Thursday, March 29, 2012

Drinking tea helps lower blood pressure

Drinking three cups of black tea daily over months might help lower blood pressure, a study suggests.
In a research paper released last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, black tea was tested against a placebo to see whether drinking the beverage over time had any effect on lowering blood pressure in male and female test subjects, ages 35 to 75.

The 95 study participants had systolic blood pressure readings ranging from 115 to 150 and were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group drank three cups a day of regular leaf tea that contained 1,493 milligrams of powdered black tea solids with 429 milligrams of polyphenols and 96 milligrams of caffeine.
The other group drank a placebo that had the same flavor and caffeine content but had no tea solids.
Polyphenols are antioxidants found in foods such as cherries, broccoli, cranberries, red wine and tea.
Antioxidants may prevent cell damage and could help avert certain types of cancer as well as reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Those in the black tea solids group saw a drop of systolic and diastolic blood pressure over six months of between two and three points compared with the placebo group.
The study authors said that when spread over the population this could mean a 10 percent drop in the prevalence of high blood pressure and a 7 percent to 10 percent decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Detoxification lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular incidents in Canada. High blood pressure usually takes many years or decades to develop and has many serious long-term consequences. Fortunately, blood pressure can be normalized with lifestyle modifications and natural therapies. Unfortunately, far too many people are placed on blood pressure medication before all the other routes are explored. While it is extremely important to take a comprehensive examination of the causes of a person’s hypertension this article focuses on the use of detoxification as one component of a more comprehensive approach for hypertension.
The Basics of Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is determined by 4 things:
  1. How much fluid is in the cardiovascular system – the more fluid in the system the higher the pressure. The basis of diuretic medication and many botanicals is to reduce fluid volume and thus decrease blood pressure.
  2. The size and elasticity of the blood vessels – the more rigid and tight the blood vessels are the higher the blood pressure. Medications like ACE inhibitors and supplements like magnesium increase the size and elasticity of blood vessels to decrease blood pressure.
  3. How hard the heart is pumping – the harder the heart pumps the higher the pressure. Medications like calcium-channel blockers decrease the force of the heart and thus reduce pressure. This often leads to a host of other side effects and other health issues.
  4. Resistance in the cardiovascular system – the more resistance there is in the vascular system the higher the pressure needs to be to deliver nutrients to the tissues and cells. Detoxification is one of the most important ways to decrease resistance in the cardiovascular system.
Detoxification Decreases Resistance
Detoxification helps to decrease and normalize blood pressure by reducing the resistance in the vascular system. There are two major ways detoxification reduces resistance. First of all, detoxification removes toxins from the bloodstream that were making the blood more viscous (thicker) than it needed to be. As the blood becomes less viscous it can be pumped around more efficiently with less force and pressure. To illustrate, picture two glasses filled with pure distilled water. Imagine that you put some gelatin or fiber in one of the glasses and let it settle. Now imagine that you put a straw in both glasses and tried to drink from them. Which would be easier and which would require more force? The thicker the fluid the more force required to move it through a tube (blood vessel).
Secondly, detoxification improves the function of the liver and kidneys and allows blood to move with less force. Picture the liver and kidneys as two filters in a system. The more clogged the filters are the slower fluid moves through them and the higher the back pressure. As the toxins are removed and the filters clear up the fluid begins to move faster, requiring less force, and producing less back pressure. Therefore, as the liver and kidneys respond to the detoxification support the blood pressure decreases.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Swapping protein for sugar may help blood pressure

Overweight adults who replaced some of the sugar in their diets with protein saw their high blood pressure drop slightly in a new study that leaves open the question of whether the cut carbs or the added protein produced the effect.
Dutch researchers found that when they gave participants either a protein supplement or a supplement with the sweet carbohydrate maltodextrin, people on the protein drink lost an average of 5 points from their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading), compared with people on the carb-heavy supplement.
It's too soon to make any diet recommendations based on the results, said lead researcher Karianna Teunissen-Beekman, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
For one, she noted in an email, it's not clear whether protein, itself, lowers blood pressure. The benefit in this study could have been due to protein users' lower carb intake.
"We first want to get more insight into the biological mechanisms by which proteins lower blood pressure, or carbohydrates increase blood pressure, and the role of different protein and carbohydrate sources," Teunissen-Beekman said.
The study, which appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 99 overweight adults with moderately elevated blood pressure. No one had more than "grade 1" high blood pressure (a systolic pressure of 130 to 159 mm Hg, or a diastolic pressure of 85 to 99 mm Hg).
For the first two weeks of the study, all participants had a sugary drink with each meal every day.
Then for the next four weeks, the men and women replaced their sugary drinks with a supplement they added to water. Individuals were randomly assigned to use either the protein supplement -- a mix of vegetable and dairy proteins -- or the carb-rich one.
After four weeks, the protein group had shaved about 6 points from their systolic blood pressure, versus their own first two weeks on the sugary drink. In contrast, systolic pressure stayed almost unchanged in the carb-supplement group.
That was based on readings taken in the clinic. The researchers also used portable monitors to track people's blood pressure throughout the day.
Those results offered a somewhat different picture. People who used the protein supplement tended to have lower systolic pressure at certain points of the day compared to their initial two weeks on the sweetened drink.
But in the carb-supplement group, systolic pressure tended to be higher at various points throughout the day than it had been during the study's first two weeks.
"From these findings it is not clear whether it is the increased protein or the reduced carbohydrate intake that is responsible for the difference between the two groups," Teunissen-Beekman said.
She said that research into exactly how protein and carbs affect blood pressure regulation should help clear up that question.
Regardless, she noted, managing high blood pressure will never be a matter of changing one item in a person's diet. Overall lifestyle -- including shedding pounds if they are overweight -- is key, and many people need to take medication.
"Managing blood pressure in overweight individuals in real life has more angles than just prescribing supplements," Teunissen-Beekman said.
But, she added, studies have already shown that replacing some carbs with protein can help people with weight control. If future studies show there are blood pressure benefits too, she said, that would give extra support to the diet tactic.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Secret for Lowering Blood Pressure. Just breathe

Millions of Americans have daily stress in their lives. Cardiologist John Kennedy has developed 'The 15 Minute Heart Cure' -- a set of breathing techniques you can do anytime, anywhere. It requires no drugs, no surgery and his techniques give you the ability to reduce your blood pressure using brain power alone.
Dr. Kennedy says it is within our power to change the way we respond to stress. Using visualization and breathing, Dr. Kennedy believes people can calm themselves to better their health. "You can teach your body how to slow down, how to be present, how to relax. And what this does is it helps you concentrate and protect your heart all at the same time."
Mike Broggie, like many other Americans, is constantly dealing with stress. He runs a startup marketing firm in Los Angeles -- which launched two years ago, just as the stock market crashed. "We work in a deadline-driven business for demanding clients," says Broggie. "Their stress becomes your stress."
Similarly, Sandra Butler encounters stress. An unemployed mother of three, she's hunting for work while she struggles to make ends meet. As a Mom and a breadwinner, she readily admits, "The bread is scarce these days, the economy being what it is." It's a huge trigger of stress for her.
Medical Meditation
Two different people with different stress triggers, but they deal with it in the same way, using Dr. Kennedy's technique. Kennedy says, "We all know about diet and exercise. But very few of us emphasize stress reduction. And stress, I think, is the key to all of it."
Kennedy says, "This is actually ancient wisdom that's being proven by modern science. What I think is new is we're learning that learning to relax is good for us. And stressing out is really bad for us."
How does stress affect your blood pressure? Stress triggers your body's "fight or flight" response. The brain then releases adrenaline. As a result the blood thickens and the heart pumps faster, putting strain on weakened arteries.
Doctors have often made this point before; Dr. Herbert Benson became famous for "The Relaxation Response" in the 1970s.

Dr. Kennedy's technique is designed to help patients counter that "fight or flight" response by slowing the heart through focused breathing and positive thinking. "Learning simple things like the 'breathe technique' make a lot more sense because we can use it in the work place, we can call on it in a second," says Kennedy.
Like professional athletes and others who are able to tune out huge stresses, Dr. Kennedy believes we can tap into that same skill set and battle everyday stress triggers. "It's how Sully landed that plane on the Hudson," says Kennedy. "How Kobe Bryant hits the final shot with no time left." Fifteen minutes a day can save your life.
His patients have been responding well to the treatment, showing measurable improvement in as little as two weeks. Since following Dr. Kennedy's techniques, Sandra Butler says, "My blood pressure is stable. It used to hover at 170 over 90. Now it's pretty stable at 120 over 80."
Breathing techniques that can help heal the heart.

Friday, March 16, 2012

High blood pressure increase risk of brain tumor

People with high blood pressure may be twice as likely to develop a brain tumour, according to the Daily Mail. The newspaper said a new study had found an association between the two factors, although crucially it could not show that high blood pressure actually caused the tumour to develop.
The research followed more than half a million Norwegian, Swedish and Austrian people for an average of about 10 years, looking at how several factors related to their risk of developing a brain tumour. After dividing people into five bands according to their blood pressure, the researchers found that people with the highest 20% of blood pressure readings were between 45% and 84% more likely to have a brain tumour. However, they found that having high blood pressure while the heart is at rest was only associated with an 18% risk increase once adjustments were made to account for other factors, such as age, gender and smoking status. After these adjustments, there was no increased risk for people who had higher systolic blood pressure (pressure while the heart contracts and pumps blood).
While some news sources have suggested that high blood pressure is associated with a doubling in risk for brain tumours, most of the study’s results suggested the associated risk was much lower. Brain tumours were also still extremely uncommon in the group, regardless of the subject’s blood pressure. This study has various other limitations and is a single study, which means that further study is warranted.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the Innsbruck Medical University, Austria and researchers from other institutes in Norway, Sweden and the US. It was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund International and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hypertension.
News sources were correct to highlight that this study did not show that high blood pressure causes brain tumours, although some of the statistics they quoted may be misinterpreted. For example, some reports quoted figures suggesting that the risk of a certain type of tumour called meningioma more than doubled, but the risk increase was actually much lower than this. The researchers also produced a model adjusting their results to account for important factors such as age, smoking status and gender. It would have been more appropriate for the newspapers to quote these adjusted figures.
The research also separately analysed two types of blood pressure measurements (diastolic and systolic), which were each associated with different risks. Systolic measurements express blood pressure at the point the heart is contracting and forcing blood out into the body, while diastolic is the blood pressure between beats, when the heart is at rest.

What kind of research was this?

This was a prospective cohort study that assessed whether there was an association between the risk of brain tumour and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical conditions (such as raised cholesterol, raised blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar) that increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Cancer Research UK reports that there are around 8,000 brain tumours each year in the UK. As brain tumours are relatively rare, the researchers needed to follow a large number of people over time to see which factors were associated with developing a brain tumour. This type of study can only show an association between a factor and brain tumours. It cannot determine whether the factor caused the tumour to develop.

What did the research involve?

The cohort study involved is called the Metabolic Syndrome and Cancer Project. It included 578,462 participants with ages ranging from 15 to 99 at the point at which they entered the study, known as the “baseline”. Participants were recruited between 1972 and 2005. The study population was from Austria, Norway and Sweden. When each person entered the cohort, information about their height, weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and blood fats were recorded. Each participant’s smoking status was also noted: whether they had never smoked or were a former smoker or current smoker.
The researchers used nationwide cancer and cause-of-death registries to identify patients who had developed both benign and cancerous brain tumours. In their analyses, the researchers adjusted for sex, birth year, baseline age and smoking status. They did this in a way that took into account how certain factors, such as smoking, influence both blood pressure and cancer.

What were the basic results?

The average age of the cohort at baseline was 41. Nearly half of the participants were overweight and nearly a third had hypertension. People in the cohort were followed for 9.6 years on average, and in this time there were 1,312 diagnoses of primary brain tumours (where the cancer originated in the brain rather than spreading from another part of the body affected by cancer). The average age of diagnosis with a brain tumour was 56.
A third of the tumours were classified as a type called a 'high grade glioma', and 8% were 'low grade gliomas'. In the Swedish and Norwegian cohorts, further diagnostic details were available and in these groups 29% of people with brain tumours had a 'meningioma', which is a cancer of the meninges (a membrane that envelops the brain).
The researchers used the participants’ baseline data to divide people into five groups of the same size. Group allocation was dependent on body mass index (BMI), so people with BMIs in the top 20% would be in the top group (or 'quintile'), and people with BMIs in the lowest 20% would be in the bottom quintile. They also grouped the participants into quintiles according to cholesterol levels, fat content in the blood, blood pressure (both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure) and blood glucose levels to analyse how these factors were associated with tumour risk.
The researchers found that when they compared the risk of brain tumours in the top quintile with the bottom quintile, BMI, cholesterol and blood fat levels were not associated with a risk of developing a brain tumour.
The researchers then looked at blood pressure and found that the group with the highest systolic blood pressure measurements (average 157mmHg) were 45% more likely to have a brain tumour than people in the quintile with the lowest blood pressure measurements (average 109mmHg) [hazard ratio (HR) 1.45; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01 to 2.09].
People in the quintile with the highest diastolic blood pressure measurements (average 95mmHg) were 84% more likely to have a brain tumour than people in the quintile with the lowest blood pressure measurements (average 65mmHg) [HR 1.84, 95% CI 1.24 to 2.72].
The researchers repeated the same analysis but this time they looked at whether there was an association between blood pressure and the risk of developing a particular type of brain tumour. They found that:
  • Relative to the lowest quintile, the highest quintile systolic blood pressure was associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of meningioma (HR 4.26, 95% CI 1.98 to 9.17).
  • Relative to the lowest quintile, the highest quintile diastolic blood pressure was associated with a twofold increase in the risk of meningioma (HR 2.33, 95% CI 1.13 to 4.85).
  • There was no association between blood pressure and low-grade gliomas.
  • There was no association between systolic blood pressure and high-grade gliomas.
  • Relative to the lowest quintile, the highest quintile diastolic blood pressure was associated with an almost threefold increase in the risk of high-grade gliomas (HR 2.67 to 5.50).
Finally, the researchers performed analysis in which the data was adjusted for gender, age, age at baseline and smoking status. Using this model, diastolic blood pressure (but not systolic blood pressure) was associated with a greater risk of having a brain tumour of any type (HR 1.18, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.32).

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers said that increased blood pressure was related to the risk of primary tumour, particularly of meningioma and high-grade glioma.


This large prospective cohort study comprising more than 500,000 people from Austria, Norway and Sweden suggested an association between high blood pressure and some types of brain tumour. It should be noted, however, that even among the group of people with highest blood pressure the overall incidence of brain cancers was low.
Furthermore, there were several limitations to this study:
  • Data was only available for the three types of tumour: meningioma and high- and low-grade glioma. Other types of tumour accounted for around 32% of the tumours in the study population.
  • The researchers did not collect information on whether the participants had used medication, particularly on whether they were taking medication for lowering their blood pressure. These may have had an impact on the association between blood pressure and risk of brain tumour.
  • The researchers suggested that people with high blood pressure may be expected to undergo more neurological investigations such as brain imaging, which may mean that tumours are more likely to be diagnosed earlier in this group.
  • Although there was an association between blood pressure and tumours, it is not possible to say that high blood pressure causes brain tumours to develop.
  • The researchers used data on blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and other metabolic measurements gathered at the start of the study. These may have changed over the follow-up period, which was nearly 10 years on average. For example, a person who was overweight at the start of the study may have lost weight over this period.
  • This study only included people from Sweden, Norway and Austria. It is not clear whether this population would share similar demographics to a UK population and therefore it is not clear the extent to which these findings could apply to Britain.
A strength of this study is that it followed a large number of people for a long period of time. However, further validation of these results is needed in other populations and the reasons for the association need to be followed up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Varying blood pressure between arms risky to heart

People should have their blood pressure measured in both arms because having a large difference between the right and left could signal an increased risk of life-threatening vascular disease, British doctors say.
In Monday's issue of the medical journal the Lancet, researchers reviewed 28 papers on the difference in blood pressure between arms.

A difference of 15 mm Hg or more between the arms was linked to:
  • Peripheral vascular disease – 2.5 times increased risk of narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet.
  • 1.6 times increased risk of cerebrovascular disease that affects the blood supply to the brain that can lead to a type of dementia.
  • 1.7 times increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
It's important to detect peripheral vascular disease early because there are ways to reduce the risk, such as by quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure or taking cholesterol-lowering statins, Dr. Christopher Clark of the University of Exeter and his co-authors said.
Most cases of the disease show no symptoms. The gold-standard approach to identifying it involves comparing the blood pressure in the ankle to blood pressure in the arm — a technique that isn't routinely done.
That's where the arm difference could come in, Clark's team proposed.
Since the arm with the higher pressure can vary, it's the difference between the arm that mattered, not which arm was higher, they said.
"In conclusion, our findings suggest that a difference in systolic blood pressure of 10 mm Hg or more or 15 mm Hg or more between arms could identify patients at high risk of asymptomatic peripheral vascular disease and mortality who might benefit from further assessment," the study's authors concluded.
International hypertension guidelines have recommended that doctors measure blood pressure in both arms for years, but the justification has been poor and it’s rarely been adopted, Dr. Richard McManus of the University of Oxford and Jonathan Mant of University of Cambridge said in a journal commentary accompanying the study.
"Ascertainment of differences should become part of routine care, as opposed to a guideline recommendation that is mostly ignored," the editorial concluded.
The review's findings strengthen the current Canadian recommendation for physicians to measure blood pressure in both arms on at least one visit, the Heart and Stroke Foundation said.
Before recommending that every patient have both arms measured at every visit, a study needs to show that the extra measurements make a difference, the group added.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Should Blood Pressure Be Taken in Both Arms?

Differences in blood pressure readings taken from the left and right arms may be a sign of heart and blood vessel disease and death risk, according to a new review of recent research.
Researchers found that a difference of 15 points or more in the readings between the left and right arms raised the risk of peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing or blockage of the arteries, by two-and-a-half times.
That same 15 point-difference in systolic readings (the top number in a blood pressure reading) also increased the risk of cerebrovascular disease by 60%. Cerebrovascular disease is associated with thinking problems, such as dementia, and an increased risk of stroke.
Researchers say the results suggest that doctors should routinely compare blood pressure readings from both arms to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Although the practice of taking blood pressure from both arms as a part of heart disease screening has been adopted in Europe, and some guidelines in the U.S. recommend it, American Heart Association spokesman Richard Stein, MD, says it’s not routinely done in the U.S.
“This is very interesting,” says Stein, professor of cardiology at the New York University School of Medicine. “It can translate immediately, as we learn more about it, into better detection of people at higher risk of disease.”

In the study, British researchers examined 20 studies covering differences in systolic blood pressure -- the pressure of blood in arteries when the heart is contracting -- between arms.
The results, published in The Lancet, showed that a difference of 15 points or more in the systolic readings between the left and right arms was associated with an increased likelihood of several heart-related risks, including:
  • The risk of peripheral vascular disease was two-and-a-half times higher.
  • The risk of cerebrovascular disease was 60% higher.
  • The risk of dying from heart and circulatory diseases rose by 70%.
The risk of peripheral vascular disease was also higher when there was a difference in blood pressure readings of 10 points or more.
If peripheral vascular disease is detected at an early stage, treatments such as stopping smoking, lowering blood pressure, or offering statin medication can reduce death rates.
"Findings from our study should be incorporated into future guidelines for hypertension and blood-pressure measurement ... to promote targeted screening for peripheral vascular disease and aggressive risk factor management,” write Christopher Clark, MD, of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter, and colleagues.

More Research Needed

Commenting on the research, Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says in an emailed statement: "Theoretically, measuring blood pressure on both arms to assess vascular disease risk is a quick and simple task. But it’s too early to say whether this idea could become part of standard health care practice and so we need more research to confirm the findings.”
"It’s very important that other risk factors, apart from high blood pressure, are taken into account to establish whether doctors need to take a closer look at someone’s heart disease risk," she says.
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Richard McManus, MD, of the University of Oxford, and Jonathan Mant, MD, of the University of Cambridge write that more research is needed to clarify whether differences in blood pressure readings justify the preventive measures suggested.
"Overall, Clark and colleagues’ systematic review and meta-analysis support existing guidelines stating that blood pressure should be measured in both arms,” they write. “Ascertainment of differences should become part of routine care, as opposed to a guideline recommendation that is mostly ignored."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New kidney clue to high blood pressure

Scientists have discovered a “cure for killer blood pressure”, the Daily Express claimed today. In its dramatic front-page story, the newspaper reported that a breakthrough which identified the cause of high blood pressure “could save millions of lives every year”.
These bold claims are premature, as they come from a very small laboratory study that looked at kidney tissue samples from just 22 men. Comparing the genetics within the kidneys of 15 men with high blood pressure and 7 with normal blood pressure, the researchers found variations in the activity levels of certain genes containing the instructions for making proteins. In particular, men with high blood pressure had lower activity in the gene containing the code for making the kidney hormone renin, which regulates blood pressure.
While this highly complex study provides an insight into the activity of genes in the kidney, the researchers themselves do not suggest that it could lead to a new treatment or cure for high blood pressure. This worthwhile research has identified areas for further exploration by scientists and doctors, but this single study has certainly not uncovered a revolutionary cure for high blood pressure, as some newspapers have suggested.

Where did the story come from?

This research was carried out by the Universities of Sydney and Ballarat in Australia, and the University of Leicester. The study received funding from various sources, including a University of Sydney Research Infrastructure grant, grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and an Australian Research Council grant. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Hypertension.
This scientific research was well conducted, but its implications have been over-inflated by the Express and the Daily Mail. While this relatively small study does present some important findings, they are of an exploratory nature and do not directly point the way towards a cure for high blood pressure, as the media have implied.

What kind of research was this?

This laboratory study investigated the genetics that may underlie high blood pressure. It looked specifically at the way genetic material produces proteins in the kidneys, the organs that filter waste substances and excess water from the blood and have a strong influence on regulating blood pressure.
Numerous key functions in the body rely on specific proteins, many of which our body makes for itself. Sections of DNA called genes contain the genetic code for producing specific proteins, including hormones, enzymes and the proteins that form structures within our cells.
The DNA molecule is made up of two long strands bound to each other in a special type of spiral, called a “double helix”. To produce proteins from genes within the DNA, the genetic code from the double-stranded DNA is first transferred into a single-stranded molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA). This provides a template sequence for the production of a protein. This process also involves another type of RNA called microRNA (miRNA). This very small molecule regulates the translation of mRNA into a protein. In short, DNA contained within a gene cannot directly produce proteins, and so uses mRNA as the protein’s blueprint and miRNA to regulate the production process.
However, knowledge of the effects of miRNA on blood pressure is reported to be limited. This study tested the theory that the expression of different genes (i.e. how readily they are used to make proteins) and the presence of miRNAs can affect a person’s blood pressure. To test the theory, researchers looked at the genetic material in the kidneys of people with high blood pressure and in people with normal blood pressure. In doing so, they hoped to gain important insights into what drives the disease process.

What did the research involve?

Kidney tissue samples were retrieved from the Silesian Renal Tissue Bank (SRTB), which holds samples from Polish individuals of white European ancestry who had a single kidney removed because of non-invasive kidney cancer. Samples were stored in the bank with the aim of studying candidate genes that may be involved in cardiovascular disease.
Diagnoses of high and normal blood pressure in these tissue donors had been previously established through medical assessments. For the purposes of this study, they included only male patients: 7 men with normal blood pressure and 15 with untreated “essential” hypertension. The term essential is used in the medical profession to define cases of high blood pressure for which the cause is unknown, which is most cases. The men had an average BMI of 26.8kg/m2 and an average age of 57 years. The researchers did not consider there to be any differences between the two groups. The 1cm3 tissue samples used in this study were reportedly taken from a region of the kidney that was not affected by cancer.
Gene analysis methods were used to compare the activity of genes and the amounts of mRNA and miRNA in the participants’ kidneys. The researchers looked separately at two regions of the kidney called the medulla and the cortex, respectively the inner and outer regions of the kidney. The cortex of the kidney is a region of the kidney that is rich in blood vessels, allowing it to transfer blood to and from the kidney. Within the cortex is a highly complex network of blood-filtering structures, some of which span into the medulla. The medulla primarily contains the structures that control salt and water balance in the body, and regulate the amount of these substances that are filtered out into urine.

What were the basic results?

The researchers found that there were differences in the activity of 14 protein-coding genes and 11 miRNAs in the kidneys of those with hypertension compared to those without. After the researchers made adjustments for age, they found differences in the activity of 12 genes, and only 3 genes after they adjusted for BMI.
When they looked at the cortex region of the kidney, the researchers found there were differences in the activity of 46 different genes, and differences in the production of 13 different miRNAs. Using further genetic techniques, they validated that the levels of seven miRNAs were different between the two groups.
The researchers next examined kidney cells grown in a laboratory to look at the role of two miRNAs that were differently expressed in the kidney cortex of people with high blood pressure. They found that the miRNAs were involved in regulating the production of the protein renin from the gene REN. The hormone renin is involved in blood pressure regulation. The miRNAs were additionally involved in regulating the mRNAs produced from two further genes (called APOE3 and AIFMI).

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers observed that their results provide “novel insights” into the potential causes of hypertension, shedding light on the involvement of certain chemical pathways in the kidneys that involve renin, other protein-coding genes and miRNAs.


The researchers conclude that their study provides novel insights into the causes of high blood pressure, but do not extend their conclusions any further than that. They certainly do not say that they have found a definite or single cause of high blood pressure, or make any suggestion that their findings could have implications for new or existing treatments.
As the researchers acknowledge, the limited availability of kidney tissue meant that their study sample size was small. Results are also limited to only white males. The researchers said they included only men to limit further genetic variability that would come through comparing men and women.
It is worth noting that all tissue samples came from people who had kidney cancer. Though participants with high blood pressure were classed as having essential hypertension (without a known cause) and tissue samples were taken from a region of the kidney unaffected by cancer, it is possible that genetic expression in the kidneys of these people may differ from those of the general population with high blood pressure. However, as both the men with and without high blood pressure had cancer, the cancer could be expected to have an equivalent effect between the two groups (i.e. any genetic differences between them should be due to something other than cancer).
This study can only suggest, and not prove, that the expression of these genes and microRNAs might be associated with high blood pressure. As the researchers did not look at samples from before and after the patients developed high blood pressure, it is not possible to tell whether the activity of these genes caused high blood pressure or whether other disease processes led to the activity of the genes being altered.
This worthwhile research provides insights and areas for further examination among the scientific and medical communities. However, as a single study, it does not give a revolutionary answer to high blood pressure, and its implications have been over-inflated by the press.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Raw nuts lower elevated blood sugar levels and high blood pressure

Metabolic syndrome is a well studied and documented group of biomarkers and physical observations that are known to preclude many chronic and potentially life-threatening diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Researchers reporting in the Journal of Proteome Research have uncovered a critical link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS), who are at high risk for heart disease.

Serotonin is a chemical signaling compound found in the brain that helps transmit nerve signals and can decrease feelings of hunger, while boosting spirits and helping people feel happier. The findings indicate that just one ounce of nuts eaten daily is enough to produce the health-promoting benefits.

The explosion of the obesity epidemic around the world is leading to an exponential rise in metabolic syndrome symptoms including excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and lipid abnormalities. As a result, cases of Type II diabetes and heart disease are increasing in record numbers. Metabolic syndrome is largely the result of excessive abdominal fat stores that result from a diet filled with high calories from processed and fried foods. As fat storage cells (adipose tissue) begin to increase in number and swell beyond capacity, they prompt the release of a torrent of chemical messengers that promote systemic inflammation and disease.

Nut Consumption Increases Serotonin Levels to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome and Related Symptoms

Researchers from the Biomarkers & NutriMetabolomics Research Group of the University of Barcelona in Spain studied the biochemical effects of nut consumption on metabolic syndrome and human health. They put 22 patients with diagnosed metabolic syndrome on a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them to another group of 20 patients, who were told to avoid nuts. The scientists analyzed the full spectrum of compounds excreted in the patients' urine and found evidence of several healthful changes.

Lead study author, Dr. Cristina Andres-Lacueva commented: "Dietary changes may help patients shed the excess weight and become healthier... the regular consumption of nuts, which are jam-packed with healthful nutrients, such as healthy fats (unsaturated fatty acids) and antioxidants (polyphenols) have been recommended to fight the metabolic abnormalities associated with MetS." Researchers determined for the first time that nut consumption boosted serotonin levels to promote satiety and happiness.

Nutrition scientists now understand that the fats provided with regular nut consumption correlate closely to improved human health. In the past, nuts have been branded with a high-fat stigma and avoided by many health-minded people. Fortunately we now have solid evidence to show nuts are a super food that can help prevent chronic disease including MetS. The study authors concluded that one ounce of nuts eaten daily "reduced levels of substances in the body associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with metabolic syndrome." Grab a handful of tasty nuts to help ward off metabolic syndrome and chronic illness.