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Lifestyle modifications, including getting more exercise, can lower blood pressure. Stock photo
Left untreated, high blood pressure has long-term health consequences

By David Dunaief, M.D.

We have focused a large amount of effort on the treatment and prevention of hypertension (high blood pressure) in the U.S. This insidious disorder includes prehypertension —defined as a systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 120-139 mmHg and/or a diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of 80-89 mmHg. Prehypertension is pervasive in the United States, affecting approximately one-third of people (1).

The consequences of prehypertension are significant, even though there are often no symptoms. For example, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack dramatically: in an analysis of the Framingham Heart Study, researchers found a 3.5-fold increase in the risk of heart attack and a 1.7-fold increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease among those with prehypertension (2). This is why it’s crucial to treat it in these early stages, even before it reaches the level of hypertension.

Another study, the Women’s Health Initiative, which followed more than 60,000 postmenopausal women for an average of 7.7 years, showed an increase in heart attack deaths, heart attacks and strokes compared to those with normal blood pressure (less than 120/80 mmHg). In the Strong Heart Study, prehypertension independently increased the risk for cardiovascular events at 12 years significantly (3).

Furthermore, according to the Framingham Heart Study, the risk of sustained hypertension increases substantially the higher the baseline blood pressure (4).

This may or may not impact mortality, but it certainly does impact morbidity (sickness). Quality of life may be dramatically reduced with heart disease, heart attack and hypertension.

Treatment of prehypertension

In my view, it would be foolish not to treat prehypertension. Recommendations for treatment, according to the Joint National Commission (JNC) 7, the association responsible for guidelines on the treatment of prehypertension and hypertension, are lifestyle modifications (5). These involve a Mediterranean-type diet called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), with a focus on fruits, vegetables, reduction in sodium to a maximum of 1,500 mg (⅔ of a teaspoon on a daily basis), exercise, weight loss and no more than moderate amounts of alcohol (1 or fewer drinks for women and 2 or fewer drinks for men on a daily basis). 

Some studies have also shown that a diet rich in potassium helps to reduce blood pressure (6). Fortunately, foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes have significant amounts of potassium. However, do not take potassium supplements unless instructed for other reasons by a physician; high potassium can be very dangerous and may precipitate a heart attack.

The danger in treating prehypertension comes only when medication is used, due to side effects. 

Unfortunately, the Trial of Preventing Hypertension (TROPHY) suggests the use of a hypotensive agent, the blood pressure drug Atacand (candesartan) to treat prehypertensive patients (7). The drug reduced the incidence of hypertension significantly compared to placebo over two years. However, after stopping therapy, the following two years showed only a small benefit over placebo. Yet the authors implied that this may be a plausible treatment. The study was funded by Astra-Zeneca, the makers of the drug. 

In an editorial, Dr. Jay I. Meltze, a clinical specialist in hypertension at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, noted that the results were interpreted in an unusually favorable way (8). 

Prehypertension is an asymptomatic disorder that has been shown to respond well to lifestyle changes — why create symptoms with medication? Therefore, I don’t recommend treating prehypertension patients with medication. Thankfully, the JNC7 agrees.

However, it should be treated -— and treated with lifestyle modifications. The side effects from this approach are only better overall health. Please get your blood pressure checked at least on an annual basis.

References:

(1) cdc.gov. (2) Stroke 2005; 36: 1859–1863. (3) Hypertension 2006;47:410-414. (4) Lancet 2001;358:1682-6. (5) nhlbi.nih.gov. (6) Archives of Internal Medicine 2001;161:589-593. (7) N Engl J Med. 2006;354:1685-1697. (8) Am J Hypertens. 2006;19:1098-1100.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com.     

Dave Jackson. Photo from CSHL

By Daniel Dunaief

Just as humans have competing impulses — should we eat or exercise, should we wait outside in the rain to meet a potential date or seek shelter, should we invest in a Spanish tutor or a lacrosse coach — so, too, do plants, albeit not through the same deliberate abstract process.

Working with corn, Dave Jackson, a professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, has discovered that the gene Gß, (pronounced Gee-Beta,) balances between the competing need to grow and to defend itself against myriad potential threats.

By looking at variations in the gene, Jackson and his postdoctoral fellows, including Qingyu Wu and Fang Xu, have found that some changes in Gß can lead to corn ears with more kernels. The results of this work, which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, suggest that altering this gene may eventually increase the productivity of agricultural crops.

Indeed, the study of this gene included an analysis of why some mutations are lethal. An overactive Gß gene turns the corn brown and kills it. This occurs because the gene cranks up the immune system, causing the plant to attack itself.

Other scientists have found mutations in this gene in plants including arabodopsis and rice.

“We are the first to figure out why the mutations are lethal in corn,” Jackson said. “That’s also true in rice. Rice mutations were made over a decade ago and they also caused the plants to die. Nobody knew why. The main puzzle was solved.”

Dialing back this immune response, however, can encourage the plant to dedicate more resources to growth, although Jackson cautions that the research hasn’t reached the point where scientists or farmers could fine tune the balance between growth and defense.

“We are not there yet,” he said. “That’s what would be possible, based on this knowledge.”

Even in the safer environment of an agricultural field, however, plants can’t abandon all efforts at defense.

“Plants need some defense, but probably much less than if they were growing in the wild,” he said.

By altering the balance toward growth, Jackson is looking at mutations that make more stem cells, which can produce flowers and, eventually kernels. The next steps in this research will not likely include scientists in Jackson’s lab. Qingyu Wu plans to move on to a research position in China. 

Penelope Lindsay. Photo by Patricia Waldron

A prolific plant scientist and mentor, Jackson has seen several of his lab members leave CSHL to pursue other opportunities. Recently, he has added three new postdoctoral researchers to his team: Thu Tran, Jae Hyung Lee and Penelope Lindsay.

Jackson plans to use single-cell sequencing in his future research. Using this technique, scientists can find regulatory relationships between genes and monitor cell lineages in development. Jackson described this approach as an “amazing new technology” that’s only been around for a few years. He hopes to use this technique to find new leads into genes that control growth.

Lindsay, who is joining the lab this month, would like to build on her experience as a plant biologist by adding computational expertise. A graduate of the Boyce Thompson Institute in upstate Ithaca, where she was working on the symbiotic relationship between some plants and a specific type of fungi in the soil, Lindsay would also like to work on single-cell sequencing. She plans to continue to study “how specific genotypes produce a phenotype” or how its genes affect what it becomes.

Jackson’s lab’s focus on the undifferentiated cells of the meristem appealed to Lindsay.

Lindsay first met Jackson a few years ago, when he was giving a talk at Cornell University. It was there, fittingly enough, that she had learned about the work that led to the current paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about growth versus defense.

“I was really impressed with the techniques and with the connection to basic research,” Lindsay said. She was excited to learn how Jackson and his students took biochemical approaches to understand how this signaling pathway affected development.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory also intrigued Lindsay, who was interested to join a facility that encouraged collaborations among labs.

Born in New York City, Lindsay spent some of her time in upstate New York before moving to Florida, where she also attended college.

Surrounded by family members who have found outlets for their creativity through art — her mother, Michelle Cartaya, is an artist who takes nature photos and her father, Ned Lindsay, remodels homes — she initially attended New College of Florida in Sarasota expecting to pursue a degree in English. Once in college, however, she found excellent scientific mentors, who encouraged her to pursue research.

As a graduate student, Lindsay was greatly intrigued by the signaling pathway between plants and the symbiotic relationship with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. During her graduate work, she studied a mutated version of a plant that lacked a signaling protein that encourages this collaboration. When she added considerable amount of the protein to the plant, she expected to restore the symbiosis, but she found the exact opposite.

“The amount of the protein is critical,” she said. “If you have too much, that’s a bad thing. If you don’t have enough, it’s also bad. It’s like Goldilocks.”

A new resident of Huntington, Lindsay, who was a disc jockey for a community radio station in Ithaca and makes electronic music using synthesizers and computers, is looking forward to starting her work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and to living near New York City.

Lindsay continues to find plants fascinating because they “get everything they need” while living in one place their entire lives. “They have so many sophisticated biochemical pathways to protect themselves,” she said.

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All Souls Church in Stony Brook hosts a Shamanic Drumming meditation session in its Parish Hall basement, 10 Mill Pond Road, Stony Brook on Thursday, Jan. 30 from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Led by experienced shamanic drummer Ric Statler, the meditation seeks to integrate the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of the human self, creating a state of well-being. Free. Call 631-655-7798 for more info.

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Telescopes 101

Is there a telescope gathering dust in your closet because you don’t know how to use it? Have you been thinking of buying a telescope and want to know what to consider before making a purchase? Jeff Norwood of Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions will answer all your questions at a workshop held at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $40 fee. To register, call 631-689-5888.

Huntington Hospital’s four midwives, from left, Laura Jabbour, Jessica Hilsenroth, Michele Mayer and Lindsay Price. Photo from Northwell Health

Huntington Hospital’s four midwives are now seeing patients at Northwell Health Physician Partners ob/gyn offices in Commack and Smithtown. 

Midwives Michele Mayer, Jessica Hilsenroth, Laura Jabbour and Lindsay Price have office hours at 777 Larkfield Road in Commack and 222 East Middle Country Road, Suite 114 in Smithtown. In addition, the midwives see patients at Huntington Hospital’s Women’s Center at 270 Park Ave. in Huntington.

“In response to patient requests, we have begun seeing women at these convenient offices to better serve the residents of Suffolk County,” said Mayer, supervisor of Huntington Hospital’s midwife practice. 

Midwives provide care to women from their first gynecologic visit through menopause with comprehensive prenatal care and natural childbirth; well woman exams; treatment of common gynecologic issues; and contraception consultation, initiation and surveillance.

To schedule an appointment with a Huntington Hospital midwife, please call 631-351-2415. 

For more information about the Northwell Health Physician Partners Obstetrics and Gynecology call 631-775-3290 (Smithtown office) or 631-470-8940 (Commack office).

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0 101

After successfully partnering with the American Cancer Society for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Panera Bread locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises on Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island donated $16,276.09 to the organization. 

In October, Panera Bread raised awareness and funds for the organization by donating a portion of the proceeds from its Pink Ribbon Bagel to the American Cancer Society, which is dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives and leading the fight for a world without cancer. 

“Because of the passion and commitment of incredibly generous and caring supporters such as Panera, its employees and customers, the American Cancer Society can attack breast cancer from every angle through research, education, advocacy and services,” said Marie Cimaglia, director of community development, Long Island. “Together, we can ensure that no one in any of our communities fights breast cancer alone.”

The Pink Ribbon Bagel was offered at participating Panera Bread locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises on Long Island including East Northport, Farmingdale, Hauppauge, Huntington Station, Huntington Village, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson Station and Riverhead.

Pictured from left, Marie Cimaglia, American Cancer Society; Cara Ziff, general manager of Panera Bread Plainview; Greg George, vice president of operations, Panera Bread; Christine Haskell, American Cancer Society.

Photo from Panera Bread

It’s a Marty Party!

Marty

Marty, the tall, googly-eyed robot that roams Stop & Shop stores searching for spills and potential hazards is turning 1. To celebrate, select Stop & Shop stores on Long Island will throw Marty a 1st birthday party on Saturday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. complete with birthday cake, crafts for kids and giveaways.

Marty the robot is used to identify hazards and spills on the floor, allowing associates to focus on customers. When the robot detects a potential hazard on the floor, he notifies store associates who take corrective action.

Some fun facts about Marty on his first birthday:

  • Marty is from Kentucky and was created by Badger Technologies
  • Marty speaks both English and Spanish
  • On average, Marty spots 40 spills and potential hazards at each store every day
  • Marty has more than 300 cousins who also live at Stop & Shop stores across the company’s five state footprint
  • Marty’s favorite dance move is the robot (naturally)

Participating locations in our neck of the woods are:

57-01 Sunrise Highway, Holbrook

700-60 Patchogue Yaphank, Medford

2350 North Ocean Avenue, Farmingville

1100 Jericho Turnpike, Huntington

365 Rt 109, West Babylon

294 Middle Country Road, Coram

351 Merrick Road, Amityville

400 Union Blvd, West Islip

421 Commack Road, Deer Park

291 West Main Street, Smithtown

1730 Veterans Memorial Highway, Islandia

425 Portion Road, Lake Ronkonkoma

260 Pond Path, South Setauket

2650 Sunrise Highway, East Islip

More information about Marty can be found at: https://martyatstopandshop.com/ 

 

The Vanderbilt Museum's Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium is a state-of-the-art, 147-seat facility that features educational and entertainment shows. Photo by Jennifer Vacca

The Suffolk County Legislature has voted to permanently rename the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum Planetarium in honor of Charles and Helen Reichert of Fort Salonga.

The Reicherts, whose long-standing philanthropic contributions have made meaningful impacts across Suffolk County, entered into an agreement with the Vanderbilt Museum in 2013 and pledged to support the planetarium’s mission and programs through a 20-year donation worth approximately $1.7 million. The vote was taken at the December general meeting.

Legislator William “Doc” Spencer said, “I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Reicherts for a number of years and have seen firsthand how their giving has made a difference in Huntington.”

He continued, “Their continued generosity and willingness to provide resources to the community and important causes never ceases to amaze me. With Charlie and Helen’s support, the Museum and Planetarium will continue to thrive and provide thousands of students and visitors with access to the historical and astronomical wonders found right here in Centerport. This is a fitting tribute to a generous and humble family, which I am proud to support.”

Charles Reichert owns several IGA grocery stores. Through the years, he and his wife have donated more than $4 million to nonprofit, public institutions and health facilities from Huntington to Southold. These gifts include approximately $1.2 million to Huntington Hospital and $1 million to New York State for the betterment of Nissequogue River State Park.

Among many other projects, the couple also has donated funds to upgrade the Southold police communications dispatch center, purchased new uniforms for local public school sports teams, established a $6,000 annual scholarship for high school students, restored the Old Burying Ground in Southold and funded the reconstruction of the church steeple at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Northport.

Lance Reinheimer, former executive director of the Vanderbilt, said, “The Reicherts are deeply committed to preserve and improve the quality of life for all Long Islanders. They are shining lights in the community, deserving of this distinction for their widespread support of organizations throughout the county.”

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Bailey

MEET BAILEY!

This week’s featured shelter pet is Bailey, a 5-year-old American bulldog mix rescued from a high kill shelter in Texas and currently waiting for his forever home at Kent Animal Shelter. 

A handsome playful dog, this sweet boy loves squeaky toys and long walks. Why not come by to meet him? He comes neutered, microchipped and is up to date on his vaccines. 

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Bailey and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Champagne is a region in France about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Sparkling wines made there using the méthode champenoise (Champagne method) are called Champagne. 

Sparkling wines made in other regions of France regardless of how good they are cannot be called Champagne; they are known as crémant and vin mousseux (sparkling wine).

I attended a Wine Media Guild seminar/tasting of French Champagne (prestige cuvées) in December and here are my tasting notes.

NV G.H. Mumm “Blanc de Blancs” Hints of celery, bread dough and brioche. Crisp and clean.

NV Valentin Leflaive “Blanc de Blancs (extra brut)” Very dry with nuances of green apple, lime, violets and toasted bread.

Collet Collecion Privée” 2006 Hints of toasted bread, biscuits; full-flavored and delicious.

Boizel “Joyau de France” 2000 Fruity with flavors of peach and hazelnut; good finish.

Perrier-Jouët “Belle Epoque” 2012 Pear and green apple along with a nutty aftertaste.

Alfred Gratien “Cuvée Paradis” 2009 Hints of cider, red apple and baked bread. Well-balanced.

NV Delamotte “Blanc de Blancs” Light and crisp with citrus and chamomile flavors. Aftertaste of pears.

Piper-Heidsieck “Rare” 2006 Green apple, citrus and nuts. Lingering aftertaste.

Henriot “Cuvée Hemera” 2005 Darker color with overtones of brioche, pear and apple tart.

Palmer & Co. “Brut” (served in magnum) 2003 Granny Smith apple, citrus, curry and full of flavor.

Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” 2007 Crisp, clean tasting with considerable bubble; plenty of fruit.

Dom Ruinart “Blanc de Blancs” (served in magnum) 2004 Elegant with full chardonnay flavor; crisp, with a lasting finish.

Moët & Chandon “Dom Pérignon Rosé” 2006 Delicate and floral bouquet with overtones of black currants; persistent finish.

NV Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siècle” Honeyed, nutty aromas with hints of almonds and freshly baked brioche.

Charles Heidsieck “Blanc des Millènaires” 2004 Very dry; lively with citrus and brioche. Creamy aftertaste.

Pol Roger “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” 2006 Overtones of citrus, toasted brioche, pear and licorice.

Louis Roederer “Cristal” 2008 Citrusy bouquet with overtones of waffles, red apple and pears.

Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” 2008 Crisp, medium-bodied, elegant, floral and honeyed bouquet.

Bollinger “Grande Année” 2008 Apple tart, brioche, butter and nutty overtones. Long aftertaste.

NV Krug “Grande Cuvée 168th edition” Toasted bread, full-bodied, ginger, spices and a long and pleasing aftertaste.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.