A new and controversial study reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and presented by the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference indicates that diet soda drinks — such as beverages that contain aspartame or sucralose — can increase the risk of cardiovascular events by 61%. However, many dietary experts and scientists warn not to take this study at face value because it does not prove cause and effect.
The study involved 2,563 individuals in New York with the average age of 69. The individuals participating in the study were asked about their consumption of soda over nine years. The study factored out age, sex, smoking, physical activity, alcohol and calorie consumption, and pre-existing syndromes and diseases before publishing the results. 212 of the participants had strokes, 149 had heart attacks, and 338 of them died from vascular disease, indicating diet sodas nay be linked to adverse health effects. At first glance, this study seems to show that diet sodas are not an optimal substitute beverage for regular soda but there are many critics of this study that make important counter-arguments.
There have been conflicting reports on the safety of diet sodas. Some studies found that those who consume diet sodas have larger waist lines on average while others found it the opposite to be true. Aspartame and related sweeteners are also believed to be the cause of many conditions. More specifically, diet soft drinks don’t have any nutritional value and there is evidence that it actually makes you gain weight and boosts blood-sugar levels, which cab lead to diabetes. This is reinforced by a study executed by the University of Texas Health Science Center in which 70% of the participants experienced weight gain. Their hypothesis was that the fake sugar triggered their appetite by inhibiting the brain cells that tell you that you are full. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to headaches, mood swings, seizures, depression, and “fuzzy” thinking.
Many experts believe that population-based studies are merely “food for thought” but should not form the basis for lifestyles, laws, or litigation. Part of the reason for this is that population studies tend to attract and be composed of a certain type of person such as those who are healthier and more concerned about their health. The study wasn’t designed to prove cause and effect, but it still could be indicative of the participant’s lifestyle. It’s important to look at what people eat in totality before jumping to conclusions. For example, people who consume soda, diet or not, tend to have a greater sweet tooth which could lead to unhealthier lifestyles.
The scientific communities believes this survey does not prove diet sodas are unhealthy. As more studies like these are done, we will get a better picture of how diet sodas effect the body. Our experts at Southern California Movement Disorder Specialists will keep a close eye on this study. Read in-depth article on this study at ABC News, Web MD, and Yahoo! Health. For further in depth reading visit the Huffington Post’s article The Deadly Neurotoxin Nearly Everyone Uses Daily and NYposts Diet soda in ‘fat’ shocker.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a widely misunderstood medical condition. Some people think that those with hypertension are tense, nervous, or hyperactive, but hypertension has nothing to do with personality traits. The truth is, you can be a calm, relaxed person and still have hypertension.
High blood pressure tends to run in families and is more likely to affect men than women. Age and race also play a role. In the United States, blacks are twice as likely as whites to have high blood pressure, although the gap begins to narrow around age 44. After age 65, black women have the highest incidence of high blood pressure. The majority of all people with high blood pressure are “salt sensitive,” meaning that anything more than the minimal bodily need for salt is too much for them and increases their blood pressure. People who have high blood pressure are four to six times more likely to have a stroke. Over time, hypertension leads to atherosclerosis and hardening of the large arteries. This, in turn, leads to blockage and weakening of the walls of small blood vessels in the brain, causing them to balloon and burst. Additionally, the risk of stroke is directly related to how high the blood pressure is; 40 to 90 percent of stroke patients have high blood pressure before their stroke event.
High blood pressure is more likely in people who
- have a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes
- are African American
- are men
- age greater than 55
- are overweight
- are not physically active
- drink excessively
- eat foods high in saturated fats or sodium
- use certain medications such as NSAIDs, decongestants, and illicit drugs such as cocaine
Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.
If, while monitoring your blood pressure, you get a systolic reading of 180 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) or higher, or a diastolic reading of 110 mm HG or higher, wait a couple of minutes and take it again. If the reading is still at or above that level, you should seek immediate emergency medical treatment for a hypertensive crisis.
Charting Can Help Eliminate False Readings
Your healthcare provider always wants an accurate picture of your blood pressure, however, many physicians don’t properly advise their patients to frequently monitor their blood pressure at home. One measurement taken at the doctor’s office is like a snapshot—it shows what your blood pressure is at that moment. Your blood pressure should be taken 3 times a day for 5 to 14 days to get an accurate trend. Since there are seldom symptoms for high blood pressure unless it gets dangerously high and no way to sense fluctuations in blood pressure, measuring is the only way to get the facts. Readings can vary throughout the day (for example, high in the morning and low at night) and can be temporarily influenced by factors such as emotions, diet, and medication. A record of readings taken over time can provide you and your healthcare provider a clearer picture of your blood pressure. This information will allow your doctor to better know how your body is responding to medication and normalize your blood pressure more effectively.
Home blood pressure monitoring is the most effective way to manage your blood pressure. This is the absolute best way to avoid strokes or heart attacks that can be caused by sudden or long term damage by high blood pressure. If people with high blood pressure took an active role in their medical care by monitoring their blood pressure at home, kept a log and sent the readings to their doctors we could prevent more than 50% of strokes, hypertensive related hospital admissions, hypertensive deaths and heart complications related to hypertension.
False readings can lead to over-diagnosis or misdiagnosis of HBP. For example, some people experience anxiety when at a doctor’s office, which leads temporarily to higher readings—this condition is known as “white-coat hypertension.” Self-measurement at home is a good way to check whether your blood pressure reading in the doctor’s office is correct. Blood pressure machines can be purchased for $35-$80 and remember the more inexpensive the machine the greater chance of inaccurate readings and buying another after one year. A reliable model recommended by cardiologists can be found at http://www.socalmds.com/astore.php
Home monitoring may be especially useful for
- patients starting HBP treatment to determine its effectiveness
- patients requiring closer monitoring than intermittent office visits provide, especially individuals with coronary heart disease, diabetes and/or kidney disease
- pregnant women, since preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension can develop rapidly
- people who have some high readings at the doctor’s office, to rule out white-coat hypertension and confirm true HBP
- elderly patients, because the white-coat effect increases progressively with age
How Can I Reduce High Blood Pressure?
This information sheet discusses the following steps for treating your high blood pressure:
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.
- Be more physically active.
- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men.
- Take medicine the way your doctor tells you to.
- Know what your blood pressure should be and work to keep it at that level.
Weight: Obesity is associated with more severe HBP, and the need for multiple medications to control blood pressure. Thus, obesity is a common feature of resistant hypertension. Weight loss, although not specifically evaluated in patients with resistant hypertension, has clear benefits in reducing blood pressure and the number of medications required to control blood pressure.
Sodium: High dietary salt intake is common in patients with resistant hypertension and more pronounced in typical salt-sensitive patients including the elderly, African Americans, and in particular, patients with chronic kidney disease. In patients with general high blood pressure, reducing dietary salt intake can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by five to ten, and two to six mm Hg, respectively. African-American and elderly patients tend to show greater benefits from reducing salt intake.
Alcohol: Heavy alcohol intake is associated with higher blood pressure and with treatment-resistant blood pressure. In one study, a small group of patients who quit heavy alcohol drinking reduced 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure by 7.2 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 6.6 mm Hg while dropping the prevalence of hypertension from 42 percent to 12 percent.
PREVENTION OF DEATH FROM STROKE, KIDNEY AND HEART DISEASE RELATED TO HYPERTENSION STARTS AT HOME. EMPOWER YOURSELF TO BECOME AN ACTIVE IN TAKING CARE OF THE PERSON HOW MATTERS THE MOST, YOU.
Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. It is important to recognize the different types of stroke, the symptoms and how to reduce your risk. Your stroke risk increases with age especially if risk factors are not controlled early in ones 20's to 40's. Learn how you can prevent Stroke and help someone having a stroke in your presence.
- Every 45 seconds, someone has a stroke in the US.
- 750,000 people per year have one
- Surveys suggest that 38% of 50+ year old individuals don't know where stokes happen in the body, 19% don't know how to prevent them.
- 3rd leading cause of death
- #1 cause of disability in adults
- 2/3 of all strokes happen to individuals over 65 years old
- Can cause $60,000+ in medical charges
- Males have a higher risk of stroke (2:00)
- African Americans also have a higher risk
- Lifestyle has a large effect on the risk of stroke
What we can't do to prevent Stroke
- Age: Changes of getting a Stroke double per decade of life
- Heredity: Males and African Americans have a higher risk (4:00)
- Gender: Males have a higher risk of getting a stroke, women are more likely to die of stroke
- Women taking birth control pills and smoking can get a stroke at a young age
- TIA Stroke = "mini strokes" - When someone has mini stroke, they are 10x more likely to have a major Stroke
What you can do to prevent Stroke
- Hypertension - Leading cause of Stroke. Testing your blood pressure over many years is vital to preventing Stroke.
- Smoking - Smoking can really elevate the risk of Stroke in the youth (9:00)
- Lower your Cholesterol - Someones weight and health has an effect on the likelihood of stroke. LDL Cholesterol should be less than 100.
- Keep blood sugar down - Diabetes can increase the risk of Stroke
- Eating overall healthier - Eat less saturated fat, less sodium, less carbs, and less calories. Watch out for deceptive product labels when grocery shopping. Smaller servings are generally better.
- Eating fish can be healthy, but avoid fish with high saturated fat content (12:00).
- Understand the food labels on packaged foods.
- Consume Omega-3, 4 to 6 grams daily.
- Physical activity - helps reduce plaque in the blood (17:00)
- Sleep apnea - increases risk of memory loss, heart attacks, headaches, and Stroke.
- Drugs - cocaine can induce Stroke. Don't do heavy/illegal drugs.
- Auto-immune diseases can increase Stroke risk in women
- Multiple miscarriages can increase the risk of Stroke in women.
Symptoms of an upcoming Stroke(19:30)
- One side of the body becomes numb or week
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking
- Hard time understanding speech or seeing clearly
- Loss of balance
- Sudden severe headache (out of nowhere)
Different types of Stroke
- TIA stroke (mini-stroke)
- Ischemic Stroke
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
How does Stroke effect the brain?(22:00)
Right-side brain Stroke = sight loss, can lead to behavioral issues, and loss of control of left side of the body.
Left-side brain Strokes = speech and language issues, behavioral issues, and loss of control of right side of the body.
Depression - Sadness, or suicidal.
Apathy - Don't won't to do anything (productive or fun) after having a stroke
Helping a Stroke patient
• Writing journal and sticky notes are great for helpful reminders
• Call 911, do not drive potential Stroke sufferers to hospital. The hospital prepares for Stroke patients upon 911 call. Clot-busting drugs will be given in ER. Extremely useful when given within
• 3 hours of Stroke, so 911 must be called to ensure a timely delivery.
• Strokes can effect neural network and may make the sufferer think he/she is fine and doesn't need help.
• F.A.S.T = Face, Arms, Speech Test = Does a smile effect one side of the face, does one arm drift downward, do they speak in normal sentences without slurring?