Hold the Salt to Hold Down High BP
The American Medical Association (AMA) cited "overwhelmingevidence" that excessive sodium intake is linkedwith high blood pressure (BP) and other coronary disease. Itcalled for the lowering of sodium levels in processed foodsand restaurant offerings by at least 50% over the next 10years. The statement was made at the association's conventionin Chicago, Ill, in June 2006. It also advocated more publiceducation on the benefits of lowering salt intake in thediet and urged the FDA to revoke the "generally recognizedas safe" status of salt, a move that could lead to warninglabels being placed on high-sodium foods.
The group said that more than 95% of American men and 75%of American women aged 31 to 50 regularly consume more saltthan the maximum recommended amount of less than a teaspoona day, or about 2400 mg. Most of this intake comes fromeating processed foods or meals prepared outside the home.The AMA concluded that "food manufacturers and restaurantsshould review their product lines and reduce sodium levels tothe greatest extent possible, without increasing levels of otherunhealthy ingredients."
Meditation May HelpHypertension
A placebo-controlled study conductedat the University of California, LosAngeles, suggested that transcendentalmeditation (TM) could improveblood pressure (BP) and insulin resistancein heart patients. TM involvesmental concentration and physicalrelaxation through the use of amantra, a repeated phrase or syllable.The study was published in the June12, 2006, issue of the Archives ofInternal Medicine.
The researchers studied 84patients with coronary artery diseasewho were randomly assignedto one of 2 groups: one group took a16-week course on health education,and the other enrolled in acourse on TM. Both groups remainedon their regular hypertension treatmentsand under the care of theirphysicians. At the end of the study,those in the TM group had significantlylower BP levels, comparedwith the education group. They alsoshowed improved measures ofinsulin resistance.
The researchers suggested thatTM causes improvements in specificelements of the metabolic syndrome."The good thing about meditationis that it has a very nice quality-of-life component," they said."There's?a lot of data to demonstratethat it has a beneficial effect."
Campaign Promotes Patient-centeredBP Treatment
A national hypertension management initiative was launched in the beginningof June 2006 to help promote interaction between patients and theirhealth care providers and help patients take better control of their high bloodpressure (BP). The initiative will focus on improving the quality of patient careby educating patients on using better diet, exercise, and medication to treattheir hypertension. The campaign is sponsored by Daiichi Sankyo Inc, in conjunctionwith managed care organizations from across the country.
"It is imperative that health care providers and insurers collaborate to managethe risk factors for cardiovascular disease," a representative of DaiichiSankyo said. "One of the key targets [in] addressing this?is controlling high BP.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cardiovasculardisease kills more than 900,000 Americans each year."
Health plans will help by identifying appropriate plan members and invitingthem to participate in the campaign. Once they sign up, they will receive regulareducational mailings and be directed to a Web site created by the MayoClinic to enhance the mailings.
Job Strain May Elevate BP
Constant job stress may be badnews for blood pressure (BP) readings,according to a study publishedin the American Journal of PublicHealth (August 2006). A study of>6719 white-collar workers followedfor 7.5 years indicated that thosewith high job demands and low levelsof social support in the officetended to have higher BP, comparedwith other workers.
The study also found that the relationshipwas stronger among menthan women. As a group, men withmore job strain had higher BP andfaced more risk of BP increases overtime, compared with less stressfulwork. "Our study supports thehypothesis that job strain, particularlyin workers with low social supportat work, may contribute to increasedblood pressure," commented leadauthor Chantal Guimont, MD.
She said that results of the studysupport the idea that limiting jobstrain could make a difference insome workers' BP. For example, Dr.Guimont said employers might giveworkers more support or more say inhow they complete tasks, loosen updeadline pressure, or offer morechances for learning and growth.