Thursday, February 14, 2013
Blood pressure and the use of salt

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
One of the things that most people know about is the relationship between salt intake and high blood pressure. What they are less aware of is how that relationship works. I frequently will have people tell me that they cut down on their salt intake for a few days. Their blood pressure was a little high and they wanted to lower it. They figured that a few days of decreased salt intake was all they needed to do that. While that may be good in theory, it really doesn't work that way. There is a perception that when you have salty foods, your blood pressure increases for a while. Then when you stop the salt, the blood pressure goes down. Actually, the impact of salt on blood pressure is more like setting a thermostat in your house. Your blood pressure is controlled by your body's regulation systems. The controls are set to keep the blood pressure at a certain level. Over the long term they do that. That is why your blood pressure comes back to normal after you are excited. That is why your blood pressure does not go up after a relatively salty meal. The controls keep it at a normal level. People who abuse salt change the underlying control mechanism. The body gets used to a certain level of salt intake. It then winds up resetting the mechanism to a higher level. Once that happens, a brief period of lower salt intake will not reset the mechanism to a lower level. Thus once your blood pressure is affected by salt intake over a very long period, it will take a very long period to reset the control mechanism. My father had high blood pressure. Back in those days, they gave medication until the blood pressure dropped. Then they stopped the medication because the blood pressure was normal. What they did not realize was that the medication was only artificially holding down the blood pressure. It did not affect the underlying control mechanism. That is why blood pressure medications are long term in nature. Once you start them, you need to continue taking them. In general that is true. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. Some individuals with high blood pressure are obese. They can affect the underlying controls by losing significant weight. Exercise can help adjust the underlying control system. Perhaps decreased salt intake over an extended period can also affect the underlying controls. Thus someone with high blood pressure might be able to affect blood pressure without medication. However, that requires some pretty significant lifestyle changes for a long period of time. Most individuals are unable to do so. A related issue is that high blood pressure can cause damage to the kidneys. This may not always be obvious. People who have one kidney function very well; you can lose half of the function in your kidneys and still appear to have normal kidney function. Unfortunately, once that kind of damage appears, lifestyle changes are not going to affect things as much. The kidneys have lost their ability to handle salt. Therefore, even a decrease in salt is not likely to affect the blood pressure. What it will do is protect the kidneys from further damage. Therefore, decreased salt intake is still a good idea. The easiest approach to using salt is to hide the salt shaker. Once you get used to food without the additional salt, it will taste better. You can then get away with less salt. Doing so will help your control system properly regulate your blood pressure.

Program seeks mentors The Delaware Kids Connection Mentoring Program seeks mentors for students at Laurel Intermediate and Middle School, Seaford Middle School and the DAPI School for pregnant teens. Last year mentees raised their GPA's by 11% and mentors spent over 1,100 hours with their mentees during the year. To mentor, fill out an application online or in person, go to a training session and complete a background check. Potential mentors should contact the Delaware Adolescent Program, Inc. (DAPI) at our Stockley Campus 302-297-0370, ext. 17 to talk to Glenn Phillips Sr. or, e-mail for more information.

Go Red for Women 2013 The Southern Delaware Go Red For Women will be held on Friday, Feb. 8. Tickets, which are $35 each, include extensive health screenings, $10 gift card from Macy's, guest gift bag and lunch, entertainment that includes fashion show and silent auction. Table sponsorships are $1,000 and exhibitor sponsorships are $1,500. The event begins at 10 a.m. with lunch and the program starting at noon. For more information, visit

Parkinson's support group meeting The Nanticoke Parkinson's Education and Support Group will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on the third Monday of each month, from 10 to 11:30 a.m in the ballroom at the Nanticoke Senior Center. The public is welcome to attend the meeting and stay for lunch and a social time after the meeting.

HIV/AIDS Support Group A new support group for HIV/AIDS will meet every other Wednesday, at 7 p.m., in the Branford Lounge at Epworth UMC at 19285 Holland Glade Rd., Rehoboth Beach. The group is sponsored by Epworth UMC, CAMP Rehoboth, the AIDs Delaware and Delaware HIV Consortium. For more information, contact David at

Hicks named 'Angel' of the month Visiting Angels of Sussex has named Jessica Hicks of Laurel its "Angel" of the Month for January. Hicks has experience caring for people suffering from Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke and other diseases requiring full hands on personal care. David Forman, president of Visiting Angels said, "Jessica has been a blessing to her care recipients who say she has a wonderful take-charge attitude and a compassionate heart. Her near-perfect attendance record means consistency of care for clients who truly need it." To find out how Visiting Angels can help you or a loved one remain independent and in their own homes, call 329-9475 or visit

Creative Couture Fashion & Art Show The Auxiliary of Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital invites you to a Creative Couture Fashion & Art Show on Thursday, March 21, at Abbott's Grill in Milford. The event opens at 11:30 a.m. with a Meet the Artists reception, featuring various artists from the Mispillion Art League of Milford. Each artist is donating a small work which will be placed on each table and taken home by a lucky person seated at the table. Cards by each of the artists will also be available for sale, and three artists will be offering to do commission work. The boutiques Coolspring Cottage of Coolspring, Twilla's of Lewes and Jane and Georgie of Rehoboth will have models for the fashion show. Tickets for a 50/50 raffle will be for sale, as well as drawings for a $50.00 gift certificate to Abbott's Grill and a $150 gift certificate from Jane and Georgie. Abbott's Grill will offer a buffet lunch at noon for all to enjoy. Cost is $35 per person. Tickets may be purchased at Reflections Gift Shop at Milford Memorial, through any member of the Milford Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Board or by calling Cynthia Jones at 270-1842. All proceeds benefit Bayhealth Milford Memorial.

Porretti named executive director La Esperanza, a cooperative designed to provide aid, education, and other services to the Latino community in Southern Delaware, has announced their new executive director, Claudia Pea Porretti. With more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Pea Porretti was the director of development for the People's Place organization in Milford and was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana. Porretti holds a J.D. from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a B.S. in business administration from Indiana Institute of Technology. She has also attained the designation of Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and has studied at The Fund Raising School at Indiana University's The Center on Philanthropy. Porretti lives in Smyrna with her husband Mark. They have one son, Pablo Miguel and four grandchildren.

Compassionate Friends meets Feb. 14 The Lighthouse Chapter of The Compassionate Friends will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, in the Branford Lounge at Epworth United Methodist Church in Rehoboth Beach. The topic of the evening will be "Valentine's Day...Hallmark holiday or Day of Remembrance," how you deal with past traditions that may have been lost or that you've continued despite the death of your child. The TCF Lighthouse Chapter Memory Table will be set up and you are encouraged to bring a photo of your child. Bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings are encouraged to attend. For more information, call Hope Tyler, 645-7572; Joan Wallen, 226-1623 or Marge LaFond, 703-2383.

2013 Walk MS dates The Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has announced the 2013 Walk MS dates and is inviting all Delawareans to join the movement. Each year thousands of loved ones, friends, and neighbors throughout Delaware – from Wilmington's Riverfront to Sussex County's Baywood Greens – lace up and step out in solidarity, with hopes of creating a world free of MS. Last year, over a quarter million dollars was raised to help out the 1,550 Delawareans living with multiple sclerosis. The Twilight at Heritage Shores walk in Bridgeville will be held on May 31 and the walk at Baywood Greens will be held on June 7. To register, visit or call 302-655-5610.

End-of-Life Coalition awards dinner Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, will be the keynote speaker at the Delaware End-of-Life Coalition's 5th Annual Excellence Awards Dinner on Thursday, March 21. This event honors the outstanding professionals throughout the state who make a significant difference in the care of individuals dealing with end-of-life issues. The dinner costs $65 and will be held at the Deerfield Country Club, Newark. These awards recognize physicians, nurses, certified nurse assistants, counseling professionals and community organizations for their significant contributions to the betterment of patients and their families at the end-of-life. Sponsorship packages are available and nominations are still being accepted, visit Plan to attend the celebration and meet Crystal Rush, Miss Delaware International. To register visit

Sussex 'turns red' in February February is National Heart Month. Heart disease is a serious condition across the country. Preventing or reducing your risk of heart disease includes things like eating a healthy diet, physical activity and working with your physician to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol. But often, we put aside our own health as we deal with life's everyday duties. So, at times, it's good to be reminded to stop and take care of our hearts by taking steps toward a heart healthy lifestyle. During the month of February, Nanticoke Health Services, along with the City of Seaford and the American Heart Association, are Turning Sussex Red to raise awareness about heart disease and to encourage the community to move toward a heart healthy lifestyle. Gateway Park in Seaford will be lit with red lights throughout the month. Local businesses are being challenged to participate in raising awareness by either putting a red light in their window or by hanging a heart health awareness poster in their work place. To get a poster for your place of business, call 629-6611, ext. 8948. You can also learn more or download a poster at

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. beginning Feb. 26. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and receive a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Walk for Autism is April 20 As a statewide agency whose mission is to create better lives for people with autism, Autism Delaware is expanding to provide the range of services needed by all Delawareans living with autism spectrum disorders over their lifespans. To this end, the nonprofit agency relies on volunteers, donations, and fundraising. "Our next big fundraiser in southern Delaware is Walk for Autism on April 20 at Cape Henlopen State Park," says Lisa Albany, the committee chair. "Our goal is to raise as much as possible to provide services through Autism Delaware that benefit individuals with autism spectrum disorders. We need volunteers to help run the event plus business and corporate leaders to sponsor it." "The need for autism services and support is rising rapidly," adds Autism Delaware Executive Director Teresa Avery. "The CDC now says that one in 88 children is identified with an autism spectrum disorder. In 1991, the Delaware Department of Education reported 152 public school students with autism – and 982 in 2010. That's a 546 percent increase over 19 years. For more information, visit