Archive for June, 2007

What to Look for in a Blood Pressure Monitor Review

Posted in Blood Pressure Reduction on June 28th, 2007

Being able to take ones own blood pressure reading at home using a blood pressure monitor can help enormously in preventing White Coat Hypertension (the elevated blood pressure readings that occur in a surgery or clinic environment) and achieve a more accurate reading, that is not skewed by the environment. So being able to have a good quality home blood pressure monitor can help get an accurate reading without interference.  Therefore, it is important that any blood pressure monitor review that is used to inform a potential buyer is reliable and provides sufficient information to identify the features that are needed to ensure an accurate reading.

There are lots of sites online, which sell blood pressure monitors.  But unfortunately many do not have customer or professional reviews of the monitors to help with the buying decision.

Places that can offer reviews include amazon.com, support forums and chat rooms where people discuss high blood pressure issues. However, it is worth ensuring there is no conflict of interest, and that the review is not biased and reflects the benefits of the particular blood pressure monitor in question.

Another great place to search for blood pressure monitor reviews is on independent medical sites such as quickmedical.com, which allows you to compare the features of the various different models and makes that are available.

Plus there are sites like dynamic-living.com, which offer blood pressure monitoring equipment for sale and then ask people to review the products for them. 

Some things to consider when buying a blood pressure monitor include:

The usability of the product.
Many of the blood pressure monitors that can be used at home have a number of different features. For instance, some come with stethoscopes, some have an automatic cuff inflation unit built in.  Others will “speak” the reading for those that have eyesight difficulty.

It is important to ensure that the person who will be using the equipment is going to be able to use it effectively.  Therefore those that have problems with dexterous tasks may want to avoid the blood pressure monitors that require use of a stethoscope and a pump for inflating the cuff.

Also, for those that are hard of heading a monitor that automatically detects when to make the blood pressure reading would likely be easier to use than one with a stethoscope. 

The functionality and accuracy of the product
The accuracy of the blood pressure reading is of course vital.  Blood pressure monitors accuracy is now very good, and it is comparable with readings that are taken in a doctor’s surgery.  However, to be sure that the monitor being purchased is calibrated correctly ensure that there have been validity checks carried out, either by a doctor or by the manufacturer.

The ability to transport the product
For many, the ability to take blood pressure readings when they are travelling is a key consideration.  Having a monitor that can pack away safely and travel without effecting the monitor’s accuracy will be important to some.

If there is doubt about a blood pressure monitor review and uncertainty about which one of the many hundred products available, then a quick discussion with your doctor to ask them if they have any recommendations is advisable.  It is likely that their other patients have bought blood pressure monitors and have shared their experiences with the doctor.

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The High Blood Pressure Fruits and Vegetables Connection

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21st, 2007

Many people whom their doctors have diagnosed as having high blood pressure generally first look at ways of modifying their eating habits in order to help control it.  In this article we are going to take a look at the link between good diet, high blood pressure, fruits and vegetables and see how they help to control this high blood pressure.

A diet that is high in fruits and vegetables is already understood by most people to be healthy, as they contain many of the essential nutrients and are packed with immune boosting substances like antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.  Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber, which can help to suppress your appetite.  Plus they are essential in helping to keep your cholesterol levels in check as well as regulating blood sugar levels too. 

A simple technique to ensure that you are getting a good mix of fruits and vegetables is to eat at least 3 different colored ones at each meal.  This will mean that there is a good mix of healthy nutrients being taken in by the body.

Generally try and chose fresh fruit and vegetables, preferably in season and organic.  In this way you know that you are getting the best and most nutritionally strong foods.

Whenever possible eat fruit and vegetables raw, or lightly cooked.  If they are boiled, baked or fried they can loose a lot of their beneficial nutrients and become less wholesome.  Try steaming vegetables to keep the levels of nutrients high.

Certainly green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard and also mustard greens are extremely beneficial in helping to control a person’s blood pressure levels.  Whilst the vegetables of the cruciferous group such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts (I know not everyone likes them) and kale and bok choy also are extremely beneficial. 

Whilst the most beneficial fruits available are citrus fruits such as limes, oranges, lemons and grapefruits.  Which can either be eaten as they are or juiced and enjoyed at any time of the day.

Even if you were to increase the amount of vegetables or fruits that you have each day by just one serving you will be amazed at the impact this will have on helping to regulate high blood pressure. 

Certainly, studies carried out by the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) found that there was a strong association with people eating more fruit and vegetables in their diet along with low fat dairy products as an effective way of lowering blood pressure levels. 

During the course of the study the diet that DASH advocates not only contained high amounts of fruit and vegetables as well as low fat dairy products but also actually restricted the amount of saturated and total fat products the people taking part consumed. 

The researchers found that those people who followed a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, low in fat and low in sodium, lowered both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, and they were reduced in much the same way as if they had used blood pressure medication.

So from the evidence garnered during their study it seems quite emphatic that there is a link between high blood pressure, fruits and vegetables and diet. You should discuss any change in diet with your doctor or nutritionist.

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Melatonin and High Blood Pressure - Is there a connection?

Posted in Blood Pressure Reduction on June 14th, 2007

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if a simple pill taken at night could relieve blood pressure while you slept? Well, a study in 2004 looked at this very possibility, considering the connection between Melatonin and high blood pressure.

Today high blood pressure is a disease, which is found through out the world.  However this particular disease seems to be extremely prevalent in the US and Europe.

There are a number of reasons that this tends to be the case.  It is believed that there are contributory factors that are synonymous with industrialized nations that contribute to the problems, including:

Being obese
Smoking
Excessive alcohol consumption
Lack of exercise
Too much salt in the diet, or a poor diet
Taking certain medicines, like steroids
A family history of high blood pressure
Suffering from Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
Kidney problems
Long working hours in sedentary jobs

Normally, when diagnosed with high blood pressure the doctor will have the goal of reducing the hypertension to healthy levels, and a secondary goal of making sure that these levels are maintained.

This normally consists of medication to bring the levels down to safe levels quickly, and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of reoccurrence. This can be a long process, and a number of the drugs can have some serious side effects. So, it is not surprising that people are looking for a natural way to healthily reduce their blood pressure levels.

In a study carried out and reported in the February 2004 edition of Hypertension Magazine it was revealed that use of melatonin at night an hour before sleep appeared to lower a person’s blood pressure.

Melatonin, which is a naturally occurring hormone, produced the pineal gland in the brain, plays an important part in regulating your body’s internal “clock”, also known as the circadian cycle or circadian rhythm.

The study lasted 3 weeks, and included 16 men who had elevated blood pressure.  Half of the subject group where given 2.5mg of melatonin each day an hour before they went to bed, whilst the other half were given 2.5mg of melatonin on the first day of the study and then provided with a placebo there after for the rest of the 3 weeks.

The results of this small study showed that those who were taking the melatonin for the full 3 weeks had a significant reduction in blood pressure levels, whilst those that where taking the placebo recorded no changes.

So, the study concluded that melatonin may have the effect of reducing blood pressure if taken regularly at night before sleep.

However, there is some debate as to what actually caused the blood pressure to lower. Was it the melatonin or was it that the subjects who where given the melatonin had fuller, better quality sleep?

There have been some studies to show that if a person is sleep deprived then their blood pressure rises, so there is a connection between sleep and blood pressure that has been established.

Whatever the reason for the reduction in blood pressure, the trial was too small to derive sufficient evidence that melatonin can help lower blood pressure safely, and more research is required to provide the proof that is needed.

Unfortunately, further studies on the connection between melatonin and high blood pressure are unlikely to be funded. Melatonin is a naturally produced substance in the body, and as such cannot be patented.  So, it is unlikely that a pharmaceutical company will go to the expense of a large and costly clinical trial to meet regulatory requirements.

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Are There Alternative Medicine High Blood Pressure Options?

Posted in Blood Pressure Reduction on June 7th, 2007

In the US an amazing 1 in 3 adults suffer from high blood pressure according to the American Heart Association. A number of these will be on prescription medication, and some will look for alternative solutions.  But, is there an alternative medicine high blood pressure relief solution as effective as traditional medication that can help?

The reason that someone gets high blood pressure is usually, in 90 to 95 percent of cases unknown.  In fact about 1 in 3 people with high blood pressure will not be aware that their blood pressure is elevated.  This is one of the reasons that it has been called the silent killer.

This type of hypertension is called primary hypertension, and there seems to be some common elements. 

There are a number of lifestyle factors that have been identified that may contribute to primary hypertension, these include, being overweight, eating an unhealthy diet (usually too much salt and not enough fresh fruit and vegetables), being stressed, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and too little exercise.

Even quite small changes to your lifestyle can make a difference to blood pressure levels.

As well as these lifestyle factors there are certain substances that elevate primary hypertension, including, certain antidepressants, some cold medicines, Steroids and NSAIDS.  There are a number of others, so if you are on medication it is important you understand the potential side effects.

There are also some genetic factors that you cannot influence which can cause primary hypertension, including, your race (black people have a high risk), your age (over 55 is a higher risk), and family history (genetics).

Although these are risk elements that cannot be controlled, a person can reduce their risk by compensating with improving or elimination the other risk factors.

If symptoms are not diagnosed, or go untreated there is an increased risk of a stroke or heart disease or even kidney failure, as well as other severe symptoms.

Although there are pharmaceutical medications that have shown to be beneficial to many suffering with high blood pressure, there are many people who prefer to use alternative medicines to help relieve their high blood pressure.

Here is list of some alternative options that have shown promise, however, before deciding to take any alternative medication or food supplements make sure you work with your doctor to ensure you are getting the best treatment options available.

Garlic – Numerous studies have shown that garlic supplements can give a significant reduction in blood pressure, and it was concluded that it might be of clinical use with people who have mild hypertension.

However, it is worth noting that garlic can thin the blood, and it may interact with other medications and supplements, and it is usually recommended that garlic should not be taken close to any surgery.

CoEnzyme Q10 (often referred to as CoQ10) – A trial involving 83 people and study involving 74 people all with hypertension showed that CoQ10 had the effect of significantly reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Hawthorn Extract – 79 subjects where used in a test, a proportion where given a placebo, and the others Hawthorn extract.  Those taking the hawthorn supplement had a reduced level of diastolic blood pressure.
 
Another alternative type of treatment for dealing with high blood pressure is acupuncture. There seems to be little research to back up the benefit of acupuncture, but the anecdotal evidence from those having this treatment is compelling.

If you decide that you want to use alternative medicine high blood pressure reduction, then the approach should be discussed with your doctor. Just because a substance is labeled alternative doesn’t mean it won’t harm or reduce the effectiveness of other medication you may be taking.

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