HEALTH

Study suggests upper limit of systolic blood pressure too high

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO – A recent study found that lowering one type of blood pressure to well below the commonly recommended level also greatly lowered the number of cardiovascular events and deaths among people at least 50 years old with high blood pressure.
 
“When the amount or type of blood pressure medication was adjusted to achieve a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mmHg compared to the higher target of 140 mmHg, cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure were reduced by almost one-third, and the risk of death by almost one-fourth," stated Lynne Braun, a nurse practitioner in the Rush Heart Center for Women. “That’s important information, because more lives may be saved and more deaths may be prevented if we maintain lower blood pressure in our patients.”
 
Approximately one out of every three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure and is subsequently at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems. 
 
“Another thing that was important to note in this study was that it examined a very diverse population. It seems to apply across the board,” Braun said, who was not involved in the study.
 
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which sponsored the study, announced some preliminary results on Sept. 11. The findings of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, were so definitive that it was stopped earlier than planned in order to share the results quickly.
 
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Natural ingredients, rapid relief top of mind

BY Richard Monks

Homeopathic formulas are altering the way consumers view the external analgesics market.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

With a growing number of homeopathic products aimed at treating muscle pain, bumps and bruises being added to retailers’ mix, many weekend warriors, aging baby boomers and parents who closely scrutinize the ingredients in the over-the-counter medications they give to their children are choosing these formulas over the external analgesic products that have dominated the category for years.

“Consumers now see there are options with natural active ingredients and options to strong-smelling products,” Boiron USA VP national accounts Gary Wittenberg said. “Additionally, these products give retailers something innovative to offer consumers.”

Providing shoppers with more homeopathic options often can help grow the particular category. TABS Group founder and CEO Kurt Jetta said research by his firm shows that consumers of homeopathic products are eight times more likely to pay a premium if they know a product is all-natural, and seven times more likely to say these products perform better than standard OTC medications.

In recent months, two of homeopathy’s largest players — Boiron and Hyland’s — have extended their lines of arnica-based formulas. For its part, Boiron, which has seen strong growth with its Arnica Gel, added a cream form of the product, while Hyland’s recently rolled out Hyland’s 4 Kids Bumps n’ Bruises with Arnica.

“We’re seeing a shift in more widespread acceptance of homeopathic treatments from consumers and retailers alike,” said Hyland’s VP marketing Thao Le. “Homeopathy has been around for centuries; however, it seems to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance right now as many millennials and young parents are demanding cleaner, natural products.”

Data released in June by Nielsen, she said, shows that sales of arnica-based topical pain relief products increased 14% over the past year.

“This is one of the most exciting times in our company’s history as mainstream consumers and retailers alike are increasingly looking for more natural solutions in the external analgesics category,” Le said. “The future of homeopathy continues to be an area rich with opportunity and growth.”

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Study: higi stations improve blood pressure outcomes

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Health station company higi on Wednesday released the findings of a nearly three-year study that found a significant relationship between lowered blood pressure and an incentive-based program based on regular monitoring.
 
"A blood pressure reading is a vital health measure that most people understand and know how to monitor easily when given the tools to do so. When this behavior is encouraged through rewards and challenges, individuals have a powerful opportunity to hardwire healthy habits in their everyday lives," stated Khan Siddiqui, chief technology officer and chief medical officer at higi.
 
Higi reviewed de-identified historic data for users who opted in to join higi and analyzed the impacts of its system of rewards and challenges on 159,000 hypertensive users nationwide from September 2012 to April 2015. This included activity across higi's network of retail-based ambulatory health stations, mobile app and web portal. 
 
Nearly half lowered their systolic blood pressure to below 140 mmHg, the cut-off for high blood pressure according to AHA. Both men and women across all age brackets saw lowered blood pressure over the course of the study. And patients logging in five or more times per month showed an average drop in Systolic BP of 17 mmHg and an average drop in Diastolic BP of 9 mmHg, with more than 80% seeing any reduction in their BP, and nearly half reaching BP range below hypertensive.
 
Participants in the study were higi users who had an average age of 49 with their first blood pressure measurement in the hypertensive range. As many as 58% of participants were men. Nearly half were obese.
 
"Our study bears out the notion that access, awareness and incentives, if designed and executed effectively, can have a positive impact on individual health," Siddiqui said. 
 
The findings of the large-scale study were presented at the recent American Heart Association's Council on Hypertension 2015 Scientific Sessions.
 
Higi's health station network has grown to almost 10,000 units in pharmacies, groceries and other retail outlets nationwide, putting a higi station within 5 miles of 75% of the U.S. population. In addition, higi's online health communities enable higi users to track their statistics, take challenges and engage with others to improve their health.
 
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