Friday, October 12, 2012

Dr Bob's Newsletter

High Blood Pressure And You
Did you know that nearly two thirds, yes 66% of Americans under sixty have or are on the verge of high blood pressure and at least 1/3 do not know it. Having this "silent killer" not only increases there risk of heart disease or stroke but puts them in a higher risk category for hospitalization and death according to a recent study.
There are new guidelines for high blood pressure that have been agreed upon over the last several years and you need to know about them. First the new guidelines are that normal blood pressure is when the systolic ( top number) is 119 or lower and the bottom number is 79 or less. In the recent past we felt that abnormal blood pressure was anything that was 140 or above over 90 or above. Now, people who have this are definitely hypertensive or have high blood pressure.
When the reading is 120 - 139 for the systolic and / or 80 - 89 for the diastolic we are to be considered "pre- hypertension. Each of needs to know what our blood pressure reading is, so don't be shy, ask your doctor.
Also, it makes good sense that if your blood pressure is not normal get a blood pressure cuff in the drug store and have your spouse, partner or children take it periodically and jot down the numbers for your doctor. There is such a diagnosis of "white coat" syndrome" where blood pressure rises when you go to the doctors office.
Dr Bob's Take: It is so important to know what your blood pressure is and if it is pre-hypertensive or in the category of high blood pressure (hypertensive) get it treated and you can make a dramatic difference in your life.
Anti-Oxidant Update
Last month we talked about Vitamin E and the potential for increasing the risk for heart disease. Initially when the first studies came out about 10-15 years ago it was felt that Vitamin E was going to be a panacea for "preventing" heart disease.
Well, there are more studies that are being released which is showing that the herbal remedies that are being touted as anti-oxidants are not proving very effective in preventing diseases like cancer. These are substances like beta carotene, vitamin C, and selenium. The researchers in France have been looking at this and have concluded that there may be a small benefit for men (none for women) but that the benefits can easily be derived by eating a balanced diet. This study was recently reported in the November issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
Dr Bob's Take: as an American I like you are looking for the "holy grail" which in the US is "take a pill and cure it" is not the answer here. We need to really eat right and exercise and this will lead to a healthy "us".
Pacifiers and Baby's Teeth
A study in the Archives of Disease in Children this month, shows that there is a difference in the formation of "baby teeth" when a baby breast feeds or uses their thumb to suck or is given a pacifier during the first 3 months of their life. The study took place in Italy with 1000 children aged 3-5 years old. It found that 1/3 of all children who used pacifiers or sucked their thumb had malocclussion, where the teeth did not line up properly. 89% of had an open bite, where the front teeth do not meet. Whereas only 11% of those with an open bite were breast fed.
This study took place when the children were 3-5 years old and based on information about how they were fed and the use of pacifiers or thumbs. It also is based on the 1st set of teeth - the baby teeth. It is felt by the researchers that the pattern for the teeth is set by how the 1st set is treated.
Dr Bob's Take: although this may have quite a bit of significance for our children's future and their biting and chewing abilities I don't see many of us changing what we are doing or what we have done. But, you know the orthodontists will continue to flourish.
Prescription Tablet Splitting
Some of you may have remembered the articles in the papers about 3 years ago when it was suggested by some health plans that members cut their tablets in half with some medications. Well in Florida a pharmacist has noted that with cholesterol lowering medication a savings of about $850 could be saved per year by splitting the tablet. He goes on to say that this is one way to fight some of the escalation in prices for medications. It was found that with patients of the Veterans Affairs Dept there was a savings of $46 million when eligible patients split their Zocor.
Dr Bob's Take: before you go and do this you first need to check with your doctor. Bring in a sample of the medication so he/she can judge whether or not it would be wise to split the tablet.
Grape Juice and Cholesterol
Yes, the studies are in, grape juice does have a positive effect on raising the HDL part of cholesterol. Dr Jane Freedman, associate professor of Pharmacology at Boston University studied a group of 17 men and 3 women with a grant from Welch's. The participants were 63 years old on average and were 2 weeks on the juice, off for 2 weeks than given a placebo (non-juice) for another 2 weeks.
The outcome showed that the grape juice drinkers elevated their HDL on average from 45 to 50mg, about a 10% rise. This group also lowered a chemical in their system that shows the presence of inflammation in the blood vessels. It is felt that yes grape juice can work like red wine in humans. And for those who don't drink red wine there is an alternative.
With that good news I will close for this year and talk with you again next year.

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