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Ask the health expert: Mark Samuelson, M.D.

Created date

December 21st, 2010
Erickson Livinghealth and wellness experts can be found atErickson Living communitiesall over the U.S. This month our expert is Mark Samuelson, M.D., Medical DirectorLinden Ponds, Hingham, Mass. Dr. Samuelson received his bachelor s degree in pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston and his master s degree in biology from the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Conn. He obtained his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine and completed his residency in family practice at Tufts University in Malden, Mass. Samuelson is board certified in family medicine and has a fellowship in geriatric pharmacy. He joinedLinden Pondsin January 2006. Please note: The following questions were submitted by readers. The answers are intended for general information purposes and should not replace your doctor s medical advice. Q: I love coffee, but I also have high blood pressure. Can caffeine be harmful? A: The American Medical Association s Council on Science and Public Health says that moderate tea or coffee drinking likely has no negative effect on your health, as long as you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle. The organization, however, emphasizes moderate caffeine use. Two 8-oz cups of coffee (about 250 milligrams of caffeine) a day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine. That being said, some people with high blood pressure may be sensitive to caffeine and experience an elevation in their readings after drinking a caffeinated beverage. And some medications (especially over-the-counter drugs) can contain caffeine or interact with it. Your doctor can best tell you if you need to limit or avoid caffeine. Q: Why do people rarely have symptoms of high blood pressure? A:High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because people who have it may not experience any symptoms. Blood pressure is simply the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. An increase in this force doesn t usually cause symptoms until some damage has been done to your arteries or other organs, particularly your heart, brain, or kidneys. An exception is when your blood pressure is very high then headaches, vision changes, weakness, or other symptoms might occur. High blood pressure kills hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Your risk rises with age; that s why it s important to have regular checkups, including a blood pressure check. Along with medication, you can help control your blood pressure by eating a diet low in salt and fat, controlling your weight, quitting smoking, and being active.