Blood Pressure

Staying Social May Control Hypertension

Lonely people are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure in later life, according to a study published in the March issue of Psychology and Aging. Researchers found that chronic feelings of loneliness push up blood pressure (BP) over time. Such a rise can impact cardiovascular health, says psychiatrist Leo Pozuelo, MD, associate director of Cleveland Clinics Bakken Heart-Brain Institute. "High BP is a key contributor to heart disease," he says.
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Coronary Artery Calcium Levels Help Predict Heart Risk

Traditional risk factors for heart disease include blood pressure, age, cholesterol levels, smoking and diabetes. And while those criteria can help classify a person into low, intermediate or high-risk categories, theres another key piece of data that has shown to be especially valuable at helping predict an individuals odds of developing heart disease or having a cardiac event. In a study published in the April 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that adding a persons coronary artery calcium (CAC) score to those traditional risk factors led to a significantly better prediction of heart events than the traditional risk factors alone.
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Ask The Doctors: July 2010 Women’s Edition

Glucosamine is a natural substance made in the body from glucose. It is believed to promote the manufacture of proteins that help build and maintain cartilage. Loss of cartilage is a common cause of knee pain. Most glucosamine supplements are made from crab, lobster and shrimp shells. Glucosamine may interact with certain diuretics and cause people to need higher doses of the diuretic. People taking diuretics may be more likely to experience gastrointestinal discomfort when taking glucosamine.
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Ask The Doctors: May 2010

Analysis of data from a large trial has suggested that there is a slightly increased risk of blood clot formation in the veins, or venous thromboembolism (VTE), in patients taking raloxifene compared to those on placebo. The risk for fatal stroke appears somewhat higher, as well. However, the overall risk of these events is still extremely low. Active smoking was the only cardiovascular risk factor which could be tied to increased chance of fatal stroke while taking raloxifene.
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Best Carotid Artery Treatment Approach May Depend on Age

Blockage of the carotid artery, one of the blood vessels in the neck that carry blood to the brain, can lead to an ischemic stroke if the blood supply is cut off, even temporarily. But advances in diagnostics and treatment of carotid artery stenosis (a narrowing of the carotid arteries) can often allow physicians to keep oxygen-rich blood flowing to the brain with increasingly lower risks to the patients. The narrowing is usually the result of a build-up of plaque-fat, cholesterol and other substances that can line the inside of the artery.
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High Blood Pressure May Increase Risk of Dementia in Older Women

Consistently high blood pressure (hypertension) damages the arteries in the heart and kidneys, increasing the risk of heart attack and kidney failure. The same process also damages the small arteries in the brain, which may cause dementia. In a recent study of 1,424 women, MRI scans revealed significantly more white matter lesions in the brains of women with high blood pressure (BP)-indicating areas of damage-than in those with normal blood pressure.
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Understand the Power of Plavix

The powerful antiplatelet activity of clopidogrel (Plavix) is largely responsible for the success of stenting. Plavix, when given with aspirin, prevents blood from clotting inside the stent and causing a heart attack. After discharge from the hospital following stenting, patients take aspirin and Plavix for a few months or indefinitely, depending on their situation.
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Ask The Doctors: April 2010 Women’s Edition

A systolic blood pressure of 160 is high and should be treated. A good internist should be able to help you control your blood pressure. If not, see a cardiologist or nephrologist (kidney specialist). Beta-blockers are not the first line of treatment for essential hypertension-a diuretic and/or ACE inhibitor would be better. If you have coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure, then a beta-blocker would be excellent.
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Ask The Doctors: March 2010

Your concerns about taking numerous drugs-a situation doctors refer to as "polypharmacy"-are well-founded. The more medications one takes, the greater the chance of experiencing side-effects. The possibility of drug-to-drug interactions is also multiplied. Your pharmacist or physician can screen for such interactions with readily-available computer programs. If youre not sure if this has been done, ask.
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Treat Fatty Liver Disease to Reduce Heart Risk

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects upwards of 29 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While it causes no symptoms or complications for many, in some the disease can inflame and scar the liver and, at its most severe, progress to liver failure. However its effects also extend to heart health: Its associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes, two conditions that raise the risk of cardiovascular problems.
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Moral Support a Key Component of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Learning how to modify your diet, exercise more and work with your doctor to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors are the primary goals of cardiac rehabilitation, but there is another critical aspect of the program that can be just as important in your recovery.Moral support in dealing with any challenge can be helpful, but among heart patients, in whom depression and anxiety can be common conditions, addressing mental health recovery is vital, says Mike Crawford, manager of Cleveland Clinics Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. He explains that patients new to cardiac rehab see that they are not alone in dealing with heart disease and witness how dedication to the program can produce visible results in patients just like themselves.
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Ask The Doctors: February 2010

I had a tissue aortic valve transplant two years ago, and today I feel great. The fatigue is gone and I exercise every day. But when I had an echocardiogram, I had an ejection fraction of 55 percent, which was better than my pre-transplant ejection fraction of 35 percent, though still at the low end of "normal." Why is the ejection fraction still fairly low, and can it ever improve?
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