Can cocoa products reduce blood pressure or heart disease?

Alternative Medicine, Health Headlines, Nutritional Health
CocoaVia and Cirku are new supplements used for high blood pressure and cardiovascular health according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD). These products are flavored powders that can be added to a beverage. Each packet contains a cocoa extract providing 350 mg of cocoa flavanols. Those selling the supplements say they may reduce heart disease, but do they? (more…)
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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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More US adults aware they have hypertension. Do you?

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Finally some good news in the recognition and treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). The AP reports that, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "more American adults are aware they have high blood pressure, and more are taking medicine to try to control it." The report, which included 24,000 adults who underwent blood pressure checks during the period from 1999 to 2008, also revealed that "the proportion of US adults with high blood pressure has actually been holding steady at about 30% for a decade." HealthDay reported that "part of the reason that treatment and awareness of hypertension has increased while the prevalence of the condition remains stagnant is the ongoing obesity epidemic and the aging population, both of which tend to…
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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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Could a Blood Test Help Pick the Right Blood Pressure Medication?

Heart Health
Tests for a blood-pressure regulating hormone called renin may help doctors decide which blood pressure drugs their patients should take, researchers announced recently. These data are a practice changer for me. Bottom line, if I can't control someone's hypertension with one or two drugs, I'll be ordering this blood test. Here are the details from ABC Health: They said a mismatch between drugs and patient characteristics may help explain why many people do not benefit from blood pressure drugs, and testing for renin levels may help. "The one-size-fits-all approach must be abandoned," said Dr. Curt Furberg of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, who wrote a commentary on the studies in the American Journal of Hypertension. Currently, fewer than half of patients are helped when they take…
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Generics As Good As Costly Blood Pressure Meds, Study Finds

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
A new study is reporting what I've been telling my patients for years: generic blood pressure medications are as good as the far more costly brand name medications -- plus, fewer deaths seen in the group taking no-brand-name diuretics after 8 to 13 years. Here are the details from HealthDay News: Costly, brand-name blood pressure-lowering drugs are no better at preventing cardiovascular disease than older, generic diuretics, reveals long-term data from a large study. It included more than 33,000 patients with high blood pressure who were randomly selected to take either a diuretic (chlorthalidone) or one of two newer drugs -- a calcium blocker (amlodipine) or an ACE inhibitor (lisinopril). Data from the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT) released in 2002 showed that after four to…
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New Study Says, “Check blood pressure at home, not MD’s office!”

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Think you need to go to the doctor's office to check your blood pressure? Think again. For years I've had my patients monitor their blood pressure at home. I do NOT rely solely upon blood pressure readings in the office. Now comes a new study saying the best way to predict your risk of stroke or heart attack due to high blood pressure is through systematic monitoring at home rather than periodic checks in the doctor's office. Here are more details from Reuters Health: "With home blood pressure monitoring you get a greater number of measurements and there is no white-coat effect," lead author Dr. Teemu Niiranen told Reuters Health, speaking of the tendency for anxiety to drive up blood pressure. "At home the patient is more relaxed and this…
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Nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Do you?

Men's Health, Woman's Health
Almost half of American adults, 45% of us, now have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, according to a report from researchers from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Los Angeles Times reports that "one in eight Americans has at least two of the conditions and one in 33 has all three, sharply increasing their risk." These "data come from the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey." While "researchers should be able to use the new data to plan interventions, 'the main thing here is for people to be aware that they have these conditions and know that lifestyle modifications and medications can control them and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease,' said epidemiologist Cheryl D. Fryar of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, one of…
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Church health fairs help spot high blood pressure

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Churches and parish nurse programs have proven to be essential to the physical, emotional, relational, and, of course, spiritual health of their congregants. Now, new research shows that church health fairs are an effective way of identifying people with high blood pressure and making sure they get treatment. Here are the details in a report from Reuters Health: These fairs are a venue to get people from low-income immigrant communities into medical care, Dr. Arshiya A. Baig of the University of Chicago told Reuters Health. Baig and her team worked with a faith community nurse program in Los Angeles that runs clinics and provides community outreach. Registered nurses also partner with churches, holding office hours there and providing services. Baig and her team visited 26 health fairs in Los Angeles…
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Can Hibiscus Tea lower your blood pressure? Surprising new research says, “Yes.”

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
When I speak on natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements), I tell folks that my favorite natural medicines website is the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database which has new information about Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa). NMCD says, “Hibiscus is getting more attention as a potential treatment for hypertension. New clinical research shows that drinking a specific hibiscus tea (Celestial Seasonings) three times daily for 6 weeks significantly lowers blood pressure by about 7 mmHg in patients with pre-hypertension or mild hypertension.” According to NMCD, “This is promising, but preliminary.” Also,  I suspect most people could not (and would not) be compliant with drinking the tea three times a day every single day for years at a time. So, the Database encourages us physicians to “explain to patients that drinking hibiscus tea might help,…
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The Ten Commandments of Preventive Medicine – Part 2 – Obesity

General Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize the ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, I’ve developed a list of what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine."  Here’s the second installment of this ten-part series. More information: (more…)
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Television Viewing Linked to Blood Pressure Increases in Children

Children's Health, Heart Health, Parenting
In the past I've discussed the studies showing that the more screen time kids have (TV, Internet, video games, cell phone), the more likely they are to be overweight or obese, the less sleep they will get, and the less well they will do in school. Now, new research is showing that children who spend a lot of time watching television have higher blood pressure than those who watch less, even if the children are thin and get enough exercise. More Information: (more…)
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FDA Approves Triple-Drug Antihypertensive Polypill – Should you consider a polypill?

Heart Health, Woman's Health
Hidden behind all of the Swine flu news stories is this one – which I feel is significantly more important when it comes to public health. The FDA just gave its official thumbs-up to an antihypertensive polypill. Could this pave the way for a preventive medicine polypill? And, should you consider taking a polypill? More Information: (more…)
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Cold Weather May Raise Your Blood Pressure

General Health, Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Here’s a fact that most people do not know – when the temperature drops outside, blood pressure appears to rise. This information is critical for those with high blood pressure, a family history of high blood pressure, and for older adults. It means that people in both of these groups should have their blood pressure checked once or twice a month during cold weather months. More Information: (more…)
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