Friday, December 20th, 2013
A new study of African American men has linked hypertension, or high blood pressure, with whether the men grew up in single parent or dual parent households. More from The New York Times:
Researchers studied 515 black men older than 20 between 2001 and 2008. More than half of the men had high blood pressure and about one-third never lived with both parents.
After adjusting for age, family history of hypertension and other variables, they found that compared with men who never lived with both parents, men who had lived with both parents at any time in their lives had an average systolic blood pressure that was 4.9 millimeters of mercury lower. Among those who had lived with both parents for between one and 12 years, the average was 6.5 millimeters of mercury lower.
The authors acknowledge that living with both parents may be connected to higher socioeconomic status, which could influence blood pressure, and that the study can draw no conclusions about causality.
Still, the lead author, Debbie S. Barrington, a senior research fellow at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, said it is a provocative finding. “The magnitude of the effect is very large,” she said, “even stronger than the effect of certain blood pressure medications.”
Image: Mother and child, via Shutterstock
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Monday, June 10th, 2013
A new analysis of health statistics published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology is suggesting that women who breastfeed their babies for at least a year–the recommended period for breastfeeding–may significantly lower their risk for breast cancer, heart disease, and hypertension, as well as saving the medical establishment hundreds of millions of dollars. The findings, not based on new research, are sure to be controversial, as Time.com reports:
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If new moms adhered to the recommended guidelines that urge them to breast-feed each child they give birth to for at least one year, they could theoretically stave off up to 5,000 cases of breast cancer, about 54,000 cases of hypertension and nearly 14,000 heart attacks annually.
Averting those diseases could also save $860 million, according to research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Those figures, while significant and intriguing, are not actual numbers from documented cases. Rather, they’re the result of a sophisticated statistical model used to compare the effect of current breast-feeding rates in the U.S. to ideal rates.
The study, led by Harvard researcher Dr. Melissa Bartick, simulated the experiences of about 2 million U.S. women from the time they were 15 until they turned 70, estimating outcomes and cumulative costs over the decades in between.
Number-crunchers ran the data applying current breast-feeding rates – about 25% of U.S. women breast-feed for the recommended 12 months per child — and again assuming that 90% of women embraced the guidelines. “To be totally scientifically accurate, those are costs for a cohort of women in a certain year,” says Bartick, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Harvard Medical School. “If breast-feeding rates change, the cost would be different.”
Still, she says, the point is that breast-feeding boosts mom’s health in a big way. “We know that 60% of women don’t even meet their personal breast-feeding goals, whether it’s three or four or six months,” says Bartick. “We need to do more to support women so they can breast-feed longer. There are thousands of needless cases of disease and death that could be prevented.”
Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
A growing number of children are being hospitalized for hypertension and high blood pressure, a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension, has found. The study showed a sharp increase from 12,661 hospitalizations in 1997 to 24,602 in 2006. CNN.com reports that the increase in childhood obesity is a likely cause of the trend:
The researchers reviewed hospital discharge data for the study. They included all children aged 2 to 18 who were treated for hypertension during hospitalizations, regardless of their primary diagnosis or the main reason why they were hospitalized.
Those most likely to have high blood pressure were older than 9, male and African-American, according to the study. Some had end-stage renal (kidney) disease.
The study found children with hypertension had an average length of stay of eight days- double that of non-hypertensive kids.
Childhood obesity may play a role in the sharp increase in hospitalizations.
American Heart Association spokesman Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin from the Department of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec said obesity seems to be an even stronger risk factor for high blood pressure in children than it is in adults.
“Increasingly, these are children with essential hypertension- this is consequence of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes that is found increasingly in teenagers and younger children,” he said.
“If we are going to prevent adult hypertension, we have to start at this early age by avoiding obesity, cutting back on salt and exercising- otherwise this will increase further the prevalence of adult hypertension and the huge costs that will occur accordingly.”
Image: Child getting blood pressure taken, via Shutterstock.
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