The Washington Post reports that Charlie Daniels, the famous country music fiddler, had a stroke while snowmobiling in Colorado. He blames the stroke on his high blood pressure. It sounds like he didn't have it under control. The story is interesting for its description of how he was treated - basically, he was lucky he was near a local hospital that had tPA and that he was then able to get a plane to Denver. It doesn't sound Colorado has a stroke strategy.
A story on science blog points to research from UCLA showing that a fairly large number of stroke survivors don’t take their medication after leaving the hospital. People who survive stroke are usually prescribed drugs to prevent blood clotting. These range from aspirin to warfarin. Looking at data for more than 4,000 patients over a seven year period, the researchers found that nearly 20% of them were not taking these medications.
Nature Reviews: Cardiology recently published an online review article looking at research on the link between vitamin D and blood pressure. Our bodies only produce adequate amounts of vitamin D if we get enough exposure to sunlight. UVB rays generate vitamin D in the skin and through a series of molecular processes, it circulates through the system. The darker your skin, the more UVB you need to produce the vitamin D you need.
The review authors look at 26 studies. Fifteen of them found an association between blood pressure and vitamin D levels. Basically, low vitamin D seems to be related to higher blood pressure. However, seven studies found no relationship while four noted that higher levels of vitamin D were associated with high blood pressure.
While the results of the studies are mixed, the authors show that all those with a large number of patients (from 4030 people up to 12,644 people) indicated that lower vitamin D levels are associated with higher blood pressure. The ones that show no relationship or higher blood pressure with higher vitamin D levels almost all had much smaller numbers of participants.
The review authors conclude that the weight of the evidence is growing that vitamin D is anti-hypertensive and that low vitamin D levels are connected to higher blood pressure. Obviously, with the mixed results, more and larger randomized studies are required to establish for sure if the relationship holds.
Two other related studies show links between low levels of vitamin D and cardiovascular outcomes. Researchers in Finland looked at records of 6219 people aged 30 years and over who had no diagnosed cardiovascular condition at the study baseline in 1978-1980. From the baseline to 2006, 640 people died from coronary artery disease (CAD) and another 293 from stroke. The researchers were able to show a statistical association between low vitamin D levels and the cases of stroke mortality but not for those of CAD.
Meanwhile, a group of clinical investigators from the Heart Institute of the Intermountain Healthcare system in Utah presented two studies on vitamin D at the American Heart Association meetings in Orlando. They found that vitamin D levels are a powerful indicator of heart disease and stroke. For over a year, the researchers followed 27,686 patients 50 years of age or older with no prior history of cardiovascular disease. People with very low levels of vitamin D were 45% more likely to develop coronary artery disease and 78% more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal levels. They also found that heart patients with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be depressed than those who have adequate levels of the vitamin.
Welcome to the Take the Pressure Down blog. We’re aiming to supplement the HSF blood pressure web tools with information about the latest on research into and prevention and management of high blood pressure.
Over the past year, more than 5,000 British Columbians have taken the test – the Heart and Stroke Risk Assessment. We hope more of you will check it out.Here’s why.
In October, the World Health Organization said that high blood pressure is the number one risk factor for mortality in the world. The Global Health Risks report looks at the top 20 risk factors for death around the world. Disease related to high blood pressure accounts for 12.8% of all mortality In high income countries like Canada, that number goes up to 16.8%. But even in the poorest countries, most of which are in Africa, high blood pressure is a close (and growing) number two to childhood underweight as as a risk factor. Globally, cardiovascular risk factors (excluding tobacco use) are responsible for one third of all deaths.