I recently reviewed two health-related newsletters, Consumer Reports on Health (CRoH) and the AARP Special Health Issue that contained an article from Dr. Oz. Comparing recommendations from each I found examples that were either conflicting, or not accurate, when it comes to older adults.
Vitamin D: Dr. Oz said “Because it’s difficult to get enough from food, I recommend taking 1000units in supplement form daily, with a healthy fat to improve absorption”. CRoH was painting a different picture in the article “Do you really need more vitamin D?”. Comments in their article were: “But many of the claims about vitamin D may be wishful thinking”, and “There’s no need for a test of your vitamin D levels unless your doctor finds you at risk for deficiency”.
My understanding is that many older adults, perhaps over 50%, have low or less than ideal levels of vitamin D in their blood. And evidence suggests that older adults are at higher risk for falls, fractures, poor memory health, and muscle weakness, if their levels are low. Also, by taking a supplement and not having your level checked, specifically 25-hydroxy vitamin D, less than 50% will get their levels to where geriatricians would target. The best advice for older adults is to have their level checked and work with their physician to treat to get their vitamin D level to above 30 or higher. There is no harm by doing this and many older adults, in a large population, benefit from higher levels of vitamin D. By the way, in one study, just taking a supplement as recommended did not get levels to where they needed to be in over 50% of the participants.
Blood Pressure: Both Dr. Oz and CRoH made statements about blood pressure, which were not age specific. “Dr. Oz says “The systolic pressure-the top number-should never be over 120”, and CRoH said “The ideal systolic pressure, or top number, is below 120…”. If you go to my recent post, http://elderdrugs.com/2013/04/blood-pressure-lowering-for-older-adults-what-is-a-safe-target/, you will find more recent evidence that says lower is not better for most older adults. This evidence started to emerge over 5 years ago in studies in male veterans which showed that treating to below 120/80 was wrought with more harm than good. Other studies have since emerged that suggest a higher target, say for example 150/95, may be safer and as effective at lowering risk of stroke. The newer target is suggested at 130/90. My recommendation is to discuss blood pressure goals with your physician since not everyone should follow general recommendations, as is implied in these general health news reports.
In conclusion, general health information in the media is concerning in that it may be inaccurate, and at best not specific to your health care needs. Try not to react to health information in the news and have more meaningful discussions with more than one health professional and search for current guidelines. Use this information to work with your physician to come up with a plan that is more specific to your needs.