Category Archives: High Blood Pressure

From Kerri-Ann Jennings, RD: 15 Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

You may need to cut back on alcohol Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD

You may need to cut back on alcohol.
Photo copyright: Steve Parker

Drugs to control hypertension can save your life. I prescribe them all the time. However, there are also “natural” ways to control high blood pressure. Click the link at bottom for some of the better known methods. If you’re trying to avoid drugs, you’ll probably need a combination of tricks. They don’t work for everybody.

Even if you’re already on drugs, you may be able to cut back or stop them if you adopt some of these tips. Check with your doctor first.

“High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can damage your heart. It affects one in three people in the US and 1 billion people worldwide If left uncontrolled, it raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. But there’s good news. There are a number of things you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally, even without medication. Here are 15 natural ways to combat high blood pressure.”

Source: 15 Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

h/t Jan at The Low Carb Diabetic

Mediterranean Diet Lowered Blood Pressure By a Whopping 1 Point

Or more accurately, 1.1 to 1.3 mmHg over the course of six months in an Australian population. Systolic pressure, if you’re wondering. This isn’t clinically significant.

Details:

“A total of 166 men and women aged >64 y were allocated via minimization to consume either a MedDiet (n = 85) or their habitual diet (HabDiet; control: n = 81) for 6 mo. The MedDiet comprised mainly plant foods, abundant extra-virgin olive oil, and minimal red meat and processed foods. A total of 152 participants commenced the study, and 137 subjects completed the study. Home blood pressure was measured on 5 consecutive days at baseline (n = 149) and at 3 and 6 mo. Endothelial function (n = 82) was assessed by flow-meditated dilatation (FMD) at baseline and 6 mo. Dietary intake was monitored with the use of 3-d weighed food records. Data were analyzed with the use of linear mixed-effects models to determine adjusted between-group differences.Results: The MedDiet adherence score increased significantly in the MedDiet group but not in the HabDiet group (P < 0.001). The MedDiet, compared with the HabDiet, resulted in lower systolic blood pressure (P-diet × time interaction = 0.02) [mean: −1.3 mm Hg (95% CI: −2.2, −0.3 mm Hg; P = 0.008) at 3 mo and −1.1 mm Hg (95% CI: −2.0, −0.1 mm Hg; P = 0.03) at 6 mo]. At 6 mo, the percentage of FMD was higher by 1.3% (95% CI: 0.2%, 2.4%; P = 0.026) in the MedDiet group.”

Source: AJCN | Mobile

Magnesium Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure 

The effect is not great, but magnesium supplements are relatively cheap and safe. Excessive magnesium blood levels are prevented by healthy kidneys. If you have kidney impairment, you might develop magnesium toxicity when you take a supplement. Even if magnesium supplementation reduces average systolic blood pressure by only 2 points, half of supplementers will see a drop over 2 points.

Source: Magnesium Lowers Blood Pressure | Medpage Today:

“Magnesium supplementation leads to decreases in blood pressure among both hypertensive and normotensive adults, according to the findings of a meta-analysis.Taking 368-mg magnesium per day for 3 months led to 2.00 mm Hg reductions in systolic blood pressure (95% CI 0.43-3.58) and 1.78 mm Hg reductions in diastolic blood pressure (95% CI 0.73-2.82), Yiqing Song, MD, ScD, of the Indiana University School of Public Health in Indianapolis, and colleagues reported in a meta-analysis of 34 separate trials, published online in Hypertension.

“Our findings indicate a causal effect of magnesium supplementation on lowering blood pressures in adults,” the researchers concluded. “Our findings suggested that oral magnesium supplements can be recommended for the prevention of hypertension or as adjuvant antihypertensive therapy, although future rigorously designed randomized controlled trials with blood pressure assessment as primary outcomes are warranted to yield confirmatory evidence.”

 

Got Abdominal Obesity? Improve Your Health With Mediterranean Diet and High-Intensity Interval Training

…according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Some quotes:

The study found an average reduction in waist circumference of eight centimeters [3 inches], a reduction in systolic blood pressure of 6 mm Hg and an aerobic fitness improvement of 15 per cent over the first nine months of the study.

Improvements in waist circumference, blood pressure and fitness can lead to numerous other health benefits including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure, as well as improving osteoarthritis symptoms, quality of life, physical functioning, and cognition.

The high-intensity interval training was done two or three times a week over 20-30 minutes each session. Click for an example of HIIT on a stationary bike. More basic info on HIIT.

The classic Mediterranean diet has too many carbohydrates for many diabetics, although it’s better for them than the Standard American Diet. That’s why I devised the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Is Strength Training Good or Bad for Blood Pressure?

Trainer Sean Preuss has a new post on the issue. Well worth a read. For example:
The nine studies analyzed included 341 people between the ages of 20 and 72 years old. The studies ranged from six to 26 weeks long. The average blood pressure reduction was 3.2/3.5 mmHg.
Those reductions have value but are not life-altering. However, these studies were mostly performed with healthy people with desired blood pressure numbers. In general, people with less room to improve will do just that: improve to a smaller degree. Men and women with hypertension are likely to see greater improvements.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Also Cuts Cancer Risk By Half

…according to a report in MedPageToday.

I'm still not convinced that severe sodium restriction is necessary or even possible for most people

I’m still not convinced that severe sodium restriction is necessary or even possible for most people

The American Heart Association has published guidelines aiming to reduce premature death and illness caused by cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes.

The guidelines focus on seven factors critical to cardiovascular health:

  • smoking
  • blood sugar
  • blood pressure
  • physical activity
  • total cholesterol
  • body mass index (BMI)
  • ideal diet

Using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities study (almost two decades’ follow-up), researchers found that those who maintained goals for six or seven of the American Heart Association critical factors had a 51% lower risk of cancer compared with those meeting no goals.

For detailed information about the specific goals, click here.

As you might expect, I was curious about what the American Heart Association considered a heart-healthy diet.  I quote the AHA summary:

The recommendation for the definition of the dietary goals and metric, therefore, is as follows: “In the context of a diet that is appropriate in energy balance, pursuing an overall dietary pattern that is consistent with a DASH [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension]-type eating plan, including but not limited to:

  • Fruits and vegetables: ≥ 4.5 cups per day
  • Fish: ≥ two 3.5-oz servings per week (preferably oily fish)
  • Fiber-rich whole grains (≥ 1.1 g of fiber per 10 g of carbohydrate): ≥ three 1-oz-equivalent servings per day
  • Sodium: < 1500 mg per day
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: ≤ 450 kcal (36 oz) per week

Intake goals are expressed for a 2000-kcal diet and should be scaled accordingly for other levels of caloric intake. For example, ≤ 450 calories per week represents only up to one quarter of discretionary calories (as recommended) coming from any types of sugar intake for a 2000-kcal diet.

Diet recommendations are more complicated than that; read the full report for details.  Only 5% of study participants ate the “ideal diet.”  The Mediterranean diet easily meets four out of five of those diet goals; you’d have to be extremely careful to reach the sodium goal on most any diet.

Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are among the top causes of death in Western societies.  Adhering to the guidelines above may kill two birds with one stone.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Berry Science, or Berriology

Mmm, mm, good! And they’re low carb

The Mediterranean diet was originally found to be a healthy diet by comparing populations who followed the diet with those who didn’t.  The result?  Mediterranean dieters enjoyed longer lifespans and less heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, and dementia.

Over the last 15 years, researchers have been clarifying exactly how and why this might be the case.  A study from Finland is a typical example.

The traditional Mediterranean diet provides an abundance of fresh fruit, including berries.  Berries are a rich source of vitamin C and polyphenols, substances with the potential to affect metabolic and disease processes in our bodies.

The Finnish researchers studied 72 middle-aged subjects, having half of them consume moderate amounts of berries, and half consume a placebo product over 8 weeks.  Compared with the placebo group, the berry eaters showed inhibited platelet funtion, a 5% increase in HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and a 7-point drop in systolic blood pressure.

What does platelet function have to do with anything?  Platelets are critical components of blood clots.  Blood clots can stop life-threatening bleeding, but also contribute to life-threatening strokes and heart attacks.  Inhibition of platelet function can decrease the occurence of blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.  That’s why millions of people take daily aspirin, the best known platelet inhibitor.

Cardiovascular disease is a group of conditions that include high blood pressure, heart attacks, poor circulation, and strokes.  Berry consumption in this small Finnish study resulted in favorable changes in blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, and platelet function.  These changes would tend to reduce the occurence and severity of cardiovascular disease.

So berries don’t just taste good, they’re good for us.  If price is a concern, focus on the berries that are in season or use frozen berries.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Erlund, I., et al, Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87 (2007): 323-331.