Research led by scientists at the University of Birmingham has revealed a new cause of high blood pressure which could lead to major changes in managing the disease.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, often goes unnoticed but if left untreated can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Studies estimate that one in four adults suffer from hypertension, but most patients have no identifiable cause for the condition.
However, it is known that in up to 10 per cent of hypertensive patients the overproduction of the adrenal hormone aldosterone — a condition known as primary aldosteronism or Conn syndrome — is the cause of disease.
High concentrations of the stress hormone, Cortisol, in the body affect important DNA processes and increase the risk of long-term psychological consequences. These relationships are evident in a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy on patients with Cushing’s Syndrome, but the findings also open the door for new treatment strategies for other stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.
“If these results can be verified and repeated in other studies, they would have significance for future possibilities for treating stress-induced psychological consequences,” says Camilla Glad, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition.
The uncommon disease, Cushing’s Syndrome, involves a substantial overproduction of Cortisol resulting from a benign tumor of the pituitary or adrenal gland. The condition is characterized by abdominal obesity, fat deposits in the face and neck, high blood pressure and diabetes. To a high extent, the affected individuals also risk suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment.
It is a well-known fact that fitness and well-being go hand in hand. But being in good shape also protects against the health problems that arise when we feel particularly stressed at work. As reported by sports scientists from the University of Basel and colleagues from Sweden, it therefore pays to stay physically active, especially during periods of high stress.
Psychosocial stress is one of the key factors leading to illness-related absences from work. This type of stress is accompanied by impaired mental well-being and an increase in depressive symptoms. It also raises the likelihood of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and an unfavorable blood lipid profile. Conversely, a high fitness level is associated with fewer depressive symptoms and fewer cardiovascular risk factors.
Too few adults taking antipsychotic medications are being screened for abnormalities in lipids, which include cholesterol and triglycerides, new research from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus finds.
The biggest gap in screening is among adults age 40 and younger, the group for whom early detection and intervention has been shown to be effective when additional cardiovascular risk is present.
Adults with serious mental illness die 20 to 30 years earlier than their peers, largely due to increased risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Taking antipsychotic medication increases that risk. The American Diabetes Association and American Psychiatric Association recommends more intensive diabetes and cholesterol lipid screening for patients receiving antipsychotics, but rates of screening have remained low.