HIGH PRESSURE ON BLOOD PRESSURE. The International Society for Hypertension in Blacks (ISHIB) yesterday issued first-ever guidelines for treating high blood pressure in African Americans. While hypertension can be deadly to all, it's particularly devastating to African Americans, who tend to get it earlier, more often and with more deadly effects than whites. The guidelines, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, recommend that doctors seek to maintain the blood pressure of blacks with heart disease (or high risk of it), diabetes or kidney disease at or below 130/80. (The treatment trigger for most populations, including blacks without those conditions, remains 140/90.) The new guidelines also call for treatment with two or more drugs for many black patients and adherence to the DASH diet (high in fruit, vegetables and whole grains, low in fat and salt).
The research was partly underwritten by a grant from Novartis, maker of several blood pressure drugs.
RED FLAG SURFING An ingenious study conducted by psychiatrists at the University of California, San Diego, and published in the April edition of Psychosomatics yields a useful set of "red flags" that may help Web surfers screen out inferior health and medical information online. Sites were generally less credible when they: sold products online; provided "patient testimonials"; claimed the product had "no side effects"; and promised a "cure" (for cancer, in the case of this study). The more flags, the researchers found, the less scientific validation the products tended to have.
A PREVENTIVE DEFENSE Surgeon General Richard Carmona weighed in last week on, well, Americans, telling members of the American Medical Association Wednesday: "We wait for people to get sick and then we spend top dollar to make them healthy again. As I see it, we can no longer tolerate treating people who make poor choices." He said he'll devote his term to promoting "better choices" and disease prevention.
FAT TO CHEW And finally, from the world of nutrition, this fresh report: Researchers studying data from the Framingham Heart Study have found an association between obesity and reduced cognitive function -- but only in men. Rather than speculating what that might mean, we'll just turn it over to the dinner table for discussion.