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High Blood Pressure and Lifestyle

The current guidelines state that high blood pressure is any value over 120 when the heart contracts and over 80 when it relaxes. Ninety-one percent of Americans will suffer from high blood pressure, which causes heart attacks, strokes, and kidney damage. To reduce this frighteningly high incidence of this silent killer, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that every able person start an exercise program (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, November, 2004). Certain conditions may temporarily preclude exercising, so check with your doctor.

Anything that expands blood volume will raise blood pressure. Diuretics lower blood volume and are therefore the most effective medication for lowering high blood pressure. However, diuretics tire you earlier during exercise because dehydration is a major cause of fatigue. Vigorous, prolonged exercise also dehydrates you and can lower blood pressure for 24 hours or more after you stop exercising.

Full fat cells raise blood pressure. When your heart contracts, it pushes a huge amount of blood into your main artery called the aorta. The aorta is supposed to widen and accept the surge of blood that comes with each beat. If the aorta is stiff, it does not expand adequately and blood pressure rises too high. When you are overweight, full fat cells release inflammatory hormones that stiffen the aorta and raise blood pressure. Exercise is a vital part of any successful program to lose weight and keep it off.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will probably recommend medication. However, more than 80 percent of hypertensives can have their blood pressure controlled just with diet and exercise. To see if you fall in this group, try my SHOW ME! Diet for two weeks For more on controlling blood pressure with diet see report #8614 and other reports in the Heart Health section of


Dear Dr. Mirkin: What's the best treatment for elbow pain?

If you have pain on the tendons attaching at your elbow, you may have tennis elbow, damage to these tendons. Place your hand and arm on the table with your palm facing up. If your elbow hurts when you try to raise your fist by bending you wrist, you probably have forehand tennis elbow. If the same maneuver hurts when your palm is down, you probably have backhand tennis elbow. The odds are overwhelming that your orthopedist will try to inject cortisone-type drugs into that tendon, and you may feel better for a few weeks. However, at six months, it won't make any difference whether you received the injection or not. Cortisone gives you only short term freedom from pain. Treatment is to strengthen the tendon by lifting very light and then progressively heavier weights.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: I found an ad for a supplement that is supposed to make me grow taller. Will it work?

The ads for these products are so unbelievable that the people who wrote them must be laughing as they steal people's money for a totally worthless product. They tell you that if you take their pills, you can continue to grow until you are as tall as you like, at any age. If that were true, we would see people who are 15 feet tall and basketball would be an entirely different sport. They want you to believe that when you eat their special blend of kudzu vine and other rampant-growing plants, you will grow like the vines. Of course this is ridiculous. Kudzu vine grows rapidly because of its genetic structure called DNA, but you cannot absorb DNA from plants or animals that you eat; it is broken down in your stomach and intestines into amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

Bones do not grow throughout their length. They grow from growth centers, called the epiphysis, near their ends. When a person reaches puberty, growth centers close one after the other until all the growth centers are closed forever and a person's bones can never grow again. After that, a person can grow wider, but not taller. The tragedy is that some people will shell out their hard earned money to someone who is making fun of them. They offer a money-back guarantee, but they know you will probably be too embarrassed to ask for your money back, and many people report that their money is never returned when they request it from these scams.


Recipe of the Week
Mix and Match Salads
Get in the habit of making them now while fresh produce is abundant and inexpensive!

Recipe List


June 26th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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