Simple Solutions for Lowering Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is due a number of factors that can disrupt arterial pressure and fluid volume (i.e. vascular, blood vessels, hormonal, renal or neurologic).

The table below shows the American Heart Association’s blood pressure categorization thresholds:

blood-pressure-chart

Essentially hypertension exists because of narrowing of the arteries, resulting in an increased blood pressured.  High blood pressure is no laughing matter!!

According to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk doubles for each increment of 20 mm Hg systolic and 10 mm Hg diastolic above 115/75 mm Hg!!!  These findings are even more concerning when almost 50% of adults worldwide have higher than normal blood pressure (prehypertension).  That is a large portion of the population under risk of heart attack or stroke.

Although genetic factors have a role to play, DIET and LIFESTYLE are often the major underlying causes of high blood pressure!  This is good news!

80% of patients with hypertension can be brought under control with diet and lifestyle modifications!!

Listed below are ways that you can help control and lower your blood pressure to keep your heart healthy!

Lifestyle/Relaxation Techniques

Stress can be a major factor in high blood pressure. Stress causes stimulation of the nervous system, releasing hormones can cause blood pressure to tighten, and in turn, raising blood pressure.  Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation have been shown to have value in blood pressure lowering.

 

Exercise

Clinical trials in hypertensive patients that do regular exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment! Even Mild to Moderate aerobic exercise such as power walking, moderate biking or jogging, three times a week for 20 minutes or more produces an anti-hypotensive effect.  

Diet

When addressing both diet and lifestyle it is so important to achieve and maintain normal body weight! OBESITY IS A MAJOR CAUSE OF HYPERTENSION. The New Year is always a good time to re-set and create a new health plan. Maintaining a healthy body weight not only reduces blood pressure, but also reduces the chance of other diseases such as cancer.

Interestingly enough, vegetarians generally have much lower blood pressure, a lower incidence of hypertension AND a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases compared to non-vegetarians. This is not to say that I am suggesting everyone adopt a vegetarian diet. But, it is important to look at WHY vegetarians have such healthy hearts….they do not consume conventional fatty animal products! AND, they may have higher consumption of vegetables (containing antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients) compared to the rest of the population.  Food for thought… J

3 vegetables in particular have been shown to benefit blood pressure:

  1. Celery
  2. Garlic
  3. Onions.

Celery contains 3-n-butyl phthalide, a compound that has been shown to lower blood pressure. In one study, 4 stalks of celery a day was shown to reduce blood pressure. Garlic and Onions have also shown to be of benefit due to their allicin content.

The DASH Diet:  Is a well-known diet to help lower blood pressure.  The diet is most effective when combined with sodium (salt) restriction and an increased potassium intake. For more information about the DASH Diet, please visit: http://www.dashforhealth.com/

Supplementation

There are numerous evidence based herbs and supplements that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and may also decrease CVD risk. It is important to work with a health care professional when using supplements as some may interact with your medications.

Do you need help with planning a healthy diet or making positive healthy lifestyle changes? Visiting a Naturopathic Doctor is a great place to start! Naturopathic Doctors are specialists in nutrition, diet, supplementation and lifestyle!

 

Sources

1.Pizzorno J., and Murray M. Textbook of Natural Medicine: 3rded, vol 2, Elsevier, 2006 Missouri.

  1. American Heart Association. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp Accessed 11/18/2015.

3.Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. Dec 2003;42(6):1206-1252

4..Prousky, Jonathan, ND. “Hypercholesteremia” In: Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition.

Pp68-74, 2008 CCNM Press: Toronto

  1. Blumenthal JA, Sherwood A, Schein MH, et al. Breathing control lowers blood pressure. J Consult ClinPsychol 2002;70:569-589.
  2. Arakawa K. Exercise, a measure to lower blood pressure and reduce other risks ClinExpHypertens 1999;21:797-803
  3. Lesniak KT, Dubbert PM. Exercise and Hypertension. CurrOpinCardiol 2001;16:356-359.
  4. Moreira WD, Fuchs FD, Ribeiro JP, Appel LJ. The effects of two aerobic training intensities on ambulatory blood pressure in hypertensive patients: results of a randomized trial. J ClinEpidemiol 1999;52:637-642.
  5. Rouse IL, Beilin LJ, Mahoney DP et al. Vegetarian Diet and blood pressure. Lancet 1983;2:742-743

10.Tsi D, Tan BKH. Cardiovascular pharmacology of 3-n-butylphthalide in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Phytother Res 1997;11:576-582.

  1. Silagy, CA, Neil HA. A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure. J Hypertens 1994;12:463-468
  2. Jee SH, Miller ER III, Guallar E, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Hypertens 1989;13:227-232.

 

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Healthy Heart: Tips for Healthy Cholesterol

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Cardiovascular Disease is a class of diseases that involves the heart or blood vessels.  Two of the most common causes of cardiovascular diseases are atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and hypertension (high blood pressure).  In this article I will focus primarily on ways to prevent atherosclerosis, however many of these diet and lifestyle tips will also encourage healthy blood pressure levels.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is most commonly due to fatty materials such as CHOLESTEROL. Cholesterol, a fat like substance, is important in many bodily functions, however having too much cholesterol can lead to many adverse effects.  There are two main types of cholesterol: low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL).  LDL cholesterol is known as “bad cholesterol” as too much of it can build up in your arteries, narrowing blood flow to the brain and heart, and therefore INCREASING your risk of a heart attack or stroke.  HDL is known as “good cholesterol” as it may aid in preventing LDL from sticking to your artery walls, helping to DECREASE your risk of heart attack and stroke.  The ratio between LDL and HDL cholesterol is very important, and it is best to aim for low LDL and high HDL.  Total Cholesterol (TC) is your LDL + HDL + triglycerides (fat).  Total cholesterol levels should be under 200mg/dl.

There are many factors that affect high cholesterol, including genetics.  We cannot change our genes but we can modify diet and lifestyle to encourage a positive cholesterol ratio, lower total cholesterol levels and decrease our risk of heart attack or stroke.

Listed below is some dietary advice that can significantly benefit your lipid profile!

What to Avoid

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Saturated Fats and Trans Fats: High total cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol is linked with a diet of saturated fats and trans fatty acids.  Saturated Fats come from animal fats, fatty cuts of red meats, high fat dairy such as cheese, ice cream and 2% or higher milk. Trans Fats are found in margarines, fried foods and commercially baked goods such as donuts, cookies and cakes.  Also, packed freezer foods such as microwave dinners, pop tarts and frozen pizza products often contain high amounts of trans fats. As a general rule, it is best to avoid processed and packaged foods.

What to Eat

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1. Fish: Consumption of fish has been shown to produce favorable effects on the lipid profile. It is best if fish is consumed twice a week, and is most beneficial if eaten baked or broiled. Frying fish decreases the amounts of healthy oils found in fish that are so very advantageous to your health.

2. Raw Almonds and Walnuts:  Eating 84g/day of almonds or 68g/day of walnuts has been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol. Interestingly enough, eating nuts frequently is shown to reduce heart disease by 30-50%.

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3. Olive Oil: Can reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, encouraging a desirable lipid profile.  It is advised to eat olive oil uncooked, by adding on top of salads, soups or breads as frying olive oil changes the chemical structure and reduces its healthy properties.

4. Coconut Oil: This oil is high in saturated fats, HOWEVER, new research is emerging showing that coconut oil may in fact decrease LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Of added benefit, some research is beginning to show that a diet high in coconut may improve cognitive function.

5. DO NOT OVER EAT! Having more weight on your body significantly increases your chances of heart disease.

Sources

1. JF, Anand SX, Valdiviezo C, et al. Update in atherothrombotic disease. Mt Sinai J Med 2004;71:197-208

2. Bucher HC, Hengstler P, Schindler C, et al. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med 2002;112:298-304.

3. . Abby M, Noakes M, Belling GB, Nestel PJ. Partial replacement of saturated fats with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:995-99.

4. . Fraser GE. Nut Consumption, lipids and risk of a coronary event. Clin Cardiol 1999;22 (7Suppl):III 1-III15.

5.  Cullinen K. Olive oil in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Med Health R I 2006;89:113.

6. Freeman LR, Haley-Zitlin V, Stevens Granholm AC. Diet-induced effects on uronal and glial elements in the middle-aged rat hippocampus. Nutr Neurosc,vol.14, no.1, pp.32-44, 2011.

7. Granholm AC, Bimonte-Nelson HA, Moore, AB, Nelson ME, Freeman LR, Sambamurti K. Effects of a saturated fat and high cholesterol diet on memory and hippocampal morphology in the middle-aged rat. J Alzheimers Dis, vol.14, no.2, pp.133–45, 2008

8.Nevin, K, and Rajamohan T. Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation. Clinical Biochemistry, Volume 37, Issue 9, September 2004, Pages 830–835. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2004.04.010

9. L, Villareal DT, Weiss EP, et al. Calorie restriction or exercise: effects on coronary heart disease risk factors. A randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2007;293:E197-202.

10.. Prousky, Jonathan, ND. “Hypercholesteremia” In: Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition. Pp68-74, 2008 CCNM Press: Toronto

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FreedigitalPhotos.net: Human Heart with stethoscope by dream designs

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FreedDigitalPhotos.net:Selection of Cakes by Grant Cochrane

FreedDigitalPhotos.net:Bottle of Olive Oil with Olives by m_bartosch