A Good Rx for High Blood Pressure

News Picture: Barbershop Pharmacists: A Good Rx for High Blood Pressure

Latest High Blood Pressure News

MONDAY, March 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A trip to the barbershop could hold the key to not only looking good, but also feeling good.

A new study finds that having pharmacists deliver blood pressure care in neighborhood barbershops resulted in lower blood pressure readings for many black men.

The study included 319 black men with high blood pressure who frequented 52 barbershops in the Los Angeles area.

Barbers encouraged some men to meet once a month with specially trained pharmacists in the barbershop. The pharmacists prescribed blood pressure medication, monitored blood tests and sent progress notes to each man’s primary care provider.

Other men in the study did not see a barbershop pharmacist. Instead, barbers encouraged them to see their primary care provider for treatment and to make lifestyle changes, such as using less salt and exercising more.

After six months, 64 percent of the men who saw a pharmacist achieved healthy blood pressure, compared with just under 12 percent of those who did not see a pharmacist, the investigators found.

The study was published March 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando, Fla.

High blood pressure is a top cause of early disability and death among black American men.

“When we provide convenient and rigorous medical care to African-American men by coming to them — in this case having pharmacists deliver that care in barbershops — blood pressure can be controlled and lives can be saved,” said Dr. Ronald Victor, the lead author of the study. Victor is associate director of the Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

High blood pressure disproportionately affects the African-American community, and we must find new ways to reach out so we can prevent strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and early deaths,” he added in a hospital news release.

One pharmacist who took part in the study explained the advantages of offering blood pressure treatment at a barbershop.

“There is a different level of trust and respect that’s earned when you meet people where they are, instead of in a hospital or clinic,” pharmacist C. Adair Blyler said in the news release. “The rapport I’ve been able to establish with this group of patients has been unlike any other I’ve had in my professional career.”

Researchers are now studying whether the initial blood pressure reductions can be sustained for another six months.

— Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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      Great Recession of 2008 Triggered More Than Financial Woes

      News Picture: Great Recession of 2008 Triggered More Than Financial WoesBy Serena Gordon
      HealthDay Reporter

      Latest High Blood Pressure News

      MONDAY, March 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The economic downturn of a decade ago did more than shrink retirement portfolios: New research shows it also took a toll on people’s health.

      For instance, blood pressure and blood sugar levels went up.

      The study found that after the recession, people younger than 65 who were taking blood pressure medication had higher readings for systolic blood pressure (the top number) of nearly 13 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), on average.

      Among people of the same age who were taking medication to lower their blood sugar, levels had gone up an average of 10 percent, according to study author Teresa Seeman. She’s a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

      “As we had hypothesized, the Great Recession did not do good things to health,” Seeman said. “Blood pressure went up. Blood glucose went up.”

      “I think this study gives us the strongest evidence to date of the objective health impact of a recession like this,” Seeman said. “We’ve been very aware of the economic impact, but people who are undergoing these stresses need more than unemployment money. They need to maintain health care, too.”

      The Great Recession, which officially ran from 2007 to 2009, affected Americans in various ways. According to the researchers, more than 70 percent of those older than 40 reported being affected by the shock of economic loss. The downturn affected housing prices, and also caused unemployment to rise. Many people lost retirement savings, and others lost their homes.

      To gauge the effect on people’s health, Seeman and her colleagues analyzed data from an ongoing heart health study, using information gathered from 2000 to 2012.

      “One reason our study isn’t like most other works looking at an economic downturn,” she said, “is that we had multiple points to look at before the recession and were able to see the trajectories before the recession and then after.”

      The data came from people 50 to 91 years old, with an average age of 67. Nearly 40 percent had completed college, and 71 percent said they were homeowners in 2004 to 2005.

      In 2008, people older than 65 had a bump in systolic blood pressure of almost 8 mm Hg. Blood sugar levels increased by about 6 percent, the study found.

      For people who weren’t taking medications after the recession, systolic blood pressure rose more than 4 mm Hg in the under-65 group and about 3 mm Hg for the older group. Blood sugar levels rose about 1.5 percent in the younger group and about a half percent in those 65 and older.

      Seeman said her team suspected there was a larger effect on the younger group because they may have been more worried about losing their jobs.

      The researchers also looked at medication use to see if the recession led more people to stop taking their medications. The study found that it did.

      The use of blood pressure medicines went down 17 percent in people 65 and older after the recession began. In people younger than 65, blood pressure medication use dropped 6 percent, the study reported.

      The use of blood-sugar-lowering medications dropped 13 percent for those 65 and older, and 29 percent for those younger than 65, the researchers found.

      The magnitude of harm from the recession was surprising, said Dr. Ross Simpson Jr., a cardiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He wasn’t involved with the research.

      “This is the first study to show that a really stressful environmental problem led to real changes in things that affect people’s cardiovascular health,” Simpson said.

      The findings should alert doctors and other health care providers to really focus on heart-health risk factors during stressful times, he said.

      “Make sure patients are taking medicines,” Simpson said. “Make sure they’re eating a healthy diet, and make sure they’re getting enough exercise.”

      When you’re under stress, “this is the absolute most important time to work closely with your doctor to make sure your blood pressure and blood glucose are controlled,” Simpson added.

      The study was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

      Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

      SOURCES: Teresa Seeman, Ph.D., professor, medicine and epidemiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA; Ross Simpson Jr., M.D., Ph.D., clinical cardiologist and professor, medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 12, 2018

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          Three-in-One Pill Shows Promise in Beating High Blood Pressure

          News Picture: Three-in-One Pill Shows Promise in Beating High Blood Pressure

          Latest High Blood Pressure News

          TUESDAY, March 13, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A pill that combines three blood pressure-lowering drugs improves people’s chances of lowering their high blood pressure, researchers report.

          The pill contains low doses of the three medications — telmisartan, amlodipine and chlorthalidone.

          The finding stems from a study of 700 people, who averaged 56 years old. All had high blood pressure.

          Among those who took the so-called “triple pill” for six months, 70 percent had achieved their blood pressure targets, compared with 55 percent of those who received their usual care. Usual care meant taking whatever blood pressure medicine their doctor prescribed.

          The rate of side effects was no greater among those who took the three-in-one pill than among the usual care group.

          “Based on our findings, we conclude that this new method of using blood pressure-lowering drugs was more effective and just as safe as current approaches,” lead author Ruth Webster said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology. She’s a researcher with the George Institute for Global Health at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

          The study was presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Orlando, Fla. The findings should be considered preliminary because research presented at meetings has not undergone the rigorous scrutiny given to research published in medical journals.

          “The most urgent need for innovative strategies to control blood pressure is in low- and middle-income countries,” Webster said. “The triple pill approach is an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ over traditional approaches to care and adopt an innovative approach that has been shown to be effective.”

          High blood pressure increases the risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney problems.

          “A control rate of 70 percent would be a considerable improvement, even in high-income settings,” Webster said. “Most hypertension guidelines in these countries do not recommend combination blood-pressure-lowering therapy for initial treatment in all people.”

          The findings, she said, “should prompt reconsideration of recommendations around the use of combination therapy.”

          — Robert Preidt

          Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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