1. Vitamin C lowers BP

    When a drug drops BP levels by a few lousy points, docs throw a party. When a vitamin does the same thing they claim, "it's only a few lousy points."

    Which is it?

    These days, docs are turning up their noses at an analysis of 29 studies that found 500 mg of vitamin C a day can trim 5 points off the systolic blood pressure (the top number) in patients with "high" blood pressure.

    I'm not one to get excited over 5 points myself, but those same docs will tell anyone 5 points over the threshold -- a threshold that seems to get lower every year -- that they need medication.

    So this should be good news to them, right?


    "(B)efore we can recommend supplements as a treatment for high blood pressure, we really need more research to understand the implications of taking them," study author Edgar "Pete" R. Miller III, MD, PhD, wrote in a news release.

    Really, Pete?

    If there's any vitamin as well understood as vitamin C, I can't name it. You need this stuff, and plenty of it -- and while I've seen analysts claim the 500 mg a day in the study is a high dose, it's nothing of the sort.

    It's what I call a "good start," because most people need about 1,200 mg a day -- and if you get that much, you might even shave a few more points off those BP levels.

    But take it because you need more C -- not because you're worried about BP. In fact, if you're just 5 or so points off the target, you've got nothing to worry about.

    If your levels suddenly shoot up for a reason that's not immediately obvious and then remain high, you might need a little more help -- and I don't mean a vitamin OR a med.

    You need a doctor who can figure out why it happened. I suggest using a naturopathic doctor. You can find one in the directory on the Web site of the American College for Advancement in Medicine.

  2. WARNING! Don't lower your BP after a stroke

    Survive a stroke and you'll probably be so relieved you'll do just about anything your doctor tells you to.

    But don't follow his orders too closely -- because they might just kill you!

    One of the first things a doc will do after a stroke -- or heart attack or anything else for that matter -- is lecture you about whatever bad habits you might have, regardless of whether or not they had anything to do with your condition.

    And of course, the chief nag is always blood pressure, blood pressure, blood pressure.

    But the latest research finds that stroke victims who rush to bring their BP into the supposedly "perfect" range -- a systolic (top number) reading of under 120 -- actually have a HIGHER risk of a second stroke, heart attack and vascular death than patients with systolic readings of between 140 and 150.

    For those of you following guidelines, that's supposed to be "dangerous" hypertension territory… yet they had the lower risk. And the lowest risk of all was found in stroke patients with systolic readings of between 130 and 140 -- or right at the top end of "prehypertension."

    Naturally, the researchers missed the point of their own study.

    Instead of admitting that maybe this BP business isn't all its cracked up to be, they merely urged docs to wait six months before trying to bring those levels down in stroke patients.

    How about this: If your BP is a little on the high side, stop worrying about it at all -- whether it's six days, six weeks, six months or six years.

    It's an overrated biomarker -- and worrying about it too much is clearly enough to give you a stroke.

  3. 'Poor' health? Pay a fine!

    Next time you get on a scale, your boss could be peeking over your shoulder -- and if he doesn't like what he sees, he's going to tack an extra fee onto your health insurance premium.

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