Are Blood Pressure Readings Accurate?

Are Blood Pressure Readings AccurateYears ago I was flying a plane on a long trip, way out over the Gulf of Mexico. There are three ways to ascertain an airplane’s fuel status, and two of those three said I had enough fuel left, but the third said I was low. Many would assume the third reading was wrong, but my rule is that you must go by the worst possible scenario, cut the trip short, conserve and refuel.

As it turned out, an uncommon leak was present and we were low on fuel. Comparing information and making wise decisions also relates to many health care findings. One of these is Blood Pressure.

There Are 3 Important Questions About Blood Pressure Readings:

1) Are they accurate? 2) Are they important? 3) What is “high” blood pressure?

Having a “normal” Blood Pressure (B.P.) is important for good health. Long term (chronic) high BP stresses your Kidneys, eyes and cardiovascular system. We need to have all our organs unstressed for optimal health.

It’s important to note that blood pressure is always changing. It changes a few points if you are being still, and a lot if you’ve been recently active. When the person that was recently active sits down for a BP, their reading will typically see a large decrease within 10-minutes.

Electronic cuffs are very inaccurate for some people. If your BP sounds fade in for the high number (systolic) and fade out for the low number (diastolic), the machine readings can be off by 20-points easily. Even the doctor’s hearing may change the number he or she hears! Use the machines in Publix and the drug store if you want to, and then compare those to my readings in a medical setting with better equipment, and you will probably see a difference.

Rare is the BP so high that we need to take immediate action like referral to the Emergency Department or to other doctors for spine center lauderdale ft. Comparison over time is the key. 120 over 80 is in the upper range of “normal”, and we like to screen it and work with lifestyle changes to improve it. If it is mildly higher than that, we will watch it more often to make sure it’s not getting or staying too high. Too high, 20 points on the top number, and or 10 points on the bottom number, emphasis on the word “Or!”, and you may be in danger. Pilots actually have their blood pressure regulated by the FAA. They allow 155 over 95 as a maximum reading, and I wouldn’t want to see higher in a patient on a long-term basis.

Over my career I have seen different blood pressure devices give very different readings. I routinely calibrate all blood pressure devices in my office, but there’s no way to know how many Doctors follow this practice. How many people may have been misdiagnosed due to a faulty machine reading?

In 90% of High BP cases it’s difficult to say exactly why you have it, but Salt in prepared or packaged foods is one of the biggest things to eliminate (or at least minimize) to help lower your BP. Of course you need to add less salt yourself, but it’s the salt others have added before the food even gets to you that is the main culprit. Checking labels or other nutritional information can help you reduce salt intake from common food items.

Diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, spinal adjustments, acupuncture, and other safe treatments exist that me help to keep blood pressure in-check as well, but consult with your Doctors and compare different readings before starting or stopping any medications.

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

Chiropractic for a Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can happen anywhere along the course of a nerve. It could happen in the wrist if we’re talking numbness in the hand, it could happen in the elbow, it could happen in the shoulder, but most commonly it happens in the spine.

The spine has a lot of movable components right where the nerve exits. The Central Nervous system is the brain and spinal cord. As the nerves branch off of the Central Nervous System they become the spinal nerves, and those are the nerves that actually get pinched usually.

In Chiropractic we work to adjust the vertebrae, where if the vertebrae is out of alignment, it actually impinges upon the nerve root. Chiropractic adjustments try to move and re-position and keep things in alignment, and then we work to rehabilitate so the spine can work properly again. This is how we treat for a pinched nerve and avoid back surgery.

by Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

How Do I Sleep When I’m in Pain?

As a Chiropractor a question I often get asked is how do I sleep when I’m in pain?

There are two simple and easy ways.

l. If you prefer to sleep on your back, lie down in bed and place a pillow under your knees to give you back support and take pressure off of your back, and place a thin pillow under your head.

2. If you prefer to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your back and hips and place a pillow under your head right above the base of your neck so that your neck is supported.

That’s how to sleep on your side or back when you are in pain.

Dr. Douglas Kellerman, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

Best Chiropractor Fort Lauderdale

Ice or Heat for an Injury?

“Ouch I hurt! Should I put ice or heat on it?”

Patients ask me this every day. It depends on how long you have had the injury. The book says for new injuries and acute injuries 48 to 72 hours use ice.  After two to three days apply heat.  The bottom line is muscles love heat, the nerves like ice.

How do you apply it?

It’s really simple. You don’t want it on bare skin typically. If you have a shirt on you can put the ice right over that. Or the heating pad – we actually have special blankets to put them inside. Apply it anywhere you want.

How long should you leave it on?

A hand is very different from the lower back.  Use 5-minutes for a hand, wrist, or elbow, 10-minutes for the neck or a shoulder, and 15-20 minutes for the lower back.  You can repeat once an hour as long as it gives you relief for as long as you want.

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

Will an Aspirin a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

Will an Aspirin a Day Keep the Doctor AwayFor years we have heard about taking a low dose aspirin once a day for prevention of heart attacks. Major aspirin brands have even used this advice to market their medication, but is it really as effective as we’ve been told? If you have already had a heart attack the benefits may outweigh the risks for some people. However, for preventing a first heart attack the FDA now says that daily aspirin is not effective and the risks of serious adverse reaction may be greater than any possible benefit.

Recently the agency issued a statement saying that the evidence now does not appear to support the use of daily aspirin for prevention of heart attacks or strokes, adding, “There are serious risks associated with the use of aspirin including increased risk of bleeding in the stomach and brain.” Bleeding in the brain is called a hemorrhagic stroke, the worst type of stroke, accounting for over 13% of cases. It can also cause intestinal bleeding. Like many drug-treatment related issues in medicine, our understanding of the risks and benefits of daily aspirin evolves over time, but what remains true is that all drugs carry risks, especially with frequent use.

Healthy bodies generally don’t need daily doses of drugs, even over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, especially when the side effects can be dangerous. For relieving the occasional headache or other minor aches and pains, taking an aspirin or two carries minimal risk, but daily or weekly use for any reason can be dangerous even for healthy people. Think about the underlying cause of a problem; is it caused by the lack of aspirin? If not, then daily aspirin is probably not the best solution.

Healthy diet, exercise, and avoiding and reducing stress are all better and safer ways for most people to maintain heart health in addition to gentle drug free treatments like Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and Massage Therapy. If you have specific health conditions that you may have already been prescribed aspirin for, talk to you doctor before changing or stopping your aspirin therapy.

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

Three Tips to Avoid Back Pain on Airplanes

Airplane travel is fast, safe, and relatively affordable, a modern miracle by any standard. It can also be a source of pain and discomfort, and I’m not just talking about the risk of sitting next to crying babies or loud snorers. The cramped spaces and prolonged periods of sitting in one place can cause aches and pains.

As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I’ve developed three basic habits to avoid back pain on airplanes and other pains when traveling, and I’d recommend them to anyone. Until the airlines themselves start to include these recommendations along with things like basic safety procedures, it’s up to each of us to take steps to take care of ourselves and stay healthy while flying.

Step 1: Get an Aisle Seat

Few things can compare to staring down at the world from thousands of feet in the air, unless you’re afraid of heights. Blue seas, golden farmlands, snowy mountains, all of these and more greet the eye of the air traveler. That said, you should probably resist the temptation of the window seat, or the middle seat, because once every hour or so it’s important to get up and move around. Cramped muscles and spines can be a source of pain before and after the trip is over, and few of us can afford a seat with ample leg room, even if it isn’t crowded by carry-on items. Sitting too long in a cramped seat can also carry a risk of blood clot formation, which can even be fatal. With an aisle seat, you never have to ask anyone to let you get up.

Step 2: Use Earplugs / Noise Cancelling Headsets

The ambient noise in airplanes can cause ear muscles to tighten, which in turn can lead to tightness of the neck and spine. Earplugs or noise cancelling headsets will block these noises, protecting your ear muscles and all the muscles they connect with. For flight crews, and perhaps frequent fliers, this can even lead to hearing loss.

Step 3: Place a Pillow Behind Your Lower Back

The temptation, for people who use airplane pillows, is to place them behind your neck, but this is poor posture and can lead to aches and pains. Instead, place the pillow behind your lower back for better sitting posture. If your normal posture habits are poor, this may seem uncomfortable at first, but stick with it, on and off the plane, because posture is critical to muscle and back health.

Fly safe and stay healthy!

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

“Cough CPR” is an Urban Legend

Cough CPRThere is a popular rumor on the internet and social networks, suggesting that if you are alone and having a heart attack, you may be able to save your life by coughing. Like most internet urban legends, there may or may not be a kernel of truth to it, “Cough CPR” is sometimes used in emergency rooms under medical supervision, but that is where the truth seems to end.

Unfortunately, this particular rumor is also potentially very dangerous, because its value if any is uncertain, indeed most experts believe it to be unlikely to help at all with the most common types of heart attacks or when used without professional supervision. If the victim of a heart attack should mistakenly try to use this technique, believing it will save his or her life, they may neglect to take actions whose value is more established.

To be clear, in the event of a heart attack, especially when one strikes while you are alone, the best things to do immediately are to call 911 and take an aspirin. Do not hesitate to do these things, which are far more likely to save your life than trying to self-administer “Cough CPR”.

There is no incontrovertible evidence that “Cough CPR” is in fact effective for heart problems, and even if it is, it is certainly not recommended except under the guidance of Healthcare Professionals, and is more likely to benefit cases of abnormal heart rhythm, which is not the cause of most life-threatening heart attacks. In fact neither the American Heart Association nor any other reputable medical body recommends “Cough CPR” as a life-saving procedure, especially without the aid of medical experts.

The misconception dates back to 1999 to a Mended Hearts Newsletter, which was later retracted, and has since spread through website, email, and more recently social networks, always worded so as to give the impression that it is endorsed by professional medical practitioners or researchers.

Heart attacks can be devastating to your health, even fatal, and one should never hesitate to seek emergency care for even a minute when one strikes.

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

Avocado-Soybean Pill May Treat Osteoarthritis of the Hip

AvocadoA French study sponsored by Laboratoires Expanscience has found evidence that an extract containing Avocado and Soybean may be an effective treatment for Hip Osteoarthritis. After three years, 10% fewer of the participants in the experimental group (as opposed to the placebo group) were considered Osteoarthritis progressors.

20% of the active treatment group experienced a relative risk reduction for Hip OA after three years of treatment, with the apparent benefits increasing significantly with the length of treatment. OA is the most common joint disorder, affecting 10% of people 65 and over, but to date no disease-modifying drugs have been approved for the condition because none has proven itself to be effective for prevention of treatment of the condition. Osteoarthritis can cause deep joint pain and stiffness, limit a person’s range of motion, weaken their muscles, and have other harmful consequences to their health and quality of life.

Further studies will be required to confirm and assess the clinical value of this data, although the study did use careful randomization and other procedures to minimize the risk of error. It may be some time before this becomes an approved treatment for OA, if it ever does.

In the meantime physical therapy, nutrition, exercise, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, and several other non-drug, non-surgery lifestyle changes and treatments are considered beneficial for at least some OA patients. Treatment focuses on increasing the range of motion and reducing pain.

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

Hypertension Treatment Cutoff Raised by Expert Panel

Hypertension TreatmentA panel of experts chosen for the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8) has raised the blood pressure rate cutoff for determining whether patients needs drug therapy for hypertension. The new cutoff for most hypertensive patients over 60 recommends that drug therapy treatment begin when systolic pressure is above 150 mm Hg or higher or when diastolic pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher, while for younger patients or anyone with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, treatment is now recommended when systolic pressure is 140 or higher or diastolic pressure is 90 or higher.

The new cutoff primarily affects the treatment of hypertension in older patients, by recognizing that there is a natural tendency for the average blood pressure to raise with advancing age. Previous guidelines failed to give this distinction enough weight, while the new guidelines allow for more personalization of treatment recommendations. The new guidelines also emphasize lifestyle changes to be implemented before resorting to drug therapy.

“For all persons with hypertension, the potential benefits of a healthy diet, weight control, and regular exercise cannot be overemphasized. These lifestyle treatments have the potential to improve blood pressure control and even reduce medication needs,” wrote the panel.

Hypertension can have a variety of harmful effects including enlarged left heart, coronary artery disease, heart failure, artery damage, scarring and failure of the kidney, kidney artery aneurysm, mild cognitive impairment, brain aneurysm, ministrokes, strokes, and even dementia. Drug treatment for hypertension can also have negative side effects, however, including increased urination, erectile dysfunction, gout symptoms, asthma symptoms, depression, insomnia, chronic coughing, skin rash, dizziness, anemia, and other effects depending on the type of treatment and response of the individual patient.

In addition to lifestyle changes like better nutrition, exercise, and stress management habits, Chiropractic Adjustment and Professional Massage Therapy can prove beneficial to many patients in preventing or helping to reduce or eliminate hypertension. Hypertension can affect people of every age, and especially those with medical complications such as kidney disease and diabetes. In over thirty years of practice I have treated many patients for hypertension and helped them avoid the dangerous side effects that can sometimes accompany drug therapy, which as these new recommendations reveal is often an unnecessary risk.

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center

New Study Links Anxiety to Stroke

High Anxiety Increases the Risk of Stroke

New Study Links Anxiety to StrokeHigh anxiety levels are independently related with the risk of having a stroke, according to new research published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

The researchers studied a 22-year sample of 6019 people between the ages of 25 and 74 in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I), tracking stroke rates through hospital records, nursing home reports, and death certificates. The highest third of people on the anxiety scale, especially those with chronic high stress, showed a one-third higher rate of strokes compared with those lower on the scale.

Previous research was unable to separate anxiety from other factors such as depression, but this new study was able to isolate these factors, showing that even modest increases in anxiety correlated with a higher stroke risk. High anxiety individuals may be more likely to smoke or engage in other unhealthy habits, which may help explain part of the correlation, though physiological factors such as hormone levels and blood pressure may also be directly linked to high psychological anxiety levels. Anxiety is a complex psychological and physiological dimension which can influence and be influenced by unhealthy habits, medical problems, behaviors, and thought patterns.

Chiropractic Adjustment can be beneficial in relieving anxiety, in combination with healthy lifestyle choices including proper diet, exercise, and regular restful sleep. Thousands of people have received help for their anxiety from the beneficial results of Chiropractic Adjustment. I have treated many people over the past thirty-four years suffering from chronic anxiety, who now live healthier lives with less anxiety. In the United States, stroke is the #4 cause of death and the leading cause of disability. No one should have to suffer with high anxiety, which can rob a life of both quality and quantity.

Dr. Michael Petrie, D.C.
Spine and Joint Center