Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. The blood pressure is highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, the blood pressure falls.This is the diastolic pressure. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). High blood pressure (or hypertension) is defined in an adult as a blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure. 120/80 mm Hg or lower is normal blood pressure and 120 and 139 mm Hg systolic or between 80 and 89 mm Hg diastolic is pre-hypertension.
High blood pressure directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke, especially when it’s present with other risk factors. One can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines, if needed. We bring to you all that you need to know about high blood pressure this World Hypertension day 2017.
What are the symptoms?
Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. Although a few people with early-stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal, these signs and symptoms typically don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached an advanced – possibly life-threatening – stage.
What is the cause?
In 90 to 95 percent of high blood pressure cases, there’s no identifiable cause. This type of high blood pressure, called essential hypertension or primary hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years. The other 5 percent to 10 percent of high blood pressure cases are caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions can lead to secondary hypertension, including kidney abnormalities, tumours of the adrenal gland or certain congenital heart defects. Certain medications including birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs may cause secondary hypertension. Various illicit drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines can also increase blood pressure.
What are the risk factors?
The risk factors for high blood pressure include: Heredity Obesity Heredity Smoking Age Stress Excessive alcohol Secondary causes include disease conditions that can result in high blood pressure. These are kidney diseases and hormonal diseases such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome.
How can high BP be controlled? Follow these steps: Stop smoking Maintain a normal body weight – reduce if over-weight. Eating too much salt makes high blood pressure worse. Low-sodium diets are prescribed to help control high blood pressure. These limit the amount of sodium in the diet to less than 2 grams per day (about half the amount of sodium in the average diet). Eat a healthy diet containing soluble fibre, such as fruit and vegetables. Avoid high fat foods. Avoid coffee and colas Do not drink excessive alcohol. Exercise regularly to keep fit. Reduce stress and relax after work. Follow-up regularly with the doctor.
Lifestyle changes can help control and prevent high blood pressure, even if one is on blood pressure medication: Eat healthy foods – try a diet, which emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Get plenty of potassium, which can help prevent and control high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat and total fat. Limit the amount of sodium in the diet. Avoid coffee and colas. Maintain a healthy weight – if overweight, losing even 5 pounds can lower blood pressure.
Increase physical activity – regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure and keep weight under control. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Limit alcohol – even if you’re healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Don’t smoke – tobacco injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries. So quit smoking. Manage stress – reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Getting plenty of sleep can help, too.
Changing your lifestyle can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure. But sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. In addition to diet and exercise, the doctor may recommend medication to lower blood pressure. Which category of medication the doctor prescribes depends on the stage of high blood pressure and whether or not you also have other medical conditions. To reduce the number of doses you need a day, which can reduce side effects, the doctor may prescribe a combination of low-dose medications rather than larger doses of one single drug. In fact, two or more blood pressure drugs often work better than one. Sometimes finding the most effective medication – or combination of drugs – is a matter of trial and error.
How can the sodium in the diet be reduced?
How can the sodium in the diet be reduced? This is how: Use little or no salt to food. Develop a taste for low salt in food. Do not use table salt. Avoid fast foods and restaurant foods as they use very high salt. Avoid ketchup, pickles, olives, all sauces, commercially prepared or cured meats or fish, canned foods (eat fresh foods), salted nuts, peanut butter, chips, popcorn and snacks. Diet suggestions: Use herbs and spices instead of salt for seasoning. Use onions, garlic, lemon and lime juice and rind, dill weed, basil, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, or vinegar to enhance the flavour and aroma of foods. Mushrooms, dhania, red chillies, green chillies, and dried fruits also enhance specific dishes. Add a pinch of sugar or a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the flavour in fresh vegetables. Rinse canned vegetables with tap water before cooking. Substitute unsalted, polyunsaturated cooking medium for butter or ghee.
Coffee compounds may help fight prostate cancer
In a first, scientists have identified compounds found in coffee which may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. The study, published in the journal The Prostate, was carried out on drug-resistant cancer cells in cell culture and in a mouse model. Coffee is a complex mixture of compounds which has been shown to influence human health in both positive and negative ways. There is increasing evidence that drinking certain types of coffee is associated with a reduction in incidence of some cancers, including prostate cancers.
Researchers from Kanazawa University in Japan have studied the effects of two compounds found in coffee, kahweol acetate and cafestol, on prostate cancer cells and in animals, where they were able to inhibit growth in cells which are resistant to common anti-cancer drugs such as Cabazitaxel. The researchers initially tested six compounds, naturally found in coffee, on the proliferation of human prostate cancers cells in a petri-dish. They found that cells treated with kahweol acetate and cafestol grew more slowly than controls. They then tested these compounds on prostate cancer cells which had been transplanted to 16 mice.
Four mice were controls, four were treated with kahweol acetate, four with cafestol, with the remaining mice being treated with a combination of kahweol acetate and cafestol. “We found that kahweol acetate and cafestol inhibited the growth of the cancer cells in mice, but the combination seemed to work synergistically, leading to a significantly slower tumour growth than in untreated mice,” said Hiroaki Iwamoto from Kanazawa University.
“After 11 days, the untreated tumours had grown by around three and a half times the original volume, whereas the tumours in the mice treated with both compounds had grown by around just over one and a half times the original size,” said Iwamoto. This is a pilot study, so this work shows that the use of these compounds is scientifically feasible, but needs further investigation, researchers said. It does not mean that the findings can yet be applied to humans.
“What it does show is that these compounds appear to have an effect on drug resistant cells prostate cancer cells in the right circumstances, and that they too need further investigation,” said Iwamoto. “We are currently considering how we might test these findings in a larger sample, and then in humans,” he said.
Kahweol acetate and cafestol are hydrocarbons, naturally found in Arabica coffee. The coffee-making process has been found to affect whether these compounds remain in coffee after brewing (as with espresso), or whether they are stripped out (as when filtered). “These are promising findings, but they should not make people change their coffee consumption. However, if we can confirm these results, we may have candidates to treat drug-resistant prostate cancer,” said Atsushi Mizokami, professor at Kanazawa University.
Strength training may reduce fatty liver disease
Besides being beneficial for heart, strength training can also reduce accumulation of fat in liver and improve blood glucose regulation, says a study on mice. The study, led by a team from the University of Campinas in Brazil, showed strength training can reduce fat stored in liver and improve blood glucose control in obese mice, even without overall loss of body weight.
The findings suggest strength training may be a fast and effective strategy for reducing the risk of fatty liver disease and diabetes in obese people.
“That these improvements in metabolism occurred over a short time even though the overall amount of body fat was unchanged, it suggests strength training can have positive effects on health and directly affect liver’s function and metabolism,” said Pereira de Moura from the varsity.
“It may be a more effective, non-drug and low-cost strategy for improving health,” she said. During the research, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, the team investigated effects of strength-based exercise on liver fat accumulation, blood glucose regulation and markers of inflammation in obese mice.
Obese mice performed strength training over a short time, the equivalent of which in humans would not be enough to change their body fat composition.
After this short-term training, the mice had less fatty livers, reduced levels of inflammatory markers and their blood glucose regulation improved, despite no change in their overall body weight.
These health benefits would be even more effective if accompanied by reduction of body fat, she added. Based on these findings, obese individuals could be directed to increase their activities through strength training, but should always first consult their primary care physician.
More investigation is required in both animals and people to understand how liver metabolism is affected by strength training. Obesity, a growing health epidemic globally, leads to inflammation in liver and impairs its ability to regulate blood glucose. It increases the risk of Type-2 diabetes and its associated complications, including nerve and kidney damage.
Do Eggs Increase Your Cholesterol Levels? Here’s What You Should Know
Do you savour cheese omelettes? If so, think again as consuming more eggs and dietary cholesterol may up the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death from any cause, researchers have warned.
The study suggests that egg yolks are one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol among all commonly consumed foods. One large egg has 186 milligrams of dietary cholesterol in the yolk.
“The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks,” said co-author Norrina Allen, Associate Professor at the Northwestern University.
“As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume lower amounts of cholesterol. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease,” Allen added.
For the study, which will be published in the journal JAMA, the team involved 29,615 adults from six prospective cohort studies for up to 31 years of follow up.
They found eating 300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day was associated with 17 per cent higher risk of incident cardiovascular disease and 18 per cent higher risk of all-cause deaths.
The cholesterol was the driving factor independent of saturated fat consumption and other dietary fat, the team said.
Eating three to four eggs per week was associated with 6 per cent higher risk of CVD and 8 per cent higher risk of any cause of death, they added.
The researchers say that eating less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day was the guideline recommendation before 2015. However, the most recent dietary guidelines omitted a daily limit for dietary cholesterol.
The guidelines also include weekly egg consumption as part of a healthy diet. An adult in the US gets an average of 300 milligrams per day of cholesterol and eats about three or four eggs per week.
Other animal products such as red meat, processed meat and high-fat dairy products (butter or whipped cream) also have high cholesterol content, said lead author Wenze Zhong from the varsity.