Health Tips: Are your medications raising your blood pressure?

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Greg Harris was the 20th century’s only major-league pitcher to throw with both his left and right arm (using a six-fingered glove!). This century, Pat Venditte is the only one who regularly pitches with both arms -- and because of him, MLB put in the Venditte Rule. No pitcher is allowed to change arms in the middle of an at-bat. The batters were just too confused by that!

If switch pitching seems confusing, think about how confused the millions of folks taking multiple medications are when it comes to knowing what’s being thrown at them. In this country, 24% of you have taken at least three prescription drugs in the past 30 days!

The result? You may end up with a new health issue -- like high blood pressure -- as you successfully medicate for another problem, such as depression. Then you have to take your antidepression meds AND start on an antihypertensive. Or, if you’re already being medicated for HBP, you have to up the dose or add another medication to that routine.

That’s the alarm being sounded in a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine. A nationally representative survey found that 18% of U.S. adults with high blood pressure also take medications such as antidepressants, prescription NSAIDs, steroids, anti-obesity drugs, decongestants, immunosuppressants and estrogens, that may cause HBP. If that sounds like you, talk to your doctors (notice that’s plural) about your medications’ impact on your blood pressure. Many medications known to raise BP have effective alternatives without this side effect.

People weren’t designed to take it easy when they get older

C.S. Lewis, author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” And Supreme Court Justice from 1902 to 1932, Oliver Wendell Holmes penned, “Men [and women, we say] do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”

Evolutionary biologists and biomedical researchers from Harvard University agree. They’ve published a paper that shows that human beings aren’t made to take it easy as they age. You’re made to remain physically strong and active! Seems the body is designed so that physical activity later in life shifts your energy toward all the built-in mechanisms that extend good health.

A longer health span -- that’s a younger RealAge -- to go along with a longer lifespan is the combo you want to cultivate.

It works like this: In older age, physical activity turns on specific genes that kick out health-compromising elements and activate health-enhancing ones. Exercise also creates micro-tears in muscle fibers, cartilage and bone that signal your positively stimulated biochemistry to kick into repair mode, so that you build back better. And, of course, physical activity also prevents excess fat storage and burns calories. But if you don’t do anything to stimulate such improvements, you slide into progressively worse health.

So, start exercising today! Whether you’re walking 10,000 steps a day, doing aerobics and strength-building or playing a sport (best -- all the above!), you’re helping your body accomplish what it’s designed for, to live healthfully with as young a RealAge as possible.

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