Can Your Teenager Develop Hypertension?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a disease that most don’t begin to think about until they are well into their adult life, but more and more teenagers and younger children are now developing high blood pressure.

It was once believed that high blood pressure in teens was largely related to an underlying problem with the heart or kidneys. Research has shown that this is not the case and that teens today are developing hypertension in approximately the same proportions as adults.

One of the biggest reasons is the rise of childhood obesity. Teens in the United States now weigh more and exercise less than in past generations. Smoking cigarettes, as well as alcohol and drug use can also be contributing factors. As a result, rates of high blood pressure among this group have a grown at a rapidly increasing rate.

While these factors certainly can’t be ignored, they are not the only reasons why a teenager can develop high blood pressure. The teenage years are synonymous with puberty. The sudden bodily changes that take place during this time in a young adult’s life can also play a role. Hormone changes and rapid growth spurts can cause transient increases in blood pressure levels. As a result, even if a child isn’t overweight or inactive, they could still post high levels. Being obese or inactive can only add to the problem.

Another issue is understanding the definition of hypertension in teenagers. While determining hypertension in adults is fairly easy as there are set numerical values used as markers, diagnosing the disease in teens is more complicated. To determine hypertension in teens, doctors look at five key factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Systolic reading (the upper value which represents the pressure when heart contracts)
  • Diastolic reading (the lower value which represents the pressure when the heart relaxes)

These values are then compared to other boys or girls to determine where the teen falls with a certain percentile. The system is a complicated one but takes into account factors that better characterize a teen’s blood pressure. As a result, blood pressure readings that may seem high when looked at on an isolated basis may end up being perfectly normal when adjusted for the child’s height, age, and gender.

Because teenagers with hypertension tend to suffer more cardiovascular events later in life, early intervention is vital to lowering the blood pressure and sustaining long-term control.

Treating hypertension in teenagers will typically focus on lifestyle interventions before medications are considered.  Suggested changes include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining an ideal body mass index (BMI)
  • Exercising regularly
  • Quitting cigarettes
  • Limiting drug and alcohol use

It’s important that your teenager have an annual physical examination performed so a doctor can check their blood pressure. If your teen does not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center has many qualified physicians. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is There an Underlying Cause for Your Hypertension?

Over 75 million or one out of every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, or hypertension.  For most, hypertension is the result of either genetic or lifestyle factors such as obesity or smoking, but for approximately 10% of Americans, hypertension is caused by the existence of another disease.

When hypertension is the result of another medical condition it is referred to as secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension can be caused by a variety of conditions that affect any number of different systems and organs. Some of the most common causes for secondary hypertension include:

  • Kidney disease -Secondary hypertension can be related to damaged kidneys or to an abnormal narrowing of one or both renal arteries.
  • Coarctation of the aorta.With this congenital defect, the body’s main artery (aorta) is narrowed (coarctation). This forces the heart to pump harder to get blood through the aorta and to the rest of your body. This in turn, raises blood pressure — particularly in your arms.
  • Adrenal disease – The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and produce several hormones that help regulate blood pressure. Sometimes, one or both adrenal glands make and secrete an excess of these hormones.
  • Hyperparathyroidism – The parathyroid glands regulate levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body. If the glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone, the amount of calcium in your blood rises — which triggers a rise in blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy –  Pregnancy can make existing high blood pressure worse, or may cause high blood pressure to develop (pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia).

Like primary hypertension, secondary hypertension usually has no specific signs or symptoms, even when your blood pressure has reached dangerously high levels.  Secondary hypertension can also worsen an underlying medical condition and lead to other serious complications, such as heart attack or stroke, if left untreated.

In most cases, once an underlying medical condition causing hypertension is identified and appropriate treatment is provided, your blood pressure will return to normal.

If you have a condition that can cause secondary hypertension, it is important to see your doctor and have your blood pressure checked regularly.

If you have hypertension and believe there is an underlying cause, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you do not have one, please call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to schedule an appointment.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Low-Sodium Baked Salmon Recipe

A low-sodium diet can reduce the risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and kidney damage.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium should be consumed per day

Here are the approximate amounts of sodium in a given amount of table salt:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

If you are interested in lowering your sodium, this recipe for baked salmon is a good place to start.  For this and other low sodium recipes you can go to –

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/salmon-baked-in-foil-recipe.html#lightbox-recipe-video

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate has received a great deal of attention because it’s believed to help protect your cardiovascular system. The reason being is that the cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids.

Higher grades of dark chocolate are where you will find an abundance of flavonoids.

Some benefits to adding a moderate amount of dark chocolate to your diet are:

  • Nutrition – If the dark chocolate you are eating has a high cocoa content it will also have a sufficient amount of soluble fiber and will be rich with minerals.
  • Antioxidants – Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants, such as polyphenols, flavanols and catechins to name a few.
  • Blood Flow and Hypertension – The bioactive compounds in cocoa have been known to improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but significant decrease in blood pressure.
  • Heart Disease – Eating dark chocolate has shown to be beneficial in improving several important risk factors for heart disease, reducing insulin resistance, increase high density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol) and decreasing low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). These reductions could show decrease in cardiovascular disease.

Be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose: chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered dark chocolate is by no means a heart-healthy food option. Watch out for those extra ingredients that can add lots of extra fat and calories.

There is currently no established serving size of dark chocolate to help you reap the cardiovascular benefits it may offer, and more research is needed in this area. So, for now, it is recommended that a moderate portion of chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce) a few times per week is sufficient while eating other flavonoid-rich foods (lettuce, almonds, strawberries, celery oranges, etc.).

Even though there is evidence that eating dark chocolate can provide health benefits, it doesn’t mean you should over indulge.  It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Safety Tips For Shoveling Snow This Winter

Winter and snow go hand in hand and we are never more likely to get a heavy snowfall than in February, which is typically the snowiest month,. Anticipating the potential for a snowstorm this month, Flushing Hospital would like to provide you with some heart health tips before you go out to shovel snow.

By now, we have all heard about the risk of shoveling snow and suffering a heart attack, but is this true? The fact is shoveling snow (or to a less extent, even pushing a heavy snow blower) is considered a more strenuous activity than running full speed on a treadmill.  But why should pushing around some white flakes be more dangerous than any other form of exercise?

The biggest reason why heart attacks are so common while snow shoveling has as much to do with the weather as it does with the activity.  The cold temperature is a key contributor to the onset of a heart attack. Frozen temperatures can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to the heart, and make blood more likely to clot.

Another factor to consider is who is doing the shoveling.  If you are a healthy and physically fit individual there is much less of a risk to suffer a heart attack, but unfortunately not everyone who attempts to shovel snow fits into that category. For those who do not exercise as frequently, (especially during the winter when we tend to be less active) or have a history of hypertension or heart disease need to follow the following tips before going out to shovel:

  • Avoid shoveling as soon as you wake up as this is when most heart attacks occur
  • Do not drink coffee, eat a heavy meal or smoke cigarettes immediately before or while shoveling
  • Warm up your muscles before you begin
  • Shovel many light loads instead of fewer heavy ones
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Know the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack. If you experience a squeezing pain in your chest, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, pain radiating from your left shoulder and down your left arm, cold sweats, accompanied by fatigue and nausea, stop shoveling, go inside and call 911 immediately.
If you are at a high risk of suffering a heart attack, avoid shoveling snow completely. Try asking a family member, friend or neighborhood teen to help you out.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Can Anxiety Cause Hypertension ?

While we all experience anxious feelings from time to time, there are some people who are clinically diagnosed with anxiety disease. One would think that prolonged anxiety could lead to an elevated blood pressure, but is there a link between the two?  Anxiety causes the body to release stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol and these hormones cause the heart to beat faster and also constrict the blood vessels. This will lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. When blood pressure is elevated on a regular basis, and for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to damage of the blood vessels, kidneys and heart.
Anxiety can also lead a person to have unhealthy habits as a way of coping.  Smoking, drinking alcohol and a poor diet are examples of some of these bad habits and these can all contribute to elevated blood pressure. Certain medications that are used to control anxiety, such as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, can also cause the elevation of pressure levels.

A few of the ways to treat anxiety is by learning what causes a person to be anxious and avoid those situations. This may require a change in lifestyle, eating habits, and learning how to relax.

If you find that you feel anxious frequently and would like to speak to a physician at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5486

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Can Hypertension Affect Your Eyesight?

We are aware of the many serious consequences of living with high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Prolonged, untreated hypertension can negatively impact your heart and your kidneys, but how can hypertension affect your eyesight?

High blood pressure can lead to a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy and the damage can be very serious if not addressed.

Eye close upThe retina is a layer of tissue located at back of the eye and contains cells that are sensitive to light. These cells trigger nerve impulses that pass via the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed. When your blood pressure is too high, the walls of the retina may thicken, which restricts blood flow to the retina and limits its function, resulting in potentially permanent vision problems, including blindness.

A person with hypertensive retinopathy wouldn’t typically display any symptoms until the condition has progressed. Possible signs may include:

  • Reduced vision
  • Eye swelling
  • Bursting of a blood vessel
  • Double vision accompanied by headaches

In most cases, an eye specialist can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy during an examination using an instrument called an opthalmoscope to examine the retina. Your doctor will look for signs of narrowing of blood vessels, spots on the retina, swelling or bleeding in the back of the eye.

Effective treatment for hypertensive retinopathy involves controlling your blood pressure. This can be done through medication and lifestyle changes. Most importantly, doctors recommend maintaining an ideal body weight, eating and healthy diet and exercising regularly as methods to lower your blood pressure.

If you are living with high blood pressure, or if you think you are, see a doctor immediately. If you do not have a doctor, you can make an appointment at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling 5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Do You Have “White Coat Hypertension?

Doctor taking patient's blood pressure

Does the thought of having a physician take your blood pressure make you nervous? Anxiety over going to the doctor’s office can lead to an elevation in your blood pressure; a condition known as “white coat hypertension.”

White coat hypertension is a real condition that occurs when blood pressure readings at your doctor’s office are higher than they are in other settings, such as your home. The term white coat refers to the traditional white lab coat health care professionals wear in clinical settings.

The underlying cause of white coat hypertension is believed to be tension and stress associated with being examined by a physician. Not much attention was given to this condition since the blood pressure of patients returned to normal levels when taken in the home environment, where they feel more relaxed. Recent studies however have proven that people with white coat hypertension are twice as likely to develop true hypertension within a decade, compared to people with normal blood pressure levels.

How do you know if you have white coat hypertension and what should you do if you have it? The first step is for your doctor to have you monitor your blood pressure at home to see if it returns to normal levels. If it does, together, you and your doctor can decide whether to treat it or not. On one hand, if your blood pressure is normal during the rest of the day, taking blood pressure medications can lead to hypotension (low blood pressure). On the other hand, people with white coat hypertension might have elevated blood pressure during other stressful parts of the day. Many factors, such as age, family history, and the existence of other conditions will help the doctor make the right decision for you.

There are things that you can do to reduce your anxiety and stress before having your blood pressure checked by a health care professional. First, avoid drinking excessive amounts of water before checking your blood pressure because water can increase your reading. Also, do not participate in any physical activity before having your blood pressure taken. Excessive physical exertion will raise blood pressure. Lastly, avoid stressful situations and remain calm leading up to and during your visit to the doctor’s office.

If you think you have hypertension, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. If you do not have a primary care physician, call Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670- 5486 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Preeclampsia Awareness Month

pregpic

Preeclampsia Awareness Month is a nationally recognized health observance that presents an opportunity to offer education to help increase awareness of this life-threatening disorder.

Preeclampsia occurs in eight percent of all pregnancies.  Formerly called toxemia, preeclampsia is a condition that is marked by high blood pressure in pregnant women that have previously not experienced high blood pressure.  Symptoms of preeclampsia include high levels of protein found in their urine and they may have swelling in the feet, legs and hands.  Preeclampsia appears late in the pregnancy, generally after the 20 week mark, although, in some cases, it can appear earlier.

If left undiagnosed and untreated, preeclampsia can become a more serious condition called eclampsia, which can put the expectant mother and baby at risk.

There is no cure for preeclampsia, but when it is caught in its early stages, it is easier to manage.

If you are pregnant and would like to make an appointment at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Women’s Health Center, call 718-670-5486, for an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is High Blood Pressure Affecting your Kidneys?

hypertension-87650188

High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the United States after diabetes.

High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to work properly. When the force of blood flow is high, blood vessels stretch so blood flows more easily. Eventually, this stretching scars and weakens blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the kidneys.

If the kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. Extra fluid in the blood vessels may then raise blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle.

Most people with high blood pressure do not have symptoms. In rare cases, high blood pressure can cause headaches.

Kidney disease also does not have symptoms during its early stages. A person may have swelling called edema, which happens when the kidneys cannot get rid of extra fluid and salt. Edema can occur in the legs, feet, or ankles and less often in the hands or face.

Once kidney function decreases further, symptoms can include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness or feeling tired
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased or decreased urination
  • Generalized itching or numbness
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Darkened skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Following a healthy eating plan can help lower blood pressure.  Your health care provider may recommend a dietary approach that includes foods that are low in fat and cholesterol, dairy that is fat-free or low-fat, fish, poultry and nuts, as well as, consuming less read meat, sweets and added sugars.

If you are experiencing symptoms and would like to speak with a physician, please call Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5795.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.