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Children with high blood pressure often become adults with high blood pressure

An estimated 2-5% of children have hypertension, or high blood pressure, and primary hypertension—indicating it is not due to an underlying medical condition—is now the most common type of high blood pressure in kids, especially in adolescents.

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High blood pressure in children is not uncommon, and research shows it may lead to high blood pressure in adulthood, as well as problems with the heart, blood vessels and kidneys, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association published in the Association’s Hypertension journal. An American Heart Association scientific statement is an expert analysis of current research and may inform future guidelines.

An estimated 2-5% of children have hypertension, or high blood pressure, and primary hypertension—indicating it is not due to an underlying medical condition—is now the most common type of high blood pressure in kids, especially in adolescents. The new scientific statement reviews current evidence of what leads to high blood pressure in children and adolescents, and highlights clinical and public health implications for health care professionals, researchers and the public.

“Primary hypertension onset in childhood is not a benign condition,” said Bonita Falkner, M.D., FAHA, chair of the scientific statement writing committee and an emeritus professor of medicine and pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.  ”This is a health problem that is often amplified by lifestyle and behaviors, many of which are modifiable. Since kids with high blood pressure levels tend to maintain high blood pressure into adulthood, diagnosing and appropriately addressing high blood pressure in youth is imperative to ensure improved lifetime health as early as possible.”

Blood pressure is recorded using two numbers: the systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) indicates the pressure blood is exerting against the artery walls when the heart beats; and the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) indicates the pressure blood is exerting against the artery walls while the heart is resting between beats. High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood flowing through the blood vessels is consistently too high. Damage from high blood pressure may lead to heart disease potentially leading to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, peripheral artery disease, vision loss, angina (chest pain) and more.

Some factors that may contribute to high blood pressure in children are not modifiable, such as genetics, low birth weight and even environmental exposures. One large study in China evaluated children ages 7 through 18 and found an association between air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions and other pollutants and an increased risk of abnormal blood pressure.

There are some significant risk factors for high blood pressure that may be modified to improve blood pressure levels, including obesity, physical activity and a key factor—nutrition. A recent meta-analysis of 18 studies with high-quality data on sodium intake and blood pressure found that systolic blood pressure readings increased by 0.8 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure levels increased by 0.7 mm Hg for every additional one gram of daily sodium intake. This is concerning because dietary sodium intake in the U.S. among children is above recommended nutritional guidelines, according to the 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

“A healthy lifestyle in childhood may be extremely helpful in mitigating the risk of developing hypertension in youth,” said Falkner. “Preventive measures for families that promote healthy lifestyles in children are important, such as eating healthy food, encouraging physical activity that leads to improved physical fitness and healthy sleep, and avoiding the development of obesity. Regular blood pressure monitoring by a health care clinician is also essential so that if high blood pressure is present, it can be quickly detected and addressed.”

Recognizing high blood pressure in children and adolescents who are otherwise healthy and without symptoms may be challenging. Health care professionals should be trained on the specific techniques to measure pediatric blood pressure more accurately, and if levels are elevated, the child’s blood pressure should be checked on at least three different days using appropriate measurement techniques, as outlined in the scientific statement.

Current pediatric guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, European Society of Hypertension and Hypertension Canada define a diagnosis of childhood-onset high blood pressure to be systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure levels that are greater than the 95th percentile of blood pressure values in healthy children, based on age, sex and height. There is currently a lack of data on specific blood pressure levels in childhood that may predict later cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure, kidney failure, stroke or cardiovascular death, and thus the use of the 95th percentile guidelines rather than measures for high blood pressure in adults.

When high blood pressure is diagnosed in youth, treatment may include dietary changes, increased physical activity, a reduction in screen time (television or other digital devices) and in some cases medication. Studies on medication recommendations for high blood pressure in youth are somewhat lacking. There is only one long-term randomized clinical trial that examined high blood pressure medication in children, and it was specifically in children with chronic kidney disease. Since primary hypertension is now known to be the main type of high blood pressure in youth, trials are needed focusing on medications for children with high blood pressure not related to another medical cause.

The statement authors note that public health efforts to study and improve high blood pressure in children may be difficult for numerous reasons, yet it may be useful to gather information from pediatric databases to calculate and monitor trends in blood pressure in children relative to population-based variations in obesity, physical activity, nutrition, unmet social needs and adverse childhood experiences. Additionally, broader interventions, such as lowering sodium content in food in the U.S. and providing healthier food choices in schools, may be helpful in improving cardiovascular health particularly during childhood.

“There is a need for increased understanding and greater research surrounding high blood pressure in youth,” said Falkner. “Future studies to improve both the recognition and diagnosis of high blood pressure in this age group, as well as clinical trials to evaluate medical treatment and recommend public health initiatives, are all vital to improving the increase we are seeing in hypertension in children.“

This scientific statement was prepared by the volunteer writing group on behalf of the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension; the Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in the Young; the Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease; the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; and the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing. American Heart Association scientific statements promote greater awareness about cardiovascular diseases and stroke issues and help facilitate informed health care decisions. Scientific statements outline what is currently known about a topic and what areas need additional research. While scientific statements inform the development of guidelines, they do not make treatment recommendations. American Heart Association guidelines provide the Association’s official clinical practice recommendations.

Co-authors and members of the writing committee are Vice Chair Samuel S. Gidding, M.D., FAHA; Carissa M. Baker-Smith, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA; Tammy M. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA; Joseph T. Flynn, M.D., M.S., FAHA; Leslie M. Malle, M.S.N., FAHA; Andrew M. South, M.D., M.S., FAHA; Andrew H. Tran, M.D., M.S., FAHA; and Elaine M. Urbina, M.D., M.S., FAHA. Authors’ disclosures are listed in the manuscript.

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Optimism wards off procrastination

While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame.

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People with an optimistic outlook on the future are less likely to be severe procrastinators, according to new research at the University of Tokyo. While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame. Through a survey of nearly 300 young people, researchers found that those who had a positive view about their stress levels decreasing in the future, compared to the past or present, were less likely to experience severe procrastination. Views on personal well-being didn’t appear to have an effect. Improving people’s outlook and readiness for the future could help them overcome procrastination and achieve a less stressful lifestyle. 

How many times have you made a “to do” list, and although the most important task is at the top, you seem to be working your way up from the bottom or distracted by something else entirely? While we might chide ourselves for procrastinating, sometimes the more we try to overcome it, the more stressed we feel and the cycle continues. That is how it was for graduate student Saya Kashiwakura from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, so she decided to investigate why.

“I have struggled with procrastination since childhood. I would clean my room when I needed to study for a test and prioritize aikido practice over my postgraduate research. This habit of putting off important tasks has been a constant challenge,” said Kashiwakura. “I wanted to change my behavior, as I realized that I was not confronting the future impact of my actions.”

This inspired Kashiwakura to examine the relationship between procrastination and the procrastinator’s perspective on time, particularly their view of the future. When she began researching procrastination, she was surprised to discover that many more people suffer from it than she had imagined and found it reassuring her problems were not unique.

Previous research has shown that a feature of procrastination is disregard for the future or difficulty linking present actions with future outcomes. However, the reasons for this have been unclear. Kashiwakura and co-author Professor Kazuo Hiraki, also from UTokyo, proposed that it might be because severe procrastinators have a more pessimistic outlook. 

The researchers surveyed 296 participants in Japan in their 20s for their views on stress and well-being, and importantly how these changed over time. This included asking about their experiences from 10 years in the past through to the present, and their expectations for 10 years in the future. From the results, participants were clustered into one of four groups (for example, if they thought their situation would improve or would stay the same), and then each group was divided into severe, middle and low procrastinators. 

“Our research showed that optimistic people — those who believe that stress does not increase as we move into the future — are less likely to have severe procrastination habits,” explained Kashiwakura. “This finding helped me adopt a more light-hearted perspective on the future, leading to a more direct view and reduced procrastination.” 

It was not only the level of stress people experienced, but how their perception of it changed over the 20-year time period discussed, which influenced their procrastination habits. Surprisingly, a relationship wasn’t found between procrastination and negative views on well-being, such as one’s attitude towards oneself, or not yet finding purpose and goals in life.

Using these results, the team wants to develop ways to help people nurture a more optimistic mindset and overcome procrastination. “We hope our findings will be particularly useful in the education sector. We believe that students will achieve better outcomes and experience greater well-being when they can comprehend their procrastination tendencies scientifically, and actively work on improving them, rather than blaming themselves,” said Kashiwakura. 

“Thoughts can change with just a few minutes of watching a video or be shaped by years of accumulation. Our next step is to investigate which approach is appropriate this time, and how we can develop the ‘right’ mindset to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.”

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Study shows how night shift work can raise risk of diabetes, obesity

“When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

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Just a few days on a night shift schedule throws off protein rhythms related to blood glucose regulation, energy metabolism and inflammation, processes that can influence the development of chronic metabolic conditions.

The finding, from a study led by scientists at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, provides new clues as to why night shift workers are more prone to diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.

“There are processes tied to the master biological clock in our brain that are saying that day is day and night is night and other processes that follow rhythms set elsewhere in the body that say night is day and day is night,” said senior study author Hans Van Dongen, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Though more research is needed, Van Dongen said the study shows that these disrupted rhythms can be seen in as little as three days, which suggests early intervention to prevent diabetes and obesity is possible. Such intervention could also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, which is elevated in night shift workers as well.

Published in the Journal of Proteome Research, the study involved a controlled laboratory experiment with volunteers who were put on simulated night or day shift schedules for three days. Following their last shift, participants were kept awake for 24 hours under constant conditions—lighting, temperature, posture and food intake—to measure their internal biological rhythms without interference from outside influences. 

Blood samples drawn at regular intervals throughout the 24-hour period were analyzed to identify proteins present in blood-based immune system cells. Some proteins had rhythms closely tied to the master biological clock, which keeps the body on a 24-hour rhythm. The master clock is resilient to altered shift schedules, so these protein rhythms didn’t change much in response to the night shift schedule.

However, most other proteins had rhythms that changed substantially in night shift participants compared to the day shift participants.

Looking more closely at proteins involved in glucose regulation, the researchers observed a nearly complete reversal of glucose rhythms in night shift participants. They also found that processes involved in insulin production and sensitivity, which normally work together to keep glucose levels within a healthy range, were no longer synchronized in night shift participants.

The researchers said this effect could be caused by the regulation of insulin trying to undo the glucose changes triggered by the night shift schedule. They said this may be a healthy response in the moment, as altered glucose levels may damage cells and organs, but could be problematic in the long run.

“What we showed is that we can really see a difference in molecular patterns between volunteers with normal schedules and those with schedules that are misaligned with their biological clock,” said Jason McDermott, a computational scientist with PNNL’s Biological Sciences Division. “The effects of this misalignment had not yet been characterized at this molecular level and in this controlled manner before.”

The researchers’ next step will be to study real-world workers to determine whether night shifts cause similar protein changes in long-term shift workers.

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USANA Philippines celebrates 15-year anniversary

Beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

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USANA Philippines recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary in it its ongoing mission to maintain wellness. Company executives, ambassadors, Associates, and product users all attended this grand celebration — a testament to the unwavering commitment to reach one million families worldwide.  

Since its launch in 2009, USANA Philippines has received numerous accolades: Named among the best companies to work for in the country by the HR Asia Awards; Winning the prestigious Linchpin Award from the Asia Pacific Enterprise Awards (APEA); Recognized by Euromonitor as the Number 1 Vitamins and Dietary Supplements Brand in the Philippines for five consecutive years. 

But beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

When Analan Omambing, assistant customer service manager, joined USANA she was shy and introverted, but the support she’s received has pushed her to step up as a team leader.  “The career growth and personal development I gained here have transformed my personality significantly,” she says.  

USANA Philippines also creates ways to form meaningful relationships.  

“Direct selling, especially USANA, is all about relationships,” says Aurora Gaston, vice president for sales development.   

As the first employee hired by USANA Philippines, Loudelle Cinco, USANA’s regional controller in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia has experienced it all.  

“One of the things I treasure is the friendship, having a family in USANA. This position has paved the way to building great and lasting relationships.”  

Over the past 15 years, USANA has seen a shift in their Associate’s perspectives — from a focus on individual success to embracing a more collaborative and inclusive view of the community.  

“This comprehensive development approach underscores USANA’s commitment to not only enhance the lives of our Associates but also empower them to make a meaningful difference in the world” shared Cherry Dionisio-Ampig, general manager for USANA Philippines.  

USANA consistently strives to make an impact by being responsive to shifts in consumer behavior. Changes made over the years include strengthening the brand through collaboration, embracing the evolution of social media, and ensuring Associates can effortlessly introduce USANA’s products to the world. And as USANA Philippines celebrates this milestone, its vigor to sustain wins and touch more lives grows even stronger.  

“We are dedicated to ongoing research and innovation to develop products that not only meet — but exceed — the expectations of families worldwide. By focusing on efficacy and quality, we aim to be the trusted partner in every family’s journey towards maintaining wellness” Cherry says.   

The 15-Year “Ignite the Vibe” celebration was held at the Marriot Hotel Grand Ballroom. It’s the final touch to the anniversary festivities that kicked off with a Thanksgiving Day event in January.

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