Does Salt Restriction Lower Blood Pressure in Type 2 Diabetes?

Yes, according to an article in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease. The systolic pressure lowering is 5-6 points, but only 1-2 points on average for diastolic pressure. This degree of BP lowering is not dramatic, but might prevent an escalation of antihypertensive drug dosing or initiation of an additional drug.

Blood pressure control is also extremely important for protection of heart, kidneys, and brain.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Should You Reduce Your Aspirin Dose from 325 to 81 mg/day?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

For patients with established cardiovascular disease, a recent study found that aspirin 81 mg/day was just as effective as 325 mg/day in preventing combined risk of death and hospitalization for heart attack or stroke. Rates of major bleeding were the same regardless of dose.

Click for details at NEJM.

Don’t make changes in your medication regimen without consulting your personal physician.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under coronary heart disease, Heart Disease, Stroke

High Blood Pressure: What’s the Number to Shoot For?

Not a bad monitor

First, recall that blood pressure is reported as two numbers: systolic and diastolic. E.g., 135/92. The first number is the systolic number. A systolic pressure goal of under 120 mmHg may be better than the traditional goal of under 140, at least if you’re “at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.” The study at hand excluded folks with diabetes or prior stroke.

We randomly assigned 9,361 participants who were at increased risk for cardiovascular disease but did not have diabetes or previous stroke to adhere to an intensive treatment target (systolic blood pressure, <120 mm Hg) or a standard treatment target (systolic blood pressure, <140 mm Hg). The primary outcome was a composite of myocardial infarction, other acute coronary syndromes, stroke, acute decompensated heart failure, or death from cardiovascular causes. Additional primary outcome events occurring through the end of the intervention period (August 20, 2015) were adjudicated after data lock for the primary analysis. We also analyzed post-trial observational follow-up data through July 29, 2016.

RESULTS

At a median of 3.33 years of follow-up, the rate of the primary outcome and all-cause mortality during the trial were significantly lower in the intensive-treatment group than in the standard-treatment group (rate of the primary outcome, 1.77% per year vs. 2.40% per year; hazard ratio, 0.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63 to 0.86; all-cause mortality, 1.06% per year vs. 1.41% per year; hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.61 to 0.92). Serious adverse events of hypotension, electrolyte abnormalities, acute kidney injury or failure, and syncope were significantly more frequent in the intensive-treatment group. When trial and post-trial follow-up data were combined (3.88 years in total), similar patterns were found for treatment benefit and adverse events; however, rates of heart failure no longer differed between the groups.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Diabetes Drug Semaglutide Promotes Weight Loss

“Should I wait for FDA approval?”

I met a patient at the hospital recently who was taking semaglutide. I asked how long he had diabetes and he told me he didn’t have diabetes: his PCP (primary care physician) was prescribing it for weight loss.

A recent study enrolled 1,961 obese non-diabetics and found a very significant weight loss difference compared to the placebo group. I expect Novo Nordisc will be asking for FDA approval to market semaglutide, originally for diabetes, as a weight-loss drug. But what happens after you quit taking the drug? I bet you know.

In participants with overweight or obesity, 2.4 mg of semaglutide [injected] once weekly plus lifestyle intervention was associated with sustained, clinically relevant reduction in body weight.

Source: Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity | NEJM

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Which Diets Help Lower Blood Pressure?

Probably all on the Portfolio Diet

Increasingly, I’m suspicious of results from meta-analyses. Anyway, here’s the abstract of one from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2020. In case you’re not familiar with the LDL-lowering, vegetarian, “portfolio diet,” click for an infographic.

Background: Many systematic reviews and meta-analyses have assessed the efficacy of dietary patterns on blood pressure (BP) lowering but their findings are largely conflicting.

Objective: This umbrella review aims to provide an update on the available evidence for the efficacy of different dietary patterns on BP lowering.

Methods: PubMed and Scopus databases were searched to identify relevant studies through to June 2020. Systematic reviews with meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible if they measured the effect of dietary patterns on systolic (SBP) and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) levels. The methodological quality of included systematic reviews was assessed by A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Review version 2. The efficacy of each dietary pattern was summarized qualitatively. The confidence of the effect estimates for each dietary pattern was graded using the NutriGrade scoring system.

Results: Fifty systematic reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs were eligible for review. Twelve dietary patterns namely the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Mediterranean, Nordic, vegetarian, low-salt, low-carbohydrate, low-fat, high-protein, low glycemic index, portfolio, pulse, and Paleolithic diets were included in this umbrella review. Among these dietary patterns, the DASH diet was associated with the greatest overall reduction in BP with unstandardized mean differences ranging from -3.20 to -7.62 mmHg for SBP and from -2.50 to -4.22 mmHg for DBP. Adherence to Nordic, portfolio, and low-salt diets also significantly decreased SBP and DBP levels. In contrast, evidence for the efficacy of BP lowering using the Mediterranean, vegetarian, Paleolithic, low-carbohydrate, low glycemic index, high-protein, and low-fat diets was inconsistent.

Conclusion: Adherence to the DASH, Nordic, and portfolio diets effectively reduced BP. Low-salt diets significantly decreased BP levels in normotensive Afro-Caribbean people and in hypertensive patients of all ethnic origins.

Source: Efficacy of different dietary patterns on lowering of blood pressure level: an umbrella review – PubMed

Steve Parker, M.D.

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High Glycemic Index Eating Linked to Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Death

Haven’t we known this for years? Click for definition and discussion of glycemic index and glycemic load.

“One little piece won’t hurt . . .”

From New England Journal of Medicine:

Most data regarding the association between the glycemic index and cardiovascular disease come from high-income Western populations, with little information from non-Western countries with low or middle incomes. To fill this gap, data are needed from a large, geographically diverse population.

METHODS

This analysis includes 137,851 participants between the ages of 35 and 70 years living on five continents, with a median follow-up of 9.5 years. We used country-specific food-frequency questionnaires to determine dietary intake and estimated the glycemic index and glycemic load on the basis of the consumption of seven categories of carbohydrate foods. We calculated hazard ratios using multivariable Cox frailty models. The primary outcome was a composite of a major cardiovascular event (cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure) or death from any cause.

RESULTS

In the study population, 8780 deaths and 8252 major cardiovascular events occurred during the follow-up period. After performing extensive adjustments comparing the lowest and highest glycemic-index quintiles, we found that a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with an increased risk of a major cardiovascular event or death, both among participants with preexisting cardiovascular disease (hazard ratio, 1.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.25 to 1.82) and among those without such disease (hazard ratio, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.11 to 1.34). Among the components of the primary outcome, a high glycemic index was also associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes. The results with respect to glycemic load were similar to the findings regarding the glycemic index among the participants with cardiovascular disease at baseline, but the association was not significant among those without preexisting cardiovascular disease.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

Source: Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality | NEJM

The low-carb Mediterranean diet is low glycemic index.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under coronary heart disease, Heart Disease, Longevity

“Thank You” for Your Support!

I published my first book in 2007 to extend my healing reach beyond the confines of the clinic and hospital room. I’m certain my writing has improved the health of many folks I’ll never know about, and that means more to me than any financial success I’ve had with the books.

In 2020, my net profit from writing was $937.08, which is admittedly pitiful. The prior year profit was $5,802.48. Pandemic effect, maybe? To lower my expenses in 2021, I’ll look into a private PO box instead of US Postal Service ($168/year), drop Amazon Prime ($129/year), and negotiate lower fees with Network Solutions.

I am blessed to have a hospitalist job that pays well. COVID-19 has caused major economic hardship for many of you, including unemployment.

My primary means of advertising has been blogging. Cross-posting on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn has done almost nothing for book sales. A few years ago I could give my hospital patients a business card with links to my books, but my employer insisted I stop.

If you care to support my writing, buy a book. If not for yourself, then for someone you care about.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: All my books are here and at Smashwords.com.

PPS: Guesstimating my combined federal and state taxes being 40%, I have $562.25 left after paying taxes. And don’t forget sales tax on many things I might buy with that $562.25. 

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Are Insulin Prices Higher Under the Biden Administration?

Roasted Radishes and Brussels Sprouts

Newsweek looks at the issue.

In any case, why not reduce your need for insulin with low-carb eating?

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Drugs for Diabetes, healthcare reform

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Ketogenic Diet Reduced Liver Fat Quickly

stages of liver damage

There’s a silent epidemic in folks with type 2 diabetes: 50 to 70% have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is an important contributor to cirrhosis, i.e., scarring in the liver that impairs liver function. In the study at hand, a ketogenic diet reduced liver fat by 31% over just six days. I don’t have many details of the diet used, but it reduced carbohydrates to 20 grams/day.

Here’s the abstract:

Ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Here, we present evidence that hepatic mitochondrial fluxes and redox state are markedly altered during ketogenic diet-induced reversal of NAFLD in humans. Ketogenic diet for 6 [days] markedly decreased liver fat content and hepatic insulin resistance. These changes were associated with increased net hydrolysis of liver triglycerides and decreased endogenous glucose production and serum insulin concentrations. Partitioning of fatty acids toward ketogenesis increased, which was associated with increased hepatic mitochondrial redox state and decreased hepatic citrate synthase flux. These data demonstrate heretofore undescribed adaptations underlying the reversal of NAFLD by ketogenic diet and highlight hepatic mitochondrial fluxes and redox state as potential treatment targets in NAFLD.

Weight loss by ketogenic diet (KD) has gained popularity in management of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). KD rapidly reverses NAFLD and insulin resistance despite increasing circulating nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), the main substrate for synthesis of intrahepatic triglycerides (IHTG). To explore the underlying mechanism, we quantified hepatic mitochondrial fluxes and their regulators in humans by using positional isotopomer NMR tracer analysis. Ten overweight/obese subjects received stable isotope infusions of: [D7]glucose, [13C4]β-hydroxybutyrate and [3-13C]lactate before and after a 6-d KD. IHTG was determined by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). The KD diet decreased IHTG by 31% in the face of a 3% decrease in body weight and decreased hepatic insulin resistance (−58%) despite an increase in NEFA concentrations (+35%). These changes were attributed to increased net hydrolysis of IHTG and partitioning of the resulting fatty acids toward ketogenesis (+232%) due to reductions in serum insulin concentrations (−53%) and hepatic citrate synthase flux (−38%), respectively. The former was attributed to decreased hepatic insulin resistance and the latter to increased hepatic mitochondrial redox state (+167%) and decreased plasma leptin (−45%) and triiodothyronine (−21%) concentrations. These data demonstrate heretofore undescribed adaptations underlying the reversal of NAFLD by KD: That is, markedly altered hepatic mitochondrial fluxes and redox state to promote ketogenesis rather than synthesis of IHTG.

Source: Effect of a ketogenic diet on hepatic steatosis and hepatic mitochondrial metabolism in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease | PNAS

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Don’t Let Aging Reduce Your Muscle Mass

Exercise is a fountain of youth available to every one

Axel Sigurdsson, MD, PhD, published a great article on prevention of age-related sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass). Click through for details. To stay vigorous as you age, you want to preserve muscle mass and the strength it provides. If you’ve lost muscle mass, you can re-build it. Summary from the good doctor:

Age-related loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia)may start as early as in our thirties and appears to continue for the rest of our lives.

There is also a loss of muscle strength and muscle function. The consequences may often be severe, particularly in the elderly.

Increased physical activity and adequate nutrition are the most powerful tools at our disposal to delay age-related loss of muscle mass.

Well-rounded exercise programs consisting of aerobic and resistance exercises are believed to be most effective

Modification of dietary habits may be an important tool to prevent the decline in muscle mass and function that occurs with aging.

Adequate protein intake is of key importance. Animal-derived protein may provide a higher and broader biological value than vegetable protein.

Fish consumption is recommended and fruits and vegetables should be consumed regularly.

Nutritional supplements containing essential amino acids may be helpful. This is particularly true for whey protein.

Fish-derived protein hydrolysates also appear promising.

Adequate intake of vitamin D is essential.

“Fish-derived protein hydrolysates” doesn’t sound very appetizing. I’ll stick with whole fish for now, especially cold-water fatty fish.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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