January 27th, 2011
By: Deborah Huso
About 74.5 million Americans over the age of 20 suffer from high blood pressure, a health concern that is a silent killer and has been on the rise over the past fifteen years.
And a study, published in this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the world’s top blood pressure drug, hydrocholorothiazide, may not be as effective as once thought.
Alternatives, such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, have been found to be at least 45 percent more effective at knocking down an individual’s “top” blood pressure number. Researchers found ACE inhibitors dropped the top blood pressure number by 12.9 points, while beta blockers knocked off 11.2 points.
While, hydrocholorothiazide mainly address fluid and sodium levels, ACE Inhibitors and beta blockers are responsible for relaxing the blood vessels. Beta blockers also affect the pumping action of the heart.
“Basically what it comes down to is the recipe that is right for you,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg of the New York University Women’s Heart Program and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, commenting on the study.
Goldberg told AOL Health that patients should talk to their doctors if they have questions or concerns about the effectiveness of their medicine. High blood pressure medicines should not be stopped without first talking to a physician, she said.
Hydrocholorothiazide is “not useless, but it may not be as great as previously thought,” said Goldberg.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute currently recommends hydrocholorothiazides as a first line of defense against high blood pressure. In some cases, another medicine may be used in addition to hydrocholorothiazide.
Dr. Franz Messerli, study researcher and head of the hypertension program at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York, believes that when doctors prescribe hydrocholorothiazide, it gives patients a false sense of security. “Hydrocholorothiazide should no longer be used alone,” he told Reuters.
Hydrocholorothiazide drugs are sometimes sold under the brands HydroDIURIL, Aquazide H or Chlorthalidone.
November 22nd, 2010
By: John Phillip
High blood pressure is a critical concern as it significantly raises the incidence of vascular disease and stroke. As a result of stress, poor diet and lifestyle, enzymes in our body produce a substance known as angiotensin II that causes blood vessels to narrow and blood pressure to increase. Standard medical practice is to prescribe ACE inhibitors to slow the action of these enzymes, often with mixed results and always with dangerous side effects. Researchers have now confirmed that natural flavanols found in cacao from chocolate effectively lower blood pressure.
Natural Flavanols from Cacao Effectively Regulate Blood Pressure
Researchers have known for some time that the active catechins and procyanidins in many fruits, vegetables and green tea promote health and protect against disease through a variety of biochemical mechanisms. The results of a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology explain how flavanols from cacao and dark chocolate inhibit the action of angiotensin to influence the body`s fluid balance and effectively regulate blood pressure.
Study Demonstrates Blood Pressure Lowering Effect of Chocolate
The study involved ten men and six women aged 20 to 45 who were fed 75 grams of unsweetened chocolate with a cacao content of 72%. Blood samples were taken before and again after eating the sample chocolate to analyze the activity of the ACE enzyme. Researchers were amazed to find that the enzyme activity was reduced by 18%, effectively lowering dangerous blood pressure as well or even better than many pharmaceuticals.
The lead author concluded, “Our findings indicate that changes in lifestyle with the help of foods that contain large concentrations of catechins and procyaninides prevent cardiovascular diseases.” It`s important to note that the results were produced using unsweetened cacao as found in many specialty dark chocolates. The same benefits would not be conferred with commonly available sweetened milk chocolate and semi-sweet varieties.
Flavanols From Chocolate Increase Nitric Oxide, Relax Blood Vessels
Information reported in the journal BMC Medicine combines the results of 15 independent studies on the vessel dilating effects of flavanols from chocolate. Researchers found that moderate consumption of chocolate with a high percentage of cacao showed significant blood pressure reduction in people with high blood pressure, and no effect on individuals with normal pressure readings. Flavanols increase the natural formation of endothelial nitric oxide that exhibits a relaxing effect on blood vessel walls and lowers blood pressure.
Cacao from chocolate is shown to be yet another example of how a natural compound can promote health and prevent disease. Flavanols and catechins are chemical compounds found in unprocessed foods that are essential to human health. When consumed or supplemented as part of a whole food diet they demonstrate reduced risk of disease without the damaging side effects commonly seen with pharmaceuticals.
February 2, 2010
By David Gutierrez
Even though the vast majority of elderly drivers use one or more medications, few of them area aware of the effects that their drugs can have on driving performance, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and released as a report by the nonprofit AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
“That’s really scary,” said Peter Kissinger of the AAA Foundation. “The risks are real.”
The researchers interviewed 630 drivers between the ages of 56 and 93, and found that 78 percent of them were taking one or more medications. Yet only 28 percent of the respondents knew of the potential risks from driving while medicated. Only 18 percent of those taking drugs especially known to impair driving ability — including ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and sedatives — had received warnings about the effects from their doctors or pharmacists.
Health care workers yet “are not effectively communicating known risks,” Kissinger said.
The researchers also found that awareness of the risks of driving while medicated decreased with age, while the number of prescription medications used increased.
Studies have conclusively linked certain drugs or combinations of drugs to an increase in the risk of automobile collisions. However, the exact number of crashes caused by medications is still unknown because few safety agencies regularly test for the presence of drugs in drivers’ systems after a crash, except when alcohol use is suspected.
An aging population and the increasing prevalence of multiple prescription use are only likely to worsen the problem of uninformed medicated drivers, Kissinger said. To attempt to reverse the trend, the AAA Foundation plans to release a free web-based resource known as Roadwise Rx in early 2010. Roadwise Rx will include a searchable database of the effects that drugs have, individually or in combination, on driving ability. Users will also be able to input personalized data, such as age, sex and weight. The program will be able to advise users about potential drug interactions, the effects of food, and when driving may be unsafe.
October 28, 2009
By Rita Rubin
Anyone who’s ever had a colonoscopy knows the worst part is preparing for it, not the procedure itself. You have to make sure your colon is as clean as a whistle so your doctor can get an unobstructed interior view.
In the old days — the late 20th century, that is — you had to drink a gallon of a special salty liquid to cleanse your bowels in basically one sitting. So patients cheered when tasteless tablets that would accomplish the same thing became available in 2000.
But last week, the Food and Drug Administration tempered that joy by adding a “black box” warning — the sternest warning possible — to the two prescription bowel cleansers that come in tablet form. The new warning stems from reports of kidney damage in patients who took the pills, which contain sodium phosphate, in preparation for a colonoscopy.
Also, the FDA, which can require warnings only on prescription drugs, said no over-the-counter sodium phosphate products should be used for bowel-cleansing. That led C.B. Fleet Co. to announce a voluntary recall of Phospho-soda, a non-prescription laxative that in larger doses has been used for bowel-cleansing.
The FDA says prescription Visicol, approved in 2000, and its successor, OsmoPrep, approved in 2006, should be used with caution by people over 55; those who are dehydrated; those who suffer from kidney disease, acute colitis or delayed bowel emptying; and people on medicines that affect kidney function. Medicines include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and, maybe, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Indiana University gastroenterologist Douglas Rex says he’s been switching older patients to fluid bowel-cleansers that don’t contain sodium phosphate since the first reports of kidney problems came out in 2005. Rex serves as a scientific adviser to Salix Pharmaceuticals, maker of Visicol, OsmoPrep and MoviPrep, one of the fluid products.
No one knows how many people may have suffered damage from the sodium phosphate bowel-cleansers, because even those who’ve lost 75% of their kidney function feel fine, says Columbia University pathologist Glen Markowitz. Markowitz, a Salix consultant, was lead author of a 2005 report on kidney damage in 21 patients who had taken sodium phosphate bowel-cleansers. Even when detected, he says, a connection to the products could be missed.
Dallas gastroenterologist Lawrence Schiller says a patient who had an easy time with the pills wasn’t thrilled to learn of the kidney issue. Schiller left future choice of prep up to her, noting: “There’s a one-in-a-million chance you could end up on dialysis with (the pills).”