Pointers for measuring your blood pressure at home

Heart Health
I'm a proponent of my patients monitoring their blood pressure at home. However, there are a couple of concerns when using a home monitoring device to measure blood pressure: which arm to use, and how long to wait before testing. Recently, the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association have some guidance on the subject. (more…)
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Watermelon extract may lower blood pressure

Alternative Medicine, Heart Health, Nutritional Health
The Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel reported that, according to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, there is "evidence that eating watermelon could reduce ... blood pressure." In fact, "in a small, pilot study led by food scientists at Florida State University, researchers found that eating six grams of watermelon extract a day for six weeks lowered blood pressure in all nine middle-aged subjects with prehypertension." The study authors "suggest that watermelon may prevent prehypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Health & Science Today" blog quoted one of the study authors, who explained that "watermelon is the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline, which is closely related to L-arginine, the amino acid required for the formation of nitric oxide (which is) essential…
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Largest Study to Date Links Chocolate to Lower Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Just in the nick of time -- before the Easter chocolate consumption begins, comes a study letting us know that a small amount of that dark Easter chocolate may be heart healthy. Just released is the largest observational study to date looking at the association between chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease. And the researchers have announced ... drum roll please ... that those who ate the most chocolate -- around 7.5 g (about a quarter of an ounce) per day -- had a 39% lower risk of MI and stroke than individuals who ate almost no chocolate. Here are the details from an article in MedScape: Lead author Dr Brian Buijsse (German Institute of Human Nutrition, Nuthetal, Germany) told HeartWire, "This shows that habitual consumption of chocolate is related…
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Dark chocolate Easter eggs good for your heart?

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Easter eggs and other chocolate may be good for you – at least in small quantities and preferably if it’s dark chocolate – according to research that shows just one small square of chocolate a day can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. The study is published online in the European Heart Journal. Researchers in Germany followed 19,357 people, aged between 35 and 65, for at least ten years, and found that those who ate the most amount of chocolate – an average of 7.5 grams a day – had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate – an average of 1.7 grams a day. The difference…
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Loneliness harms blood pressure

Heart Health, Mental Health
Like happiness, loneliness is contagious In my book, the 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, one of the ten essentials of health I write about is "avoiding loneliness like the plague." I say, "Avoiding loneliness and pursuing healthy relationships can increase the likelihood of your becoming a highly healthy person ... The absence of loneliness, the fostering of socialization and positive rela- tionships, and the development of constructive and graceful communication styles can increase not only the likelihood that you will be highly healthy but that those around you will be healthy as well." There are a number of reasons this is true -- not the least of which is the association of loneliness with worsening cardiovascular health outcomes. Commenting on the newest research showing this is the Los Angeles…
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Study indicates inexpensive polypill pill may significantly reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. Should you consider it?

Heart Health, Medical Economics, Men's Health, Woman's Health
On the March 30th edition of the ABC World News, Charles Gibson reported, "Some of the country's leading heart doctors heard results" yesterday at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) conference "about ... just one pill that could revolutionize the way heart disease is treated. This pill combines five commonly used medications, and new findings show it to be safe and effective." Should you get your doctor to prescribe this to you? More Information: (more…)
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“The Russert Effect”: Docs Report Surge in Appointments

Health Headlines, Heart Health, Men's Health
ABC News is reporting a phenomena that family physicians around the country are reporting to me: Tim Russert's death Friday from sudden cardiac arrest may have hit a nerve deeper than sadness. Russert's death may have lead some to fear for their own seemingly healthy bodies, or the health of a loved one – and doctors are seeing the effects. Calls are up dramatically for exams for middle aged men. (more…)
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