Vegetarian diets may lower blood pressure

People who eat a vegetarian diet tend to have lower blood pressure than non-vegetarians, according to a new review of past studies.

Researchers said for some people, eating a vegetarian diet could be a good way to treat high blood pressure without medication.

Vegetarian diets exclude meat, but may include dairy products, eggs and fish in some cases. They emphasize foods of plant origin, particularly vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits.

High blood pressure contributes to a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disorders and other health problems. For many people, the only treatment has been medication, but that means costs and possible side effects, lead author Yoko Yokoyama told Reuters Health in an email.

“If a diet change can prevent blood pressure problems or can reduce blood pressure, it would give hope to many people,” Yokoyama said. She is a researcher at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan.

“However, in order to make healthful food choices, people need guidance from scientific studies,” she said. “Our analysis found that vegetarian diets lower blood pressure very effectively, and the evidence for this is now quite conclusive.”

According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure readings under 120 mm Hg systolic and 80 mm Hg diastolic (120/80) are considered normal. High blood pressure starts at 140/90.

The new review, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, combined results from 39 previous studies, including 32 observational studies and seven controlled trials.

“Observational studies show what happens when people have chosen their own diets and stuck with them, often for years,” Yokoyama said. “Controlled trials are different – a diet is given to people who had not tried it before, and that will show the effect of beginning a new way of eating.”

Together the studies included close to 22,000 people.

The researchers found that in the observational studies, people who had been eating a vegetarian diet had an average systolic blood pressure that was about 7 mm Hg lower than among meat-eaters and a diastolic blood pressure that was 5 mm Hg lower.

Participants in the clinical trials who were given vegetarian diets to follow had, on average, a systolic blood pressure that was 5 mm Hg lower and a diastolic blood pressure that was 2 mm Hg lower than participants in control groups who were not on vegetarian diets.

“Unlike drugs, there is no cost to a diet adjustment of this type, and all the ‘side effects’ of a plant-based diet are desirable: weight loss, lower cholesterol, and better blood sugar control, among others,” Yokoyama said.

She said a plant-based diet is typically low in fat and high in fiber, so it helps people lose weight, which, in turn, causes a healthy drop in blood pressure.

“But there is more,” Yokoyama said. “Plant-based foods are often low in sodium and are rich in potassium, and potassium lowers blood pressure.”

The same foods are also very low in saturated fat – the type of fat in meat and cheese – and eating less saturated fat means blood can circulate more easily, she explained.

“I would encourage physicians to prescribe plant-based diets as a matter of routine, and to rely on medications only when diet changes do not do the job,” Yokoyama said. “And I would encourage everyone to try a plant-based diet, and especially to introduce plant-based diets to their children – they could prevent many health problems.”

Alice Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, said the results of the review are encouraging, but added that it didn’t take sodium in the diet and lifestyle factors into account.

“Individuals who adhere to vegetarian diets are likely to use fewer processed foods, the major source of dietary sodium, and adhere to healthy lifestyles behaviors such as maintaining a body weight in the optimal range and engaging in regular physical activity,” Lichtenstein told Reuters Health in an email. She was not involved in the new research.

“Until we understand the contribution of these factors we can’t attribute the effect observed solely to adhering to a vegetarian diet,” Lichtenstein explained.

“We certainly would not encourage substituting a slice of quiche for a grilled chicken breast for dinner, due to the sodium, calories and saturated fat,” she said.

What’s more, the findings do not mean that people taking blood pressure medication should go off their drugs in favor of diet changes without talking to a doctor.

Yokoyama said doctors who would like to prescribe diet changes need tools.

“We have developed a free program, called the 21-Day Kickstart program, which introduces a plant-based diet through daily emails that provide menus, recipes, cooking videos, and a discussion board for questions. It is available at no charge in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Japanese, along with a special English-language program for India,” Yokoyama said.

The program is affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an organization that promotes plant-based diets.

Source: Reuters

Giving blood pressure medications right after stroke not beneficial

A major study has found that giving patients medications to lower their blood pressure during the first 48 hours after a stroke does not reduce the likelihood of death or major disability.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

At least 25 per cent of the population has high blood pressure, which greatly increases the risk of stroke. Lowering blood pressure has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke. The study investigated whether there also would be a benefit to lowering blood pressure immediately after a stroke.

The study included more than 4,000 stroke patients in 26 hospitals across China who were randomly assigned to receive or discontinue blood pressure medications. At 14 days or upon hospital discharge, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups in mortality or disability.

Blood pressure often is elevated following a stroke.

“But in most cases, treatment is unnecessary because the blood pressure declines naturally over time, and lowering blood pressure may be contraindicated,” said stroke specialist Dr Jose Biller, chair of the department of neurology of Loyola University Medical Centre. “It is important not to over treat and cause low blood pressure because the most important objective is to maintain adequate blood flow to the brain.”

Dr Biller was a member of the study’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board. Dr Paul K Whelton, former president and CEO of Loyola University Health System, was chair of the monitoring board.

First author of the study is Dr Jiang He of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

The study is called the China Antihypertensive Trial in Acute Ischemic Stroke (CATIS). It involved patients who had suffered ischemic strokes, which account for about 85 per cent of all strokes. Such strokes are caused by blood clots that block blood flow to a part of the brain.

Source: India Medical Times

FDA approves Chelsea Therapeutics drug for low blood pressure

Chelsea Therapeutics International Ltd’s drug Northera, which treats a rare form of low blood pressure associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, has won U.S. approval, the Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.

The company’s shares rose 34 percent to $6.63 in after-market trading.

The drug’s label will carry a boxed warning, the most serious possible, of the risk of supine hypertension, or increased blood pressure while lying down, a danger that can cause stroke.

In January, an advisory panel to the FDA recommended approval but also suggested the company conduct a follow-up study to prove durable benefit. Panelists said gaps in clinical data made it hard to determine whether Northera, which appears effective after a week’s treatment, is effective over the long term.

The FDA followed the recommendation and approved the drug on an “accelerated” basis. This allows for approval a drug to treat a serious disease based on an intermediate measure while the company conducts more trials.

In the meantime, the FDA said, “it is essential that patients be reminded that they must sleep with their head and upper body elevated. Supine blood pressure should be monitored prior to and during treatment and more frequently when increasing doses.”

Chelsea first filed for approval of Northera in 2011. The FDA rejected the drug in 2012 and asked for additional data. The company is also testing the drug, known generically as droxidopa, in mid-stage studies to treat fibromyalgia and intradialytic hypotension.

Source: yahoo news


How vitamin D controls blood pressure

A research team has decrypted the one of the biological mechanisms about Vitamin D deficiency triggering a range of diseases.

Vitamin D regulates the elasticity of blood vessels and thus also affects blood pressure amplitude.

The two primary authors, molecular biologist Olena Andrukhova and medical doctor Svetlana Slavic, of the Institute of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Biophysics at the Vetmeduni Vienna, found that prolonged vitamin D deficiency can stiffen blood vessels.

Examining the aorta, an elastic blood vessel that expands with each pulse of blood and then constricts again, the researchers showed that vitamin D deficiency makes the vessel less flexible.

Andrukhova explained that Vitamin D enhances the production of the enzyme eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase) in the inner layer of blood vessels, the endothelium. This is critical for the regulation of blood pressure.

She said that the enzyme produces a molecule called nitric oxide (NO), an important factor for the relaxation of smooth muscles in the blood vessels.

Andrukhova explained added that when too little NO is formed, the vessels become less flexible, which ultimately leads to higher blood pressure which can give rise to other circulatory diseases, asserting that indirectly, vitamin D controls blood pressure.

The results have been published in the journal Molecular Endocrinology.

Source: sify

Sunlight may lower your blood pressure

Here’s why sunbathing feels so good: It may lower your blood pressure, British researchers reported Friday.

Just 20 minutes of ultraviolet A (UVA) sunlight lowered blood pressure by a small but significant amount in 24 volunteers, they report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Further checks suggest the sun does this by increasing levels of nitric oxide, a chemical linked to blood flow.

The effects are so strong they may help explain why people who live in the darker north, like the Scots, have higher rates of death from heart disease, Richard Weller of the University of Edinburgh and Martin Feelisch of the University of Southampton say.

“We are concerned that well-meaning advice to reduce the comparatively low numbers of deaths from skin cancer may inadvertently increase the risk of death from far higher prevalent cardiovascular disease and stroke, and goes against epidemiological data showing that sunlight exposure reduces all cause and cardiovascular mortality,” they concluded.

Their volunteers got the equivalent of 30 minutes of natural sunlight at noon on a sunny day in Southern Europe. They protected their volunteers from the warming effects, just in case that was the cause. It lowered blood pressure by about five points, and the effects lasted half an hour.

In other words, a little sunshine really may warm your heart.

Source: NBC News


Conjoined twins Saba, Farah in critical condition in Bihar

The conjoined twins, Saba and Farah in Bihar are said to be in critical condition and have been admitted to a leading hospital in Patna.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had ordered the Bihar government to look after their medical expenses and provide all kinds of financial help to the family. The twins share a vital blood vessel in the brain. While Farah has two kidneys, Saba has none.

The family of Saba and Farah were provided financial aid after they had rejected surgery to separate the two of them in the absence of funds.

Dr Shyam Sundar, who has been treating the twins said that the twins have been facing complications from the past few days. “Farah has been bleeding from the nose from the past five days with some respiratory tract infection and the blood pressure of both the twins is low. We are still evaluating the cause of the bleeding and a multi speciality team is having a look”, he said.

In case, an operation is being carried out to separate the head, it would prove to be a real medical challenge ,according to Doctor Sundar.

Source: Zee news