Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Body & mind

Taking care of your whole self


        Treatment link: Researchers at the University of Washington have found that a combination of the right genetic variant and a diuretic helps people with high blood pressure avoid heart attacks and strokes.

        Researchers led by Dr. Bruce M. Psaty, co-director of the University of Washington's Cardiovascular Health Research Unit, followed more than 1,000 patients with high blood pressure from 1995 to 1998.

        The study centered on genes that influence how much sodium the kidneys retain. The alpha-adducin gene variant is known to increase sodium retention. High-salt diets and sodium retention cause high blood pressure.

        Diuretics are first-line drug-therapy for people with high blood pressure. Patients with the alpha-adducin gene variant had a 50 percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke when treated with low- dose diuretics than patients with the normal adducin gene.

        At some point, Dr. Psaty says, genetic screening for the alpha-adducin variant could help better target therapies for hypertension patients.

        More importantly, previous studies have shown that low-dose diuretics are safe and effective for treating high blood pressure in all people. “If you are taking medicines for high blood pressure and if you are not on a low-dose diuretic, it is reasonable to ask your physician, "Why not?' ” Dr. Psaty says.

Shelf help

        New release: Living With Hepatitis C: A Survivor's Guideby Dr. Gregory T. Everson and Hedy Weinberg (Hatherleigh Press; $15.95) has been re-issued with up-to-date information on the latest treatments, resources, research, transplants, children's issues and other topics.


        Talk it out: The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians encourages parents to talk to their kids about alcohol use and misuse. The use of alcohol and other drugs is associated with the leading causes of death and injury (car accidents, homicides and suicides) of teens and young adults. Their tips:

        • Be a good role model: Your children will learn about alcohol use from your behavior and attitudes. If you want them to drink responsibly, do so yourself.

        • Be factual: Keep discussions straightforward.

        • State the rules and stick to them: Make sure your kids know what the consequences of their actions will be.

        • Be a good parent: Communicate, teach responsible decision-making skills, spend time with your children and strengthen their self-esteem.

        • Know your kids' friends: Peer pressure is a big influence. Know who's doing the pressuring.

        • Get help: Watch for dramatic changes in your child's behavior that may be related to drinking or other drug use. Ask your doctor for advice.


        Brochure: The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living are offering a free brochure on talking to loved ones about long term care. The guide, “Having the Conversation About Long Term Care,” covers preparation, timing, staying positive, listening and decision-making skills. To order, call (800) 628-8140 or visit

        Contact Peggy O'Farrell by phone: 768-8510; fax: 768-8330; e-mail:


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