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Hypertension – Another Silent Killer

Having our blood pressure taken is a health check most of us are very familiar with, we would likely have had it taken by the doctor at some point, and as getting a reading of our blood pressure can be done using non invasive means through the use of a cuff, which you could monitor at home, you may also have been checked upon joining a health club or have it checked periodically by a personal trainer, yet in spite of the cost effective and convenient means for testing for high blood pressure, it’s general lack of symptoms leaves many who have it without any symptoms of illness who may not have regular health check ups left with a serious untreated condition.

When we check blood pressure we are measuring the pressure exerted by the blood on the artery walls each time the heart beats (Systolic reading, 1st reading), and the pressure exerted by the blood on the artery walls when the heart is at rest between beats (Diastolic reading, 2nd reading).

Blood Pressure = Cardiac output x Systemic vascular resistance.

The heart will beat harder or the force will increase due to a number of factors, including:

  • Narrowed arteries
  • Being overweight
  • Emotional stress
  • Psychological factors
  • Physical stress
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal regulators
  • High sodium diet
  • Pregnancy

The resistance of blood is increased by:

  • Endothilial dysfunction
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Blood clots
  • Emotional stress
  • Psychological factors
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal factors
  • Pregnancy

Hypertension is more than just elevated blood pressure and can involve other abnormalities such as abnormal glucose metabolism, high triglyceride’s, high LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol), insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and excessive blood clotting.

A normal, healthy blood pressure reading is considered to be 120:80. 120-139/80-90 pre-hypertensive. A Systolic reading of 140 or above and a Diastolic reading of 90 and above is considered hypertensive.

Amongst those who are hypertensive there are two stages defined by different ranges:

Stage 1 hypertension – 140-159/90-99

Stage 2 hypertension – 160+/100+

There are two types of hypertension, Essential hypertension occurs when there is no known cause, and  there is a genetic component involved, running in the family. The other is known as Secondary hypertension, when high blood pressure is a symptom of another condition, including:

  1. Kidney disease
  2. Tumors
  3. Endocrine diseases
  4. Blockages in the arteries of the Kidneys
  5. Obesity
  6. Narrowing of the Aorta
  7. Rare, uncommon disorders
  8. Some prescription or non prescription drugs.

Causes of secondary hypertension include:

  • Acromegaly
  • Cushings syndrome
  • Decongestants
  • Licorice intoxication
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Primary aldosteronism
  • Renovascular hypertension
  • Sleep apnea
  • Various pain relievers
  • Certain toxins including alcohol and cocaine
  • Diet pills (such as ephedra)

Hypertension damages the vascular system, the heart, the brain, the kidneys and the eyes.

There are a number of measures that we can make to decrease blood pressure if it is high, including:

  1. Eliminating alcohol
  2. Avoid all recreational drugs and some prescription  and non-prescription drugs.
  3. Improve diet – reduce sodium, saturated fat, trans fatty acids, refined carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Lose weight
  6. Quit smoking

There are of course medications that are prescribed by doctors to treat hypertension but they do often not without side effects. Before you embark on medications, it may be worth considering attempting to lower your blood pressure the natural way, using diet, exercise, supplements and make lifestyle changes.

The potential side effects of many prescription drugs to lower blood pressure include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dry mouth
  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Flushing
  • Swelling of the ankle or leg.

There are studies that have shown that certain vitamins and minerals have been particularly affective in playing various roles in lowering blood pressure in hypertensives, including Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Co Enzyme Q10, Vitamin C,D and E , Omega 3 and 6, B6, Zinc and Flavonoids to name a few.

I will present a few studies carried out with the use of Omega 3 fatty acids looking into their effects on blood pressure. In the 1980s and 1990s studies found that fish might lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In 1989 a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a significant drop in blood pressure when 15 hypertensive subjects were given 15 grams of fish oil per day.

A paper published in Circulation gave an overview of the results of thirty-one fish oil hypertensive studies, concluding that in cases of mild hypertension, the larger the dose of fish oil the more it reduced blood pressure:

  • Less than 4 grams of fish oil per day =no change in blood pressure.
  • Between 4-7 grams per day = a drop of 1.6 to 2.9mm Hg
  • More than 15 grams per day = a drop of 5.8 to 8.1mm Hg

Omega 3s  know to stop lowering blood pressure when they are in a healthy normal range.

In 1998 a study published in the Journal Hypertension looked at what would happen when hypertensives not only took fish oil but also lost weight. The study involved sixty-three overweight, hypertensive men and women, between the ages of forty to seventy, with Systolic readings between 125-180 and Diastolic readings as high as 109. All of them were told to cut back on their salt intake and then divided into four groups.

Group 1 – Made no changes to their diet or weight

Group 2 – Ate one fish meal per day

Group 3 -  lost weight

Group 4 – Ate one fish meal per day and lost weight

The results:

Group 2 – Systolic blood pressure decreased by 6mm Hg, Diastolic blood pressure decreased by 3mm Hg

Group 3 – Systolic blood pressure decreased by 5.5mm Hg, Diastolic blood pressure decreased by 2.2mm Hg

Group 4 – Systolic blood pressure decreased by 13mm Hg, Diastolic blood pressure decreased by 9.3mm Hg

Concluding that when fish was added to the diet and weight was lost, risk of cardiovascular disease decreased as well as the likelihood for the need for anti- hypertensive drugs.

These are just a few of many methods using nutrition that have been used to combat hypertension and not only with the use of Omega 3s but with other important vitamins and minerals too.

If you are hypertensive it is worth considering making necessary lifestyle changes to reduce your blood pressure through natural means before taking anti-hypertensive drug, consult with your doctor over this first.

Found at Alex Carson Training

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