Entries in High Blood Pressure (8)


Maternal Hypertension Linked to Lower IQ

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause low birth weight and early delivery, and a new study suggests it may have lasting effects on the baby's brain.

The Finnish study of nearly 400 men found that those born to hypertensive mothers scored an average of four points lower on cognitive tests later in life.

"Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy predict lower cognitive ability and greater cognitive decline over decades in the adult offspring," the authors wrote in their study, published Thursday in the journal Neurology.

One in 13 pregnant women has high blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health.  And while most of them will have healthy babies, hypertension can lead to preeclampsia -- the leading cause of fetal complications.

"It's a fairly serious problem and one we often have to manage in the field of high-risk obstetrics," said Dr. David Hackney of UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.  "If a woman develops preeclampsia, the treatment is to deliver the baby.  But obviously you don't want to do that if it's too early."

Previous studies have linked preterm birth and low birth weight to low IQ in adulthood.  But the new study suggests high blood pressure may be the earlier instigator.

"Our results may also offer mechanistic insight into why short length of gestation and small body size at birth are linked with lower cognitive ability, as hypertensive disorders are among the key reasons for prematurity and intrauterine growth restriction," the authors wrote, adding that the "propensity toward lower cognitive ability has its origins in the prenatal period, when the majority of the development of brain structure and function occurs."

Although hypertension during pregnancy can be managed with certain drugs, Hackney said women of childbearing age should eat healthy and stay active to lower their risk.

"It's important to remain healthy through early life and maximize health prior to becoming pregnant," he said.

The National Institutes of Health also recommends limiting salt intake, maintaining a healthy body weight and getting good prenatal medical care.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Less Deep Sleep Could Lead to Higher Blood Pressure, Study Finds

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A bad night's sleep could lead to higher blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that men who got less deep sleep, also called slow-wave sleep, had an 80-percent higher chance of having high blood pressure compared to men with higher levels of slow-wave sleep.  The researchers added that this connection held true notwithstanding other factors like obesity, race or age.

While the percentage of deep sleep one experiences does decrease with age, investigators found that participants in the study, which included more than 780 men with an average age of 75, with the lowest percentage of slow-wave sleep developed high pressure in more cases.

The study, published Monday in the journal Hypertension, did not confirm a causal relationship between deep sleep and high blood pressure.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


How Many Young Adults Have High Blood Pressure?

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- About 75 million American adults have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.  But figuring out how many young adults are living with high blood pressure may be more difficult than previously thought.  

A large national survey undertaken during 2007 and 2008 reported that one in 25 adults aged 20 to 39 had high blood pressure.  But the authors of a study from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, using a different survey, found that number to be much larger:  almost one in five for young adults aged 24 to 32.  

So why this large discrepancy?  The authors aren’t sure, but they say that “investigations into the reasons underlying the reported differences between …[the two surveys] will no doubt yield additional insight into the measurement of high blood pressure in the young adult population.”

The Gillings School findings are published in the journal Epidemiology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Discovers New Genes Tied to Heart Disease

JupiterImages/LiquidLibrary(LUBECK, Germany) -- A new study published in Nature Genetics has made major strides in understanding the role that genetics plays in heart disease.

CARDIoGRAM, a study by researchers at the Universitat zu Lubeck in Germany, with help from teams at Stanford University, Harvard Medical School, and Johns Hopkins, has lead to the discovery of 13 new genes that increase the risk of heart disease.

Of those discovered, three were linked to cholesterol and high blood pressure, while 10 others played a role in heart disease by unknown mechanisms. Understanding their mechanisms could help improve the understanding of the disease process and ultimately help to develop new treatments.

The study, which is the largest ever genetic study, included 167 scientists from 100 research organizations worldwide who examined the genetic basis of heart disease.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA Approves 'More Effective' Hypertension Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a drug that it says is more effective than others when it comes to treating high blood pressure.

The FDA approved Edarbi tablets for treatment of hypertension in adults. Officials say data from clinical studies shows that Edarbi has proven to be more effective in lowering 24-hour blood pressure as compared to FDA-approved hypertension drugs, Diovan and Benicar.

"High blood pressure is often called the 'silent killer' because it usually has no symptoms until it causes damage to the body," said Norman Stockbridge, M.D., Ph.D., of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "High blood pressure remains inadequately controlled in many people diagnosed with the condition, so having a variety of treatment options is important."

In a release, the FDA described Edarbi as being an angiotensin II receptor blocker that lowers blood pressure by blocking the action of angiotensin II, a vasopressor hormone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Worldwide Obesity Doubled Over Past Three Decades

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Obesity rates have doubled worldwide since 1980, according to new research published in the journal The Lancet.

In 1980, 4.8 percent of men and 7.9 percent of women were obese.  Those percentages jumped to 9.8 percent of men and 13.8 percent of women in 2008.

However, over that same time period, there have also been some positive changes: Wealthy western nations have shown a big decline in the number of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

While the number of people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol also declined other parts of the world, it was only a slight drop.

"Our results show that overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are no longer Western problems or problems of wealthy nations," said Majid Ezzati, the study's lead author who also is affiliated with the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.  "Their presence has shifted towards low- and middle-income countries, making them global problems."

Global health experts say the increase in obesity and accompanying decline in blood pressure and cholesterol levels reflects the reality that hypertension and high cholesterol can be treated with medication, while battling obesity remains a serious worldwide challenge.

Obesity is associated with numerous other serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.  It's estimated that obesity-related illnesses cause three million deaths every year around the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Snow Shoveling May Put Hearts at Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Americans living on the Eastern seaboard break out the snow shovels, doctors are telling them to take special care, and have "great respect" for the dangers of blizzard conditions, both during and after the storm.

Doctors say slips and falls are the most common injuries caused by snow and ice seen in the ER, but they also warn of heart dangers that may come with a snowfall.

"The risk of heart attack is increased by the combination of heavy, upper body exertion and cold weather encountered while shoveling snow," said Dr. William Abraham, director of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University.  "People, especially those at risk for coronary heart disease, should avoid heavy exertion in cold weather conditions."

There are two major points that can put people at risk for heart problems when it's cold.

"For one, most people don't realize that, when their hands get cold, it causes blood vessels in the heart to constrict and reduce the blood supply to their heart," said Dr. Randy Zusman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center.

So, if a blood vessel is 20 percent to 30 percent blocked, it can become up to 70 percent to 80 percent blocked due to the constricting walls in the cold weather conditions, said Zusman.

And once the shovel comes out of the garage, things can often get much worse.

"Lifting heavy snow is like heavy weight lifting," said Zusman.  "It puts a strain on the heart, and the blood pressure and heart rate go up in response to it."´╗┐

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


New Blood Pressure Treatment Shows Promise

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A new treatment for high blood pressure may be emerging and it doesn't involve a row of pill bottles on your kitchen counter.

Doctors at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago are looking at the treatment, which uses radio waves to target nerves that raise blood pressure. The waves damage the nerves, which leads to permanent relaxation of the arteries involved. Those nerves are located near the kidneys and are accessed through a tube fed through the groin.

A small study, involving about 100 patients, found the procedure led to a 33-point drop in the top number of the blood pressure reading.  That's considered much better than the 10-point or less reduction common with pills.

Cardiologist Elliot Antman said even if the procedure doesn't always work as well as the study suggests, it is still a "dramatic new option" for people at risk of heart attacks, strokes and death, who are not being helped by drugs.

It was approved two years ago overseas but further study is needed before U.S. approval could be granted.  That study is scheduled to begin next year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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