At-Home Blood Pressure Monitoring Recommended
More than 100 million Americans should monitor their blood pressure at home, according to new recommendations. About 72 million people have hypertension—defined as a reading of greater than 140 over 90—and an additional 25 million have prehypertension, which is a reading higher than 120/80 but below 140/90. The recommendations are published online in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, and the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, as well as in the June issue of Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.
People should use blood pressure monitors that have cuffs for the upper arm, and they should take two or three readings at a time—about one minute apart—while in a seated position. The person's arm should be supported, and the upper arm should be located at heart level, with feet on the floor.
Recently, a study found that high blood pressure is still slipping past doctors. Learn more about the condition on the U.S. News Hypertension Channel.
Patch Form of HRT May Offer Lower Blood Clot Risk Than Oral Form
Those who take hormone replacement therapy via a skin patch may face a lower risk of blood clots than those who take the medication orally, reports a new study published on BMJ.com yesterday. "One main clinical implication is to consider transdermal rather than oral estrogen for women at high cardiovascular risk in order to avoid thrombosis [blood clots], which is the main harmful effect of short-term hormone therapy," Pierre-Yves Scarabin, director of research at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France and senior author of the study, told HealthDay. Previous research showed an increased risk for blood clots, coronary heart disease, and breast cancer among postmenopausal women taking HRT. But this is the first systematic meta-analysis to assess whether the risk varies according to the type of HRT treatment a woman is taking.
Earlier this week, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reported that healthy women entering menopause can relax about HRT and should push aside concerns about heart disease, breast cancer, and strokes. She also explained the HRT dilemma last year.
Be Careful When Buying Medications Abroad
With high drug costs eating into people's budgets at home, it may be hard for people to resist buying medications overseas in order to save money, Michelle Andrews reports. But this practice can be risky, especially in developing countries where drug counterfeiting may be common and manufacturing and storage practices may be suspect. And even if you're in a European country and get a prescription from a doctor there, you need to be careful: Dosages and drug names may be different from what you're familiar with in the United States.
Andrews offers advice for what to keep in mind when buying drugs overseas in the On Health & Money blog. U.S. News describes four ways to avoid dangerous drug errors and explains why shoddy and fraudulent pharmaceutical products pose a growing threat.
Can Blaming People for Being Fat Help Curb Obesity?
Last week, a letter published in the Lancet noted that obese people contribute more than their thinner counterparts to food scarcity and global warming, given that they eat more and require more transportation energy to move themselves around, Katherine Hobson reports. While the authors' intent was probably not to make the obese feel worse, the media translations of the study in a quick Google search turned up headlines such as "Fat People Cause Global Warming, Higher Food Prices" and "Scientists Blame Fat People for Global Warming."
Perhaps, as obesity increasingly becomes the norm, society has grown too accepting, or maybe what's lacking is a healthy dose of social stigma, Hobson speculates. But in fact, researchers say, stigma does very little to motivate overweight or obese people to change.
—January W. Payne