Posts Tagged blood pressure


Posted by on Saturday, 13 July, 2013













And how is YOUR subfornical organ? 

In a recent article, I mentioned a  “bracelet” that measures blood pressure. No cuff, no catheters, no needles. Just a bracelet around the wrist. This got me thinking about what else might be new for people with hypertension.

Well what DO you know! Here’s a good one.  The root of the hypertension problem may not be the arteries. Dr. Robin Davison of Cornell (Journal of Clinical Investigation) says the brain is the reason that blood pressure gets “stuck” at high levels. He says the problem is in the subfornical organ at the very bottom of the brain which is responsible for the way both the arteries and the heart interact to raise the pressure. The good thing is that this particular structure, because of its location, should be easily reached by therapeutic drugs (not true for most things in the brain because of the “blood brain barrier”).

Does this matter?

About a third of Americans (and most older Americans) have high blood pressure. There are things that can be done to treat it. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. But there’s room for something better – something that gets more directly at the cause. There’s a particular hormone which acts on the subfornical organ during stress. Davison has shown that when drugs are administered to counter the influence of that hormone, the elevated blood pressure returns to normal.  Just like that. If this idea can be turned into a practical drug, stress induced hypertension might be much much easier to deal with.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Credit for the nifty head flipper above:

Maybe Salt’s OK For You

Posted by on Friday, 22 January, 2010


Cardiology: Seasoning.


Here’s the thing. About 25% of you are “salt sensitive”. Which means, if you eat too much salt, you could be at risk for high blood pressure (like you always heard), as well as heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes, cataracts, strokes.. on and on.

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about.

How can you tell if you’re salt sensitive?

Not that easy. A clue: low birth weight kids are prone to it.

If you’re in that group (salt sensitive, that is), you really SHOULD steer clear. Keep it off the table and out of reach. Learn other ways to enjoy food.

Or try exercise.

I’m sure you remember from your running days that you can get sick if you don’t have ENOUGH salt. Good hard exercise (done often enough) chews up the salt and may very well ALLOW you to indulge a bit.

Not such a terrible compromise, is it?


I knew you would ask.

See, keeping extra salt out of your diet is such a standard part of government guidelines, that it is now the orthodoxy. EVERYBODY knows it’s true.

“But,” you may ask, “if one in four of us is salt sensitive, don’t we bias the results of the studies that all this stuff is based on?”

You would think.

What about those of us who aren’t sensitive – the majority?

Dr. Richard Fogoros, from the University of Pittsburgh, talks about the “Salt Wars” and concludes, conservatively, that you should “sell your salt shaker”.

Just in case.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad, doesn’t want to lead you astray, but, given that most of us AREN’T salt sensitive, maybe a little common sense, based on your own medical history, your known inherited risk factors, and the advice of your Doc might give you license to “shake it”.

Just a little.

Anyway, all this stuff is a reminder that science is great ‘n all. But it doesn’t always lead us to clear answers.

The salt and pepper shaker image is from: