Systolic blood pressure

  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?

    Wrong!

    "(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. Slash heart risk by 50 percent?

    Bizarre new claim over all-in-one heart drug

    The polypill pushers are at it again -- and this time, they say their all-in-one drug can slash the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent.

    That's a heckuva claim to make from a study where absolutely NO ONE suffered from heart disease or a stroke.

    Yup... this was another one of those theoretical jobs, where they plug in some numbers and expect us to believe it.

    In this case, they at least started out with real people: Researchers gave the polypill -- a single drug that contains a statin, two hypertension meds, and aspirin -- or a placebo to 378 people at clinics around the world.

    After 12 weeks, researchers say the patients given the polypill had slight improvements in meaningless biomarkers: blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

    How slight? Systolic blood pressure fell from 134 mmHg to 124 mmHg.

    Even if you agree that this is a good measure of cardiovascular health (it's not!), both numbers are safely below the levels considered hypertension by the mainstream.

    LDL levels fell from the "borderline high" category to "above optimal," and don't even waste your time trying to figure out what that means.

    That's it.

    But the researchers say that over the long term, these minute changes will lead to a 50 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack and stroke -- a massive leap of faith that somehow got published in PLoS One.

    "Peer review" ain't what it used to be.

    But this is exactly the kind of hokum they have to use to make this drug look good -- because when you look at the REAL numbers, there's just nothing there... and that's been the case all along.

    Nearly eight years ago, I warned you about a polypill study that supposedly slashed heart risk by a third. That claim was technically true, but it looks a lot less impressive when you read the fine print and see that the absolute risk reduction was just 1.4 percent. (Read the story here.)

    And just a few weeks ago, one of the polypill's inventors said his new study found that absolutely everyone over the age of 55 needs to take the drug's main ingredients, statins and BP pills.

    But it turned out that wasn't a real study -- just a computer simulation. (Read more here.)

    I'd say wake me up when they actually get some real results from this pill... but I'd have to be asleep for a very long time.

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