By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
January 03, 2014
- The vicious cycle that destroys your arteries
- Blood pressure meds may increase heart risk
- 5 ways to beat the silent killer
Did you know that about one out of every three adults here in the U.S. has high blood pressure?
That’s a pretty big number. And it’s something we should all take seriously.
High blood pressure can damage both your heart and blood vessels. Just as important, it’s the most common of all cardiovascular disease – including heart attack and stroke.
You see, when your blood pressure is high the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries increases. This causes tearing and scarring on the arterial walls. Once the damage sets in, fats and cholesterol start starts building up and your arteries begin narrowing.
Well this can turn into something of a vicious cycle.
That’s because as your arteries narrow, your blood has to push harder to get through them. And that causes even more damage.
Unfortunately, you can have high blood pressure for years without ever even knowing it.
There are very few outward symptoms. And the few you might have – like excessive sweating, nervousness and flushing – can easily be missed. That’s why it is often referred to as the “silent killer.”
Now, it’s easy enough to get your blood pressure checked.
Your doctor should be doing it every time you visit his office. Or you could head down to your local pharmacy. A lot of drugstores, like Walgreen’s, offer free or low-cost blood pressure tests.
If your blood pressure is higher than 120 over 80, it’s considered “pre-hypertensive.” However if it is above 140/90 on a consistent basis then it is considered high.
The question, then, is what should you do next if your blood pressure turns out to be high?
Now I think it’s important to note that high blood pressure in itself isn’t a disease.
Rather, it’s a symptom that’s often caused by certain lifestyle choices. Things like stress, smoking, too much salt, excess weight, not enough exercise and so on are all key culprits. And if you don’t take measures to bring it under control, it can get the best of you.
But I’m not a fan of the drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure. They don’t change any of the factors that caused it to begin with… and they can often do more harm than good.
For example, calcium channel blockers make your heart pump less hard. They slow the heart down which, in turn, lowers blood pressure.
And if your heart isn’t pumping properly in the first place, this class of drugs can end up increasing your risk of heart attack.
Or how about diuretics?
These drugs reduce blood pressure by increasing the volume of water flushed out of the body.
Now here’s the thing. They don’t just flush out water. They also flush out magnesium and potassium, and that’s not good. A loss of magnesium and potassium will directly weaken your heart.
Guess what else happens?
Diuretics can cause an increase in your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Next thing you know, you’re walking down the path to full-blown heart disease and taking even more heart-draining prescription drugs.
So I don’t recommend that path. Instead, let’s take a look at how you can naturally lower blood pressure.
You may already know some of the things you can do to lower your blood pressure. Exercising, eating a healthy Mediterranean diet, giving up the smokes… all of these things are important.
However, there are also a few supplements that can help. Unlike prescription drugs these nutrients can offset improve your blood pressure numbers without doing further harm to your heart or arteries.
Garlic is a winner all the way around. The effects of garlic are similar to those of widely used drugs for the treatment of high blood pressure, including diuretics. It has also been shown to reduce plaque in the arteries, lower homocysteine levels, reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol and improve circulation.
I advise my patients to eat two cloves of fresh garlic a day. Throw them into a smoothie or eat with olives. If you prefer to supplement, take 600 mg. of aged garlic extract each day.
Citrulline helps your body produce nitric oxide (NO,) which helps relax and expand your blood vessels. When your NO levels drop, it causes your blood vessels to constrict. This, in turn, makes it harder for blood to pump through your veins and arteries, so your blood pressure increases.
Plenty of research shows citrulline is a safe and effective way to improve nitric oxide levels and lower blood pressure. You’ll find citrulline in watermelon, cucumbers and melons, but if you supplement, I suggest starting with 1,500 mg daily.
Potassium and Magnesium help counter the effects of salt. You should be getting 4,700 mg of potassium and 400 to 800 mg of magnesium in your regular diet. Getting plenty of these two important minerals has been shown to improve your blood pressure. Better yet, they can reduce your chances of coronary artery disease and stroke.
Try adding avocadoes, bananas, beans, nuts, seeds and leafy greens to naturally get plenty of potassium and magnesium. If you don’t think you are getting enough of these nutrients in your diet, try supplementing. I recommend 2,500 mg of potassium and 400 mg of magnesium each day.
Vitamin D is very important thanks to its effect on a hormone (renin) that increases your odds of developing high blood pressure. If your vitamin D levels are low, renin is increased. This causes the arteries to constrict and increases blood pressure.
Look for a formula that includes vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol. This is the form that will give you the most benefit. I suggest 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily (and up to 5,000 IU if you’ve been tested as deficient.)
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