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High blood pressure linked to racial segregation

Raghu Kshitiz

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Unhealthy gut bacteria may also hike blood pressure

KATHMANDU — A study led by the researchers of National Institutes of Health has found people living in racially segregated neighborhoods are at a higher risk of high blood pressure.

The researchers, in a study involving more than 2,000 African-Americans, found that black adults living in racially segregated neighborhoods had an increased risk of high blood pressure, but moving away from segregated neighborhoods was linked with a reduction in blood pressure enough to reduce heart attacks and strokes.

“Our study suggests that the stress and the inadequate access to health-promoting resources associated with segregation may play a role in these increases in blood pressure,” said Dr. David Goff, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI, of NIH, in a press release.

For the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers examined blood pressure readings for 2,280 black adults who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, focusing on adults age 18 to 30 who were initially screened in 1985 and 1986 who were followed several times over 25 years.

“While stress raises blood pressure, access to health-promoting resources, such as full service grocery stores, recreation centers and health care clinics, is critical to keeping blood pressure at healthier levels.”

The study found that when neighborhoods were more segregated, participants had small but statistically significant increases in systolic blood pressure, while reductions in segregation correlated with a decrease in blood pressure.

The study showed the most significant improvements occurred in individuals who lived in highly segregated neighborhoods and moved to less segregated ones, with systolic blood pressure dropping 3mm to 5mm Hg.

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“This is a powerful effect,” said Kiarri Kershaw, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

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Drinking 3 cups of coffee or tea daily may keep stroke risk at bay

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — There have been several conflicting studies on the health benefits of drinking coffee and tea and their various varieties. But drinking up to three cups of coffee or tea in a day is safe because it reduces irregular heartbeat and stroke risk, according to a new study published in the journal JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

Coffee has previously been believed to worsen abnormal heart rhythms, as doctors generally discourage patients suffering from the condition. However, the results of this particular study say that a daily consumption of upto 300 mg of caffeine may be safe for arrhythmic patients.

This is because the caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and blocks the effect of adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical which causes Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and works to block the effects of adenosine — a chemical that causes AFib.

AFib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

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“There is a public perception, often based on anecdotal experience, that caffeine is a common acute trigger for heart rhythm problems,” said lead author Peter Kistler, Director at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

But, “caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” he added.

A meta-analysis of 228,465 participants showed that AFib frequency decreasing by 6 per cent in regular coffee drinkers, and an analysis of 115,993 patients showed a 13 per cent reduced risk.

Another study of 103 post-heart attack patients who received an average of 353 mg of caffeine a day showed improvement in heart rate and no significant arrhythmias — or abnormal heart rhythms, that cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly.

However, in two studies, where patients drank at least 10 cups and nine cups of coffee per day, showed an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) – a condition in which the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beat very quickly.

On the other hand, patients with pre-existing heart conditions who consumed two or more energy drinks — that contains concentrated caffeine — per day reported palpitations within 24 hours.

With Agency Inputs

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