Heart Beat November 2013 Issue

Heart Beat: November 2013

Self measured monitoring may help reduce blood pressure.
If you measure your blood pressure at home on a regular basis, youíre likely to experience a reduction in your systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that in just six months, individuals who checked their blood pressure consistently, even without counseling, educational materials or other types of support, saw an average reduction of 3.9 mm Hg in their systolic levels and 2.4 mm Hg in their diastolic levels. Researchers noted that the findings applied to patients with uncomplicated hypertension and no recent history of acute illness. Though itís not clear whether these results could be sustained in the long term, researchers were optimistic that this approach leads to better blood pressure control. The reason for the blood pressure reduction wasnít established, though researchers suggested that part of the reason may be due to individuals feeling a greater incentive to keep their blood pressure under control through medication adherence, a healthy diet and exercise. The researchers also underscored the importance of getting regular blood pressure checks from your doctor and having your home monitoring equipment checked at your doctorís office. Home monitoring systems cost between $30 and $100, and are relatively simple and safe to use.

As risk factors mount, stroke odds increase, even without AFIB
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a major risk factor for stroke, and having had one
stroke significantly increases the odds of having a second event. But a new study shows
that even without those well-established criteria, an individualís chances of having a
stroke rises with every new risk factor that he accumulates. Other risk factors examined in the study included previous heart attack, peripheral artery disease, arterial embolism,
excessive alcohol consumption, heart failure, carotid stenosis, retinal occlusion, chronic
systemic inflammation, chronic kidney disease, venous thromboembolism, epilepsy,
migraine, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and being older than 75. The study, presented at
the European Society of Cardiology conference in September, found that if a person has
three or more of those risk factors, his odds of having a stroke are the same as if he had
AFib. Researchers say the study should serve as a reminder that stroke risk can be significant without AFib or having had a previous stroke, and that management of all risk factors is critical to cerebrovascular health.

Exercise may help kidney patients improve cardiorespiratory health
A 13-month program of exercise training and lifestyle intervention in patients with chronic kidney disease was linked to better cardiorespiratory fitness and diastolic function, according to a study published recently in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Cardiorespiratory fitness improvements were measured in terms of peak oxygen consumption, left ventricular function, arterial stiffness and other tests. Researchers said they were encouraged by the results because the study found that individuals with serious health concerns were able to safely exercise, lose weight and improve their fitness levels. The researchers also emphasized the importance of supervision and participating in a structured exercise program.

Blood pressure drug shows promise in cleveland clinic study
The medication aliskiren, a renin inhibitor designed to help lower blood pressure may help slow the progression of coronary disease and reduce the risk of death, heart attack and stroke by about 50 percent, according to a Cleveland Clinic study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was led by Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Stephen J. Nicholls, MD, C5Research consultant to cardiovascular trials. Aliskiren is often used in conjunction with other anti-hypertensive medications, and works by blocking an enzyme that causes blood vessels to tighten. More relaxed blood vessels allow the heart to not work as hard to pump blood to the body. The researchers suggest that aliskiren may be an effective medication in aggressively treating prehypertension.

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