Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Popular Heartburn Drugs Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

nexium

Popular Heartburn Drugs Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

 

In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from John Hopkins University found that the drugs that treat acid reflux and heartburn (like Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium) may not be as safe as once thought. While most considered the drugs effective and relatively free from side effects, this new study shows two things: a large number of people taking the meds don’t actually need them and proton pump inhibitors (PPI) raise the risk of kidney disease from 20 to 50 percent. And those facts come on the heels of another study from last June done by Stanford University which found those medications contributed to a higher chance of heart attacks.

 

Researchers looked at the records of more than 10,000 people and found that the, “risk of the onset of chronic kidney disease was 20 to 50 percent higher in those who took the PPIs. No increased risk was seen in people who took a different class of heartburn drugs like Pepcid and Zantac, which work by blocking histamine production in the cells lining the stomach”(PPIs block the secretion of acid into the stomach).

More from the article:

“JUST AS IT IS A FALLACY THAT PPIS ARE SAFE TO TAKE EVERY DAY FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, SO IT IS ALSO A FALLACY THAT HEARTBURN IS CAUSED BY TOO MUCH STOMACH ACID, ACCORDING TO NOTED NATURAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER DR. JOSEPH MERCOLA. CONTRARY TO WHAT IS WIDELY BELIEVED, REFLUX IS CAUSED BY TOO LITTLE ACID. FURTHERMORE, TAKING DRUGS THAT SUPPRESS STOMACH ACID MERELY TREATS THE SYMPTOMS RATHER THAN ATTACKS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. IN FACT, THE MEDICATIONS ACTUALLY WORSEN THE CONDITION THAT PRODUCES THE SYMPTOMS, A RESULT THAT PERPETUATES THE PROBLEM. HE RECOMMENDS THAT PEOPLE WHO TAKE PPIS SHOULD GRADUALLY WEAN THEMSELVES OFF OF THEM INSTEAD OF STOPPING COLD TURKEY. AFTERWARDS, MERCOLA ADVISES TAKING NATURAL REMEDIES AND ADOPTING LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS.”

What many health practitioners have known for a long time is that it’s possible to treat heartburn naturally- and therefore- safely; some people use yellow mustard, many take apple cider vinegar (from the Mother is always best and either straight or in water), and still others have found success using a different type of salt, like a pink himalayan (if you use added salt in your food).

Some of those lifestyle modifications would be eating foods that help, rather than hurt and stress, your gut biome; fermented vegetables (kimchee/sauerkraut), kefir, and for those non-vegans, yogurt made from raw milk, are all great. And don’t be afraid to move your body! Exercise is good for you and will help. Then there are the more obvious things like smoking, caffeine and excessive alcohol.

Sadly, some kidney problems are irreversible and chronic kidney disease can result in kidney failure (which necessitates either dialysis or a transplant). Now, the research doesn’t prove PPIs cause chronic kidney disease but their findings should be considered serious enough to at least pay attention to and unless you really, really need them, you shouldn’t take them. In fact, it almost makes more sense to try alternative therapies first and use the PPIs as a last resort. Once you start to look at the issue, you really only have two options- treat your body better or take PPIs (and maybe play russian roulette with the outcome).

 

Please share with family and loved ones and call with all your healthcare concerns and for your personalized healthcare plan.

 

 

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr A Sullivan

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

K2 a MUST to Prevent Cardiac Problems

heart2

Without Vitamin K2, Vitamin D May Actually Encourage Heart Disease

 

Vitamin K2 is thought to reduce coronary calcification, thereby decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, studies have reported inconsistent results — possibly because of the different effects of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone or MK). Few studies have included both.

 

At least one study, however, has investigated the association of intake of phylloquinone and menaquinone with coronary calcification. The intake of both forms of the vitamin was estimated using a food-frequency questionnaire. It was found that K2 had an effect on coronary calcification, but K1 did not.

 

According to the study:

 

“This study shows that high dietary menaquinone [Ks] intake, but probably not phylloquinone [K1], is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Adequate menaquinone intakes could therefore be important to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

 

 

Vitamin K is an extremely important vitamin to have in your diet; it may very well be the next vitamin D in terms of the numerous health benefits it may provide. But, according to Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin K — just like most are deficient in vitamin D.

 

Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets to maintain adequate blood clotting, but NOT enough to offer protection against health problems like arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease. Yet, as the study above showed, adequate amounts of the right type of vitamin K may offer immense benefits to your heart health, including reducing coronary calcification and thereby decreasing your risk of heart disease.

 

Which Type of Vitamin K May be Best for Your Heart?

Vitamin K comes in two forms — K1 or K2 — and it is important to understand the differences between them.

 

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system. (This is the kind of vitamin K that infants are often given at birth to help prevent a serious bleeding disorder.) It is also vitamin K1 that keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium and develop the right crystalline structure.

Vitamin K2 (menaquinone, MK): Bacteria produce this type of vitamin K. It is present in high quantities in your gut, but unfortunately is not absorbed from there and passes out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than your liver. It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto, which is by far the richest source of K2.

Vitamin K3, or menadione, is a third form that is synthetic and manmade, which I do not recommend. Each type of vitamin K has different roles in your body, and emerging research is showing that vitamin K2, not K1, may be especially important. For instance, research published in Atherosclerosis found that high dietary intake of vitamin K2 is associated with reduced coronary calcification (hardening of the arteries), a result that should also lessen your risk of heart disease.

 

What made this study unique was that it compared dietary intakes of both vitamin K1 and K2, and only K2 showed a benefit. Vitamin K1 was NOT associated with reduced coronary calcification. This is consistent with separate research also showing superior health benefits from vitamin K2, including:

 

The Rotterdam Study, the first study demonstrating the beneficial effect of vitamin K2, showed that people who consume 45 mcg of K2 daily live seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day.

The Prospect Study, in which 16,000 people were followed for 10 years. Researchers found that each additional 10 mcg of K2 in the diet results in 9 percent fewer cardiac events, whereas vitamin K1 did not offer a significant heart benefit.

Why Might Vitamin K2 be so Beneficial for Your Heart?

Vitamin K engages in a delicate dance with vitamin D; whereas vitamin D provides improved bone development by helping you absorb calcium, there is new evidence that vitamin K2 directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”

 

Vitamin K2 activates a protein hormone called osteocalcin, produced by osteoblasts, which is needed to bind calcium into the matrix of your bone. Osteocalcin also appears to help prevent calcium from depositing into your arteries. In other words, without the help of vitamin K2, the calcium that your vitamin D so effectively lets in might be working AGAINST you — by building up your coronary arteries rather than your bones.

 

This is why if you take calcium and vitamin D but are deficient in vitamin K, you could be worse off than if you were not taking those supplements at all, as demonstrated by a recent meta-analysis linking calcium supplements to heart attacks.

 

This meta-analysis looked at studies involving people taking calcium in isolation, without complementary nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K, which help keep your body in balance. In the absence of those other important cofactors, calcium CAN have adverse effects, such as building up in coronary arteries and causing heart attacks, which is really what this analysis detected. So if you are going to take calcium, you need to be sure you have balanced it out with vitamin D and vitamin K.

 

Vitamin K2 Helps Produce Heart-Protective Protein MGP

Another route by which vitamin K offers heart-protective benefits is through the Matrix GLA Protein (or MGP), the protein responsible for protecting your blood vessels from calcification. When your body’s soft tissues are damaged, they respond with an inflammatory process that can result in the deposition of calcium into the damaged tissue. When this occurs in your blood vessels, you have the underlying mechanism of coronary artery disease — the buildup of plaque — that can lead you down the path to a heart attack.

 

Vitamin K and vitamin D again work together to increase MGP, which, in healthy arteries, congregates around the elastic fibers of your tunica media (arterial lining), guarding them against calcium crystal formation.

 

According to Professor Cees Vermeer:

 

“The only mechanism for arteries to protect themselves from calcification is via the vitamin K-dependent protein MGP. MPG is the most powerful inhibitor of soft tissue calcification presently known, but non-supplemented healthy adults are insufficient in vitamin K to a level that 30 percent of their MGP is synthesized in an inactive form. So, protection against cardiovascular calcification is only 70 percent in the young, healthy population, and this figure decreases at increasing age.”

 

Four More Reasons to Make Sure Your Diet Includes Vitamin K2

Vitamin K not only helps to prevent hardening of your arteries, which is a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure, it also offers several other important benefits to your health.

 

Fight Cancer …

 

Vitamin K has been found beneficial in the fight against non-Hodgkin lymphoma, liver, colon, stomach, prostate, nasopharynx, and oral cancers, and some studies have even suggested vitamin K may be used therapeutically in the treatment of patients with lung cancer, liver cancer, and leukemia.     Improve Bone Density …

 

Vitamin K is one of the most important nutritional interventions for improving bone density. It serves as the biological “glue” that helps plug the calcium into your bone matrix.

 

Studies have shown vitamin K to be equivalent to Fosamax-type osteoporosis drugs, with far fewer side effects.

Stave off Varicose Veins …

 

Inadequate levels of vitamin K may reduce the activity of the matrix GLA protein (MGP), which in turn has been identified as a key player in the development of varicosis, or varicose veins.               Lower Your Risk of Diabetes …

 

People with the highest intakes of vitamin K from their diet had a 20 percent lower risk of diabetes compared with those with the lowest intakes, according to the latest research from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. Past studies have also shown vitamin K to help reduce the progression of insulin resistance.

How Much Vitamin K2 do You Need?

How many people have adequate vitamin K2? Just about zero, according to Dr. Vermeer and other experts in the field. But at this time there is really no commercial test that can give you an accurate measure of your levels. Vitamin K measurements in blood plasma can be done accurately, but the results are really not helpful because they mainly reflect “what you ate yesterday,” according to Dr. Vermeer.

 

Dr. Vermeer and his team have developed and patented a very promising laboratory test to assess vitamin K levels indirectly by measuring circulating MGP. Their studies have indicated this to be a very reliable method to assess the risk for arterial calcification — hence cardiac risk. They are hoping to have this test available to the public within one to two years for a reasonable price, and several labs are already interested. They are also working on developing a home test that would be available at your neighborhood drug store.

 

In the meantime, since nearly 100 percent of people don’t get sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 from their diet to reap its health benefits, you can assume you need to bump up your vitamin K2 levels by modifying your diet or taking a high-quality supplement.

 

As for dietary sources, eating lots of green vegetables, especially kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, will increase your vitamin K1 levels naturally. For vitamin K2, cheese and especially cheese curd is an excellent source. The starter ferment for both regular cheese and curd cheese contains bacteria — lactococci and proprionic acids bacteria — which both produce K2.

 

You can also obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams of natto daily, which is half an ounce. It’s a small amount and very inexpensive, but many Westerners do not enjoy the taste and texture.

 

If you don’t care for the taste of natto, the next best thing is a high-quality K2 supplement. Remember you must always take your vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

 

Although the exact dosing is yet to be determined, Dr. Vermeer recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily.

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Heart Disease: 4 out of 5 Heart Attacks are Not From a Block Artery.

heart

 

Heart Disease and Its Treatment

 

Did You Know That 4 in 5 Heart Attacks Are Not Caused by Blocked Arteries?

 

Heart disease is one of the most common chronic health problems in the United States, and we’re wasting tens of billions of dollars on ineffective treatments and surgical procedures. In this interview, Dr. Thomas Cowan, a practicing physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, shares recently published data1,2 showing the ineffectiveness of stents — a commonly performed surgical procedure used to remediate damage from coronary artery disease.

 

Stents Were Never Indicated for Anything but Angina Relief

There are a number of parameters that are crucial for evaluating the efficacy of a treatment for heart disease. For instance, will the patient actually live longer as a result of that intervention? Mortality is one parameter of assessment. Another parameter is the risk of heart attack as a result of the intervention. Alleviation of angina (chest pain) is a third. “There’s probably more, but those are the three big ones,” Cowan says.

 

Earlier research had already dismissed the use of percutaneous interventions (PCI) for most of these parameters, showing the use of stents had no impact on long-term rates of death, nonfatal myocardial infarctions (MI) or hospitalization rates for acute coronary syndrome. The sole indication for the use of stents was angina, as some of the findings showed it helped reduce prevalence of chest pain.

 

“What that means is the state of the literature, before this current Lancet study, was that doing stents or other interventions … has never been shown to help people live longer or to prevent further heart attacks. They have been shown to be of aid in people who are having an acute MI, but in anything but that indication, the state of the science was that they don’t help people live longer, and they don’t prevent further heart attacks.

 

As this study says, the indication was for relieving angina … It was actually not appropriate, and possibly even not allowed, to tell somebody we were doing a bypass or stent so that you would live longer or not have a heart attack. You could tell them that you could do it because you’re having chest pain, and this will relieve your chest pain,” Cowan notes.

 

Do Stents Actually Relieve Angina?

Interestingly, there had never been a double-blind study assessing whether, in fact, stent placement relieves angina. The reason for this lack of data was because doing such a study was considered unethical. In a nutshell, it was assumed that stents were beneficial, and therefore denying patients of this benefit would place them at risk.

 

Eventually, though, a group of interventional cardiologists in England got approval from the review board to perform a comparative study in which half the patients with stable angina received a stent, while the other half received sham surgery. The sham surgery consisted of inserting and removing a catheter in the artery without actually placing a stent. The level of chest pain and exercise tolerance was then assessed and compared between the two groups.

 

Lo and behold, there was no difference in chest pain (angina) between the treatment group and the sham group. This means that the one and only indication for doing a stent, which is to relieve angina, is also invalid. “It’s hard to come up with what the indication is at this point, except in the rare instance of an acute MI,” Cowan says.

 

Blocked Arteries Are but One Symptom of a Diffuse Systemic Disease

The ultimate tragedy here, aside from the exorbitant cost, is that patients continue receiving this useless intervention even though there are several simple strategies that are known to be effective, are far less expensive and pose no risk to the patient.

 

“The Atlantic … had one of the most … provocative, quotes I’ve ever heard from a standard cardiologist,” Cowan says. “This was from Dr. Mandrola … Her quote … summarizes exactly what we’re talking about … Quote: ‘This study will begin to change the mindset of cardiologists and patients that focal blockages need to be fixed.’

 

Focal blockages are these blocked arteries that they put the stents in. Quote: ‘Instead, these findings help doctors and patients understand that coronary artery disease is a diffuse systemic disease. A focal blockage is just one manifestation of a larger disease’ …

 

Now, the thing that was so shocking to me about that is… this is literally the first time I’ve ever heard a cardiologist admit that there is a diffuse focal disease here, of which blocked arteries is only one of the manifestations. That is such a heretical position. I’ve never heard a cardiologist say that. They say, ‘You have blocked arteries. That’s your problem. We’re going to unblock your arteries.’

 

To suggest that what they have is a systemic disease changes everything. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is not a blocked artery disease. A blocked artery may or may not be significant symptom in this disease. The question that I would ask every listener [to pose to their cardiologist is] … ‘I wonder what diffuse systemic disease this [blocked artery] is a manifestation of?’

 

I mean, that’s the question. ‘I’ve heard there’s a cardiologist who’s saying that this blocked artery is only one manifestation,’ which then, of course, is a perfect explanation for why stents don’t work. [Blocked arteries are] not the disease. They’re just one of the symptoms of the disease. ‘If that’s the case, then what’s my disease?’ I would be very interested to hear the answer.”

 

High Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Attacks

As noted by Cowan, many cardiologists would probably answer that question saying the underlying problem is high cholesterol. Alas, the evidence does not support this position either. “I actually looked up four papers, [one] in JAMA, three in The Lancet, showing that life expectancy tends to increase as cholesterol goes up, and that there is no relationship between high cholesterol and death,” Cowan says.

 

Many other studies have also come to this conclusion. In short, the “diffuse systemic disease” behind blocked arteries is NOT high cholesterol. So, what is? The answer to this question is detailed in Cowan’s book, “Human Heart, Cosmic Heart,” which we reviewed in an earlier interview. The book explores and tries to answer the question of why people have heart attacks if it’s not blocked arteries.

 

In his 2004 book, “The Etiopathogenesis of Coronary Heart Disease,”3 the late Dr. Giorgio Baroldi wrote that the largest study done on heart attack incidence revealed only 41 percent of people who have a heart attack actually have a blocked artery, and of those, 50 percent of the blockages occur after the heart attack, not prior to it. This means at least 80 percent of heart attacks are not associated with blocked arteries at all. So, what’s really the cause of a heart attack? Cowan explains:

 

“It’s obviously complex, and there’s a number of manifestations, but the three most important things that I point out in my book is, No. 1 … at least 90 percent of people who have a heart attack have an autonomic nervous system imbalance. Specifically, they have a suppressed parasympathetic nervous system tone, which is caused by a number of things, including chronic stress, poor sleep, high blood pressure, diabetes, i.e. a high-sugar, low-fat type of diet [and] smoking …

 

Conventional cardiologists are certainly aware of the role of the autonomic nervous system, which is why standard cardiology care includes beta blockers, which block the sympathetic nervous system, but again, the actual research on this does not show chronic high sympathetic activity. It shows chronic low parasympathetic activity. I would admit they’re similar, but they’re not the same.

 

What’s dangerous to people’s health is chronic stress, chronic sleep deprivation, high carbohydrate diet, low mitochondrial function. All the things that you talk about in your book [‘Fat for Fuel’] that leads to low sympathetic tone. Then, in the face of a sympathetic stressor, you have a heart attack. It’s not the same to say it’s a sympathetic overactivity, which is why I think we could do a lot better than blocking the sympathetic nervous system.”

 

The Riddle’s Solution

The second reason for heart attacks, Cowan explains, is lack of microcirculation to the heart. To understand how the blood flows to and through your heart, check out the Riddle’s Solution section on heartattacknew.com’s FAQ page.4 There, you’ll find detailed images of what the actual blood flow looks like. Contrary to popular belief, blood flow is not restricted to just two, three or four coronary arteries (opinions differ on the actual number).

 

Rather, you have a multitude of smaller blood vessels, capillaries, feeding blood into your heart, and if one or more of your main arteries get blocked, your body will automatically sprout new blood vessels to make up for the reduced flow. In other words, your body performs its own bypass. According to Cowan, your body is “perfectly capable of bringing the blood to whatever area of the heart it needs, and as long as your capillary network is intact, you will be protected from having a heart attack.”

 

Naturally, this raises the question of what might cause an individual to not have a robust network of capillaries. Not surprisingly, the same factors that cause low sympathetic tone also lead to loss of microcirculation. For example, smoking has a corrosive effect on microcirculation, not just in your extremities but also your heart. A high-sugar, low-fat diet, prediabetes and diabetes, and chronic inflammation also reduce microcirculation.

 

“We know that overt diabetes actually corrodes and destroys your microcirculation, your capillary network,” Cowan says. “That’s a predominant reason. We have millions of people living on high-carbohydrate diets, low-fat diets, which has an inflammatory effect on their microcirculation. There are other reasons, too, but those are probably the big ones.”

 

Naturally, one of the most effective ways to encourage and improve microcirculation is physical movement, so chronic inactivity will also deteriorate your body’s ability to maintain healthy microcirculation. “Again, conventional cardiology is aware of this issue. That’s why they use Plavix and aspirin, to keep the microcirculation intact,” Cowan notes.

 

The Role of Mitochondria in Heart Attacks

Another area of concern is your mitochondria. Unfortunately, this is an area that conventional cardiology is still largely unfamiliar with. In essence, angina is a symptom of poor mitochondrial function, causing a buildup of lactic acid that triggers cramps and pain. When this pain and cramping occurs in your heart, it’s called angina. The lactic acid buildup also restricts blood flow and makes the tissue more toxic.

 

When a cramp occurs in your leg, you stop moving it, which allows some of the lactic acid to drain off. But your heart cannot stop, so the glycolytic fermentation continues, and the lactic acid continues to build up, eventually interfering with the ability of calcium to get into the muscle. This in turn renders the muscle — in this case your heart — unable to contract, which is exactly what you see on a stress echo or a nuclear thallium scan.

 

“You see a dyskinetic or an akinetic muscle, which means it doesn’t move, because the calcium can’t get into the cells because the tissue has become too acidic,” Cowan explains. “Eventually, the acidosis continues, and that becomes the cause of necrosis of the tissue, which is what we call a heart attack …

 

By the way … [the] dyskinetic area … the part of the heart that’s not moving, creates pressure … in the artery embedded in that part of the heart, which causes clots to break off. That explains why you get clots forming after the heart attack, not before. This lactic acidosis buildup is one of the key events, without which you won’t have angina, and you won’t have the progression to necrosis.

 

Those are the three [primary causes of heart attacks]: The autonomic nervous system, the microcirculation and lactic acid buildup. Luckily, there are safe, nontoxic, effective ways to address each of those, either individually or together.”

 

Enhanced External Counterpulsation — A Noninvasive Treatment Alternative

One highly effective and noninvasive treatment option that will help improve microcirculation to your heart — which, again, is a common factor responsible for heart attacks — is enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP). It’s a Medicare insurance-approved therapy, and studies show EECP alone can relieve about 80 percent of angina.

 

As explained earlier, the reason you don’t experience a heart attack due to blockage is because you’re protected by collateral circulation. However, if you have diabetes or chronic inflammation, that will eventually deteriorate your capillaries, reducing this built-in protection. EECP works by inflating compression cuffs on your thighs and calves that are synchronized with your EKG.

 

When your heart is in diastole (relaxed), the balloons inflate, forcing blood toward your heart, thereby forcing the growth of new capillaries. It’s a really powerful and safe alternative to coronary bypass surgery for most people. Rather than bypassing one or two large arteries, you create thousands of new capillary beds that supply even more blood than the bypassed vessels. As noted by Cowan:

 

“New blood vessels mean more blood flow, and the blockage becomes irrelevant. This has been shown to be curative, meaning it will stop people with angina for at least five to seven years with one course of treatment … sometimes longer. It’s Medicare approved.

 

It’s paid for by insurance. It’s been studied in the literature. Again, at least 80 percent effective for getting rid of patients’ angina, which, by the way, was the last [indication] for stents, which is now no longer [a valid indication].”

 

The sessions are about one hour long, and most patients will need about 35 sessions to receive benefit. Aside from angina, it’s also effective for heart failure and diastolic dysfunction. Many elite athletes also use it as an aid to maintain cardiac fitness when they are injured and unable to actively exercise, as EECP basically works as a passive form of exercise. To find a provider, visit EECP.com.5

 

Interestingly, EECP also appears to have hormonal benefits. There are studies showing it results in decreased insulin resistance. Many patients also tend to lose weight, and experience improved blood sugar control. There’s cause to believe these beneficial side effects are related to the fact that it mimics exercise.

 

I was so intrigued with EECP’s benefits that I actually purchased one. They aren’t cheap; the traditional ones are close to $50,000, but I found a bright young entrepreneur, Louis Manera, who was well connected in the EECP community and is actually in the process of providing great new units at a significant discount. If you are a clinician, or even a patient with heart disease, this is something you might want to consider.

 

Other Commonsense Prevention Strategies

As noted by Cowan: Heart disease is “a diffuse systemic disease, and every person who goes to a cardiologist, I think, has the … right to know what this diffuse systemic disease is that’s being treated … I have my three-step opinion about what’s going on … The problem is I’ve never heard any cogent explanation in standard cardiology of what diffuse systemic disease they think they’re treating, besides high cholesterol, which turns out to be a red herring … People with higher cholesterol live longer, so that’s not the problem.” To summarize, three of the core, underlying issues at play that cause heart attacks are:

 

Decreased parasympathetic tone followed by sympathetic nervous system activation

Collateral circulation failure (lack of microcirculation to the heart)

Lactic acid buildup in the heart muscle due to impaired mitochondrial function

So, what can you do to prevent and treat these heart attack triggers? Here’s a quick summary of some of Cowan’s suggestions:

 

Eat a whole food-based diet low in net carbs and high in healthy fats, and add in beet juice (or fermented beet powder) to help normalize your blood pressure. Fresh arugula or fermented arugula powder is another option

 

Get plenty of non-exercise movement each day; walk more and incorporate higher intensity exercise as your health allows

 

Intermittently fast. Once you’ve progressed to the point of fasting for 20 hours each day for a month, consider doing a four- or five-day water fast several times a year

 

If you have heart disease, look into EECP, and consider taking g-strophanthin, an adrenal hormone that helps create more parasympathetic nervous system neurotransmitters, thereby supporting your parasympathetic nervous system. It also helps flush out lactic acid. Strophanthus is the name of the plant, the active ingredient of which is called g-strophanthin in Europe, and ouabain in the United States

 

Ground to the earth by walking barefoot on the ground

 

Get sensible sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D status and/or take an oral vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2

 

Implement heart-based wellness practices such as connecting with loved ones and practicing gratitude

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archive

Dr A Sullivan

312-972-9355 (WELL)

 

Healthwellnessassocites@gmail.com

 

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

 

Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Two Lung Diseases Kill Millions each year.

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Two Lung Diseases Killed 3.6 Million in 2015: Study

 

The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

 

About 3.2 million people succumbed that year to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), caused mainly by smoking and pollution, while 400,000 people died from asthma.

 

COPD is a group of lung conditions — including emphysema and bronchitis — that make it difficult to breathe.

 

Asthma is twice as prevalent, but COPD is eight times more deadly, the study found.

 

Both diseases can be treated affordably, but many sufferers are often left undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or under-treated.

 

COPD was the fourth-ranked cause of death worldwide in 2015, according to the World Health Organization, behind heart disease (nine million), stroke (six million) and lower respiratory infections (just over 3.2 million).

 

Researchers led by Theo Vos, a professor at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, analysed data from 188 countries to estimate, in each one, the number of cases and deaths annually from 1990 to 2015.

COPD prevalence and death rates declined over that period, but the overall numbers increased — with nearly 12 percent more deaths — because of population growth.

 

For asthma, prevalence went up by almost 13 percent to 358 million people worldwide, but the number of deaths dropped by more than a quarter.

 

“These diseases have received less attention than other prominent non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes,” Vos said in a statement.

 

The countries with the highest concentration of people disabled by COPD in 2015 were Papua New Guinea, India, Lesotho and Nepal, the study showed.

 

For asthma, the biggest disease burdens were found in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Fiji, Kiribati, Lesotho, Papula New Guinea and Swaziland.

 

High-income Asian nations were least affected by COPD, along with countries in central Europe, north Africa, the Middle East and western Europe. Central and eastern Europe, along with China, Japan and Italy, had among the lowest rates of asthma.

 

“This study is a timely reminder that we must refocus our efforts to combat this dangerous disease,” Neil Pearce, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, commented, referring to asthma.

 

“We still know very little about the causes of asthma, and why rates are increasing worldwide,” he added.

 

Smoking is known to aggravate asthma, as are allergens, whether indoors or in nature.

 

Indoor cooking is also a major culprit for chronic lung diseases, the authors noted.

 

You know now that COPD is bronchitis and asthma together.  Both these conditions alone, are caused and/or aggravated from foods you eat, and also from smells and particles in the air.  These can be turned around!

 

Call us for information and help with preventative medicine.  If you are not comfortable with that, make sure your physician is certified or had done a specialty in preventative medicine. The trick question to ask is, where did you go to school for that.   Easy to look up, not many schools offer it.

 

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Heart Healthy Lifestyle Tied To Lower Drug Costs

heartdisease

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Tied to Lower Drug Costs

People with heart disease spend a lot less on medications when they take steps to lower their risk of complications by doing things like getting enough exercise, avoiding cigarettes and keeping their blood pressure in check, a U.S. study suggests.

For the study, researchers focused on adults diagnosed with the most common type of heart disease, known as atherosclerosis, which happens when fats, cholesterol and other substances build up on artery walls.

 

When these patients did as much as they could to avoid so-called modifiable risk factors for heart disease – inactivity, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and diabetes – their total average annual pharmaceutical expenditures were $1,400, the study found.

But patients who did little to modify these risk factors had total average annual pharmaceutical expenditures of $4,516, researchers report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

 

“Individuals who are unwilling to modify their lifestyles so as to have a favorable risk factor profile would most likely resort to medications to control the risk factors,” said lead study author Dr. Joseph Salami of the Center for Health Care Advancement and Outcomes at Baptist Health South Florida in Coral Gables.

 

“A person getting little or no exercise has a higher risk of obesity,” Salami said by email. “Someone obese is more likely to have diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension.”

 

For the study, researchers examined 2012 and 2013 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national snapshot of spending based on surveys of almost 76,000 American patients, families, doctors and employers. The total pharmaceutical costs, reported in 2013 dollars, include patients’ out-of-pocket fees like co-payments and co-insurance as well as the portion of the tab covered by insurance or other sources, Salami said.

Among the survey participants, 4,248 adults aged 40 or older had atherosclerosis, representing about 21.9 million people in the U.S. population. They were 68 years old on average, and 45 percent were women.

 

Overall, average annual drug costs for each participant were $3,432. About a third of this was for cardiovascular disease drugs and another 14 percent was spent on diabetes medicines.

 

The remaining expenditures – more than half of the total – were for non-cardiovascular disease and non-diabetes drugs and were significantly associated with the modifiable risk factors, the study team notes.

Nationwide, this adds up to annual drug spending of $71.6 billion for patients with atherosclerosis, researchers estimated.

 

One limitation of the study is that it might overestimate expenditures because it’s possible some people prescribed medications for heart disease might be taking them for other reasons, the authors note. Researchers also lacked data on the type of insurance patients’ had or for individual characteristics of patients, doctors or pharmacists that might influence drug costs.

 

Costs should be considered in the context of how well treatments work, and the study doesn’t address this, noted Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston who wasn’t involved in the study.

 

“In some cases, the benefit that patients get from these non-pharmacologic therapies may be much more substantial than the benefit that drug therapy can offer,” Kesselheim said by email. “In other cases, the drug might be more helpful.”

The study also isn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove that people will spend less on drugs when they make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of heart disease, said Julie Schmittdiel of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland.

 

“It does suggest there is promise that addressing modifiable health behaviors will reduce costs,” Schmittdiel, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

 

Knowing this might help motivate some patients to make changes, said Stacie Dusetzina, a pharmacy researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who wasn’t involved in the study.

 

“I think many of us realize how hard these risk factors are to modify,” Dusetzina said by email. “But having incentives that include feeling better and saving money may help with motivation.”

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived:   Jane Blakemore

Dr A Sullivan

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Depression Harms Your Heart

depression

Depression Harms Heart as Much as Obesity and Cholesterol

 

Depression is as big a risk for cardiovascular disease in men as high cholesterol and obesity, according to a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis.

 

 

“There is little doubt that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases,” explained researcher Karl-Heinz Ladwig. “The question now is: What is the relationship between depression and other risk factors like tobacco smoke, high cholesterol levels, obesity or hypertension — how big a role does each factor play?”

 

To answer the question, German researchers analyzed data from 3,428 male patients between the ages of 45 and 74 years over a period of 10 years. They compared the impact of depression with the four major risk factors.

 

 

“Our investigation shows that the risk of a fatal cardiovascular disease due to depression is almost as great as that due to elevated cholesterol levels or obesity,” Ladwig said. Only high blood pressure and smoking were found to be associated with a greater risk.

 

 

 

The researchers came to the conclusion that depression accounts for roughly 15 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease. “That is comparable to the other risk factors, such as hypercholesterolemia, obesity and smoking,” Ladwig states. These factors cause 8.4 to 21.4 percent of the cardiovascular deaths.

 

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and throughout the world, and accounts for about 1 in 3 deaths in America.

 

 

Depression is also prevalent in the U.S., affecting approximately 14.8 million Americans each year. Studies have shown that depression raises the risk of heart attack fourfold.

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr Sylvia Hubbard

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Banning the Salt Shaker Has Little Effect on Your Heart Health

saltshaker

Banning the Salt Shaker Has Little Effect on Heart Health

 

If you think tossing out the salt shaker can help you cut down on sodium and boost your heart health, think again. Most of the salt that Americans consume comes from processed foods and restaurant meals — and is not added at the table or in home-cooked dishes, a new study finds.

The findings, published online in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, indicate only 10 percent of salt in the diets of 450 Americans came from food prepared at home. About half of that was added at the table.

 

But restaurant meals and processed foods — such as crackers, breads, and soups — accounted for nearly three-quarters of the participants’ salt intake

 

“Telling patients to lay off the salt shaker isn’t enough,” says Dr. Lisa J. Harnack, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

 

“Rather, commercially processed and restaurant foods should be the primary focus when educating patients on strategies for lowering sodium in the diet. Food manufacturers and restaurants should be encouraged to lower the sodium content in their food products to support Americans in consuming a diet consistent with sodium intake recommendations.”

 

The average American adult consumes far more sodium each day than the recommended maximum of 2,300 milligrams, researchers say. Sodium is an important contributor to high blood pressure, one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke.

 

To get a clear picture of Americans’ swooning love affair with salt, Harnack’s team recruited 150 participants ages 18-74 in each of these three cities:

 

Birmingham, Ala.

Minneapolis, Minn.

Palo Alto, Calif.

Half the participants were male, and half were female. Equal percentages of the participants were:

 

Non-Hispanic white

Hispanic

African-American

Asian

Participants visited a clinic once at the beginning of the study and then kept records of daily food intake for four days, which they reported to researchers in four telephone interviews. They also provided samples of salt to replicate the amount they added to food at home.

 

 

Across age groups, the researchers found similar intakes of dietary sodium: an average of 3,501 mg per day (higher than recommended daily maximum of 2,300 mg — about a teaspoonful — for healthy adults). This average even more dramatically exceeds the 1,500 mg daily limit recommended for 70 percent of American adults based on their age, race or ethnicity, or existing high blood pressure.

 

In addition to restaurants and processed foods found in stores, the researchers found that the most common sources of dietary sodium were:

 

Sodium naturally found in food (14.2 percent)

Sodium added in home food preparation 5.6 percent)

Sodium added to food at the table (4.9 percent)

Sodium in home tap water, dietary supplements, and antacids accounted for less than 0.5 percent of total intake

Sodium can be difficult to avoid, especially when people eat a lot of processed food from grocery stores or restaurants. To address this serious health threat, the Institute of Medicine recommends gradually decreasing sodium levels in commercially processed foods.

According to the American Heart Association, restaurant and prepackaged food companies must be a part of the solution to reduce sodium and give Americans the healthy options they need and deserve. The AHA encourages packaged food companies and restaurants to reduce the sodium in their products to help make meaningful impact on the health of all Americans. The association has developed a sodium reduction campaign to help.

 

But there’s much consumers can do for themselves, Harnack says.

 

“If you’re aiming to limit your sodium intake to the recommended level of less than 2,300 milligrams per day, you’ll need to choose foods wisely when grocery shopping and dining out,” she notes.

 

“For packaged foods, the nutrition fact panel may be useful in identifying lower sodium products, and for menu items diners can request sodium content information. Also, if you frequently add salt to food at the table or in home food preparation, consider using less.”

 

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that more than 89 percent of adults and 90 percent of children exceed the recommended limits for sodium, not including salt added to food at the table.

 

This includes more than 75 percent of these at-risk populations:

 

Adults over age 50

African-Americans

People diagnosed with either hypertension or pre-hypertension

The authors observed excessive sodium intake in all demographic groups. But they found that such intake was more common in men than in women (98 percent versus 80 percent), and in white adults than in black adults (90 percent versus 85 percent).

 

They also found that Americans ages 19-50 had the highest sodium consumption as well as the highest calorie consumption.

 

For More information on salt intake, sodium levels, and supplements needed to reduce salt, call us and make an appointment for your personal health care plan.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr J Jaranson

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Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

The Importance of Cucumbers!

cucumbers

The Importance of Cucumbers !

 

Cucumbers contain bioactive compounds that help fight cancer, heart disease and more

From adding a crunch to your summer salad, to fighting cancer and heart disease, the humble cucumber is a great ally in your quest for optimal health. This wonderful low-calorie fruit (yes you read that right, cucumber is not a vegetable but a fruit) has so much more to offer than electrolytes and water.

 

It is the fourth most cultivated vegetable in the world, and has been around for ages. Originally grown in northern India around 4,000 years ago, cucumbers are part of the squash, melon and gourd family.

Cucumbers as medicine

 

As reported by The Old Farmer’s Almanac, in ancient times cucumbers were used as a medicine, rather than as food, to treat nearly everything. Recently, cucumbers have come to the attention of many modern laboratories for their potential medicinal purposes.

 

While cucumbers do not house impressive amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, they thank their superfood status to high levels of bioactive phytochemicals such as cucurbitacins, lignans and flavonoids.

 

Many of these compounds have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, painkilling, wound-healing and laxative properties, making cucumbers an ideal cure-all.

Cancer-fighting cucurbitacins

 

Scientists found that cucurbitacins could block the signaling pathways that are essential for cancer cell growth and survival. According to a 2010 research review published in Scientific World Journal, these findings may lead to the possibility of cucurbitacin being used as a future anticancer drug.

 

Another study, published in the Journal of Cancer Research, found that cucurbitacin B inhibits the growth of pancreatic cancer cells by up to 81 percent.

 

According to the researchers, unpurified cucurbitacins have been used for centuries as folk medicine in Asian countries such as China and India. Pancreatic cancer is poorly treated by conventional therapies. Cucurbitacin B’s ability to inhibit tumor growth and induce cancer cell apoptosis may lead to new and efficient cancer treatments to fight pancreatic cancer.

Disease-fighting lignans

 

Lignans are a unique type of polyphenols found and extensively studied in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. Recent research, however, has found that other vegetables, including cucumbers, are a good source of different types of lignans too.

 

Cucumbers contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol and secoisolariciresino – three lignans associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several types of cancer. These include breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancers.

 

A 2010 study, published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, found that these three compounds could protect your heart by lowering vascular inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.

 

Furthermore, cucumbers consist of 96 percent water, which is more than any other fruit or vegetable on our planet, making it an excellent food to keep you hydrated all day long. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, an average-sized cucumber contains the equivalent of a 10-ounce glass of water, and only adds 16 calories per cup.

 

In addition, cucumbers are well known for their ability to soothe sunburns, reduce puffy eyes and freshen the breath.

 

What are you waiting for? Start growing fresh, organic cucumbers in your own backyard or on your balcony. It’s easy, fun, chemical-free and super cheap.

 

Cucumbers are so important in reversing so many diseases and conditions.  Please call us if you have any questions or concerns, or possibly need help with a condition you or your family have.,

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr. Anna Killarney

 

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Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Herbs: A Natural Treatment for HBP

yarrow

Herbs: The Natural Alternative to Treat High Blood Pressure

 

Hawthorn

Hawthorn has been a heart disease remedy since the first century. It is a common thorny shrub that grows up to 5 feet tall and grows in small, red, white, and pink clusters. Little berries called haws sprout after the flowers. Hawthorn contains antioxidant flavonoids which help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and protect the vessels from damage. The leaves and buds were found to have more flavonoids than the berries. One study has found that participants who took hawthorn extract for 16 weeks had lower blood pressure than the placebo. (4)

 

Lime Blossom

 

Linden is a herb from lime trees. These flowers were brewed into tea throughout history to heal issues pertaining to anxiety. The Linden flowers contain flavonoids, volatile oil, and mucilage component, which soothe and reduce inflammation. It also has tannins which act as an astringent. It also has antispasmodic, diuretic, and sedative properties. (5)

 

Yarrow

 

Yarrow was a popular European folk medicine. It contains flavonoids, plant-based chemicals that increase stomach acid and saliva to improve digestion. It can also relax smooth muscles in the intestine and uterus. Yarrow is a member of the Astor family which is related to chrysanthemums and chamomile. The flowers, leaves, and stems are used in medicine. It has been found to lower blood pressure and can strengthen the effects of pharmaceutical drugs for this condition. (6)

 

Mistletoe

 

Mistletoe has been found to neutralize blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes, in addition to treating cardiovascular disease. It also can soothe arthritic and rheumatic pain. The actual berries of this plant are poisonous. The leaves, however, are rich with healing effects. (7)

 

Hibiscus

 

A study was done on male participants aged 30 to 65 years old where they consumed 250 ml of a hibiscus tea after a high fat breakfast. The placebo group drank only water. Researchers have noted the improved difference in the blood pressure and inflammation in comparison to the placebo volunteers without the tea. They hoped that this study can become the start of using this herb to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases. (8)

 

Tea For Heart Health

 

These herbs are effective in aiding healthy blood pressure in varying ways. Some  dilate the peripheral blood vessels, thereby increasing the overall size of the cardiovascular structure. Some help the kidneys pass more water, thus reducing the fluid content in the system. Others normalize the activity of the heart, safely decreasing the force with which the blood is pumped through the body.

 

Here is how you can make brew your own Hawthorn, lime, mistletoe, and yarrow tea.

 

Depending on how much you want to make at one time, adjust the formula accordingly.

 

Hawthorn – 2 parts

Lime Blossom – 2 parts

Yarrow – 2 parts

Mistletoe- 1 part

Drink this tea three times daily for optimal results.

 

Using this mixture over a period of time, blood pressure will return to normal level. This drink will safely return blood pressure to a normal level without artificial depressing the system. Herbs can only normalize and will not lower blood pressure to unhealthy levels. (1)

 

If you are having trouble lowering your blood pressure, please call us.  A Personalized Health Care Plan is what you might need, to have objective medical eyes look at you with a fresh start to find the exact problem.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived: Michele

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Low Blood Pressure

low-blood-pressure-s3-blood-pressure-chart

Low blood pressure facts

 

Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is blood pressure low enough that the flow of blood to the organs of the body is inadequate and symptoms and/or signs of low blood flow develop shock.

Low pressure alone, without symptoms or signs, usually is not unhealthy.

The symptoms of low blood pressure include lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. These symptoms are most prominent when individuals go from the lying or sitting position to the standing position (orthostatic hypotension).

Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate flow of blood to the body’s organs can cause strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. It’s most severe form is shock.

Common causes of low blood pressure include a reduced volume of blood, heart disease, and medications. volume of blood, heart disease, and medications.

The cause of low blood pressure can be determined with blood tests, radiologic studies, and cardiac testing to look for heart failure and arrhythmias.

Treatment of low blood pressure is determined by the cause of the low pressure.

Blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. It constitutes one of the critically important signs of life or vital signs which include heart rate, breathing, and temperature. Blood pressure is generated by the heart pumping blood into the arteries modified by the response of the arteries to the flow of blood.

 

An individual’s blood pressure is expressed as systolic/diastolic blood pressure, for example, 120/80.

 

The systolic blood pressure (the top number) represents the pressure in the arteries as the muscle of the heart contracts and pumps blood into them.

The diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) represents the pressure in the arteries as the muscle of the heart relaxes following its contraction.

Blood pressure always is higher when the heart is pumping (squeezing) than when it is relaxing.

The range of systolic blood pressure for most healthy adults falls between 90 and 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal diastolic blood pressure ranges between 60 and 80 mm Hg. Current guidelines define normal blood pressure range as lower than 120/80. Blood pressures over 130/80 are considered high. High blood pressure increases the risk of damaging the arteries which leads to the development of:

 

Heart disease

Kidney disease

Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis)

Eye damage

Stroke

Low blood pressure (hypotension) is pressure so low it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidney, the organs do not function normally and may be temporarily or permanently damaged.

 

Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure is defined primarily by signs and symptoms of low blood flow and not by a specific blood pressure number. Some individuals routinely may have blood pressure numbers of 90/50 with no symptoms and therefore do not have low blood pressure. However, others who normally have higher blood pressures may develop symptoms of low blood pressure if their blood pressure drops to 100/60.

 

In pregnancy, blood pressure tends to decrease. Normal blood pressure during pregnancy may be lower than 100/60. Blood pressure should be monitored by the obstetrician during pregnancy.

How is blood pressure generated?

 

During relaxation of the heart (diastole) the left ventricle of the heart fills with blood returning from the lungs. The left ventricle then contracts and pumps blood into the arteries (systole). The blood pressure in the arteries during contraction of the ventricle (systolic pressure) is higher because blood is being actively ejected into the arteries. It is lower during relaxation of the ventricle (diastolic pressure) when no blood is being ejected into the arteries. The pulse we feel when we place our fingers over an artery is caused by the contraction of the left ventricle and the ejection of blood.

 

Blood pressure is determined by two factors: 1) The amount of blood pumped by the left ventricle of the heart into the arteries, and 2) the resistance to the flow of blood caused by the walls of the arterioles (smaller arteries).

 

Generally, blood pressure tends to be higher if more blood is pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are narrow and/or stiff. Narrow and/or stiff arterioles, by resisting the flow of blood, increase blood pressure. Arterioles may become narrower when the muscles surrounding them contract. Arterioles may become stiff and narrow when older patients develop atherosclerosis.

 

Blood pressure tends to be lower if less blood is being pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are larger and more flexible and, therefore, have less resistance to the flow of blood. How does the body maintain normal blood pressure?

 

The body has mechanisms to alter or maintain blood pressure and blood flow. There are sensors that sense blood pressure in the walls of the arteries and send signals to the heart, the arterioles, the veins, and the kidneys that cause them to make changes that lower or increase blood pressure.

 

There are several ways in which blood pressure can be adjusted; by adjusting the amount of blood pumped by the heart into the arteries (cardiac output), the amount of blood contained in the veins, the arteriolar resistance, and the volume of blood.

 

The heart can speed up and contract more frequently and it can eject more blood with each contraction (more forcefully). Both of these responses increase the flow of blood into the arteries and increase blood pressure.

The veins can expand and narrow. When veins expand, more blood can be stored in the veins and less blood returns to the heart for pumping into the arteries. As a result, the heart pumps less blood, and blood pressure is lower. On the other hand, when veins narrow, less blood is stored in the veins, more blood returns to the heart for pumping into the arteries, and blood pressure is higher.

The arterioles can expand and narrow. Expanded arterioles create less resistance to the flow of blood and decrease blood pressure, while narrowed arterioles create more resistance and raise blood pressure.

The kidney can respond to changes in blood pressure by increasing or decreasing the amount of urine that is produced. Urine is primarily water that is removed from the blood. When the kidney makes more urine, the amount (volume) of blood that fills the arteries and veins decreases, and this lowers blood pressure. If the kidneys make less urine, the amount of blood that fills the arteries and veins increases and this increases blood pressure. Compared with the other mechanisms for adjusting blood pressure, changes in the production of urine affect blood pressure slowly over hours and days. (The other mechanisms are effective in seconds.)

For example, low blood volume due to bleeding (such as a bleeding ulcer in the stomach or from a severe laceration from an injury) can cause low blood pressure. The body quickly responds to the low blood volume and pressure by the following adjustments which all increase blood pressure:

 

The heart rate increases and the forcefulness of the heart’s contractions increase, pumping more blood through the heart.

Veins narrow to return more blood to the heart for pumping.

Blood flow to the kidneys decreases to reduce the formation of urine and thereby increases the volume of blood in the arteries and veins.

Arterioles narrow to increase resistance to blood flow.

These adaptive responses will keep the blood pressure in the normal range unless blood loss becomes so severe that the responses are overwhelmed.

 

Is low blood pressure bad for your health?

 

People who have lower blood pressures have a lower risk of stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease.

 

Athletes, people who exercise regularly, people who maintain ideal body weight, and nonsmokers tend to have lower blood pressures. Low blood pressure is desirable as long as it is not low enough to cause symptoms and damage to the organs in the body

What are low blood pressure symptoms and signs?

 

When blood pressure is not sufficient to deliver enough blood to the organs of the body, the organs do not work properly and can be temporarily or permanently damaged. Symptoms of low blood pressure caused by conditions or diseases depend upon the specific cause of the low blood pressure. For example, if insufficient blood flows to the brain, brain cells do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, and a person can feel lightheaded, dizzy, or even faint.

 

The most common symptoms of low blood pressure include:

 

Lightheadedness

Dizziness

Fainting (syncope)

Symptoms of low blood pressure due to conditions or diseases include:

 

Orthostatic hypotension: Going from a sitting or lying position to a standing position often brings out symptoms of low blood pressure. This occurs because standing causes blood to “settle” in the veins of the lower body, and this can lower the blood pressure. If the blood pressure is already low, standing can make the low pressure worse, to the point of causing symptoms. The development of lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting upon standing caused by low blood pressure is called orthostatic hypotension. Normal individuals are able to compensate rapidly for the low pressure created by standing with the responses discussed previously and do not develop orthostatic hypotension.

Heart disease:Chest pain (a symptom of angina) or even a heart attack due to is insufficient blood pressure to deliver blood to the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart’s muscle), a person may develop.

Kidney disease: When insufficient blood is delivered to the kidneys, the kidneys fail to eliminate wastes from the body, for example, urea (BUN) and creatinine, and increases in their levels in the blood occur.

Shock is a life-threatening condition where persistently low blood pressure causes organs such as kidney, liver, heart, lung, and brain to fail rapidly.

 

Causes of low blood pressure: Dehydration, bleeding, and inflammation

Conditions that reduce the volume of blood, reduce cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped by the heart), and medications are frequent reasons for low blood pressure.

 

Dehydration is common among patients with prolonged nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive exercise which shunts blood away from the organs to the muscles. Large amounts of water are lost when vomiting and with diarrhea, especially if the person does not drink adequate amounts of fluid to replace the depleted water.

 

Other causes of dehydration include exercise, sweating, fever, and heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Individuals with mild dehydration may experience only thirst and dry mouth. Moderate to severe dehydration may cause orthostatic hypotension (manifested by lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting upon standing). Prolonged and severe dehydration can lead to shock, kidney failure, confusion, acidosis (too much acid in the blood), coma, and even death.

Moderate or severe bleeding can quickly deplete an individual’s body of blood, leading to low blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension. Bleeding can result from trauma, surgical complications, or from gastrointestinal abnormalities such as ulcers, tumors, or diverticulosis. Occasionally, the bleeding may be so severe and rapid (for example, bleeding from a ruptured aortic aneurysm) that it causes shock and death rapidly.

Severe inflammation of organs inside the body such as acute pancreatitis can cause low blood pressure. In acute pancreatitis, fluid leaves the blood vessels to enter the inflamed tissues around the pancreas as well as the abdominal cavity, concentrating blood and reducing its volume.

 

Causes of low blood pressure: Heart disease

 

Weakened heart muscle can cause the heart to fail and reduce the amount of blood it pumps. One common cause of weakened heart muscle is the death of a large portion of the heart’s muscle due to a single, large heart attack or repeated smaller heart attacks. Other examples of conditions that can weaken the ability of the heart to pump blood include medications that are toxic to the heart, infections of the muscle of the heart by viruses (myocarditis), and diseases of the heart’s valves such as aortic stenosis that reduce the flow of blood from the heart and into the arteries.

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium (the sac surrounding the heart). Pericarditis can cause fluid to accumulate within the pericardium and compress the heart, restricting the ability of the heart to expand, fill, and pump blood.

Pulmonary embolism is a condition in which a blood clot in a vein (deep vein thrombosis) breaks off and travels to the heart and eventually the lung. A large blood clot can block the flow of blood into the left ventricle from the lungs and severely diminish the blood returning to the heart for pumping. Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening emergency.

A slow heart rate (bradycardia) can decrease the amount of blood pumped by the heart. The resting heart rate for a healthy adult is between 60 and 100 beats/minute. Bradycardia (resting heart rates slower than 60 beats/minute) does not always cause low blood pressure. In fact, some highly trained athletes can have resting heart rates in the 40s and 50s (beats per minute) without any symptoms. The slow heart rates are offset by more forceful contractions of the heart that pump more blood than in non-athletes. But in many patients bradycardia can lead to low blood pressure, lightheadedness, dizziness, and even fainting.

Several common reasons for bradycardia include: 1) sick sinus syndrome, 2) heart block, and 3) drug toxicity. Many of these conditions occur in the elderly.

 

Sick sinus syndrome: Sick sinus syndrome occurs when the diseased electrical system of the heart cannot generate electrical signals fast enough to maintain a normal heart rate.

Heart block: Heart block occurs when the specialized tissues that transmit electrical current in the heart are damaged by heart attacks, degeneration from atherosclerosis, and medications. Heart block prevents some or all of the electrical signals from reaching parts of the heart, and this prevents the heart from contracting as well as it otherwise would.

Drug toxicity: Drugs such as digoxin (Lanoxin) or beta blockers for high blood pressure can slow the transmission of electricity in the heart chemically and can cause bradycardia and hypotension (see section “Medications that cause low blood pressure”).

An abnormally fast heart rate (tachycardia) also can cause low blood pressure. The most common example of tachycardia causing low blood pressure is atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a disorder of the heart characterized by rapid and irregular electrical discharges from the muscle of the heart causing the ventricles to contract irregularly and (usually) rapidly. The rapidly contracting ventricles do not have enough time to fill maximally with blood before each contraction, and the amount of blood that is pumped decreases in spite of the faster heart rate. Other abnormally rapid heart rhythms such as ventricular tachycardia also can produce low blood pressure, sometimes even life-threatening shock.

Low blood pressure causes: Medications

 

Medications that cause low blood pressure

 

Medications such as calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and digoxin (Lanoxin) can slow the rate at which the heart contracts. Some elderly people are extremely sensitive to these medications since they are more likely to have diseased hearts and electrical conduction tissues. In some individuals, the heart rate can become dangerously slow even with small doses of these medications.

Medications used in treating high blood pressure (such as angiotensin converting enzyme or ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and alpha blockers) can excessively lower blood pressure and result in symptomatic low blood pressure especially among the elderly.

Water pills (diuretics) such as hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL) and furosemide (Lasix) can decrease blood volume by causing excessive urination.

Medications used for treating depression, such as amitriptyline (Elavil); Parkinson’s disease, such as levodopa-carbidopa (Sinemet); and erectile dysfunction (impotence), such as sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis) when used in combination with nitroglycerin, can cause low blood pressure.

Alcohol and narcotics also can cause low blood pressure.

 

Other conditions that cause low blood pressure

 

Vasovagal reaction is a common condition in which a healthy person temporarily develops low blood pressure, slow heart rate, and sometimes fainting. A vasovagal reaction typically is brought on by emotions of fear or pain such as having blood drawn, starting an intravenous infusion, or by gastrointestinal upset. Vasovagal reactions are caused by activity of the involuntary (autonomic) nervous system, especially the vagus nerve, which releases hormones that slow the heart and widen the blood vessels. The vagus nerve also controls digestive tract function and senses activity in the digestive system. Thus, some people can have a vasovagal reaction from straining at a bowel movement or vomiting.

Postural (orthostatic) hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure when an individual stands up from a sitting, squatting, or supine (lying) position. When a person stands up, gravity causes blood to settle in the veins in the legs so that less blood returns to the heart for pumping, and, as a result, the blood pressure drops. The body normally responds automatically to the drop in blood pressure by increasing the rate and narrowing the veins to return more blood to the heart. In patients with postural hypotension, this compensating reflex fails to occur, resulting low blood pressure and its symptoms. Postural hypotension can occur in persons of all ages but is much more common among the elderly, especially in those on medications for high blood pressure and/or diuretics. Other causes of postural hypotension include dehydration, adrenal insufficiency (discussed later), prolonged bed rest, diabetes, and certain rare neurological syndromes (for example, Shy-Drager syndrome) that damage the autonomic nerves.

Another form of postural hypotension occurs typically in young healthy individuals. After prolonged standing, the individual’s heart rate and blood pressure drop, causing dizziness, nausea, and often fainting. In these individuals, the autonomic nervous system wrongly responds to prolonged standing by directing the heart to slow down and the veins to dilate thereby removing blood from circulating in the arteries.

Micturition syncope is a temporary drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness brought about by urinating. This condition typically occurs in elderly patients and may be due to the release of hormones that lower blood pressure.

Adrenal insufficiency, for example, due to Addison’s disease, can cause low blood pressure. Addison’s disease is a disorder in which the adrenal glands (small glands next to the kidneys) are destroyed. The destroyed adrenal glands can no longer produce sufficient adrenal hormones (specifically cortisol) necessary to maintain normal bodily functions. Cortisol has many functions, one of which is to maintain blood pressure and the function of the heart. Addison’s disease is characterized by weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, and, sometimes, darkening of the skin.

Septicemia is a severe infection in which bacteria (or other infectious organisms such as fungi) enter the blood. The infection typically originates in the lungs (as pneumonia), bladder, or in the abdomen due to diverticulitis or gallstones. The bacteria then enter the blood where they release toxins and cause life-threatening and profound low blood pressure (septic shock), often with damage to several organs.

Anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock) is a potentially fatal allergic reaction to medications such as penicillin, intravenous iodine used in some X-ray studies, foods such as peanuts, or bee stings (insect stings). In addition to a severe drop in blood pressure, individuals may also experience hives and wheezing due to constriction of the airways, and a swollen throat which cause difficulty breathing. The shock is caused by enlargement of blood-containing blood vessels and escape of water from the blood into the tissues.

 

What is the treatment for low blood pressure?

 

Low blood pressure readings in healthy subjects without symptoms or organ damage need no treatment. All patients with symptoms possibly due to low blood pressure should be evaluated by a doctor. Patients who have had a major drop in blood pressure from their usual levels even without the development of symptoms also should be evaluated. The doctor needs to identify the cause of the low blood pressure; remedies will depend on the cause. For example, if a medication is causing the low blood pressure, the dose of medication may have to be reduced or the medication stopped. Do not adjust medication dose on your own, and do not stop taking any medication without first consulting your doctor.

 

Dehydration is treated with fluids and minerals (electrolytes). Mild dehydration without nausea and vomiting can be treated with oral fluids and electrolytes. Moderate to severe dehydration usually is treated in a hospital or emergency room with intravenous fluids and electrolytes.

Blood loss can be treated by treating the cause of the bleeding, and with intravenous fluids and blood transfusions. Continuous and severe bleeding needs to be treated immediately.

Septic shock is a medical emergency and is treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Blood pressure medications or diuretics are adjusted, changed, or stopped by the doctor if they are causing low blood pressure symptoms.

Bradycardia may be due to a medication. The doctor may reduce, change, or stop the medication. Bradycardia due to sick sinus syndrome or heart block is treated with an implantable pacemaker.

Tachycardia is treated depending on the nature of the tachycardia. Atrial fibrillation can be treated with oral medications, electrical cardioversion, or a catheterization procedure called pulmonary vein isolation. Ventricular tachycardia can be controlled with medications or with an implantable defibrillator.

Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis is treated with blood thinners, initially with types of heparin. Later, oral warfarin (Coumadin) or other oral medications are substituted for heparin.

Pericardial fluid from pericarditis can be removed by a procedure called pericardiocentesis.

Postural hypotension can be treated with changes in diet such as increasing water and salt intake,* increasing intake of caffeinated beverages (because caffeine constricts blood vessels), using compression stockings to compress the leg veins and reduce the pooling of blood in the leg veins, and in some patients, the use of a medication called midodrine (ProAmatine). The problem with midodrine is that while it increases blood pressure in the upright position, the supine blood pressure may become too high, thus increasing the risk of strokes. Mayo Clinic researchers found that a medication used to treat muscle weakness in myasthenia gravis called pyridostigmine (Mestinon) increases upright blood pressure but not supine blood pressure. Pyridostigmine, an anticholinesterase medication, works on the autonomic nervous system, especially when a person is standing up. Side effects include minor abdominal cramping or increased frequency of bowel movements.

Postprandial hypotension refers to low blood pressure occurring after meals. Ibuprofen (Motrin) or indomethacin (Indocin) may be beneficial.

Vasovagal syncope can be treated with several types of drugs such as beta blockers, for example, propanolol (Inderal, Inderal LA) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and fluvoxamine (Luvox). Fludrocortisone (Florinef) (a drug that prevents dehydration by causing the kidney(s) to retain water) also may be used. A pacemaker can also be helpful when a patient fails drug therapy.

Natural remedies have not been proven. Some herbs reported to raise blood pressure include ginger, rosemary, aniseed, cinnamon, and pepper. Do not take any herbs without first consulting your doctor.

*Note: Increasing salt intake can lead to heart failure in patients with existing heart disease and should not be undertaken without consulting a doctor.

 

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