetables may be a good way to do that, according to the new study, published Monday in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine. FULL POST


Report questions benefits of salt reduction
May 14th, 2013
02:28 PM ET

Report questions benefits of salt reduction

Reducing salt consumption below the currently recommended 2,300 milligrams – about 1 1/2 teaspoons– per day maybe unnecessary, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The news follows a decades-long push to get Americans to reduce the amount of salt in their diet because of strong links between high sodium consumption and hypertension, a known risk factor for heart disease.

The IOM, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed recent studies published through 2012 that explored ties between salt consumption and direct health outcomes like cardiovascular disease and death. The organization describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public."

Researchers determined there wasn't enough evidence to say whether lowering salt consumption to levels between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day could increase or decrease your risk of heart disease and mortality. But lowering sodium intake might adversely affect your health, the panel found.

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Toddler meals swimming in salt
March 21st, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Toddler meals swimming in salt

Most packaged meals and snacks marketed to toddlers have more than the recommended amount of sodium per serving, meaning children as young as one are most likely eating far too much salt early in life, according to one of several studies on sodium presented this week.

The studies were presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

The findings were alarming to researchers since there is evidence a child's sodium intake is related to the likelihood that he or she will develop hypertension as an adult. Hypertension is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease and the number-one killer of men and women in the United States. FULL POST


Lessons about disease...from mummies
March 10th, 2013
07:58 PM ET

Lessons about disease...from mummies

Talk about a startling juxtaposition: A mummy in a CT scanner. You may be wondering: Why in the world would a mummy get a CT scan?

It turns out that preserved peoples are great study subjects, especially when you are trying to figure out the roots of health problems that span millennia.

A study released Sunday in The Lancet suggests that atherosclerosis - the disease that makes arteries go rigid, and is a leading cause of death worldwide - may have been around for thousands of years.

"We like to say that we found the serial killer that's stalked mankind for 4,000 years," said Dr. Randall Thompson, attending cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, and lead author of the study.
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Young patients, docs can miss signs of heart disease, attack
November 6th, 2012
12:59 PM ET

Young patients, docs can miss signs of heart disease, attack

When some people think about heart disease, they think primarily of older adults.  However, both doctors and young patients miss opportunities to recognize symptoms of heart problems and treat them proactively, according to research presented at the American Heart Association conference.

A study discussed Tuesday found a common risk factor for heart disease - high blood pressure, or hypertension - often goes undiagnosed in younger patients.

"This research directly addresses the public health burden in the U.S. as far as rising rates of hypertension among young adults, especially with the growing rate of obesity," said Dr. Heather Johnson, lead study author from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. FULL POST


Mom's blood pressure may affect baby's IQ
October 3rd, 2012
05:10 PM ET

Mom's blood pressure may affect baby's IQ

Hypertension isn't just risky for a pregnant woman, it can have lasting consequences for a child's cognitive ability, a new study suggests.

A Finnish study found that men whose mothers' pregnancies had complications from hypertensive disorders scored lower on tests of cognitive ability than those whose mothers did not have high blood pressure during pregnancy. The study appears in the journal Neurology.

About 10% of all pregnancies become complicated by hypertensive disorders, such as preeclampsia, the study said. Such conditions are linked to premature births and small baby body size, factors that are also linked with lower cognitive ability.

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Pregnant and just start snoring? You may have hypertension
September 26th, 2012
12:24 PM ET

Pregnant and just start snoring? You may have hypertension

If you're pregnant and you (or your other half) notice you've started to snore, you might want to talk to your doctor.  You could be at greater risk of getting high blood pressure and preeclampsia, according to a new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Preeclampsia, left untreated, can be life-threatening to the mother and unborn child.  It usually starts after the fifth month of pregnancy and causes a pregnant woman's blood pressure to go up and the presence of protein in the mother's urine.  This can significantly affect the placenta and the mother's liver, kidney and brain.

Preeclampsia can cause seizures and is the second leading cause of death in pregnant women in the United States. It's also a leading cause of fetal complications including premature birth, low birth weight and stillbirth.  There is no cure short of delivering the baby.

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Too much salt spells health trouble for kids too
Too much sodium can lead to elevated or high blood pressure in kids, which can persist into adulthood, researchers say.
September 17th, 2012
12:05 AM ET

Too much salt spells health trouble for kids too

Children are eating as much salt as adults, according to a new report, and experts are concerned.

Most adults consume too much sodium and that can have serious health implications. Too much salt in a person's diet can raise your blood pressure; high blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

In this new study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that if a child is overweight and eats as much salt as an adult, the risk for high blood pressure goes up dramatically.
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Dark chocolate may lower blood pressure
A study shows dark chocolate may lower blood pressure slightly.
August 16th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Dark chocolate may lower blood pressure

Eating a little dark chocolate each day may be good for the heart, but only if you grab your running shoes in one hand and an apple in the other.

New research found that people who ate dark chocolate or cocoa for short periods of time saw a slight drop in blood pressure. But there is a caveat: If you eat these treats, you need to make sure you're doing all of the right things to stay healthy, such as exercising, eating right and - if you're on blood pressure medicine - taking that as well.

The study

Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, curious about the role of dark chocolate in heart health, looked at 20 studies in which adults ate dark chocolate or cocoa. More than 850 people participated in the trials that generally ran from two to eight weeks.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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