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May 2017 Health Newsletter

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» Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure
» Leaning While Texting May Result in Health Problems
» Painkillers Should Not Be Kept Within Reach of Small Children
» Dangers of Energy Drinks

Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

March 16, 2007 -- A special chiropractic adjustment can significantly lower high blood pressure, a placebo-controlled study suggests.

"This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination," study leader George Bakris, MD, tells WebMD. "And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems," adds Bakris, director of the University of Chicago hypertension center.

Eight weeks after undergoing the procedure, 25 patients with early-stage high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who underwent a sham chiropractic adjustment. Because patients can't feel the technique, they were unable to tell which group they were in.

X-rays showed that the procedure realigned the Atlas vertebra -- the doughnut-like bone at the very top of the spine -- with the spine in the treated patients, but not in the sham-treated patients.

Compared to the sham-treated patients, those who got the real procedure saw an average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number).

None of the patients took blood pressure medicine during the eight-week study.

"When the statistician brought me the data, I actually didn't believe it. It was way too good to be true," Bakris says. "The statistician said, 'I don't even believe it.' But we checked for everything, and there it was."

Bakris and colleagues report their findings in the advance online issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension.

Atlas Adjustment and Hypertension

The procedure calls for adjustment of the C-1 vertebra. It's called the Atlas vertebra because it holds up the head, just as the titan Atlas holds up the world in Greek mythology.

Marshall Dickholtz Sr., DC, of the Chiropractic Health Center, in Chicago, is the 84-year-old chiropractor who performed all the procedures in the study. He calls the Atlas vertebra "the fuse box to the body."

"At the base of the brain are two centers that control all the muscles of the body. If you pinch the base of the brain -- if the Atlas gets locked in a position as little as a half a millimeter out of line -- it doesn't cause any pain but it upsets these centers," Dickholtz tells WebMD.

The subtle adjustment is practiced by the very small subgroup of chiropractors certified in National Upper Cervical Chiropractic (NUCCA) techniques. The procedure employs precise measurements to determine a patient's Atlas vertebra alignment. If realignment is deemed necessary, the chiropractor uses his or her hands to gently manipulate the vertebra.

"We are not doctors. We are spinal engineers," Dickholtz says. "We use mathematics, geometry, and physics to learn how to slide everything back into place."

What does this have to do with high blood pressure pressure?

Bakris notes that some researchers have suggested that injury to the Atlas vertebra can affect blood flow in the arteries at the base of the skull. Dickholtz thinks the misaligned Atlas triggers release of signals that make the arteries contract. Whether the procedure actually fixes such injuries is unknown, Bakris says.

Bakris began the study after a fellow doctor told him that something strange was happening in his family practice. The doctor had been sending some of his patients to a chiropractor. Some of these patients had high blood pressure. 

Yet after seeing the chiropractor, the patients' blood pressure had normalized -- and a few of them were able to stop taking their blood pressure medications.

So Bakris, then at Rush University, designed the pilot study with 50 patients. He's now organizing a much bigger clinical trial.

"Is it going to be for everybody with high blood pressure? No," Bakris says. "We clearly need to identify those who can benefit. It is pretty clear that some kind of head or neck trauma early in life is related to this. This is really a work in progress. It is certainly in the early stages of research."

Dickholtz has been teaching, practicing, and studying the NUCCA technique for 50 years. He says high blood pressure is far from the only thing an Atlas misalignment causes.

"On the other hand, if people have high blood pressure, there is a tremendous possibility they need an Atlas adjustment," he says.



Author: Health News by Daniel J. DeNoon
Source: Rush University Hypertension Center Chicago IL
Copyright: Journal Of Human Hypertension 3

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Leaning While Texting May Result in Health Problems

Recent increases in the number of patients suffering from upper-back and neck pain may be related to poor posture during prolonged smartphone use. Many young people are reporting herniated disks and alignment problems. As these health issues more so typically affect middle-aged and elderly people, the new surge of problems in youth may have to do with the way the neck bends when a person is texting. The normal curvature of the neck is reversed when people look down, such as when using and viewing a phone. Overtime, continuation of this unnatural position leads to stresses and imbalances in the supporting tissues of the neck and upper back. Pain, soreness, fatigue and even reversal of the normal curvature of the neck and upper back can occur. Given that some young people text for hours a day, it’s no wonder experts are seeing an increase in neck and back issues.  Studies show the problem is present mainly when people use mobile devices, as using laptops doesn’t require any abnormal or unnatural posture. The 45-degree angle many people hold their neck at while texting on mobile devices can lead to issues which may become even worse if the person is sitting. This impact on the back worsens at higher flexed postures. With a 15-degree flex, the head (which weighs roughly 10-12 pounds) can feel over twice as heavy. The stress increase on the spine can lead to a 60-degree flex feeling like an additional 60 pounds of pressure. There is a serious concern among professionals about the effects this will have on young people.   Fortunately, doctors of chiropractic are specifically trained to evaluate and treat neck and back issues. If you or a loved one is suffering from neck and/or back issues including those that may be related to the use of a phone, book a no obligation consultation today!

Source: The Spine Journal, online March 20, 2017.
Copyright: LLC 2017

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Painkillers Should Not Be Kept Within Reach of Small Children

Most homes carry some type of pain relievers. More specifically, opioids like hydrocodone and codeine are common across the country. Unfortunately, these medicines aren’t always kept out of the reach of small children.  Roughly a third of adults store prescription opioid mediation in cabinets with locks. Less than 10 percent of adults with kids and teenagers recall storing these substances properly.  Researchers have noted a near doubling of hospitalization rates for issues related to medicine over the past few decades. While some parents may feel that they know their children well enough to pass on locking up these substances, the prevalence of these medicines in the home warrants safe and secure storage.  A survey conducted with adults who consume these medicines relievers within the past year and who had kids in the home revealed that a third of those with children under 7 said they secured their medicine. That number was slashed by roughly two-thirds when it comes to households with teens, and less than one-third of families with both kids and teens used lockable storage for their medicine. Adults with young kids were usually more concerned about the medicine being accessed, while those with teens were less likely to view this as a concern.  The use of this medication has skyrocketed in the US in recent years, with most opioid medication being used for post-surgery pain.

Source: Pediatrics, online February 23, 2017.
Copyright: LLC 2017

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Dangers of Energy Drinks

According to a new study, consuming enough energy drink can lead to certain concerning characteristics in heart function and blood pressure outside of those seen solely from caffeine.  Energy drinks are extremely popular with hundreds of versions currently available for sale. Unfortunately, these beverages have become associated with emergency-room visits and even death. While the makers of energy drinks claim that the products pose no more dangers than those related to caffeine, the evidence does not necessarily reflect this assertion. Caffeine in certain doses is considered normal by the FDA. For example, approximately 400 mg of caffeine can be found in about five cups of coffee. While the dangers of energy drinks are usually related to their caffeine content, it is the other ingredients which may pose the risk. The physical changes in a group of subjects (both male and female) were observed after the subjects had consumed an energy drink and a caffeinated beverage that lacked the other types of ingredients energy drinks are known for. These additional ingredients include 4 ounces of sugar, taurine, B vitamins, and other contents found in brand-name energy drinks like Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, and Monster. The results showed certain concerning cardiovascular changes including an increase in blood pressure after the consumption of energy drinks. Be smart and play it safe. If you choose to consume energy drinks, do so in moderation and ensure you do not suffer from any sort of cardiovascular conditions or issues or other health ailments that could result in a visit to the emergency room or worse.

Source: Journal of the American Heart Association, online April 26, 2017.
Copyright: LLC 2017

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