Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Interesting Facts About Hypertension

Hypertension is basically abnormally high blood pressure and it is a symptom, a circulatory disturbance, rather than a disease. It occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is stronger than it should be. 90 percent of hypertensive people have primary or essential hypertension, which is in some ways a misnomer because in no way is hypertension essential, and each case of hypertension likely has a cause that at present eludes our limited knowledge.1 However, factors such as diet, obesity, heredity, race, and stress appear to be involved. 

Hypertension forces the heart to pump against increased resistance. You can clearly see it in action once you understand what the systolic and the diastolic numbers mean. The systolic number is a measurement of your blood pressure while your heart pumps blood, and is the number that appears on the top of the equation. The diastolic number is a blood pressure measurement while your heart rests between beats, and it is the number that appears on the bottom of the equation. The heart works harder, and over time the myocardium enlarges. Once it is strained beyond its capacity to respond, the heart weakens and its walls become flabby. 

Hypertension ravages blood vessels causing small tears in the endothelium,
the cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels, which accelerates the progress of atherosclerosis, the early stage of arteriosclerosis.2 There are a number of risk factors that increase the chances of having hypertension. These are being over 60, being overweight, being sedentary, being emotionally stressed, consuming a high-sodium diet, and having other contributing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or enlargement of the heart. The lifetime risk for hypertension is the same for men and women, but men are more likely to develop hypertension at a younger age.3  
A low-sodium diet is effective in reducing the risk of hypertension, but it is interesting to note the effect that potassium levels have on sodium levels. According to Lawrence Appel, lead researcher on the DASH diet 4 and director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins, a person’s diet as a whole is the key to controlling hypertension, not just salt reduction alone. He believes a major part of the equation is this balance of minerals; most people need less sodium and more potassium, calcium, and magnesium. According to Appel, "Higher levels of potassium blunt the effects of sodium. If you can't reduce or won't reduce sodium, adding potassium may help. But doing both is better.” 5 To sum things up, a modern processed food diet pretty much guarantees you'll have an excess of sodium compared to potassium.

The other problem with consuming processed foods is that many of them contain high fructose corn syrup, and there is an established link between fructose and high blood pressure. A 2010 study found that those who consumed 74 grams or more per day of fructose (the equivalent of about 2.5 sugary drinks) had a 77 percent greater risk of having blood pressure levels of 160/100 mmHg (stage 2 hypertension). Consuming 74 grams or more of fructose per day also increased the risk of a 135/85 blood pressure reading by 26 percent, and a reading of 140/90 by 30 percent.
6 Eliminating these sugars also addresses insulin and leptin resistance, as well as elevated uric acid levels,7 all of which are also connected to high blood pressure.8, 9, 10 

The best thing that a person can do is to try and engage in some sort of moderate exercise a couple of days a week and avoid tobacco and caffeine completely. If you drink, drink sensibly as alcohol in excess can cause electrolyte abnormalities that have an impact on the heart,11 however, red wine in moderate amounts may actually be of benefit to the heart.12 I would highly recommend learning to prepare meals at home and avoiding processed and fast foods at all cost. I would also recommend daily meditation and relaxation exercises that have been shown to lower blood pressure over time. Yoga is an excellent choice for those who have difficulty with more strenuous forms of exercise.13 Recent studies conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have confirmed that sauna bathing lowers the risk of developing elevated blood pressure as well lowering the risk for sudden cardiac death, and cardiovascular as well as all-cause mortality. These findings were published recently in the American Journal of Hypertension.14


1. Dustan, H. P. (1970, April). Etiology and pathogenesis of hypertension. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1501321/

2. Marieb, E. N., & Keller, S. M. (2015). Essentials of human anatomy & physiology. NY, NY: Pearson. 

3. Carretero, O. A., & Oparil, S. (2000, January 25). Essential Hypertension. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/101/3/329 
4. National Institute of Health. (2003, May). Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/hbp_low.pdf

5. Painter, K. (2014, May 18). Diet and blood pressure: It's not all about the salt. Retrieved from http://www.13wmaz.com/news/health/diet-and-blood-pressure-its-not-all-about-the-salt/299104271
6. Jalal, D. I., Smits, G., Johnson, R. J., & Chonchol, M. (2010, September). Increased fructose associates with elevated blood pressure. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20595676

7. Johnson, R. J., Nakagawa, T., Sanchez-Lozada, L. G., Shafiu, M., Sundaram, S., Le, M., Lanaspa, M. A. (2013, October). Sugar, Uric Acid, and the Etiology of Diabetes and Obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3781481/

8. Salvetti, A., Brogi, G., Di, V., & Bernini, G. P. (1993). The inter-relationship between insulin resistance and hypertension. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7512468

9. Bravo, P. E., Morse, S., Borne, D. M., Aguilar, E. A., & Reisin, E. (2006, June). Leptin and Hypertension in Obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1993994/

10. Mazzali, M., Kanbay, M., Segal, M. S., Shafiu, M., Jalal, D., Feig, D. I., & Johnson, R. J. (2010, April). Uric acid and hypertension: cause or effect? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20425019
11. Ragland, G. (1990, November). Electrolyte abnormalities in the alcoholic patient. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2226285

12. Saleem, T. M., & Basha, S. D. (2010). Red wine: A drink to your heart. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023893/

13. Micozzi, M. S. (2015). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

14. University of Eastern Finland. (2017, September 29). Frequent sauna bathing keeps blood pressure in check. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170929093346.htm


No comments:

Post a Comment

Can Functional Medicine Help Us Live Longer?

Americans are not living longer, healthier lives. Can functional medicine change that? By LeeAnn Weintraub August 8, 2019 The Los Angel...