Tag Archives: Blood pressure

New blood pressure app

September 7, 2018
Source: Michigan State University

Summary: Researchers have invented a proof-of-concept blood pressure app that can give accurate readings using an iPhone — with no special equipment.Michigan State University has invented a proof-of-concept blood pressure app that can give accurate readings using an iPhone — with no special equipment.

smartphone app screen for article, New blood pressure appThe discovery, featured in the current issue of Scientific Reports, was made by a team of scientists led by Ramakrishna Mukkamala, MSU electrical and computer engineering professor.

“By leveraging optical and force sensors already in smartphones for taking ‘selfies’ and employing ‘peek and pop,’ we’ve invented a practical tool to keep tabs on blood pressure,” he said. “Such ubiquitous blood pressure monitoring may improve hypertension awareness and control rates, and thereby help reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

In a publication in Science Translational Medicine earlier this year, Mukkamala’s team had proposed the concept with the invention of a blood pressure app and hardware. With the combination of a smartphone and add-on optical and force sensors, the team produced a device that rivaled arm-cuff readings, the standard in most medical settings.

With advances in smartphones, the add-on optical and force sensors may no longer be needed. Peek and pop, available to users looking to open functions and apps with a simple push of their finger, is now standard on many iPhones and included in some Android models.

If things keep moving along at the current pace, an app could be available in late 2019, Mukkamala added.

“Like our original device, the application still needs to be validated in a standard regulatory test,” he said. “But because no additional hardware is needed, we believe that the app could reach society faster.”


To Bring Down Stubbornly High Blood Pressure, It Helps To Have A Team

5/4/2017     Science : NPR     Wendy Rigby

Patient getting team approach to high blood pressure treatment
Ann Mazuca has diabetes and glaucoma that can be aggravated by high blood pressure. The support shown by clinic staff at the University Family Health Center Southeast, in San Antonio, helps her do what’s needed to reduce hypertension, she says. “The fact that they care makes me care.”
Wendy Rigby/TPR

You’ve probably heard the phrase “it takes a village” to get things done. Many clinics across the U.S. are finding that’s true for effectively controlling their patients’ high blood pressure.

“It’s not just medications that are required to treat hypertension,” explains Kirk Evoy, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and pharmacist at University Family Health Center Southeast. “It’s also things like lifestyle changes,” he says. “What do you eat? Do you exercise? Do you smoke?”

A quick prescription and an annual lecture from a doctor aren’t always enough to get ahead of this quiet killer, specialists say. Some patients need extra coaching — and from different kinds of coaches.

Take Ann Mazuca, for example. She’s 63, has diabetes, is developing glaucoma and really struggles to keep her blood pressure down.

“I know that I have to try to help myself,” Mazuca says, but weekly check-ins with the staff at University Family Health Center Southeast help keep her on track in juggling her various conditions. “The fact that they care makes me care,” Mazuca says. “People want me to live. And that gives me a lot of hope.”

Continue reading To Bring Down Stubbornly High Blood Pressure, It Helps To Have A Team

Texting Trial Shows Dramatic Reduction in Blood Pressure

Satish Misra, MD | 

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that a surprisingly simple text messaging program can reduce body mass index (BMI), smoking rates, blood pressure, and LDL-C levels in heart disease patients1.

graphic showing results of text messages on blood pressurePatients who have had a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease events are at high risk for recurrence and so secondary prevention strategies are critical. And like many clinicians, I also spend a lot of time singing the praises of cardiac rehabilitation to convince my patients that investing their time in these programs will be worth it. In addition to supervised exercise, these programs provide a wide range of counseling and education to help patients make difficult behavior changes, like quitting smoking or turning around their diet.

And recognizing widespread under-utilization of this resource, we’ve seen some efforts to take cardiac rehabilitation mobile.

A group of Australian researchers designed a simple text messaging based program to deliver at least some motivational support and education to heart disease patients. This program delivered four text messages per week for six months covering smoking, diet, exercising, and other cardiovascular health topics. And aside from some simple personalization strategies, like adding the patient’s name to some messages or not sending anti-smoking messages to non-smokers, messages were selected at random from a large message bank designed by clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

They randomized just over 700 patients to receive this intervention or to usual care; patients were followed for six months. The benefits they found were impressive, particularly for blood pressure, for a surprisingly simple intervention. For comparison, starting a standard dose of HCTZ is estimated to lower systolic blood pressure by 8 mm Hg.

First Study Unveiled to Focus on Occupation and Obesity

By ReduceYourWorkersComp 05/14/2014 08:30:00

photo; half of all employers saved money with workplace wellness programAccording to a recent study from the State of Washington, certain occupations can be downright hazardous to your health, along with increasing the chances for potential injury in the workplace.

Truckers, movers, and police and firefighters are likeliest to be obese. Doctors, scientists and teachers are the healthiest.

Those are the results of a first-of-its-type study the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries sponsored connecting what you do for work with obesity. The study also examined the percentage of workers in specific occupations who smoke, have adequate fruit and vegetable servings, participate in leisure time exercise and report high physical demands of their job.

“The objective of the research was to identify occupations in need of workplace obesity prevention programs,” said Dr. David Bonauto, associate medical director for L&I’s research division. “Employers, policy makers and health practitioners can use our results to target and prioritize prevention and health behavior promotions.”

The study, “Obesity Prevalence by Occupation in Washington State, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,” was published earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study was based on more than 88,000 participants the CDC contacted in the state in odd years from 2003-2009. It found that nearly 1-in-4 workers statewide were obese.

Obesity Poses Threat to Public Safety

“We know obesity poses a threat to public health,” Dr. Bonauto said. “This is the first state-level study using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to estimate occupation-specific obesity.


Thoughts on the New Blood Pressure Guidelines

If your New Year’s Resolutions include lowering your blood pressure you should review this discussion about the recently released new guidelines.


New blood pressure guidelines for 2014 chart
Over 60s Can Have Slightly Higher Blood Pressure

The new blood pressure (BP) guideline, released recently in JAMA, has simplified blood pressure management and likely decreased both the number of patients needing treatment and the number of medications they need. Many commentaries have begun to flood the Internet, so of course I must add my thoughts.

First, please read Harlan Krumholz thoughts: 3 Things to Know About the New Blood Pressure Guidelines.

Here are my main thoughts:

1. This guideline panel commissioned evidence reviews — and as one of the editorials states, this gives us more confidence in the guideline. Somewhat amazingly, most of the guideline does not have a strong evidence base. The authors show great honesty in their assessment of the evidence quality. Few of these recommendations should become performance measures. Current BP performance measures encourage overtreatment.

2. The best data exist for increasing the goal BP for 60 and older to 150/90. How many patients older than 60 currently take medications to lower their BP of 140-149 to reach a goal < 140? We have significant overuse of antihypertensives in that population.

3. The guideline supports any of 4 classes for initial treatment: thiazides, ACE-I, calcium channel blockers (CCBs) or ARBs. Clearly the data do not support beta blockers as a standard treatment. I am disappointed that they do not discuss the differences in thiazides (I strongly prefer chlorthalidone to hydrochlorothiaze) nor do they comment on the differences among CCBs.

4. They do make distinctions in first line therapy for black patients. At least one critic that I read pointed out that racial distinctions are hazardous at best.

5. This guideline differs greatly from previous guidelines. The committee has, in my opinion, carefully absorbed the many opinion pieces about guidelines and the IOM recommendations.

We really do not have adequate data to answer many questions about hypertension. I like the simpler recommendations that clearly should decrease overprescribing.

Robert Centor is an internal medicine physician who blogs at DB’s Medical Rants.

How Obesity Can Affect Productivity

obesity chart based on waist sizeGives a whole new meaning to, “Cutting the fat!”

To keep moving and to live a full and productive life it is imperative to keep healthy. Sometimes circumstances beyond our control can impact our lives, slowing us down and affecting the way we would normally function. However, there are things within our control that we can do to ensure we stay fit and healthy so we can be productive in terms of both industry and leisure. Before we look at the solutions ranging from exercises to bariatric procedures, let’s address the problem of obesity and how it can get in the way of working life. Whatever the nature of your work, obesity can have a very negative impact on productivity, making you feel sluggish and unable to concentrate. The severely obese may suffer from reduced movement and if it’s hard to get around on a day-to-day basis then this immediately limits the type of work you can carry out efficiently. In a similar way, if your weight is affecting your stamina it will affect your ‘get-up-and-go’ so even desk based jobs will prove problematic and then there are the complications associated with sheer size if your bulk makes it uncomfortable for you to sit in an office chair all day.

Poor Health means Poor Productivity

Obesity also presents higher risks of health incidents within the workplace. Severely overweight employees are at greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and strokes. Not only does this put them at personal danger, but it impacts on productivity and has implications for employer’s medical care and insurance costs.

Continue reading How Obesity Can Affect Productivity

Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure!

slice of watermellon
Not just for picnics anymore

ScienceDaily (Oct. 13, 2010) — No matter how you slice it, watermelon has a lot going for it — sweet, low calorie, high fiber, nutrient rich — and now, there’s more. Evidence from a pilot study led by food scientists at The Florida State University suggests that watermelon can be an effective natural weapon against prehypertension, a precursor to cardiovascular disease. Not to mention the exercise value of a “seed spitting contest.”

It is the first investigation of its kind in humans. FSU Assistant Professor Arturo Figueroa and Professor Bahram H. Arjmandi found that when six grams of the amino acid L-citrulline/L-arginine from watermelon extract was administered daily for six weeks, there was improved arterial function and consequently lowered aortic blood pressure in all nine of their prehypertensive subjects (four men and five postmenopausal women, ages 51-57).

“We are the first to document improved aortic hemodynamics in prehypertensive but otherwise healthy middle-aged men and women receiving therapeutic doses of watermelon,” Figueroa said. “These findings suggest that this ‘functional food’ has a vasodilatory effect, and one that may prevent prehypertension from progressing to full-blown hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

“Given the encouraging evidence generated by this preliminary study, we hope to continue the research and include a much larger group of participants in the next round,” he said.

Why watermelon?

“Watermelon is the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline, which is closely related to L-arginine, the amino acid required for the formation of nitric oxide essential to the regulation of vascular tone and healthy blood pressure,” Figueroa said.

Once in the body, the L-citrulline is converted into L-arginine. Simply consuming L-arginine as a dietary supplement isn’t an option for many hypertensive adults, said Figueroa, because it can cause nausea, gastrointestinal tract discomfort, and diarrhea. Continue reading Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure!

Drinking Fewer Sugar-Sweetened Beverages May Lower Blood Pressure

photo of man with over-sized Big Gulp soda cup and straw
Time for Little Gulp?

ScienceDaily (May 25, 2010) — Drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages — a leading source of added sugar in the U.S. diet — may lower blood pressure, according to research published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) has been associated with an elevated risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes, according to previous research. However, the effect of sugar-sweetened beverages on blood pressure is uncertain, said lead author Liwei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at Louisiana State University Health Science Center School of Public Health in New Orleans, La.

“Our findings suggest that reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and sugar consumption may be an important dietary strategy to lower blood pressure and further reduce other blood pressure-related diseases,” Chen said. “It has been estimated that a 3-millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) reduction in systolic blood pressure should reduce stroke mortality by 8 percent and coronary heart disease mortality by 5 percent. Such reductions in systolic blood pressure would be anticipated by reducing sugar-sweetened beverages consumption by an average of 2 servings per day.”

Researchers used data on 810 adults, ages 25 to 79, with prehypertension (between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg) and stage I hypertension (between 140/90 and 159/99 mm Hg ) who participated in the PREMIER study, an 18-month behavioral intervention study with a focus on weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet as a means to prevent and control high blood pressure. At the start of the study, the participants drank an average 10.5 fluid ounces of SSB/day, equivalent to just under one serving. At the study’s conclusion, average consumption had fallen by half a serving/day and both systolic blood pressure (the pressure when the heart beats), and diastolic blood pressure, (the pressure between beats), had declined significantly.
After controlling for known risk factors of blood pressure, the analysis found that a reduction of one serving/day of SSB was associated with a 1.8 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) drop in systolic pressure and a 1.1 mm Hg decline in diastolic pressure over 18 months. Researchers noted that this association was partially because of weight loss, but even after controlling for weight loss, the change in blood pressure was statistically significant.
Chen noted that American adults consume an average of 2.3 servings (28 ounces) of sugar-sweetened beverages per day. In this study, sugar-sweetened beverages were defined as drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup including regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, lemonade and fruit punch.
Diet drinks were excluded. The study potentially has important public health implications, because even small reductions in blood pressure are projected to have substantial health benefits on a population level, according to Chen. Continue reading Drinking Fewer Sugar-Sweetened Beverages May Lower Blood Pressure