Four Brief Strolls a Day Can Alleviate High BP
The findings of a new study by researchers atIndiana University (IU) show that taking 4 shortwalks a day may be more effective at loweringhigh blood pressure (BP) than 1 long walk. Theycompared the effects of 4 10-minute walks withthose of a single 40-minute walk in reducing BPin 20 patients with hypertension. They foundthat, although both short walks and the longwalk decreased the patients' BP by the sameamount, the effect lasted for 11 hours after the4 short walks, compared with only 7 hours afterthe 1 long walk.
"We had no idea the short bouts would be better,"stated Janet Wallace, professor in theDepartment of Kinesiology at the IU School ofHealth, Physical Education and Recreation. "Moststudies found in the literature report the long, continuoussession as more effective for many variables."She hopes that these findings will motivatepeople who cannot seem to fit longer periods ofactivity into their schedules. "The biggest problemfor most people is that they don't have time."
Take a Deep Breath and Exhale Slowly?and Lower Your BP
A scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggeststhat breathing slowly in and out for a few minutes a day isenough to help some people lower their high blood pressure(BP). David E. Anderson, PhD, of NIH's National Institute onAging, stated that how we breathe may hold a key to how thebody regulates BP—and it has less to do with relaxation andmore to do with breaking down consumed salt.
Dr. Anderson conducted experiments with slow breathing atHarbor Hospital in Baltimore, Md, using patients who wereunder chronic stress. He stated that such people experience"inhibitory breathing"—taking a shallow breath and holding itunconsciously. This practice knocks off the blood's chemicalbalance, making the kidneys less efficient at pumping out sodium.Delayed salt excretion plays a part in raising BP.
Patients in a clinical trial used an FDA-approved device tohelp them pace their breathing for 15 minutes a day for 2months. They saw their BP drop by 10 to 15 points. Expertsinsist, however, that this technique is not meant as a substitutefor diet, exercise, or medication, but rather as a supplement tostandard treatment.
Heart Attack Patients Not Taking Meds
According to researchers from DukeUniversity (Durham, NC), many heartattack patients in the United Statesare not taking their medications asprescribed. The biggest drop in adherenceis between 30 and 90 days afterthey leave the hospital.
The researchers used the prescriptiondrug claims of >17,000 heartattack patients, aged 35 years andolder, and followed the patients for 1year after they were discharged fromthe hospital. The investigators monitoredthe usage of prescribed betablockers.
Only 45% of the patients who weregiven prescriptions for beta-blockersand who had some prescription druginsurance coverage were taking thedrugs regularly during the first yearafter leaving the hospital. The researchersemphasized that patientsmust take the medicines for the restof their lives in order to reap the fullbenefits.
"Strategies to maintain adherencemust focus not only on communityphysicians to maintain prescribing, butalso on patients and their families," thestudy's lead researcher said. Theresults of the study were published inthe September 2006 issue of theAmerican Heart Journal.
Race Has Part in Stroke's Aftereffects
One of the first nationwide studiesof the long-term effects ofstrokes has shown that survivors' future quality of life is drasticallyreduced, and that black patientsseem to fare worse than whitepatients. Researchers at the USCenters for Disease Control andPrevention in Atlanta, Ga, noted that"the disparity between the blackand white populations is actuallywider among the stroke populationthan the nonstroke population." Thereport was published in the October2006 issue of Stroke.
The researchers looked at federaldata from the Household Componentof the Medical ExpenditurePanel Survey, which was conductedin 2000 and 2002. They focused on39,680 adults, 1040 of whom hadsurvived a stroke. The patients wereevaluated using a number of measurementsfor physical, mental, andgeneral health, as well as for limitationsdue to physical, emotional, ormental health problems.
Compared to nonstroke patients,stroke survivors scored lower onmental health (4.1%), physical health(7.9%), and daily ability (6.9%) and inrating their overall health (7.2%).These disparities were even greaterbetween white patients and blackpatients, the researchers added.
Norman M. Kaplan, MD, a professorin the division of hypertensionat the University of TexasSouthwestern Medical Center,pointed out that the main cause ofstroke is high blood pressure, andthat "blacks have more strokesthan whites" because "they don'tget control of their blood pressurebecause they don't get as muchmedical attention."