Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Fast Facts about Hypertension

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Fast Facts about Hypertension

Article excerpt

After heart failure, the amount of blood pumping from the left ventricle after heart failure, called preserved ejection fraction (EF), is increasingly being thought of as important. Until recently, however, no one has completed a hospital-based population study to determine the benefit of this preservation in greater detail.

In a large study, 55 percent of 556 heart failure patients in Minnesota had preserved EF and 45 percent had reduced EF. Older women were more likely to have preserved EF and were less likely to have a history of heart attacks. Mortality rates for both reduced EF and preserved EF groups were about the same, which contradicts the commonly held view.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006; 296:2209-2216.)

A common association between a racing heart and poor health has long been known, but a 20-year study of French police officers has shown a link between early death and a heart that beats faster over time in men.

Researchers studied more than 4,000 men who served on the Paris police force since 1967. Some of the volunteers showed a slight increase or decrease in resting heart rates during an initial five-year period, one fifth showed an increase of at least seven beats per minute, and an additional one fifth showed a decrease of more than seven beats per minute.

Men whose heartbeats increased the most were 47 percent more likely to die during the 20 years than those who experienced moderate or no change. Men whose hearts slowed the most were 1 8 percent less likely to die during the study.

(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2005;352:1951-1958.)

Caffeinated beverages such as coffee may be a bad idea before exercising, according to a Swiss study. Caffeine may reduce blood flow to the heart and disrupt its oxygen supply when it is needed the most.

Researchers gave a 200-milligram caffeine tablet, the equivalent of two cups of coffee, to 1 8 healthy men and women. The subjects pedaled a stationary bicycle for 45 minutes. Half of the volunteers completed the exercise in a room that simulated high altitude to mimic the oxygen depletion of someone with heart disease; the other half exercised at a normal level of oxygen.

All of the volunteers experienced a significant decrease in coronary circulation. Those in the high-altitude group experienced, on average, a 39 percent reduction in oxygen, and the ground-level group experienced a 22 percent decrease.

Some say these results might come about because caffeine makes the heart work harder and raises blood pressure, compounding the increased effect of exercise.

People who have coronary disease should pay close attention to their exercise and caffeine intake.

(Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 47:405410.)

More than 1,000 veterans and their clinicians took part in a test to determine the best way to help patients keep tabs on their blood pressure.

One group of clinicians received an e-mail message that gave them a link to national hypertension guidelines, as well as a separate alert from the patient's medical record that described recent blood pressure readings, recommendations from the hypertension guidelines, and options for therapy.

A second group received only the guidelines.

The third group received the guidelines, the electronic record alert, and a letter describing medication plans and behavioral changes that could reduce blood pressure. …

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