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American Society of Hypertension Annual Meeting, May 14-17, 2008

American Society of Hypertension's 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting

The American Society of Hypertension's 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting convened May 14 to 17 in New Orleans, and attracted approximately 1,500 hypertension specialists and researchers from a variety of fields including nephrology, cardiology, endocrinology and pharmacology. The scientific sessions included presentations of the latest research in pharmacologic management of hypertension and related comorbidities, cutting-edge translational research and practical guidelines for management of patients with hypertension. The conference also included a separate track for primary care providers, which reviewed fundamentals of hypertension and highlighted evolving issues in hypertension management.

One noteworthy session presented findings of the Bogalusa Heart Study, the world's longest and most comprehensive study of a bi-racial population of children and young adults. "The message of the Bogalusa Heart Study is that coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and heart disease all begin in childhood," explained lead study researcher Gerald Berenson of Tulane University in New Orleans. Gender and racial disparities were also evident. "These observations give a compelling reason for pursuing preventive, personalized intervention strategies at an early age in order to evaluate obesity and underlying cardiovascular disease risk factors," said Berenson in a statement.

A second report on 824 young adults in the study (average age 36) concerned potentially dangerous changes in heart structure over time, such as left ventricular hypertrophy, or overgrowth of one heart chamber. "The heart starts to get big, dilated," Berenson said. "It also becomes concentric, and the muscle walls are thick."

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Another presentation reported that brief exposures to particulate matter, a component of air pollution expelled from power plants, factories and automobiles, can lead to rapid rises in blood pressure and impact blood vessel functioning. Robert Brook, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues designed two randomized, double-blind exposure experiments to investigate the relationship between air pollution and blood pressure. One study, conducted in Toronto, showed that adults exposed to particulate matter for two hours had a rapid increase in diastolic pressure, which persisted during the exposure, possibly due to sympathetic nervous system activation.

"Not everyone is equally at risk to the effects of poor air quality," commented Brook. "Yet, as traffic worsens and millions of vulnerable people are exposed to particulate matter, it is incumbent upon us to understand how and why people are affected so that we can take steps to limit our personal exposure -- and consider making broader changes to the public agenda to control air pollution."

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Findings from the late-breaking CoSMO trial, which explored medication adherence in post-Katrina New Orleans, were also reported at the conference. Marie Krousel-Wood, M.D., of Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, and colleagues studied 2,194 older adults with hypertension from New Orleans and found that black patients were more likely than whites to be low adherers to antihypertensive medications and to use alternative therapies to control their blood pressure. The differences in medication adherence between patients from areas highly affected by the hurricane versus lesser-affected areas were minimal two years after the storm, the authors report. However, factors such as poor coping skills remained as associations with low medication adherence.

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ASH: Bedtime Aspirin Has Antihypertensive Effects

THURSDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Among individuals with prehypertension, taking an aspirin at bedtime results in significant lowering of blood pressure, but the antihypertensive effect is not seen if the aspirin is taken in the morning, according to research presented this week at the American Society of Hypertension's 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

Abstract #163

ASH: Listening to Music Daily Lowers Blood Pressure

THURSDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Listening to soothing music for just 30 minutes a day while performing controlled breathing exercises may significantly reduce high blood pressure, according to research presented this week at the American Society of Hypertension's 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

Abstract #132

ASH: Heavy Alcohol Intake Impacts Heart Health

THURSDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Men who drink more than 21 units of alcohol per week and women who drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week risk seriously damaging their hearts, according to research presented this week at the American Society of Hypertension's 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

Abstract #80

Physician's Briefing