Roundup: High Blood Pressure & Pregnancy; Ban on Flavored e-Cigs Proposed; and Is Napping Healthy?

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Rises Dramatically Since 1970, New Study Finds

There has been a sharp rise in high blood pressure among pregnant women in the U.S. over the past several decades, new research has found.

The study from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School found a dramatic 13-fold increase in high blood pressure cases during pregnancy over the past 40 years. The researchers analyzed data from about 151 million hospitalizations between 1970 and 2010 to determine the rates of high blood pressure in pregnant women, aged 15 to 49.

For the study, chronic high blood pressure was defined as high blood pressure before pregnancy or during the first 20 weeks of gestation. The researchers used the measurement of 140/90 to denote hypertension — rather than the lower 130/80 benchmark that now brings a high blood pressure diagnosis. The study was published in the journal Hypertension.

High blood pressure can pose risks for both fetus and mother. It increases the odds of stillbirth and the mother’s risk of preeclampsia (life-threatening high blood pressure during pregnancy), stroke, heart failure and heart muscle disease, kidney failure and even death.

Since 1979, the rate of high blood pressure among pregnant women increased an average of 6 percent every year, the study said. Another factor: women are having children later – 4 to 5 years older, on average, now compared to the 1970s and 1980s.

“Women who already have high blood pressure and are planning to become pregnant should work closely with their health care provider to closely monitor and manage their blood pressure, especially during pregnancy, to reduce the serious health risks to both themselves and their unborn child,” said Cande V. Ananth, lead author and an administrator with the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Rutgers.

Hypertension should be controlled before becoming pregnant by reducing obesity, quitting smoking, adopting an overall healthier lifestyle before and during pregnancy, and treating high blood pressure effectively, researchers said.

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FDA Planning to ‘Clear Market’ of Non-Tobacco-Flavored e-Cig Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said this week it is planning a ban on certain e-cigarette products to combat “a deeply concerning epidemic” among young people.

The FDA said it intends to finalize a policy in the coming weeks that would effectively prohibit the sale of “non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol.” It added such a move would amount to “clearing the market” of these products. The agency said it plans to share more on the specific details of the plan in coming weeks.

“We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a statement.

The new policy’s goal is to “reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” the HHS Secretary added.

The FDA’s announcement comes as public health officials nationwide continue investigating nearly 500 cases of severe lung diseases associated with e-cigarettes. So far, at least 6 deaths have been reported by state health officials from California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon. Symptoms cited among the patients, most of whom are teens or young adults, often include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, fatigue, vomiting and fevers.

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One or Two Naps A Week Could Be Healthy for Your Heart

Previous studies have said that too much napping during the day could disrupt regular sleep patterns and increase your risk of developing heart disease. But new research finds that just one or two naps a week could reduce your chance of having a heart attack or a stroke.

The newest study, published in the journal Heart, looked at 3,462 randomly selected residents of Lausanne, Switzerland, between the ages of 35 and 75.

Over three years, researchers had the participants check in weekly and relay their sleeping habits from the previous week. They also tracked the overall health of the participants for five years following the end of the initial three-year period.

Nearly 60 percent of participants said they were not napping. About one in five said they napped one or two times per week. Almost a quarter said they took three or more naps per week. Those who napped once or twice a week had a 48 percent lower likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke. Researchers said they did not observe the same trend in those who napped more frequently than once or twice a week.

The bottom line: Nap frequency is the key when it comes to the link between naps and heart health. Moreover, shorter naps could be helpful in relieving stress and make up for inadequate sleep at night — two factors that can protect heart health, the study said.

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