Posts Tagged ‘high blood pressure’

Blood Pressure Up? Lower It Without Medication

September 24, 2015

Millions of Americans have hypertension. Millions are taking medication to lower their blood pressure. Now the new guidelines indicate that blood pressure should be less than 120 systolic or the highest number and less than 80 diastolic or the lowest number. Here are a few ways to lower the blood pressure that do not require medication.

Exercise more

By following current guidelines on exercise—30 minutes a day, most days a week—you can bring down your blood pressure significantly. If you’ve been sedentary, try aerobic exercise to reduce your systolic blood pressure—the top number—by three to five points, and the bottom by two to three,.

People who get moving are often able to reduce the number of hypertension medications they’re on, he adds. Pick something you like—walking, running, swimming, cycling—and stick with it.

Eat bananas

You probably know that eating too much salt can raise blood pressure, but most people aren’t aware of the benefits of potassium, which counters sodium’s ill effects. Most don’t get enough of this mineral.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people with hypertension may especially benefit from upping the amount of potassium in their diet. Adults should get at least 4,700 milligrams a day. A few good sources: bananas (422 milligrams each), a baked potato with skin (738 milligrams), orange juice (496 milligrams per cup), and nonfat or low-fat yogurt (531–579 milligrams per 8 ounces).

Cut salt

People with normal blood pressure, moderately high blood pressure, and full-fledged hypertension can substantially reduce their blood pressure by cutting salt intake. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that people with hypertension limit their intake of salt to less than 1,500 milligrams (600 milligrams of sodium) a day.

We get most of our sodium from processed foods, so stick with whole foods. When you do eat foods with nutrition labels, be sure to check their sodium content.

Don’t smoke

Smokers are at higher risk of hypertension. But even though tobacco and nicotine in cigarettes can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure, smoking itself is not thought to cause chronic hypertension.(Instead, factors associated with smoking, like heavy alcohol consumption and lack of exercise, might be responsible.)

Nevertheless, quitting smoking may help you lower your blood pressure a bit, the other health benefits are countless.

Lose weight

Research has consistently shown that dropping just a few pounds can have a substantial impact on your blood pressure. Excess weight makes your heart work harder. This extra strain can lead to hypertension, while losing weight lightens your cardiovascular workload.

If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight may be enough to get your blood pressure under control.

Cut back on alcohol

Even though moderate drinking—no more than one drink a day for women, and two a day for men—has heart-health benefits, drinking too much can elevate blood pressure in some people.

Research has found that consuming more than two drinks a day increases the risk of hypertension for both men and women. If you do drink, enjoy your alcoholic beverage with a meal, which may blunt its effects on blood pressure.

Reduce stress

Managing the stress in your life effectively may help reduce your blood pressure, but there’s not enough research to offer a step-by-step stress-reduction plan for everyone.

There are a number of things that people have developed as practices to induce a state of relaxation and … which one is better, which is the right one, these are questions that remain to be answered in clinical trials. Nevertheless, Burg recommends that people with high blood pressure look into stress management and find an approach they will be able to practice consistently.

Yoga

Yoga is a great de-stressor. A recent study from India recently found that yogic breathing exercises reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension, possibly through their effects on the autonomic nervous system, which governs heart rate, digestion, and other largely unconscious functions.

But people should not think of yoga as providing the same benefit as aerobic exercise. Each potentially produces benefit in different ways.

Skip caffeine

Coffee has some health benefits, but lowering blood pressure isn’t one of them. Caffeine can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, even in people without hypertension.

If you have high blood pressure, it’s a good idea to moderate your caffeine intake to about two cups of coffee per day. You can check whether you’re sensitive to caffeine’s blood-pressure-boosting effects by checking your blood pressure before and within a half hour after consuming your caffeinated beverage. If it increases by 5 or 10 points, you could be caffeine sensitive.

Meditate

Meditation—whether it involves chanting, breathing, visualization, or all the above—can be an effective stress-management tool for many people, Burg says. Again, the important thing is that it makes you feel good, and that you can commit to doing it consistently.

Bottom Line: High blood pressure should be controlled in order to avoid heart disease or a stroke. Many people can decrease their dependence on medication if they use a few of these ideas to lower their blood pressure. Of course, if the blood pressure does not decrease, you should speak to your doctor about one of the many blood pressure lowering medications.

What if I think my medicine is affecting my sex life?

October 22, 2014

In the previous blog I discussed the relationship between medications and sexual performance. This blog will make suggestions on how to approach your doctor and what are some of the options when drugs\medications impact your sexual performance.  If you are at all worried that your medicine may be affecting your ability to have sex, consult with your physician who prescribed the medication.

Do not stop taking your medicine without first talking to your doctor.

Do not be put off seeking help. Your quality of life is important, particularly if you are being treated for something like high blood pressure, which often has no symptoms and can require lifelong treatment.

Treatment of high blood pressure

  • Impotence seems to be less of a problem with ACE inhibitors such as enalapril.
  • Calcium channel blockers and alpha-blockers cause fewer sexual problems than diuretics (water tablets) or beta-blockers.
  • Loop diuretics such as furosemide have a lower risk of impotence than thiazide diuretics.

Treatment of depression

  • SSRIs cause the highest frequency of sexual dysfunction, followed by MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) and then tricyclic antidepressants.

Treatment of high cholesterol levels

  • Not all statins are associated with sexual problems. Even in those that are, the risk of developing such problems is very low.
  • Statins may be less likely to cause impotence than fibrates.

Bottom Line: Your doctor may switch you to another medicine in the same class, i.e., that acts in a similar way, in the hope that the new one will not cause the same side effects.

Alternatively, your doctor may try a different type (class) of medicine altogether, providing it is suitable for you to take.

Your doctor may also adjust the dosage and prescribe a lower dose which may have the desired effect on your blood pressure or your depression and not have the unwanted side effects of ED or lowering the testosterone level. The real bottom line is to speak to your physician to help with your medications and preserve your sexual performance.

Can’t Get It Up? Your ED (Erectile Dysfunction) May Be Telling You That Your Health Is Headed Down

September 22, 2014

Nearly every man has an occasional problem with his erection. However, if it is a persistent problem, it may be an indication of a more serious health problem. This blog will discuss some of the common conditions that may not have any symptoms that are associated with ED and what you need to do if you do have ED.

High blood pressure

An estimated one in three men with high blood pressure has no idea they have it, and impotence could be a vital warning sign. As we get older, our arteries become narrower and less elastic, which forces our blood pressure to rise gradually as the heart beats ever harder to get blood around the body. This damages the arteries, reducing blood flow to the penis.

What you can do: Ask your GP to check your blood pressure. Lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise and lowering salt intake may improve erectile dysfunction.

If you are already taking blood pressure medication and suffer from impotence, mention it to your doctor as some pills, such as Thiazide diuretics and beta blockers, can trigger or worsen it and your GP may be able to prescribe an alternative.

Heart disease

The many stresses of modern life, compounded with poor diet, lack of exercise, drinking and smoking, can put you at risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, both of which cause narrowing of the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart — and to the penis. Weak erections can be an early sign of heart trouble.

‘The blood vessels in your penis are 1mm to 2mm wide, much smaller than those in the arteries to your heart (3mm to 4mm wide), so they show up signs of narrowing more quickly.

Impotence occurs, on average, about three years before a heart problem appears, especially in men in their 40s or 50s. Men with erectile dysfunction are 50 times more likely to have heart problems than men with normal heart function.

What you can do: Get your heart and cholesterol levels checked. Improving your diet and boosting exercise levels can reduce your cholesterol levels. Your doctor might also recommend a cholesterol-lowering statin drug. There is some evidence that statins can help with erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes

More than a million people in the U.S. are believed to have undiagnosed diabetes — a condition where your body cannot process the sugar in your blood effectively. Left untreated, this can lead to damage to the blood vessels and the nerves, and can cause poor blood flow to the penis, too.

What you can do: Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to irreversible ED. If you are diagnosed with, or already have, diabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels stable (through diet and possibly medication) may help prevent impotence.

More than 50 per cent of diabetics will have ED at some point, and it becomes more common as they grow older.

Enlarged prostate

The prostate is a small, doughnut-shaped gland that sits under the bladder, around the urethra.

Prostate problems are common with age — typically these are prostatitis, a bacterial infection which causes the gland to become swollen, and an enlarged prostate, which is linked to testosterone.

Both can trigger pain, difficulty passing urine and temporary problems with erectile dysfunction.

Prostatitis can be treated with antibiotics (it usually clears within four weeks) and an enlarged prostate may shrink after treatment with an alpha blocker such as Flomax or Rapaflo or the use of drugs that block the effects of testosterone, reducing the gland’s size.

Treatments for prostate cancer — surgery, radiotherapy, ultrasound, cryotherapy and hormone therapy — can trigger erection problems.

Early prostate cancer can be treated surgically with a nerve- sparing technique, which gives a better chance of erections afterwards.

Erectile dysfunction can be an indicator of other medical problems. If you are experiencing a regular loss of erections or are unable to obtain an erection most of the times you engage in sexual intimacy, you should check with your physician.

Time For A Tune Up-Men’s Health Routine Check Ups

January 8, 2013

Men need to treat their bodies like their cars and visit to the doctor to check what’s under
the hood Men do not usually talk about going to the doctor. Most of the time, it takes serious pain or a major concern to get them to schedule a visit. You may be surprised to know that the urinary tract is most commonly responsible for men’s complaints, as it can bring on problems with obstructive or irritative symptoms. “ ‘Obstructive’ means things like slow urinary stream, difficulty getting the stream to start, difficulty emptying the bladder completely and ‘irritative’ means things like urgency or feeling a strong desire to urinate that you may have trouble inhibiting, having leakage of urine with urge incontinence or nocturia or going to the bathroom at nighttime,” says Dr. Sean Collins, an urologist at East Jefferson General Hospital.

Kidneys can bring on troubles of their own. “Kidney stones can develop with back pain or cause blood in the urine, and the biggest risk factor is not drinking enough fluids when it gets hot outside,” says Dr. Benjamin Lee, a urologist at Tulane Medical Center. The majority of stones are made of calcium but can also be due to recurrent urinary tract infections. “We know that lemonade has a chemical called citrate, which helps dissolve calcium to help prevent stones from forming,” says Lee. It is important to be proactive because if you develop a kidney stone, there is a 50 percent chance you will have a second one in the next five years.

Prostate screenings are vital but keep some men far from the doctor’s office. “Men are intimidated by the rectal examination, but it is not a big deal and takes 30 seconds while the doctor puts a gloved finger in the rectum and feels the prostate,” says Collins. The doctor checks the size of the prostate and whether there is a mass, nodule or hard area that would be concerning and warrant a biopsy. The exam is not anything to be scared of. “Most men leave and say it was not that bad and was worth it if we could find something that could save their life,” says Collins.

Lifestyle choices affect the prostate. “The diet that is best for the health of the prostate is the diet we should be on for cardiovascular health: a low-fat diet, rich in fruits and vegetables,” says Collins. There is evidence that lycopene, a substance found in tomatoes, is good for the prostate. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are also helpful.

Sexual issues are not often talked about by men but are more common than you may think. “We find that erectile dysfunction is a barometer for a man’s overall health,” says Collins. The risk factors for erectile dysfunction are the same for cardiovascular disease. “The reason is the blood supply to the penis is a very tiny artery about two millimeters in diameter, whereas the blood supply to the heart is four to five millimeters in diameter, so it does not take much blockage of the blood supply to the penis to result in impotence,” says Dr. Neil Baum, a urologist at Touro Infirmary.
Thankfully, a lot of progress has been made in this area. “Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are the big advances that totally changed the way the field is approached and who you can help with it,” says Dr. Robert McLaren, a urologist at Ochsner Health System.

Infertility is a common issue with men being responsible half of the time. “If you have borderline problems with your semen, you can avoid hot baths and jockey underwear and should wear boxer shorts because of the excessive heat of bringing the testicles close to the body,” says Baum. A semen analysis can be done at a urologist or reproductive endocrinologist’s office.
Young men may think they are invincible when it comes to health issues but they aren’t. “In young men, the most common thing we see is prostititis, which is an infection or inflammation of the prostate, and some men who are active or do bicycle riding can have numbness of the bicycle area, which can resolve if they cut back on riding or use specialized seats,” says Collins.

Every man responds differently. “Prostate enlargement is a normal part of aging but not everybody develops problems from it,” says McLaren. Know what to expect. “The prostate is a gland that sits outside the bladder and is normally about the size of a walnut,” says Lee.
Robotic surgery has revolutionized the way prostate cancer is treated and gives men hope as recovery is quicker and less painful. “The da Vinci robot has made the greatest impact and there are medications that can shrink your prostate that were not around 20 years ago,” says McLaren.

It is a good idea to get a blood test to check your testosterone level as well. “It indicates a decrease in production of testosterone by the testicles, which can be treated with hormone replacement therapy,” says Baum. You can do a self-exam of the testicles to screen for testicular cancer, which is common in men between 20 and 45. “They look for a little bump or lump on the scrotum on the testicle. I tell men that if they make a fist and feel the knuckle, that is what the testicle tumor feels like and they can get an ultrasound exam and blood test to help diagnose testicular cancer,” says Baum.

Making wise choices is helpful for all ages. “If you want to make yourself healthier, exercise, eat right and do not smoke,” says McLaren. To prevent heart disease, you should stay away from red meat, salt and other high cholesterol-containing foods. Your health may be partly determined by what you eat. “Men who have diets that are low in fiber and do not have regular bowel movements or have firm, hard bowel movements are at risk for colon disease such as diverticulitis and diverticulosis, which is inflammation around the colon that results in cramping, abdominal pain and difficulty with the stool,” says Baum. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids like cold water oily fish, salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are helpful.

Self-care is important for men of all ages. “It is interesting that in the top seven cancers in the United States, number one is prostate, number four is bladder and number seven is kidney,” says Lee. Thanks to screenings, lives are being saved. “The message we are trying to get out is that many of these issues are very treatable at an early stage,” says Lee. The health-care community has adapted guidelines with this in mind. “The American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society are really trying to get the word out,” says Lee.

This month is the time to take charge of your health. “The most common problems men run into are cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and colon and rectal cancer, all of which can be prevented by visiting the doctor on a regular basis,” says Baum. A few tests can also be useful. “A stress test checks the heart and blood supply to the heart, a prostate-specific antigen and digital rectal exam rule out prostate cancer and a colonoscopy every five years checks for colon and rectal cancer,” says Baum.

Even if you feel fine, it is important to see your doctor. “Early hypertension has no symptoms whatsoever unless you go to the doctor and have your blood pressure taken,” says Baum. It can lead to a stroke, kidney disease or heart disease if it is not adequately treated. If you do experience any new or unusual symptoms, it is important to report them. “Heart disease can manifest itself as chest pain, indigestion, lightheadedness or headaches, which are signs of high blood pressure and decrease of blood supply to the coronary arteries and to the heart,” says Baum.

Self-awareness is an asset when it comes to protecting your health. Men are often consumed with taking care of their loved ones, however, and end up neglecting themselves. “The main point is that men need to take an active role in their medical care and need to treat their bodies as something very special that needs fine tuning just like their car,” says Baum.

High Blood Pressure-A Silent Killer

November 14, 2012

Control Your Blood Pressure And Protect Your Hear

More men than women in the United States have hypertension, that men are less likely than women to be aware of their condition and to be taking medication to reduce the high blood pressure. The study appeared from the national health and nutrition examination survey.

The data from the study showed that less than 80% of the men were aware of their condition of high blood pressure compared with 85% of women. In addition, 70% of men were taking medication for hypertension compared with 80% of women with hypertension.

Bottom line: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may apply to your car but not to your heart and blood vessels. Hypertension is a silent disease and often has no symptoms until complications occur. See your doctor at least once a year to have a blood pressure determination.

Putting a Lid On Your Hypertension

July 29, 2012

An alarming one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Known medically as hypertension, many people don’t even know they have it, because high blood pressure has no symptoms or warning signs. But when elevated blood pressure is accompanied by abnormal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to your arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially. Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and treat. Sometimes people can keep blood pressure in a healthy range simply by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing activity, and eating more healthfully.

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital for good health. Keeping yours below 120/80 is the ideal goal for dodging a host of afflictions, including heart disease, kidney failure, and, yes, even erectile dysfunction.
But about half of all Americans with high blood pressure (hypertension) have not reached their goals, reports the July 2012 issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
Many men can improve their health with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, decreasing the salt intake in their diet, and a good dose of daily exercise.
One of the easiest ways to decrease your blood pressure with almost immediate results is to reduce your salt intake. Salt holds more water in the body and increases the work on the heart to pump the extra water load. The medically proven DASH diet keeps sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day (about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting it to 1,500—not easy, but doable—works even better. The DASH diet can lower your systolic pressure (upper number) by 10 points or more. The DASH diet eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In addition to being a low salt (or low sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, with whole grains. It is a high fiber, low to moderate fat diet, rich in potasium, calcium, and magnesium.
A second suggestion is to check your blood pressure in your home and not in the doctor’s office. Blood pressure tends to rise a few points when it is taken in the doctor’s office. We even have a name for this slight elevation: white coat hypertension. Checking blood pressure at home with an appropriate device can give you instant feedback on the benefits of diet and exercise and give you a more accurate picture of your blood pressure.
Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. For men, the suggested limit is one to two alcoholic drinks per day, defined as 1.5 ounces (1 shot glass) of 80-proof spirits, a 5-ounce serving of wine, or a 12-ounce serving of beer. (For women it’s no more than one drink a day.)
Take more meds if you need to—but take the right ones. Many people who are already taking one or two hypertension medications ultimately come into control only when taking three or even four medications. But they need to be the right drugs. Your doctor should combine medications that work to lower blood pressure in different ways.

Bottom Line: Blood pressure is a silent killer and can affect more than your heart. This can be controlled with life style changes and when this is ineffective, then medication prescribed by your doctor can help.

High Blood Pressure Can Lower Your Sex Life

September 29, 2011

Robert is a 53 year old man with high blood pressure. He has a job associated with stress. He is 25 pounds overweight. He rarely exercises and admits to being a little heavy handed with the saltshaker. He takes a diuretic, hydrochlorthiazide, and an anti-hypertensive medication and since beginning these two medications, he has noted that his sexual performance has gone into very low gear.

High blood pressure can get worse over time and cause problems with getting an erection. A major study showed that 26% of men with high blood pressure said they had erectile dysfunction (ED). That was twice the rate of ED in men with normal blood pressure. Some medicines for high blood pressure, such as diuretics, can also cause ED. But if you’re able to keep your blood pressure under control — even with medicines — you can help prevent your ED from getting worse. 


An estimated 15 million to 30 million men in the U.S. have ED. Some changes in sexual function are normal as a man ages. Erections may be less firm, or it may take you longer to get erect. ED is sometimes temporary, too. Stress, relationship issues, illness, and drug side effects may cause it. But if your erection difficulty is ongoing and it keeps you from having the sex life you want, it may be time to seek treatment.


Many men have problems getting or maintaining an erection at some point in their lives. If it happens occasionally, it is probably not a medical problem. But if you repeatedly have trouble — if it happens about a quarter of the time or more — you may want to talk to your doctor about treatment. .


Some drugs for high blood pressure may cause ED. These include diuretics (water pills) and beta-blockers. ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers are less likely to cause ED. If you started having erection problems after you began taking medicine, talk to your doctor. You may be able to switch to a drug that can lower your blood pressure without increasing your risk for ED.


Even with high blood pressure and ED, you can still have a good sex life. If your blood pressure is under control you may be able to take an ED pill. Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra are safe to take with most blood-pressure medicines. If ED pills aren’t for you, other proven treatments include implants, pumps, and injectable drugs.
 You also need to check your testosterone level if your sexual performance is not what you would like it to be or if your sex drive has gone into the tank.

Heart disease — a common complication of high blood pressure — and ED are commonly seen together. A blockage in a heart artery is a good indication that the same thing may be happening in arteries that supply blood to the penis, making it difficult to get an erection. Many men with heart disease can’t take ED pills due to an interaction with heart disease drugs called nitrates. But new research suggests some men with stable heart disease may be able to slowly stop taking nitrates if their doctor thinks they would benefit from an ED pill. Stopping nitrates can be dangerous, so talk to your doctor first. If ED pills aren’t for you, there are other ED treatments that are safe for men with heart disease.

Robert spoke to his doctor and got the message about the connection of ED and high blood pressure. He began an exercise program, lost the 25 pounds over a six-month period, and cut out salt in his diet. His blood pressure normalized and he was able to stop using the medication and he had a noticeable improvement in his sexual performance.

Bottom Line: High blood pressure can lower your sexual performance. Treating the high blood pressure and healthy life style changes can also significantly improve ED.

This article was excerpted from an article by Brunilda Nazario, MD appearing in WebMD

Want A Non-Medicinal Treatment For Hypertension? Try Soy Protein

August 21, 2011

A recent study finds that soy and milk protein supplements may be associated with lower blood pressure more than refined carbohydrate supplements.
The study, published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn., put 352 adults who were at risk for high blood pressure or who had mild hypertension on various rounds of supplements. The participants were given 40 grams of powdered soy, milk or refined complex carb supplements daily for eight weeks, and had their blood pressure taken at various intervals during the trial. They were told to keep their calories the same, as well as their usual sodium consumption and amount they exercised.
Although none of the groups experienced a significant drop in diastolic blood pressure readings, there were differences in systolic readings. A systolic reading (the top number) measures the force put on the arteries when the heart contracts, pushing blood through the arteries. A diastolic reading (the bottom number) measures the force in the arteries between heart beats.
Those who took the milk protein supplement had an average 2.3-mmHg lower systolic blood pressure compared with when they had the carb supplement. And those who had the soy protein supplement saw an average 2-mmHg drop in systolic pressure compared with the carb supplement.
Bottom Line: In addition to salt restriction and exercise, consider adding soy protein to your diet if you have hypertension.

Berries For Your Blood Pressure-How Strawberries Can Reduce Your Risk of Hypertension

January 30, 2011

Eating just 1 cup of strawberries or blueberries each week can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The new findings appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The new study included 87,242 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II, 46,672 women from the Nurses’ Health Study I, and 23,043 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up study. During the 14-year follow-up period, 29,018 women and 5,629 men developed high blood pressure.

Men and women with the highest amount of anthocyanin from blueberries and strawberries had an 8% reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure, compared to study participants who ate the least amount of these anthocyanin-rich berries, the study showed.

Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant that gives blueberries and strawberries their vibrant color. It may also help open blood vessels, which allows for smoother blood flow and a lower risk for high blood pressure.