Do you think your blood pressure is under control?
Nearly one out of every 3 American adults is affected by high blood pressure. According to the well-known Framingham Heart study, they estimated that a 55 year old with normal blood pressure has a 90 percent lifetime risk of getting high blood pressure in their lifetime. (Vasan RS et al 2002).
Unfortunately, millions of Americans who are on blood pressure medications think their blood pressure is under control and so they take no further steps to prevent it.
According to physicians from the Baylor College of Medicine, only 27% of Americans have their blood pressure numbers under control.
The risk is even worse among elderly women, because high blood pressure is commonly thought of as a mans disease. Women over 80 that were under doctors care showed that only 23% had their blood pressure numbers under control
In these studies the blood pressure under control was calculated at 140/90 mm Hg. This is well above the optimal blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg. Reading between 120-129 / 80-84 mmHg were associated with an 81% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and blood pressure levels of 130-139/85-89 mmHg were associated with a 133% greater risk.
High Blood Pressure – The many factors
High blood pressure has many causes and factors that effect it. Because of this, often times effectively managing your high blood pressure can not be achieved by one drug. Optimal management often requires both pharmaceutical and nutritional parts in addition to self monitoring of blood pressure. This makes sense considering that a large number of Americans do not achieve adequate blood pressure control on blood pressure medication alone.
There is evidence that lifestyle modifcation, blood pressure medication and nutritional support may correct high blood pressure. We will discuss these approaches in more detail below.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is measuring the force that blood puts on the walls of your arteries as it passes through. High blood pressure occurs when there is an increase of this force against the walls of your arteries.
This force is measured in systolic pressure (heart contracting) and diastolic pressure (heart relaxing). Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and as systolic over diastolic pressure ( 120/80 mm Hg).
According to the Framingham Heart Study, people with high blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing conditions associated with high blood pressure such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and more. In addition, their risk doubles with every 10 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure. (Kannel WB 2003; Klag MJ et al 2003; Wolf PA 2003).
Endothelial Dysfunction – Double Danger
Arteries are made up of 3 layers. The outer most layer is mostly made of connective tissue that gives physical support to the two inner layers. The second layer is made up of smooth muscles that contract and expand. This layer pushes the blood through your arteries, likes waves in an ocean. The third layer is the inner most layer called the endothelium.
Researchers have found that elevated blood pressure damages the endothelial lining of arteries. The endothelium is a thin layer of cells that protects the arteries. It is responsible for promoting blood clotting if their is injury to the artery, helping to prevent toxins and LDL (bad) cholesterol from getting into the smooth muscle layer and communicating with the muscle layer.
If this layer gets damaged, the artery wall thickens and white blood cells and LDL (bad) cholesterol being to accumulate at the area of damage. This damage causes the artery to try to heal itself, which can cause an atherosclerotic plaque. Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries and is often caused by the dysfunction of the endothelial cells (Kannel WB 1995; Collins R et al 1990).
High blood pressure has been shown to contribute to endothelial dysfunction which in turn is associated with decreased flexibility in the artery and increased stiffness and thickness. (Hausberg M et al 2005). This stiffness can have serious consequences. Arteries are made to contract or expand as blood flows through them. If they are too stiff, they can no longer perform this function, which causes the left ventricle (main pumping chamber) to become enlarged and can lead to congestive heart failure.
“Men and women with prehypertension (120-139/80-89 mm Hg) should have a goal of lowering their blood pressure to 115/75 mm Hg, unless they have chronic kidney disease or diabetes, in which case the goal should be less than 130/80 mm Hg (Chobanian AV et al 2003). Prehypertension can be treated with lifestyle modifications, unless the individual has chronic kidney disease or diabetes, in which case antihypertensive drugs are often recommended (Chobanian AV et al 2003).”
Eating right and exercising can help to lower blood pressure.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) increases dietary potassium, fiber, magnesium and calcium by eating fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and foods low in fats. (Chobanian AV et al 2003) In addition the DASH diet limits alcohol to a maximum of 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women (Chobanian AV et al 2003) and reduces salt intake to no more than 2.4 grams of sodium per day.
In more recent years, researchers have found that several nutrients work very effectively when taken together to lower blood pressure.
Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is high in polyphenols (antioxidants help reduce oxidative damage and relax arteries) that naturally dilate (widen) your blood vessels. This dilation naturally increases your blood flow and decreases blood pressure. (Siva B et al 2006).
In a 4 week study with 24 patients who had an average blood pressure of 130/79 mm Hg, patients were given either 150 mg, 300 mg or a placebo of grape seed extract. Both amounts of grape seed extract significantly reduced the patients blood pressure compared to the placebo. Researchers concluded that grape seed may be beneficial in lowering blood pressure in prehypertensive patients (Siva B et al 2006).
Researchers found that grape seed extract may also help to improve damaged endothelial cells. Grape seed extract helped to slow the making of proteins that are associated with endothelial dysfunction and death. At the same time helped to improve dilation (widening) of blood vessels. (Corder R et al 2004).
Pomegranates are quickly becoming known as a healthy way to improve cardiovascular health. (Aviram M et al 2001). Pomegranate extract contains beneficial phytonutrients (a substance found in certain plants which is believed to be beneficial to human health and help prevent various diseases.) and antioxidants that are not received when you eat the actual pomegranate itself, as they are found in the husk and juice of the whole fruit.(Gil MI et al 2000).
Pomegranates have a wide variety of phytonutrients such as phenolic compounds, tannins and punicalagins (which are unique to pomegranates). There are several compounds found in pomegranate that are potent antioxidants and ACE inhibitors (Aviram M et al 2001).
Researchers have found that oxidative stress can throw off the ability of the artery to contract and dilate properly which contributes to high blood pressure and endothelial dysfunction. Antioxidants, like the ones found in pomegranate help to reduce oxidative stress, which helps improve endothelial function and lower high blood pressure. (Kitiyakara C et al 1998)
Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin D
In a Canadian study they found that a daily intake of calcium, potassium and magnesium was necessary to help maintain a healthy blood pressure (Touyz RM et al 2004). The study even went as far as to say that these supplements should be taken as a preventative for people who do not currently have high blood pressure.
Calcium and magnesium should always be taken in a 2 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium ratio. Calcium is responsible for stimulating muscle contraction while magnesium relaxes the muscles, so these should always be taken together.
We do not recommend that anyone supplement with potassium, without doctor supervision as it is very easy to overdose on potassium. Instead eat foods that are high in potassium, such as potato or banana, etc…
Magnesium has been shown to be beneficial for heart patients and deficiency is often found in alcoholics, and in people who have high blood pressure, congestive heart failure or have had a heart attack (Kurabayashi M 2005). There are multiple studies that recommend that people with high blood pressure should supplement with magnesium.
Researchers have found that:
- Magnesium is responsible for chemicals in the body that lower cholesterol (Inoue I 2005).
- Women who supplement with magnesium are at a much lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome (Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. The syndrome increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.) (Song Y et al 2005).
- When a person does not have enough magnesium, they actually develop a potassium deficiency, which increases sodium in the body. (Rosanoff A 2005).
- Low magnesium is associated with too much calcium in the cells, making the arteries constrict and raise blood pressure. (Rosanoff A 2005).
- Most people on diuretics or that have kidney problems are deficient in magnesium.
- There is a study that showed that taking magnesium with a beta blocker makes the beta blocker more effective. (Wirell MP et al 1994).
- There is some evidence that magnesium improves insulin sensitivity, which decreases the risk of developing high blood pressure (Guerrero-Romero F et al 2004).
“Vitamin E is an antioxidant that detoxifies (reduces) strong oxidants in the body. It stabilizes cell membranes and regulates oxidation reactions, as well as protects polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin A.
Meta-analyses have suggested that vitamin E may be particularly beneficial for patients who have high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems (Taber M 2006).
Small studies have shown that vitamin E, even when taken at fairly low doses, increases nitric oxide synthase activity, which leads to vessel dilation and lowered blood pressure.
A larger study reported a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure when subjects took 600 mg/day of vitamin E (Galley HF et al 1997).
A study of 895 participants reported that vitamin E supplementation might have an antihypertensive effect even among those who get an adequate supply from their diets (Mayer-Davis EJ et al 2002).”
“Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that protects other biochemicals from oxidation by being oxidized itself. A small, well-controlled study of 39 participants showed that treatment with vitamin C significantly lowered blood pressure after 30 days, while placebo had no effect (Duffy SJ et al 1999). Although specific mechanisms have not been identified for vitamin C, it may be that it can help promote vessel dilation. As an antioxidant, it may also enhance the synthesis or prevent the destruction of nitric oxide, which directly helps blood vessels dilate and lower blood pressure (Khosh F et al 2001).”
Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are needed by the body, but the body can not produce them on its own. You can find Omega 3 fatty acids in cold water fish such as salmon or in flax seeds. There are large studies showing that supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce blood pressure by widening the blood vessels. (Hirafuji M et al 2003, Din JN et al 2004).
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 makes ATP which is a major energy source for our cells. CoQ10 is also a great antioxidant. Studies with diabetics show that there is an increase in oxidative stress. The antioxidant in CoQ10 help to eliminate the oxidative stress, which helps to normalize nitric oxide production in the cells. (Chew GT et al 2004; Watts GF et al 2002).
In a study with 109 patients with hypertension. They supplemented with 225 mg/day of CoQ10 in addition to their blood pressure medications. Scientists found that the patients were able to gradually decrease the amount of medication that they were taking and 51% were able to completely discontinue some of their blood pressure medications after just 4.4 months. (Langsjoen P et al 1994).
L-arginine is an amino acid that plays an important part in maintaining healthy endothelial function. It helps blood vessels to dilate (widen) properly and reduces blood pressure. L-arginine produces nitric oxide which is essential for the endothelium to function properly (Boger RH et al 2005; Rasmussen C et al 2005).
Diets high in L-arginine or with arginine supplementation lead to a decrease in blood pressure (Siani A et al 2000).
“A study was performed on 10 young adults who were borderline hypertensive and took 6 g/day of taurine. Their average systolic blood pressure decreased 9 mm Hg (Fujita T et al 1987). Researchers speculate that taurine may modulate an overactive sympathetic nervous system (Militante JD et al 2002).”
Fortunately, all of these natural ingredients to help lower blood pressure naturally and many more are in the Tikva product with the exception of potassium. We do not recommend that you supplement with potassium, as it is easy to overdose. We recommend that you eat foods high in potassium such as potato or banana.
If you are not currently on the Tikva product or know someone who is not, you can learn more about it at www.medicalpublications.org