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Biotech Science

Brain Connection To Hypertension? 92

The possibility that one cause of high blood pressure lies within the brain, and not the heart or blood vessels, has been put forward by scientists at the University of Bristol, UK. A research group there found a novel role for a protein called JAM-1, located in the walls of blood vessels in the brain. JAM-1 traps white blood cells, which can then cause inflammation and may obstruct blood flow, resulting in poor oxygen supply to the brain. The article notes that the idea that hypertension is an inflammatory vascular disease of the brain is somewhat controversial.
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Brain Connection To Hypertension?

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    • I know that you're joking, but even if you aren't, odds are that you can use as much salt as you want -- at least wrt to hypertension. Only about a quarter of the population actually have or will develop elevated blood pressure and only about half of those who have hypertension have a drop in blood pressure when they reduce sodium intake.
      • by lord_mike ( 567148 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @11:26AM (#18750947)
        Not true...

        If it were so, then diuretics would not be a first line drug for hypertension, and considered to be the most effective ones at that. What you are saying is true for those who are not hypertensive, yes... but eating high amounts of salt, over time, puts serious strain on the kidneys, and can lead to future hypertension. If you are hypertensive, then sodium management plays a BIG role in your blood pressure.

        Americans eat more than 8 grams of sodium per day, on average... some people more than 10 grams... That's a hell of a lot of salt... Since sodium is about half the weight of salt, you are looking at about 16 grams of salt per day.

        In other words, Americans eat, on average, almost 3 tablespoons of salt a day... and the kidneys have to filter all that stuff out. It's not easy. Sodium filtration is very hard on the kidneys--it's the most challenging of all the kidney's filtration processes. One of the reasons why blood pressure increases with high sodium is that the kidneys need extra pressure to force the sodium through it's sodium "filter", especially if the kidneys have been damaged (and we all suffer some kidney damage as we get older). High salt really gives the kidneys a workout, and over time, causes them to wear out. When the kidneys get less effective in managing fluid balance, it can cause an incredibly dramatic shift in blood pressure. An increase in blood volume of only 2% can cause a 20 point increase in blood pressure. *ALL* essential hypertensives have fluid balance problems (many secondary hypertensives have other causes, like thyroid, adrenal, or neurological problems.. that is a different story). that is why hypertension docs are nephrologists... kidney specialists. The kidneys, and their regulation of blood volume, are the key to hypertension in 90% of cases.

        Our bodies are not designed to handle the incredibly high loads of salt we ingest daily. We were made to eat fresh food, where sodium (except for meat) is rather low...

        Low salt diets really work. I am on one... my parents are on one... If you do it right, you can avoid nasty blood pressure medicines that make you miserable.


        • ***If it were so, then diuretics would not be a first line drug for hypertension, and considered to be the most effective ones at that.***

          Diuretics are the first drug tried because they are cheap, rarely have unpleasant side affects, and work for about 50% of hypertensives.

          ***Americans eat more than 8 grams of sodium per day, on average***

          More like 3.5 grams on average -- about twice the minimum recommended value. (Humans need some dietary Sodium and Chloride to function). Now the Japanese ... they

  • by MollyB ( 162595 ) * on Monday April 16, 2007 @04:31AM (#18748049) Journal
    The summary says the finding is "controversial" but this appears inaccurate.


    Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, commented: "This exciting study is important because it suggests there are unexpected causes of high blood pressure related to blood supply to the brain. It therefore opens up the possibility of new ways to treat this common, but often poorly managed, condition."

    As there is still poor understanding about what changes occur in people when hypertension develops, the finding of JAM-1 is of great interest and opens up multiple new avenues for further research and potential treatment.
    How is this controversial?
    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @04:33AM (#18748059)
      I don't know, but I'm sure we can find a creationist to tell us.
      • Also (Score:3, Funny)

        Or an evolutionist...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How is this controversial?

      Yeah, I thought it was a no brainer.
    • by zorbid ( 634449 )
      From TFA:

      Funded primarily by the British Heart Foundation, Professor Julian Paton and colleagues have been working on the problems of hypertension for 12 years. Although the idea that the brain is to blame for high blood pressure is controversial, recent evidence from both animal models and patients supports this.

      It's controversial because it's new, and some minds are slow to adapt to new paradigms...</troll>

      More seriously, as every new finding/hypothesis it has to be taken carefully, assessed in va

      • by MollyB ( 162595 ) *
        Whups! How did I miss that? My mistake, and thanks for the correction. Apologies to kdawson, too, I presume.
        (loved your mental dialogue, btw)
    • It is controversial because the majority of groups researching hypertension do not (currently) feel that there is enough evidence to prove this hypothesis (despite the JAM-1 finding).

      There are many proteins/lipids/cytokines such as A1+32 (a subunit of good cholesterol, HDL) that cause inflammation in the vascular wall, some are caused by oxidation of these antigens and there are many others, such as this newly named JAM-1, that we are yet to understand.

      A scientific finding does not a breakthrough make, and

  • JAM-1 behavior (Score:2, Interesting)

    What would the benefit of trapping white blood cells be? TFA refers to the discovery of a 'novel' role for the protein...

    Is it possible that this is unintended behavior on the part of the protein or does the behavior serve some purpose?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NIckGorton ( 974753 )
      Well if you had a single meningococcus adhere to that blood vessel and try to squeeze its way through the blood brain barrier (that would result in fatal meningitis,) you'd want to be able to have a way to call WBCs to the area to kill it before it decides to start reproducing.
  • by geschild ( 43455 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @04:50AM (#18748137) Homepage

    Not too long ago a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicobacter_pylori [wikipedia.org] was a similarly 'radical' concept. We know how that ended up changing things with regard to the treatment of ulcers.

    What I'm interested in is if there's a link with migraines. Hypertension medication is quite often helpfull in preventing or modulating migraine attacks in severe sufferers. The underlying mechanisms of migraines are not fully known and what mechanisms are known, are poorly understood. There seems to be concensus that it involves a chemical inflamation proces of arteries in the skull, though and if this proposition holds, that might explain how these medications work for migraines, too.

    • by nido ( 102070 ) <nido56 AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:17AM (#18748381) Homepage
      We know how that ended up changing things with regard to the treatment of ulcers.

      Your link says that nothing substantial changed, as the new conventional treatment doesn't work just like the old conventional treatment didn't work:

      Unfortunately, an increasing number of infected individuals are found to harbour antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This results in initial treatment failure and requires additional rounds of antibiotic therapy or alternative strategies. For resistant cases, a quadruple therapy may be used. Bismuth compounds are also effective in combination with the above drugs. For the treatment of clarithromycin-resistant strains of H. pylori the use of levofloxacin as part of the therapy has been recommended.

      Some people will benefit from any treatment, of course, due to the placebo effect, and sporadic success of treating ulcers with antibiotics is not indicative of accuracy of the theory ('ulcers are caused by bacteria').

      Incidentally, your link reminds me of a different overview for health I ran across some years back. Information doesn't sell nearly as well as pharmaceuticals, and the site disappeared sometime last year. Archive.org fortunately still has a copy: Stomach Ulcers to Indigestion from Too Little Acid in the Stomach [archive.org]. If I may be so bold as to summarize this website, it says that stomach ulcers result from an excess of metabolic acids in the body-system; the presence of large colonies of said bacterium are simply indicative of an extreme pH imbalance. The body generates acids as a normal part of the metabolic processes. Modern diets are deficient in the alkaline minerals necessary to neutralize these acids, and most don't get the exercise necessary to 'burn off' the acids either, hence the explosion of chronic disease of all sorts.

      There was also a page on heart disease [archive.org]. Too bad you can't bottle this information up & sell it to people for $100/month... I have family members on high blood pressure medication, and they don't work very well. Their treatments would be so much more effective if they addressed the causes (chronic stress is the other big one), rather than just a symptom.
      • by geschild ( 43455 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:58AM (#18748543) Homepage

        Fortunately (for me) I was referring to the part where the discovery of a bacterium as a cause, was a radical new insight that met loads of scepticism in the scientific an medical community. As it turns out, it did change a lot in the treatment of ulcers. The fact that treatment now is becoming more and more ineffective does nothing to diminish the discovery that a whole new mechanism is the main cause for Gastric Ulcers!

        The rest of your rant may or may not be accurate but nothing you say takes away from the fact that this research might mean a lot to the field. I want to see this new research carried forward until it is either proven or disproven and consequences are taken.

        • by nido ( 102070 )
          My point was that the presence of the bacterium is not the cause of ulcers, but simply an effect, a symptom indicative of some deeper problem. "The fact that treatment now is becoming more and more ineffective" simply indicates that the treatment does not address the cause.

          From the fine article: The alarming statistic that nearly 60 per cent of patients remain hypertensive, even though they are taking drugs to alleviate the condition, emphasises the urgency of looking for new mechanisms by which the body co
          • by geschild ( 43455 )

            Others have already responded to the wholly unscientific nature of the literature you reference so I'll stick to the facts and logic here: the fact that a therapy used to work and is becoming less effective do not mean the underlying mechanism is not at work. The underlying mechanism has, in my opinion, been proven through scientific means and methods. The fact that perhaps agravating factors are at play does not matter in this respect. Point in case: the fact that bacteria become resistant to anti-biotics

      • Taking the meds alone, is never as good as lifestyle changes such as just about every first world inhabitant could stand to lose 15 to 20 kg (through mainly exercise) to no ill effect, they could also eat rather more fruit and veg, drink less caffeinated, carbonated and sugar soaked beverages and drink the occasional glass of red wine.

        "You've got a chart filling a whole wall with interlocking pathways
        and reactions to shock and the researcher says "If I can just control
        this one molecule/enzyme/compound I'll

        • by nido ( 102070 )
          I like the quote - thanks for bringing it up. Where is it from? I put it in my quote file, and right now it's attributed to the URL for your comment... :)
          • Um, it is mine, one I developed about 12 years ago, an amalgam of my views on certain scientists that spend way too much time peering at the structure of some unregarded molecule whilst the big picture goes to hell in a handbag in front of them. Their favourite preface is always "You know what you should have done ....."

            "You've got a chart filling a whole wall with interlocking pathways
            and reactions to shock and the researcher says "If I can just control
            this one molecule/enzyme/compound I'll stop the whole

      • by maeka ( 518272 )

        The central idea here is of course, that of Vitalism; vs. the Empiricism of modern, allopathic medicine. Vitalism is the underlying idea of Eclectic, Homeopathic, Naturopathic, Oriental and Chiropractic approaches to health and healing - the concept of the Vis Medicatrix Naturae - or the life force, which has had many names but constitutes one idea.


        Best medical site ever!
        I wonder why they went under?
        Smells like Bulls *clap* hi

      • Death from bleeding gastric ulcers was quite common historically. Ulcers were so life-threatening that surgery to remove them was fairly common as the benefit of removing the ulcer outweighed the risk of major abdominal surgery. There was a decrease in incidence when we got better sanitation, but there was also a significant drop in the 80's when we got the H2RAs, learned to eradicate H. Pylori, and eventually got the PPIs.

        I'm a GP and an ER physician and went to school in the 90s (after the era of moder
        • by nido ( 102070 )
          A bleeding ulcer (now a benign stomach tumor) almost got my grandfather a few weeks back. He covered up the pain through self-medicated with teh prilosec (don't know if he ever asked his doctor about it), but it's obvious to me that Grandpa has a case of the hyper-acidity, which his doctors never even considered.. He signed himself up for hospice care last week.

          I have good cause to distrust pharmaceutical medicine - it's done nothing for me but cover up the health problems I had. The turning point for me wa
          • Um... are we talking about the same Cayce who predicted (while channeling in trance) that in 1958 the US would discover the Death Ray that was used in Atlantis? The same one who said that China would be converted to Christianity by 1968? The same one who prescribed "bedbug juice" for heart failure, "fumes of apple brandy from a charred keg" for tuberculosis, and "the raw side of a freshly skinned rabbit, still warm with blood, fur side out, placed on the breast" for breast cancer.

            Thanks, but I'll take a
            • by nido ( 102070 )
              The important thing about Cayce was that he was right more often than not. One or two of his sons wrote a book titled The Outer Limits of Edgar Cayce's Power, in which they covered all the things he said that were wrong/inaccurate/etc.

              I've read good things about the brandy keg thing; not familiar with the "bedbug juice" or rabbit skin suggestions. I recently got the cd w/ the readings on it, so I will look sometime and see if there is any truth to this, and if so, the context provided (I'm currently away f
              • Um, no.

                I've read about Cayce before. I actually remembered the Atlantis comment and certainly remembered that he'd come up with some total whackjob treatments. Though the remainder of the specifics was from:

                http://skepdic.com/cayce.html [skepdic.com] http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcayce.html [straightdope.com] http://psychicinvestigator.com/demo/ReinSkp4.htm [psychicinvestigator.com] (James Randi) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Cayce [wikipedia.org] (mostly the links)

                And I'm sooooooo truly disappointed that you aren't impressed. However, when deciding who is tru
                • by nido ( 102070 )
                  I suppose you also believe that arab terrorists led by a former CIA asset hiding in a cave in afghanistan disabled the entire United States Defense Establishment (most of whom take their job _very_ seriously), and that those two airplanes were all it took to take down all three skyscrapers (the fire in WTC7 was, of course, caused by debree from WTC1 & 2, and a little bit of diesel is all it took to implode a steel building fire-rated to 1700+ degrees).

                  YHBT, you just haven't realized it yet. Hope the awa
                  • Actually I suspected you were a troll from your 2nd post about Cayce and because you are modding your own posts up with your other account (which must currently have mod points). However I also suspect with someone who has such a weak ego and so much time on his hands (like searching to find the single document that included all of my references about Cayce's head being up his ass) you might have an axe to grind the size of Wisconsin. Of course after having your ass handed to you, a coping mechanism might b
                    • by nido ( 102070 )
                      My last post was a little rush, so I need to clarify a few things:

                      1. YHBT, not by myself, but by the Establishment. Military-Industrial, Medical-Industrial, etc. The goal of these establishments is to concentrate power (economic and otherwise) for themselves, and depower 'teh masses'.

                      2. I have one account on Slashdot. I'm not a big fan of the nick I chose, all those years ago, but I do like my UID. I don't need to mod up my own posts - sometimes moderators find value in what I've said, and sometimes t
                    • Got back to my computer with the Cayce readings, and decided to look up the 'bedbug juices' and the application of rabbit fur you mentioned. There are five bedbug hits, four from the readings and one from a report. One of the hits says that the microorganism which causes Pyorrhea looks like a bedbug, but with longer legs, and gives instructions as to how this organism could be isolated. The other hits all recommended "bedbug juice":

                      Also would it be well for those properties as are given for such condition

    • by TheLink ( 130905 )
      I don't think there's a single cause for migraines.

      Following are possible migraine causes I found interesting:
      1) caffeine withdrawal
      2) "hole in the heart" aka Patent Foramen Ovale.

      • by geschild ( 43455 )

        It is very well known that there isn't a single 'cause' for migraines. What remains uncertain is what mechanism is causing the migraines. We already know that there are a multitude of triggers for migraine. What isn't understood is the how these triggers then all cause the arteries in the head to do something very painful, as well as cause neurological and systemic effects.

        For your information, caffeïne withdrawal isn't considered migraine, as isn't a hangover. All three are considered 'vascular type h

        • by LDoggg_ ( 659725 )
          Anyway, I'm also very interested in the 'hole in the heart' idea that is being kicked around and as soon as there have been more trials I'll be sure to look in to it. For now, bloodpressure medication has all but eliminated my migraines so I have time.

          Several years I also was on bloodpressure medication that seemed to lessen the frequency of my migraine attacks. However the side effect was that I seemed to be very tired and I started to put on weight. I quit taking the stuff but I've found the better sha
          • by geschild ( 43455 )

            First of all, let me express my sympathy. I too have suffered from migraines and occaisionally still do. I also used preventatitive medication and had all sorts of nasty side-effects. When I used propanolol, an old-school blood-pressure medication from the 'beta-blocker' category, I had the same side-effects as you did, and then some.

            The blood-pressure medication I'm currently on, micardis (telmisartan), is of a completely different class: the angiotensine2-antagonists. Yes there are side-effects but I find

  • makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    the idea that hypertension is an inflammatory vascular disease of the brain is somewhat controversial.

    aspirin is an anti-inflamatory...
  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @04:57AM (#18748163)
    Further research has shown that if you remove a person's brain entirely, his blood pressure drops to zero!! This is clearly conclusive evidence that the main cause of blood pressure is the brain.
    • Not necessarily. politicians have high blood pressure.
    • This is well known in the field of Zombology. We know that zombies are not motivated by "evil" or "bloodlust" or any other superstitious nonsense. In actuality, zombies eat brains in order to equalize pressure with their surroundings (I won't bore you with the complex dendrite:millibar relations). We're thinking of just rolling the whole science in with meteorology and taking a long vacation.
  • Are these the same scientists that tell me milk can give me Cancer and that Eggs are bad for me one week, yet good for me another?

    (Rhetorical question, FYI)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kangburra ( 911213 )
      If it's a rhetorical question, how come there is a reply to this under it?

      Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Bristol. i.e. Dumbed down for normal people.
    • No, although there is a resemblance. The one you're thinking of has curly hair and was a bit darker.

      About the egg thing, BTW - I would just lay off dairy for a while and give your digestive system time to settle down. I have the same problem with spicy food.

  • by iamacat ( 583406 )
    We all know stressed-out types get hypertension and not too many easy going, yoga types do. All this does is explain the exact chemistry by which some of us are ruining our bodies.
    • The article is carefull to state that this could be one of several factors.

      Consider this, my brother-in-law was a mellow dude who did scientific work outdoors in beautiful national parks. He ate healthily and got regular excercise as part of his workday. He had bad hypertension.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I don't have a stressful job and I eat healthy and take lots of walks to and from work (and on my lunch break too) but I got something called Conns syndrome. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conns_Syndrome [wikipedia.org]
        Even with my pills I barely (most of the time I dont) get below 140/90. There are so many reasons why someone has high blood pressure but stressful living isnt a sure way to get it nor is a relaxed living a sure way not to have it.
      • Whereas I work in a basement for 60 hours a week with a load of ASSHOLES living off Pizza, coffee and Marlboro Extra Reds, do booze+coke at the weekends, and I'm as fit as a fiddle. Lol, exercise geeks, where is your God

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Consider this, my brother-in-law was a mellow dude who did scientific work outdoors in beautiful national parks. He ate healthily and got regular excercise as part of his workday. He had bad hypertension

        i can see the stressors now:

        OMG BEAR! RUN!
        OMG BEES!
        *wakes up* SCORPION ON MY FACE!
        who knows.. maybe even DB cooper fell on his head.
    • We all know stressed-out types get hypertension and not too many easy going, yoga types do. All this does is explain the exact chemistry by which some of us are ruining our bodies.

      My impression is that adding cigarettes and an extra 50 pounds to that stressed-out type is the kicker.

      Then it doesn't even matter if he is stressed out, his blood pressure is still through the roof.

      Seriously, hypertension and obesity, and hypertension and smoking, good strong links.
      • by iamacat ( 583406 )
        Oh well, in many cases obesity and excessive smoking are directly related to stress. Relaxed people tend to have time to think about their health.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NIckGorton ( 974753 )
      I volunteer at a hippy clinic in San Francisco 2 days a week where I treat a disproportionately hippy population. And among this hippy population I have a number of thin, vegan, yoga-types who have: hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, etc. Making good choices is part of the battle, but unfortunately you can't choose your parents.

      The one thing I will say is that hippies with hypertension are much less likely to have well controlled hypertension. They are much more likely to insist that if they do X more y
  • maybe there's a reason for it. When the bombs fall, the fat people will inherit the earth. I don't think correcting what we don't like is always the most insightful thing to do. If nature didn't want 1 in 10 people with hypertension, she would have killed their asses by now.
    • well until then theyre lobbing lawsuits for things like:

      "mcdonalds wont make me STOP EATING"


      "omg im too fat for teh airplane seat!, its the airlines' fault!"
    • ***If nature didn't want 1 in 10 people with hypertension, she would have killed their asses by now.***

      Yeah, the article says there are 600 million hypertensives and we all know (or think we know) that there are 6,000,000,000 people on the planet. But that six billion is rather strongly biased toward children, teenagers, and young adults who rarely have hypertension even if they will develop it later in life. So nature is out to get more than one in ten. Maybe more like one in six -- one in four among

  • Well the protein is called Jam-1, of course it's clogging arteries with a name like that!
    • SIR we're being jammed! .... Raspberry, only one man would DARE give me the raspberry... Lone Sta..HURK (end heart attack)
  • The notion that a problem in the brain can cause hypertension is no news to me. My mother was hypOtensive her whole life, so much so that when I was a kid I remember her randomly passing out. A blood pressure reading of 80 over 40 was high for her all her life.

    In her early 60s, she tripped, hit her head on a brick, and got a concussion. Immediately, her BP shot up to, say, 200 over 150. It stayed there for years. Now that she's in her 70s, it's finally gotten down to a "slightly high of normal" range.

    • "Old" news then - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4361802.stm [bbc.co.uk]

      The new thing in the current news is that it is not the brain, but immune system that causes problems with blood flow in the brain which causes the brain to increase pressure to fix the flow.
    • He was just bullshitting you. The brain controls a lot of stuff in the body, and it certainly modulates blood pressure significantly. However, there isn't a single part of the brain that controls BP to that extent that you can damage with a concussion. However, what is more likely (and common) is that despite starting with a low BP, your mom aged and developed age related hypertension which was first discovered when she had a visit due to the injury.
      • I must disagree. My mom has had a variety of ailments over the years (lost an eye as a kid and has had to fight various resulting problems; lots of other things) and low blood pressure has always been one of them. She has had a BP cuff and regularly used it and recorded her readings for decades. Before he died, my dad took the readings. After his death, I did. Ever since automated cuffs became available she has had one and used it regularly. Her visits to the doctor always included a BP reading and th
  • Hypertension has always been associated with a higer risk for Ischemic Stroke ( CVA [wikipedia.org]). Whereas high cholesterol has been associated with corornary infarctions (because of artherscelerosis [wikipedia.org]).

    This article suggests that the underlying principle underlying both, is the same (clogging of arteries). Which for me as a med-student is pretty damn cool to read, since the hypertension-CVA connection is pretty poorly understood.

    P.S. Artherosclerosis is caused by white bloodcells being absorbed into the blood wall and co

  • "We are looking at the possibility of treating those patients that fail to respond to conventional therapy for hypertension with drugs ... increase blood flow within the brain."

    So would gingko biloba [howtodothings.com] lower blood pressure? It's well-known to increase blood flow to the brain. There's doubt that this does anything, as has been claimed, to improve memory. But due to the extensive marketing based on that claim it's widely available, cheap, comes in standardized doses.... Since blood-pressure gauges are also wide

  • Well that would probaply have been a verry intresting read, but i was mistaken....

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.