What to do when your blood pressure simply won’t go down
Researchers have identified a condition called Resistant Hypertension – high blood pressure that simply doesn’t respond to medical treatment – even when a combination of drugs is used.
But a recent study from Johns Hopkins University in America shows that Resistant Hypertension can be lowered.
That’s good news when more than half the people over the age of 50 have elevated blood pressure (BP). Unfortunately most don’t realise they have the condition, which is why it’s called
‘The silent killer’
The health threat is obvious when a recent editorial in the Lancet calculated the risk of becoming hypertensive is greater than 90 percent for individuals in developed countries!
So, if you have struggled for years to get your blood pressure under control – or are over 50 – you are wise to follow this proven way to lower BP.
Especially when a 2018 report from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, shows that high blood pressure at 50 raises the risk of dementia in later life. ‘High’ being defined as a systolic blood pressure of 140.
The report in the European Heart Journal explained that high blood pressure has been linked to silent mini-strokes in the brain, damage to the brain’s white matter, and restricted blood supply to the brain.
A 10-point plan to reduce BP naturally
Following this 10 point plan will improve your health and normalise your blood pressure, without potentially dangerous drugs – whether you are aiming to reduce your Systolic Blood Pressure to below 140 or 120.
1. Eat a DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
The eating plan known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Research shows it can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg.
The DASH diet is also an anti-inflammatory diet which will not only lower blood pressure but defend you against a range of illnesses. See this link: https://nutrishield.com/the-science/anti-inflammatory/.
Reducing inflammation reduces hypertension. Inflammation is linked to the build-up of cholesterol on arterial walls, which narrows and restricts the blood vessels, which means that the heart has to pump harder, which increases blood pressure.
2. Reduce sugar and other carbohydrates
Insulin plays an important role in high blood pressure, as many people with hypertension have insulin resistance.
Eating sugars and excess carbohydrates – including bread, pasta, potatoes, or rice which are metabolised as sugars – will cause your insulin levels to remain elevated, leading to increased insulin resistance. To compensate, your body generates yet more insulin. It’s a vicious circle.
Insulin encourages the uptake of magnesium, but if your body’s insulin receptors are compromised and your cells grow resistant to insulin, you will not store magnesium effectively. That’s a problem because magnesium relaxes muscles, especially those in your arterial network. If your magnesium level is too low, your blood vessels will tend to constrict rather than relax, which will raise your blood pressure.
Insulin further affects your blood pressure by encouraging your body to retain sodium. Sodium retention causes fluid retention – which in turn causes high blood pressure.
3. Increase your Omega 3 intake
We in the West are getting too much omega-6 in our diets and far too little omega-3. Omega 6 fatty acids – found in polyunsaturated plant oils like safflower, sunflower and corn oil – are used by the body to produce hormones that promote inflammation.
Omega 3 fatty acids (from oily fish) have the opposite effect – they are used to produce hormones that reduce inflammation – which as we’ve seen helps reduce blood pressure. Omega-3 fats have another benefit – they help to re-sensitize your insulin receptors if you suffer from insulin resistance.
Omega-3 fats are typically found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil and fish, with fish being easily the best source.
4. Lose excess pounds and watch waistline measurements
Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure, because blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure by up to 5 points.
Belly fat is especially dangerous and in general:
- Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 cm).
- Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 cm)
5. Less sodium and more potassium
Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by between 2 to 8 mm Hg. In fact only small amounts of sodium occur naturally in foods – most sodium is added during processing. So eat fewer processed foods.
In cooking, add less standard table salt; replace with low-sodium, high-potassium salts or other herbs and spices.
Add extra potassium to your diet which can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Good sources of potassium are bananas, avocadoes, spinach and sweet potatoes.
6. Reduce your stress
Chronic stress is an important contributor to high blood pressure. It’s not stressful events themselves that are harmful, but your feelings of inability to cope. Studies show that people with heart disease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac problems by over 70 percent simply by learning to manage their stress.
So make time for this simple but effective de-stressing deep breathing exercise which can be done anywhere, and takes a short time but brings immediate results. Click to go to Instant Relaxation exercise.
You might also want to listen to some classical music. A study at the University of Florence showed that listening for 30 minutes a day for 30 days while breathing calmly, could ‘significantly’ reduce blood pressure.
7. Be physically active regularly
Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes on most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by an average of 7 mm Hg.
The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure as it helps to reduce insulin sensitivity.
You should try to exercise to an intense level. ‘Intense’ means exerting yourself sufficiently that you are out of breath and can’t comfortably talk to someone during your workout. Fast walking while swinging your arms is a simple way to ‘intensify’ your exercise.
8. Moderate alcohol
In small amounts, a drink can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg.
But that protective effect vanishes if you drink too much alcohol. The limit is generally one drink a day for women (and men over age 65), or two a day for men under 65. One drink equals 150ml (5 fl oz) of wine.
Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
Does coffee increase blood pressure? The evidence is that it may increase your BP levels short term, possibly by blocking a hormone that dilates your arteries. Drink more decaf and try hibiscus tea which has been shown to help lower BP.
9. Ensure an optimum level of vitamin D
Research shows that blood pressure is typically higher in winter months than during the summer!
That’s because sun exposure enable your body to produce vitamin D. Lack of sunlight reduces your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance and Metabolic Syndrome, a constellation of health problems that include elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Unfortunately there is abundant evidence that almost all of us in the West are well below optimum vitamin D levels – and would benefit from a vitamin D supplement in the winter. See https://nutrishield.com/category/vitamins/vitamin-d/
10. Take a well-designed daily health supplement
No one vitamin or nutrient will make a lot of difference on its own. It is a combination that can make a real difference to blood pressure levels – and health generally.
Studies indicate that vitamins C and E can be helpful in lowering blood pressure, as can calcium and magnesium.
The optimum level of vitamin C is 500mg a day – at which level there are other benefits too – including a reduction in cataract risk. Vitamin C has been shown to increase the body’s production of nitric oxide which helps keep blood vessels dilated.
The optimum level for vitamin E is 70mg a day, ideally including all the tocopherols (d-alpha, d-beta, d-gamma and d-delta) – the “family” of vitamin E compounds that are more effective than simple d-alpha vitamin E.
Omega 3 fish oil should be included at a level of 1,000mg a day. To get that level you would need to eat oily fish 3 times a week, so a supplement is wise for most people.
To which nutrients add the powerful anti-oxidant CoQ10 which, along with vitamin B6, helps dilate blood vessels. The University of Maryland examined several studies and found that supplementing with CoQ10 over 4-12 weeks could deliver a remarkable 17 point drop in systolic levels and 10 points in diastolic.
Folic acid and the lesser known nutrient betaine are also important. They reduce the level of a blood protein called homocysteine. Homocysteine makes arteries less flexible and stiff – restricting blood flow and increasing blood pressure.
Finally polyphenols – the protective compounds in fruits and vegetables and in green tea – have a role to play in reducing inflammation and hence indirectly, blood pressure.
There is a supplement that includes all these nutrients and more. It was formulated by the former Chair of the Forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine. It’s called NutriShield Premium – www.nutrishield.com.
When a natural approach to preventing disease is available, it is a better choice than drugs. In the case of high blood pressure, the above 10 point plan is such a choice.
This article was written by Colin Rose, a Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, who has been writing on science for 40 years.
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Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial: Design and Methods John B. Buse, MD, PhD The American Journal of Cardiology Volume 99, Issue 12, Supplement, 18 June 2007, Pages S21–S3
Intracellular magnesium and insulin resistance. Takaya J1, Higashino H, Kobayashi Y. Magnes Res. 2004 Jun;17(2):126-36.