DECEMBER 01, 2006

Add PUFAs to Your Diet to Reduce BP

Scientists at the University of Milan, Italy, have found that heart failure patients whose diets were supplemented with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) showed substantial developments in their heart rates and blood pressure (BP) levels. The research also suggests that PUFAs in daily meals help lower the risk of arrhythmias in heart attack survivors. The researchers stated that this is due to an improvement of reflex in the arterial baroreceptors, which monitor changes in BP.

The study involved 15 patients who received 2 g/day of PUFA in their diets, compared with 10 patients who received a placebo. Each group underwent similar BP, electrocardiogram, and baroreceptor reflex assessments. The researchers found that those who ate PUFA-enriched meals for 4 months were more likely to experience improvements in both heart rates and BP readings. The findings were published in the October 17, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Links Between Sleep Problems and BP Found in Adults and Children

A study that examined the rates of high blood pressure (BP) and sleep apnea in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) found that there are many instances of the 2 conditions appearing together. The study of more than 720,000 adults divided into 5 subgroups?no CKD and stages I to IV CKD? found that, in every group, most of those who had sleep apnea also had high BP?from 51% in the no CKD group, to 100% in the stage IV CKD group. The researchers determined that hypertension is common in patients with sleep apnea. They also noted that rates of hypertension increased as kidney function decreased. The study was conducted by the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.

A separate study of hypertensive children by the University of Texas Medical School at Houston showed that 60% of them had a condition known as sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which is characterized by short periods of complete or partial upper airway obstruction or a longer period of insufficient air movement. Risk factors for SDB in children include obesity and enlarged tonsils, and symptoms include snoring, restless sleep, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Researchers studied 15 boys and 5 girls, aged 4 to 18 years, with primary hypertension who snored or had enlarged tonsils or nighttime high BP. They found that 12 of the children had SDB. The prevalence of SDB in children in general is 2%. The findings of both studies were presented in October at the American Heart Association's 60th Annual Fall Conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research in San Antonio, Tex.

To Lower BP?Don't Worry, Be Happy

A recent study shows that having a positive outlook on life not only makes it more enjoyable, it may make it longer by lowering blood pressure (BP) levels. The study involved 2654 Mexican Americans aged 65 and older who answered a questionnaire that measured their level of positive emotions.

The researchers found that the higher people scored on the test, the lower their BP was. The results were most significant for people who were not taking BP-lowering medications, but they were also notable among those who were taking the medicines.

The lead author of the study, Glenn V. Ostir, PhD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, stated, "Our thoughts and emotions do affect our physical processes. The nice thing is that we have some control over that." Dr. Ostir and his team suggest that targeting a patient's emotional well-being could be an effective way to help them control their BP. The findings were published in the September/October 2006 edition of Psychosomatic Medicine.

ACE Inhibitors Also Aid in Type 2 Diabetes

A study conducted at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Bergamo, Italy, showed that patients who have both high blood pressure (BP) and type 2 diabetes benefit from taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) for their BP. The use of ACEIs and control of high BP appear to have independent and additive protective effects in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The study involved 1180 patients with type 2 diabetes who also had high BP. The researchers found that those who were taking the ACEI trandolapril, alone or with verapamil, experienced a delay in the onset of microalbuminuria?a buildup of albumin in the urine that signals kidney disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease.

According to Piero Ruggenenti, MD, the study's lead author at the Institute, "effective BP reduction has a specific? effect against the development of microalbuminuria." Systolic BP itself was the strongest predictor or microalbuminuria, and its reduction was the most protective factor. The findings were published in the December 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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