Tag Archives: British Heart Foundation

Garlic ‘Remedy for Hypertension’

Garlic may be useful in addition to medication to treat high blood pressure, a study suggests.
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Australian doctors enrolled 50 patients in a trial to see if garlic supplements could help those whose blood pressure was high, despite medication.

Those given four capsules of garlic extract a day had lower blood pressure than those on placebo, they report in scientific journal Maturitas.

The British Heart Foundation said more research was needed.

Garlic has long been though to be good for the heart.

Garlic supplements have previously been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure in those with untreated hypertension.

In the latest study, researchers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, looked at the effects of four capsules a day of a supplement known as aged garlic for 12 weeks.

They found systolic blood pressure was around 10mmHg lower in the group given garlic compared with those given a placebo.

Researcher Karin Ried said: “Garlic supplements have been associated with a blood pressure lowering effect of clinical significance in patients with untreated hypertension.

“Our trial, however, is the first to assess the effect, tolerability and acceptability of aged garlic extract as an additional treatment to existing antihypertensive medication in patients with treated, but uncontrolled, hypertension.”

Experts say garlic supplements should only be used after seeking medical advice, as garlic can thin the blood or interact with some medicines.

Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said using garlic for medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years, but it is essential that scientific research proves that garlic can help conditions such as raised blood pressure.

She said: “This study demonstrated a slight blood pressure reduction after using aged garlic supplements but it’s not significant enough or in a large enough group of people to currently recommend it instead of medication.

“It’s a concern that so many people in the UK have poorly controlled blood pressure, with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease as a consequence. So enjoy garlic as part of your diet but don’t stop taking your blood pressure medication.”

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Source
: BBC News

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Call for Mandatory Salt Curbs

Forcing food manufacturers to cut salt levels in processed food could help cut heart disease rates, claim Australian researchers.

A high salt food is bad for health

A theoretical study suggests mandatory salt limits could help reduce heart disease rates by 18% – far more than by using existing voluntary measures.

High-salt diets are linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Adults are advised to consume a maximum of 6g of salt a day – about a teaspoon.

The study looked at the effectiveness of different strategies around the world for reducing salt in processed foods.

Many countries, including Finland, the US, the UK, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand, have adopted salt reduction programmes based on food labelling and voluntary cuts.

Australia uses a “Tick” programme, where food manufacturers can use a health promotion logo on packaging if they volunteer to cut salt content.

The team calculated that voluntary use of the logo could reduce heart disease rates in Australia by almost 1% – more than twice that of dietary advice alone.

But if all manufacturers were made to use the logo, the health benefits could be 20 times greater, they predict.

“If corporate responsibility fails, maybe there is an ethical justification for government to step in and legislate,” the authors, led by Linda Cobiac, of the University of Queensland, write in the journal Heart.

A UK heart charity said voluntary measures placed on food companies in the UK had made a difference but more could be done.

Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We’re making progress without the need for compulsory limits and as a result we’ve seen a reduction in salt intake.

“But as three quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, we need to build on this work and watch carefully to make sure the food industry doesn’t slip back into old habits.”

Katharine Jenner of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) said the UK had pioneered a voluntary approach where all food sectors reduce the amount of salt they put in food.

“This cost-effective approach has been very successful and has already led to population average salt intakes falling by 10%,” she said.

Source
:BBC News

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Backs Chest Compressions in Resuscitation

 

Concentrating on chest compressions rather than mouth-to-mouth when giving emergency resuscitation can produce better results, says research published in The Lancet.

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A study of 3,000 patients found that chest compressions alone increased chances of survival by more than 22%.

But training in how to give both chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breaths is the best option, experts say.

The UK Resuscitation Council is due to produce new CPR guidelines next week.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breaths, given in a life-threatening emergency like a cardiac arrest or heart attack.

The study, compiled by doctors from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, looked at the survival rates of people treated by untrained members of the public taking instructions from the emergency services over the phone.

Dr Peter Nagele, from the department of anaesthesiology, critical care and pain therapy at the Medical University of Vienna, said that if untrained bystanders avoided mouth-to-mouth breaths during CPR, they were more likely to perform uninterrupted chest compressions.

That then increased the probability of CPR being successful.

Different techniques

The research in The Lancet involved two analyses.

The first used data from three randomised trials involving more than 3,000 patients.

It showed that chest-compression-only CPR was associated with a slightly improved chance of survival compared with standard CPR (14% v 12%).

In the second analysis of seven observational studies, researchers found no difference between the two CPR techniques.

The study authors maintain that continuous, uninterrupted chest compressions are vital for successful CPR.

Dr Jas Soar, chair of the Resuscitation Council from Southmead Hospital in Bristol, said: “Any CPR is better than no CPR. If you witness a cardiac arrest, dial 999 immediately. Those trained in CPR should follow existing guidance of 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths.

“Those not trained should start compressions and follow instructions until an expert arrives,” Dr Soar said.

Dr Meng Aw-Yong, medical adviser at St John Ambulance, acknowledged that rescue breaths could be off-putting.

“The current advice is that if you’re unwilling or unable to do full CPR then chest compressions are better than nothing.

“The best solution, however, is for people to get trained in how to carry out chest compressions and rescue breaths so they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved,” he said.

The British Heart Foundation says that being able to do CPR more than doubles the chances of survival.

Claire O’Neill, community resuscitation programme lead at the BHF, said: “For someone who is untrained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, doing both chest compressions and rescue breaths really can be difficult.

“We also know that uninterrupted chest compressions are very important for increasing the chance of survival. So being directed to focus solely on chest compressions could make people more willing to attempt resuscitation, which could ultimately save lives,” she said.

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Source : BBC News

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Fluctuating BP ‘Warning Sign for Stroke’


People with occasionally high blood pressure are more at risk of stroke than those with consistently high readings, research suggests.

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Current guidelines focus on measuring average blood pressure levels to spot and prevent the chance of a stroke.

But research suggests doctors should no longer ignore variation in test results and give drugs that produce the most steady blood pressure levels.

The Stroke Association called for national guidelines to be overhauled.

In the first of the series of studies published in The Lancet, UK and Swedish researchers looked at the variability in blood pressure readings at doctors’ checks.

They found those with fluctuating readings at different GP visits had the greatest risk of future stroke regardless of what their average blood pressure reading was.

A review of previous trials also found that the differences in effectiveness of several blood pressure drugs could be explained by how well they kept blood pressure on an even keel.

Some drugs, in particular beta blockers, were shown in a separate study in The Lancet Neurology, to increase variation in a patient’s blood pressure.

‘Major implications’

Professor Peter Rothwell of the Department of Clinical Neurology at the University of Oxford, who led the research, said the findings have major implications for how GPs spot and treat people at high risk of stroke.

“At the moment, the guidelines for GPs say not to believe a one-off unusual reading, to bring the patient back and measure again, and as long as it’s not consistently high, there is no need to treat.

“What we’re saying is don’t discount that one-off high blood pressure reading.”

He added that GPs would also need to make sure they prescribe the most effective drug combinations – ideally one that lowers blood pressure but also stabilises it.

It is not know exactly why occasional spikes would increase a person’s risk of stroke but it is thought it puts undue stress on the system.

If you get rapid fluctuations that can cause turbulent flow of blood which can cause damage and stiffening in the arteries,” said Professor Rothwell.

He said anyone with high blood pressure who tests themselves at home might want to mention to their GP if they spot variations in their results.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence‘s guidelines on high blood pressure is in the process of being rewritten and these latest studies will be taken into account.

Joe Korner, director of communications at The Stroke Association said people who have occasional high blood pressure readings – known as episodic hypertension – are often not treated.

“With this new research it is now important that the clinical guidelines about treating high blood pressure are reviewed.

“In the meantime we urge GPs to read this research to help them prescribe the best treatment for people at risk of stroke.”

Experts stressed that those already prescribed medication for high blood pressure should not worry or stop taking their pills.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation said: “Current practice is not wrong, but this might add a new measure to help doctors make decisions on who to treat for hypertension and which drug to use.”

Source : BBC News:12th.March.2010

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Coming soon, the Hips and Knees that will Never Wear Out

Replacement body parts that never wear out could become a reality within a few years as the  scientists say.

Dodgy knees and hips will be repaired using tissue engineering, while donor heart valves from animals are being specially treated to last indefinitely.
Longer-lasting artificial joints are already being tested in a bid to ensure people will be able to enjoy another 50 active years.

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X-ray of female pelvix with total hips replacement

Scientists at the University of Leeds Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering have launched a £50million research initiative focused on areas of the body most affected by ageing, including joints, spine, teeth, heart and circulation.

Unlike studies involving stem cells and growing ‘spare parts’ in a lab, the programme uses the body’s own regenerative systems. The Leeds scientists have developed a chemical wash that strips cells away from donated cartilage, heart valves, blood vessels and other tissue before they are put into a human body.
Research shows they become repopulated with cells within about six months. Some 40 patients have already been treated with modified heart valves in a study in Brazil.

Professor John Fisher, director of the institute and one of the world’s leading researchers into artificial joints, said research so far had shown the valves did not deteriorate and were not rejected by the body, because ‘foreign’ donor cells had all been stripped away.
The unique method of removing living cells from human and animal tissue creates a biological ‘scaffold’ that can be regenerated within the body, at the site which needs repairing.

Worn-out ligaments and cartilage in knees can be replaced with a scaffold that will eventually attract cells to make the joint last longer.

Other areas targeted for treatment are the spine  –  where discs can be replaced  –  elbow and shoulder tissues and parts of the knee. Vascular patches are being devised that seal the holes made in arteries when surgeons clear a blockage.

The technique is not suitjointsable for whole organs, however. Professor Fisher has also designed a ceramic-on-metal hip joint that reduces ten-fold the wear and tear on artificial joints.

As a result people should be able to get spare parts at an earlier age, when they are less disabled, and they could last up to 50 years, he said.

The professor added: ‘Hip have been used for nearly 50 years but nowadays people want to cycle, play tennis, even go skiing, so they have to last longer.’
He said a scaffolding transplant would cost only around £1,000 a time. It was much more expensive to grow cells outside the body, and there was a higher infection risk.

Professor Eileen Ingham, deputy director of the Institute, said stem cells were not the answer to structural replacement of wornout bits of the body such as heart valves.

She said: ‘We are working with the NHS National Blood & Transplant Tissue Services to apply it to human donor valves. Once a patient has one, it should last a lifetime.’

Professor Christina Doyle, chief executive of Xeno Medical, predicted that in 20-30 years there would be techniques capable of regenerating human tissue off-the-shelf for use in operations.

She said: ‘It will be a case of the surgeon dialling up for spare parts to be delivered in a sterilised plastic bag.’

Source:Mail Online, 20th. Oct.’09

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