Archive for the ‘Blood Pressure’ Category

Blood Pressure – Watch your Numbers

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Blood pressure is self explanatory: it is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system.Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure (the upper number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

It is important that your systolic blood pressure (upper number) remain under 120 rather than just below 140 because it reduces your risk of heart failures or strokes by 33%. Often times when people are trying to lower their blood pressure they always go to drugs right away, but lifestyle changes can be just as effective and permanent. People with high blood pressure typically don’t exercise, are overweight, store fat in their bellies, eat a lot of sugary/fried food, and/or have low levels of vitamin D. Changing eating habits and staying active can go a long way when trying to lower your blood pressure. The best time to check your blood pressure is before you go to sleep at night or right after you wake up because these times are when your blood pressure is the lowest, so if it is above 120 during these times then you should make some lifestyle changes.

Click here for the American Heart Association suggestions on how to take your blood pressure readings.

Generally, physicians are more concerned with the systolic blood pressure (the top number) because it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50.   As you age, the systolic blood pressure can rise due to increased stiffness in the large arteries and build-up of plaque. There is also risk of high diastolic measurements also:  the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.

The following are a few recommendations to help lower your blood pressure:

  • Limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day, and if possible avoid it
  • Avoid sugary/fried foods
  • Exercise, build muscle
  • Keep Vitamin D levels above 75 nmol/L
  • Try not to consume red meats or processed meats & foods
  • Try to avoid smoking and reduce your exposure to air pollutants

Take control of your health!


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A Healthy Diet Promotes Better Memory!

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Memories influence and shape your personality. It’s your thoughts, connections, and all other recollections that make you who you are, and memory loss is essentially a loss of a part of you. However, there might be more you can do to boost your memory. Studies show that healthier diets help improve memory in the long run.

brain memoryDiets high in cholesterol and fat could increase the rate at which beta-amyloid plaques in the brain are created. Amyloid beta is a protein involved with Alzheimer’s disease; it is the main component found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  Also affected are the blood vessels in the brain which can be damaged thus preventing brain cells from receiving the oxygen-rich blood they need to function normally.  The end result may be a a degradation in thinking and memory.

Although there is still not much information available about a brain-healthy diet, a hearty-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat, reduces risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity and may also help prevent memory loss. A heart-healthy diet is very similar to a Mediterranean diet which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, and limited red meat. There are limited studies that dietary supplements such as antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids may stall memory loss, but may be considered for some.


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How to Have a Less Stressful Lifestyle

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Having a little bit of stress or pressure on you can often better your productivity and senses, however, having a high amount of stress on you can hinder you from doing everything that you’d like to get done. A lot stress can make you sick both mentally and physically. In order for you to lower your stress level, you need to first identify the symptoms of stress and then take action. If you experience moodiness, trouble falling asleep, negative thoughts and an overwhelming feeling then you might be too stressed out.

discount online lab tests

The first step to reduce your stress is to identify the symptoms, and the second is to take action. There are many things you can do to reduce stress and lead a healthier lifestyle. You should try to have a more positive attitude to things that are in your control, don’t worry too much about things that you can’t change. Exercise is key when trying to reduce stress levels, it is recommended to exercise for at least thirty minutes a day. Exercise goes hand in hand with your eating habits. You should strive to eat foods that are high in protein and contain vitamin C, B, and A which help to lower stress. It is also important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, being well rested allows you to have a more positive attitude. You should have a group of people who support you and that you can count on for help, like if there’s something bothering you, you can go to these people and express your feelings. You should never have feelings bottled up, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or a family member about something, seek help from a counselor. Lastly, you should simplify your schedule for the things that are really important in your life, spreading yourself too thin might be the source of your stress.

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Is Statin Use Worth the Risk?

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If you have high cholesterol, chances are your physician has prescribed or suggested using a statin drug.  Statin use is considered the most powerful medication currently available to help tame high levels of cholesterol.  High cholesterol can lead to heart attack and stroke so reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is important.

cholesterol imageAre You at Risk for a Heart Attack and Stroke?

There are many risk factors that can be used to assess your overall risk of heart attack and stroke:

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • weight
  • exercise habits
  • age
  • family history
  • current cardiovascular health

Additionally, your physician may require a cholesterol blood test to see if you have elevated blood cholesterol levels.

The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have an assessment test that can predict your chances of having a heart attach in the next 10 years.  If you are at risk, there are several guidelines that focus on who would benefit most from statin therapy.

Four Groups of People Which Would Benefit from Statin Therapy

  1. Those people who have cardiovascular disease.  This includes people who have a) had a heart attack, b) stroke, c) mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks), d) arm or leg artery disease or e) surgery to open or replace coronary arteries.
  2. Those people who have very high LDL cholesterol.  This includes people who have LDL cholesterol levels of 190 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
  3. Those people who have diabetes AND an LDL cholesterol of 70 mg/dl or higher.
  4. Those people with a 10 year risk of heart attack of 7.5 percent and LDL above 100 mg/dl.

Potential Side Effects of Statin Use

  1. Muscle Issues – If you are older, female or of Asian descent or have liver, kidney or muscle disease, or an under active thyroid, you may be at risk for muscle problems when using a statin.
  2. Increase in blood sugar levels that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
  3. Elevated liver enzymes

It is important to discuss the benefits and risks with your physician.  If you decide to take a statin, your physician may look for ways to reduce future side effect risk, such as recommending blood tests for deficiencies in Vitamin D or Q10 and conducting a physical exam with additional blood testing as needed.

The easiest and most effective guidelines recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle for heart attack and stroke prevention.  It is also helpful to minimize other risk factors such as high blood pressure.  Lastly, add exercise to your healthy lifestyle and you will decrease your risk of all cardio vascular disease.

Take control of your health; test frequently to ensure your cholesterol levels are within normal range and discuss any abnormalities with your physician.

Recommended reading:

Statin Guidelines

American Heart Association – cholesterol


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A Microalbumin urine test is used to detect very small amounts of albumin in urine. Albumin is a blood protein and is used to detect early signs of kidney damage.  This test is typically ordered by those that have chronic conditions that can adversely affect the kidneys:  diabetics (both Type 1 and Type 2) and those with high blood pressure.

kidney awareness Kidneys – Your Body’s Filter

When kidneys are functioning properly, they will filter the waste from your blood. Albumin is present in the blood and there is virtually no albumin present in urine.  If the kidneys stop functioning correctly due to disease, they lose their ability to filter properly and albumin will appear in the urine.  Having albumin protein in the urine reflects increasing kidney failure due to poor filtering capability and you should immediately discuss this with your physician.
Having albumin in the urine indicates issues with the kidney, but research shows that people are also at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

The National Kidney Foundation recommends that the microalbumin urine test should be taken each year for diabetics between the ages 12 and 70.  Additionally, the American Diabetes association advises that this test should be conducted annually for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

If any amounts of albumin are discovered in the urine:

  1. contact your physician
  2. re-test to verify detection of albumin

Those with hypertension should have a microalbumin test at regular intervals as recommended by their physician.
This test is offered by www.HealthOneLab.com by itself or as part of the diabetes test package which includes important tests for all diabetics:

  1. The Hemoglobin A1c test tests for long term glucose levels. Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to this fraction of hemoglobin, and stay bound to it for months. The higher the amount of blood glucose, the higher the amount of hemoglobin A1c, and according to its value, one can obtain the average blood sugar during the previous 8 to 12 weeks. The test indicates how well your diabetes has been controlled in the 2 to 3 months before the test. Information gained from this test can help determine whether your diabetes medication needs to be adjusted. It can also help your health professional estimate your risk of developing complications from diabetes, such as kidney failure, vision problems, and leg or foot numbness. The A1c level is directly related to complications from diabetes: the lower your A1c level, the lower your risk for complications.
  2. Microalbumin, Random Urine A microalbumin test checks urine for the presence of a protein called albumin. Albumin is normally found in the blood and filtered by the kidneys. When the kidneys are working properly, albumin is not present in the urine. But when the kidneys are damaged, small amounts of albumin leak into the urine. This condition is called microalbuminuria.
  3. The Comprehensive Health Profile has been our most ordered lab test for 30 years. The profile screens for cardiovascular risk, major organ function, anemia, diabetes, infection, blood disease, and other indications of illness. This is the blood test routinely ordered as part of an annual physical exam and it includes the components of a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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A recent study, published in the American Heart Association Journal, Stroke, studied Japanese men and women and reported that both coffee and green tea can help cut the risk of suffering a stroke.

The research discovered that the more green tea a person drank, the more it reduced the risk of suffering a stroke.  The study showed an almost 20% lower risk of stroke in green tea drinkers versus those that did not or rarely drank green tea.  Similarly, coffee drinkers only needed one cup per day to receive the same 20% decrease in the risk of stroke during the 13 year follow-up period.

tea benefits

What is the Science?

Green tea contains compounds called catechins.  Catechins are known to regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow through an anti-inflammatory response.  Likewise, coffee has caffeine and quinides compounds that affect our health positively although through a different mechanism.

Note that many of these studies that refer to tea and coffee as good dietary practices do not include those drinks that are laden with fat and sugar.  There has been an increase in both tea and coffee consumption, but those extra large lattes and teas can contain high amounts of fat and sugar when cream, milk and sugar are included.  The US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion states that a 6-ounce cup of black coffee contains just 7 calories. Add some half & half and you’ll get 46 calories. If you flavor a liquid nondairy creamer, that will set you back 48 calories. A teaspoon of sugar will add about 23 calories.

Regular coffee, sans the heavy cream & sugar has been linked to a range of benefits that reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes and to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease.

Be cautioned:  drinking coffee and tea is not cause and effect as there may be other lifestyle habits amongst java and tea drinkers that lead to reduced risk of disease.  So if you currently drink a cup ‘o joe or have some tea, there’s no need to stop.  If you don’t, maybe enlist a friend for some tea, that is, after you do your exercise and eat your healthy meal.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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In a meta-analysis of 10 chocolate studies, researchers found that eating dark chocolate reduced LDL cholesterol by more than 6 mg/dL. This isn’t a big drop, but it is significant when combined with other healthy foods that lower cholesterol.

dark chocolate image resized 600

Flavanols, the substances found in dark chocolate that are thought to be protective, have been long known to be good for the cardiovascular system. Flavanols are thought to work by slowing cholesterol absorption. Dark chocolate is also a strong antioxidant and may help protect the cardiovascular system that way as well. Other studies show that dark chocolate can improve endothelial function and lower blood pressure – two measures of cardiovascular health.

These findings confirm results from another meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year. In this similar study, researchers also found that dark chocolate lowered LDL cholesterol levels by about 6 mg/dL.   It’s easy to add dark chocolate to your diet and it’s you can order your own lab tests to check your cholesterol blood levels.

Another meta-analysis of seven studies including 114,009 people, looked at chocolate intake and the risk of developing a cardiovascular disorder.

Researchers found that those who consumed the highest level of chocolate, versus the lowest level, had a 37-percent decrease in cardiovascular disease, and a 29-percent reduction in stroke.

So, if you enjoy chocolate and want a treat occasionally, you don’t have to feel guilty. It’s important to remember, however, that dark chocolate is also high in calories. If you are going to have dark chocolate, eat only a moderate amount so you don’t increase your body weight. You might also consider walking an extra mile or two to walk off some of the calories. That way you’ll get a double benefit – dark chocolate and the benefit of exercise.

Sources:

Wellsource, February 2013 Newsletter
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
British Medical Journal, 2011.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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