Archive for the ‘Hypertension’ Category

Getting really angry might be more dangerous than you think.

A new study found people who experienced severe anger outbursts were more at risk for cardiovascular events in the two hours following the outbursts compared to those who remained calm.

“The relative risk was similar for people who had known pre-existing heart disease and those who didn’t,” says Dr. Murray A. Mittleman, senior study author and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study was designed so that each patient was compared to his or her own baseline risk. “A person with pre-existing heart disease or cardiovascular disease, the absolute risk they are incurring is much greater than (that of) a person without cardiovascular disease or risk factors,” Mittleman says.
“If we look at somebody at higher risk for having cardiovascular events, and they get angry multiple times a day, this can lead to 650 extra heart attacks per year out of 10, 000 a year,” he says. “When we look at a person who is relatively low risk, but if they do have these episodes of anger fairly frequently, we estimate there would be about 150 extra heart attacks out of 10,000 a year.”

Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight and having diabetes are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease. An estimated 17 million people worldwide die of cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes, each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study published Monday in the European Heart Journal was a data analysis looking at nine studies where anger and cardiovascular events were self-reported over nearly two decades. The study found a 4.74 times higher risk of MI (myocardial infarction, or heart attack) or ACS (acute coronary syndrome, where the heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood) following outbursts of anger.

“Anger causes our heart rate to increase through the sympathetic nervous system and causes our stress hormones to become elevated (the fight or flight mechanism),” says Dr. Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association and medical director of the Penn Heart and Vascular Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “We breathe faster, all of which may trigger undesirable reactions in our blood pressure or in our arteries.”

This disruption may mean the heart or the brain doesn’t get the blood and oxygen they need resulting in a heart attack or a stroke, she says.

Researchers suggest more needs to be done to come up with effective interventions to prevent cardiovascular events triggered by anger outbursts. The American Heart Association suggests regular physical activity, finding a way to relax or talking with friends to help reduce stress and anger.

Mittleman suggests the best way to lower your risk for a heart attack or stroke during an angry outburst is to lower your overall baseline level of risk – exercise, eat healthy and don’t smoke – and then find ways to cope with stress and anger.

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/03/03/angry-outbursts-may-raise-heart-attack-stroke-risk/?hpt=hp_t2

A 23-year-old British man died from what the coroner said was a dangerous dose of caffeine, according to British media reports.

Information from the coroner’s inquest revealed that Michael Lee Bedford ingested two spoonfuls of pure caffeine powder that he washed down with an energy drink. Coroner Dr. Nigel Chapman said the dose Bedford consumed was equivalent to 70 cans of Red Bull.

“This should serve as a warning that caffeine is so freely available on the Internet but so lethal if the wrong dosage is taken,” Chapman said at the inquest.

A warning label on the product said only one-sixteenth of a teaspoon should be taken, but Bedford far exceeded that amount.

“He wasn’t doing anything wrong, it was just the danger of the dose he took,” said Chapman.

Though toxicologists in the U.S. say they’re not aware of any cases of people overdosing on caffeine powder, they say that caffeine overdoses are on the rise thanks in large part to the wide availability of caffeine-loaded energy drinks. They believe that increased consumption of these drinks can lead to caffeine abuse, which can lead to significant illness, injury and even death.

“It’s already a big problem,” said Bruce Goldberger, professor and director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “we’re a chemical-based society, because so many of us rely on psychotropic drugs to get by every day.”

“We’re seeing a lot more of it, and one of the reasons is, it’s difficult to figure out how much stimulant is in some of these products,” said Dr. Robert Hendrickson, medical toxicologist and emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Hendrickson explained that there may be other ingredients in many energy drinks and supplements, such as taurine and guarana, that also have caffeine in them, but there’s no indication of how much caffeine they contain.

Experts say there’s been a rise in the number of caffeine-related illnesses because more and more people are taking caffeine for a variety of reasons.

“Students are using it for studying, people are using it to try and stay awake and participate in late night social activities,” said Dr. Richard Clark, director of medical toxicology at UCSD Medical Center in San Diego, Calif.

Medical experts agree that the amount of caffeine that led to Bedford’s death is clearly fatal, and they can only speculate about why someone would choose to ingest that much caffeine.

“It’s a stimulant, so if you’re looking for a stimulant high, caffeine is perceived to be a lot safer,” said Hendrickson.

They aren’t sure how much caffeine is considered life-threatening, although they say there are ways to tell when you’ve reached the caffeine breaking point.

“Caffeine increases our heart rate and our blood pressure and in some people, their degree of anxiety,” said Goldberger.

“[You can also] develop a tremor and feel restless,” Clark added.

When people start to experience these symptoms, it’s a sure sign they’ve had too much caffeine. With extremely high doses, people may start to experience a rapid and irregular heart beat and may eventually have seizures. Death can occur within hours.

“In a life-threatening situation, it’s not unlike the effects of other well-known stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine,” said Goldberger.

Despite the dangers of very high doses of caffeine, studies have shown that caffeine can offer some benefits in small doses.

“We’re seeing a lot more of it, and one of the reasons is, it’s difficult to figure out how much stimulant is in some of these products,” said Dr. Robert Hendrickson, medical toxicologist and emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Hendrickson explained that there may be other ingredients in many energy drinks and supplements, such as taurine and guarana, that also have caffeine in them, but there’s no indication of how much caffeine they contain.

Experts say there’s been a rise in the number of caffeine-related illnesses because more and more people are taking caffeine for a variety of reasons.

“Students are using it for studying, people are using it to try and stay awake and participate in late night social activities,” said Dr. Richard Clark, director of medical toxicology at UCSD Medical Center in San Diego, Calif.

Medical experts agree that the amount of caffeine that led to Bedford’s death is clearly fatal, and they can only speculate about why someone would choose to ingest that much caffeine.

“It’s a stimulant, so if you’re looking for a stimulant high, caffeine is perceived to be a lot safer,” said Hendrickson.

They aren’t sure how much caffeine is considered life-threatening, although they say there are ways to tell when you’ve reached the caffeine breaking point.

“Caffeine increases our heart rate and our blood pressure and in some people, their degree of anxiety,” said Goldberger.

“[You can also] develop a tremor and feel restless,” Clark added.

When people start to experience these symptoms, it’s a sure sign they’ve had too much caffeine. With extremely high doses, people may start to experience a rapid and irregular heart beat and may eventually have seizures. Death can occur within hours.

“In a life-threatening situation, it’s not unlike the effects of other well-known stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine,” said Goldberger.

Despite the dangers of very high doses of caffeine, studies have shown that caffeine can offer some benefits in small doses.

Even if a person suffers no ill effects from consuming an energy drink, experts advise they should not be consumed regularly or over a long period of time because of all the unknowns.

They also urge people to consume any caffeinated foods and drinks in moderation.

“There is no recommended amount, so the key is to know your body and how caffeine affects it,” said Goldberger.

Experts also expressed concern over the growing trend of mixing alcohol and caffeine. This combination can be dangerous, as one recent incident showed.

A group of Central Washington University students became extremely ill after drinking Four Loko, a legal beverage that’s a mix of alcohol and caffeine. Another popular drink is a mixture of Red Bull and vodka.

“Some folks think they can drive better by mixing caffeine with alcohol, but no study confirms that,” said Clark. “Believing you can go drive this way has all kinds of problems associated with it.”

The family of Michael Bedford also has a strong message about the dangers of products like the caffeine powder that led to his death.

“I feel like it should be banned,” his grandmother told British media outlets.

“I think there should be a warning on it saying it can kill,” his aunt said.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Sleep/british-man-dies-caffeine-overdose/story?id=12033005&page=2

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas have found that neighborhood barbers can influence African-American men to seek blood pressure treatement. 

The study participants were patrons of 17 black-owned barbershops throughout Dallas County between March 2006 and December 2008.

Eight shops gave customers traditional pamphlets about hypertension.  In this group, the number of men who pursued medical care to control their hypertension increased from 40 percent at the start of the study to 51 percent at follow-up.

Nine shops put up posters with messages from other male clients about hypertension, checked patrons’ blood pressure and encouraged the men to see a physician if their numbers were elevated.  In this group, the number of men who controlled their hypertension increased from 33.8 percent at the start of the study to 53.7 percent at follow-up. .

Read more here:  http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept353744/files/629749.html

This fascinating one hour HBO documentary illustrates a typical day in the life of a successful community barbershop on Harlem’s 125th street, showing the vital role community barbershops play in facilitating dicussion on a wide variety of important issues, including health care:  http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/cutting-edge/index.html

The creators of this documentary are interviewed here:  http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/cutting-edge/index.html#/documentaries/cutting-edge/interview/june-amani-martin-and-reggie-williams.html