Controlling Your Blood Pressure Archive


Want a healthier heart? Seriously consider skipping the drinks

No amount of alcohol, including red wine, is good for the heart, according to a policy brief from the World Heart Federation. Drinking, even in moderation, increases the risk for heart-related conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, stroke, cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle), aortic aneurysm (a dangerous bulge in the wall of the aorta), and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm). People who drink regularly might benefit from reducing their intake.

Long-term acetaminophen use may boost blood pressure

High doses of the popular pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol) may raise blood pressure when taken for two weeks.

Understanding secondary hypertension

Up to 10% of people with high blood pressure have secondary hypertension, which is caused by another condition or disease. The most common of these involve problems with the adrenal glands (hyperaldosteronism), or the arteries supplying the kidneys (renal artery stenosis). People most likely to have secondary hypertension include those with resistant hypertension who use three or more medications to manage their blood pressure, and people who develop hypertension before age 30.

A look at diastolic blood pressure

When it comes to managing blood pressure, doctors tend to focus on lowering the top (systolic) number, but the bottom (diastolic) number also plays an essential role in heart health. Diastolic pressure is the pressure during the resting phase between heartbeats, and helps coronary vessels supply oxygen to the heart muscle. It’s important to keep both blood pressure numbers low per guidelines, but research suggests the diastolic number should not fall too low.

Magnesium and blood pressure: What’s the evidence?

The FDA will allow companies to make certain health claims regarding the consumption of magnesium and a reduced risk of high blood pressure. But the evidence for the link is inconclusive and inconsistent.

Staving off heart problems in your 80s and beyond

For people in their 80s and beyond, the advice for preventing and treating heart disease is similar to that for young people, especially with respect to staying physically active. But octogenarians may need to adjust their medication regimens. Low-dose aspirin is not recommended after age 70, and doses of anti-clotting medications may need to be reduced. Some people may also need to dial back their blood pressure medications if they experience side effects such as dizziness.

High blood pressure? Certain drugs may compound the problem

Almost 20% of people with hypertension may be taking medications that raise blood pressure, most often pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Other classes, such as certain antidepressants, may also increase blood pressure.

Dealing with dizziness

Many people experience dizziness, or a feeling of being woozy or lightheaded, from time to time. In most instances it’s triggered by a minor underlying problem, such as dehydration, a medication, or blood pressure fluctuations. Only rarely is dizziness caused by something more serious, such as a heart rhythm disturbance or stroke. However, even if dizziness isn’t caused by something serious, it can lead to a dangerous fall, so it’s important to prevent these episodes when possible. People should get emergency help for dizziness that is long-lasting, severe, or accompanied by other symptoms, such as difficulty walking or numbness.

Your brain on high blood pressure

High blood pressure not only can raise risk for a heart attack, but also can affect the brain. Keeping blood pressure normal can make brain injury from stroke less likely to happen and perhaps slow the natural decline in cognitive function. Just like with the heart, the best way to protect the brain from high blood pressure is to lower blood pressure if it’s high and keep it as close to a normal level as possible.

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