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High BP During Pregnancy Raises Disease Risk Later On

Women who develop highblood pressure (BP) duringpregnancy have a higherrisk of stroke and heart andkidney disease later in life. Anew study conducted at theMayo Clinic in Rochester,Minn, questions the theorythat hypertension duringpregnancy is a temporaryside effect with no longtermconsequences for laterin life. This study included4782 women, average age54, and was the largest ofits kind and the first toinclude multiracial patients.All the women had a highfamily risk of hypertensionand were participating inthe National Heart, Lung,and Blood Institute FamilyBP Program study from2000 to 2005.

The researchers looked at3 groups: 718 women whohad no history of a pregnancylasting longer than 6months; 3421 who had normalBP throughout theirpregnancies; and 643 whohad hypertension whilepregnant. Most of the womenhad a sibling who alsohad high BP. The studyshowed that women whohad high BP during pregnancyhad twice the risk ofstroke as those who did not.They also had 1.5 times therisk of heart attack and ofdeveloping hypertensionafter age 40. Of this group,"50% of them had high BPby age 52," researcherssaid. The findings were presentedat the annual meetingof the American Societyof Nephrology in November2006.

Alcohol Intake Has No Effect on High BP Risk

According to researchers at the KaiserFoundation Research Institute in Oakland,Calif, although a link exists betweenalcohol intake and high blood pressure(BP), the absence or amount of alcoholconsumed does not appear to be significantlyassociated with successive hypertension-related events. The researchersstudied data from >127,000 patientswho had health examinations between1978 and 1988. They were divided into 5groups based on levels of alcohol consumption,ranging from no alcohol to 3or more drinks per day. Although therisks of experiencing subsequent cardiovascularend points—such as death, hospitalization,and outpatient diagnosis ofhypertension—were greater as BP levelsincreased, no correlation was found betweenthe amount of alcohol consumedand the risk of reaching these end points.The results of the study were publishedin the October 15, 2006, edition of theAmerican Journal of Cardiology.

Baby Boomers with Hypertension Ignore Med Warnings

According to the resultsof a national health surveycommissioned by Schering-Plough HealthCare ProductsInc, most babyboomers—those born between1946 and 1964, thefirst wave of whom turned60 last year—with highblood pressure (BP) admitthat they are aware ofwarnings on many decongestantsthat state usingthe products will raise theirBP even more, yet they usethem anyway. About onethird of the boomers havehigh BP.

About 4 in 10 respondentsexpected to becomehypertensive based on theirfamily's history, but another3 in 10 said they were surprisedby the diagnosis.Only about 25% said thatthe diagnosis motivatedthem to change to a healthierlifestyle, while about63.5% admitted the need tolose weight and exercise tocontrol their BP levels.

The Hypertension in theBoomer Population studyexamined the perceptions,feelings, and experiencesof boomers with high BP.The survey was based oninterviews with a nationwidesample of 1000 hypertensiveadults aged 42 to60. The American Heart Associationissued a reminderin December 2006 thatpeople with high BP shouldbe cautious about the OTCcold and flu relief productsthey use, because many ofthem contain pseudoephedrineand phenylephrine,which could raise BP.

Mexican Americans at Higher Risk of Second Stroke

A recent study showed that Mexican Americans who havealready suffered one stroke are 57% more likely to experiencea second one than non-Hispanic whites. The findings complementa previous study in 1998 that showed that Puerto RicanAmericans who have had a stroke face 3 times the risk ofanother one as white stroke patients do. Researchers from theUniversity of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arborfound that, although this population has a higher risk of strokeoccurrence, "we still don't exactly know why that is."

In the 4-year study, researchers identified all cases ofischemic stroke that occurred among >310,000 adults overage 45 who resided in southeast Texas. Mexican Americansmade up about half this population. Of a total of 1345 strokecases reported, 118 of initial stroke sufferers went on to experiencea second stroke. Mexican Americans accounted for 76of those recurrences and had a 57% higher risk for recurrencethan their white counterparts. The findings were reported inthe September 2006 issue of the Annals of Neurology.

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