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Around-the-Clock Blood-Pressure Control

March 2018

By Michael Downey

On November 13, 2017, 30 million Americans who previously thought their blood pressure was in a safe range suddenly became clinically hypertensive.1

On that day, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology changed the definition of hypertension, lowering it from 140/90 mmHg down to 130/80 mmHg.2,3 They also redefined “elevated blood pressure” as anything over 120/80.

These new guidelines vindicate Life Extension®’s longtime stance that ideal systolic blood pressure should be below 120 mmHg—and closer to 115 mmHg for most people.

In addition to being lower, blood-pressure control needs to occur around the clock to avoid the dangers of artery-damaging spikes.

In healthy individuals, blood pressure tends to dip at night. But if you’re one of the individuals whose blood pressure does not dip at night—as it should—that means unnecessary damage is occurring to your blood vessels and organs.4

The exciting news is that researchers have identified several nutritional compounds that not only help lower blood pressure but also keep it down at night, for around-the-clock protection.

These nutritional approaches can be added to existing blood pressure-control programs, or used alone, to achieve improved benefits in conjunction with physician supervision.

New Hypertension Guidelines

In November 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued the following new blood-pressure guidelines:2

Blood Pressure Category Systolic   Diastolic
Normal <120 mmHg and <80 mmHg
Elevated 120—129 mmHg and <80mmHg
Hypertension
Stage I 130—139 mmHg or 80—89 mmHg
Stage II ≥140 mmHg or ≥90 mmHg

These new numbers validate Life Extension®’s longtime stance that the ideal systolic blood pressure for most people should be below 120 mmHg—and closer to 115 mmHg.

Now that mainstream medicine has redefined full-blown high blood pressure as a reading of 130/80 mmHg or above, a startling 103 million Americans will now be advised to address this critical health issue.2,3

The Silent Dangers of Hypertension

Dangers of Hypertension  

The damage from hypertension impacts your entire body. High blood pressure pounds organs and blood vessels with each heartbeat, hour after hour, day after day.

Because the symptoms of high blood pressure are often silent or invisible, most people are unaware of the damage that is occurring. But over the years, the effects of this relentless trauma begin to show.

In addition to increasing the risk of cardiac events, high blood pressure contributes to other conditions including retinopathy, kidney failure, vascular dementia, and diabetes.5-8

In the kidneys, the ability to filter the body’s waste products and separate excess fluid from the blood weakens.7

In the brain, the relentless pounding damages delicate capillary beds leading to reduced cerebral perfusion (blood flow). Higher-than-optimal blood pressure can lead to multi-infarct dementia that arises from many mini-strokes.

Women who develop high blood pressure in their 40s are 73% more likely to develop dementia than women who maintain healthy blood pressure.9

Nighttime Dangers

Some people with high blood pressure face an extra risk at night.

Daily variations in blood-pressure patterns are tremendously important, especially in older adults.10,11 Blood pressure dips somewhat at night, providing temporary relief from the pounding damage.4

But in about 35% of adults with hypertension, their blood pressure does not fall at night. In these “non-dippers,” the damage may continue around the clock,4 exposing these individuals to a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death compared to “normal dippers”—even when both have the same blood pressure during the day.4

For these individuals, preventing high blood pressure—or aggressively treating it at an early stage—is even more important for preventing the relentless damage.

Blood-Pressure Basics

When it comes to lowering blood pressure, at-home monitoring is essential to ensure that optimal 24-hour protection is achieved. The availability of low-cost and reliable at-home blood-pressure monitors makes this easy.

Lifestyle changes such as losing weight and increasing cardiovascular fitness through exercise can help support healthy blood-pressure levels.

The older drug classes of medication often have side effects that patients find frustrating and bothersome. Side effects can include nighttime urinary frequency with the use of diuretics, or cold hands/feet and sexual dysfunction with the use of beta-blockers.

Newer classes of antihypertensive drugs like angiotensin II receptor blockers are usually better tolerated by patients in comparison with older medications like diuretics and beta-blockers.

Some people may only need to take one angiotensin II receptor blocker like telmisartan (40 mg to 80 mg a day) to achieve good results. This drug has additional benefits for vascular health.12-17

For others, the best strategy for hypertension control is the use of low doses of several different classes (different mechanisms of action) of medications.

What You Need to Know
Natural Solutions for Lowering Blood Pressure

Natural Solutions for Lowering Blood Pressure

  • Hypertension boosts the risk of numerous serious disorders by damaging blood vessels and major organs throughout the body.
  • Several natural nutrients have been found to help control blood pressure using the same mechanisms as many hypertension drugs.
  • The flavonoids quercetin, myricitrin, and myricetin target the receptor for angiotensin II, while the molecule stevioside effectively blocks calcium channels—relaxing artery walls.
  • Controlled-release melatonin lowers blood pressure throughout the night for around-the-clock protection.

Solutions for High Blood Pressure

Despite billions of dollars spent on drugs to lower blood pressure,18 the condition continues to threaten millions of Americans each year. Statistics show that about a quarter of those with hypertension cannot reduce their readings even when taking three different blood-pressure medications!19

For many people, blood-pressure drugs can have uncomfortable—and sometimes dangerous—side effects.

Several nutritional compounds have been found to help reduce blood pressure both day and night. They work in ways similar to many prescription drugs—but without the side effects.

These compounds represent a novel approach to promoting healthy blood pressure and can provide critical around-the-clock management. For many people, this may provide an adequate maintenance program in consultation with their physician.

Blood-Pressure Recommendations
Blood-Pressure Recommendations

For most aging individuals, Life Extension recommends an optimal blood-pressure goal of 115/75 mmHg.

However, those aging individuals with longstanding hypertension and/or coronary artery disease, individuals with kidney disease, and those over 80 years of age should be aware that a rapid, overly aggressive reduction of blood pressure should be avoided. Signs of overly aggressive blood-pressure reduction may include worsening cognitive function, dizziness and/or lightheadedness when standing quickly from a sitting position, and worsening biomarkers of kidney function.

Regrettably, some older, fragile patients may simply not tolerate a target blood pressure of 115/75 mmHg due to long-standing damage to the vascular system, thus requiring a higher perfusion pressure to meet physiologic demands. In these fragile patients, maintaining the lowest blood pressure tolerated is reasonable.

Life Extension recommends frequent blood testing of kidney function biomarkers like BUN and creatinine when embarking on an aggressive blood pressure control program. Also, Life Extension strongly recommends that all people purchase a low-cost, at-home blood-pressure monitor so they can check themselves when trying new medications or nutrients.

Angiotensin-Blocking Flavonoids

Three natural compounds have been found to help block the receptor for angiotensin II,20 which is a hormone that triggers the constriction (narrowing) of arteries.21 These flavonoid molecules—quercetin, myricitrin, and myricetin—are found in a wide variety of plant foods, but only in small amounts.22,23

Much like a finger over a garden hose, the narrowing of arteries raises pressure within them. Thus, blocking the angiotensin receptors is an effective way of bringing down blood pressure by helping to relax the arteries.

Experimental studies using assessment of receptor docking (i.e. the ability of a molecule to bind to a receptor) suggest that both quercetin and myricetin are effective at blocking angiotensin II receptors.20

A study conducted on rats showed that myricetin reduced systolic blood pressure by inhibiting the arterial-contracting response to angiotensin by 43%.24

These encouraging results led scientists to study the blood pressure-lowering effects of these flavonoid nutrients in placebo-controlled clinical trials—and the results did not disappoint.

Human Studies

Human Studies  

Studies in adults showed that flavonoids like quercetin are effective at lowering blood pressure in healthy adults, in those with elevated blood pressure and hypertension (according to new guidelines), and in those with type II diabetes.

In both healthy adults and in those who were overweight or obese, 150 mg a day of quercetin reduced systolic blood pressure compared to placebo.25,26 In adults with elevated blood pressure and hypertension (according to new guidelines), 162 mg of quercetin daily reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.9 mmHg compared to a placebo.27

Higher amounts—730 mg of quercetin daily—reduced systolic blood pressure by 7 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg.28

In patients with type II diabetes—a population that has a higher risk of hypertension—researchers found both quercetin and myricitrin to be especially effective at lowering blood pressure:

In one study, 500 mg a day of quercetin lowered systolic pressure by 5.3 mmHg compared with a placebo.29

In another study, 600 mg a day of leaf powder from a myricitrin-containing extract produced an 11 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure.30

Calcium Channel-Blocking Stevioside

When intracellular calcium levels rise in smooth-muscle cells, it causes those cells to contract, which narrows arteries and increases blood pressure. Thus, blocking calcium channels is a distinct—and extremely effective—means of reducing blood pressure.

Scientists have found that a plant extract called stevioside mimics the activity of calcium channel-blocking drugs, effectively blocking calcium channels in the smooth-muscle cells of the arteries.31-33

Stevioside is derived from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana that is often used in no-calorie sweeteners.34,35 A 2017 review found that stevia glycosides provide therapeutic effects against diseases such as cancer, diabetes mellitus, obesity, inflammation—and hypertension—without any toxicity.36

Calcium channel-blocking medications work well in combination with angiotensin II receptor-blocking medications. In the same way, stevioside can work well with the flavonoids quercetin, myricitrin, and myricetin to deliver a similar dual mechanism of action.

A recent meta-analysis included data on 788 patients taking between 750 mg and 1,500 mg of stevioside a day. Across all studies, stevioside demonstrated a 4.5 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure. And when stevioside was continued for a year or more, the mean decrease in systolic blood pressure was a substantial 11.9 mmHg!37

Around-the-Clock Protection With Melatonin

The hormone melatonin has numerous mechanisms of action that help lower blood pressure.

It dilates blood vessels38 and inhibits “fight-or-flight” signals from the sympathetic nervous system.38,39 It also helps regulate mitochondria—the energy-producing structures inside cells—to maintain a cardiovascular function.40 But what makes melatonin especially noteworthy is its impact on nighttime blood pressure.

Studies have shown that melatonin helps regulate circadian rhythms and reduces nighttime blood pressure.41-43 This is important for everyone with hypertension—but it is especially important for the 35% of non-dippers.

Not all types of melatonin have equally effective blood-pressure benefits. A meta-analysis compared 5 mg daily of immediate-release melatonin with 2-3 mg daily of controlled-release melatonin.

While immediate-release melatonin eked-out insignificant reductions of 0.3 mmHg systolic and 0.2 mmHg diastolic, the controlled-release melatonin slashed systolic readings by an average 6.1 mmHg and diastolic readings by 3.5 mmHg.43

Melatonin’s effects are so substantial that the author of a recent study concluded that, “[S]upplementation of melatonin…has been shown to be efficient in…the control of hypertension and metabolic syndrome.”44

As an added benefit, melatonin has also been shown to protect various organs from long-term hypertension.45-47

Consequences of High Blood Pressure
Consequences of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension has long been known as the “silent killer.” It produces no symptoms at all in the majority of victims, while causing severe and often irreversible damage to blood vessels and the major organs they serve.

Whether high blood pressure is prolonged or periodic, it inflicts progressively lethal damage to multiple organs and physiological (normal biological) systems. The following is a list of conditions associated with high blood pressure:7-9

  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Generalized atherosclerosis
  • Aneurysm
  • Bone loss
  • Stroke
  • TIA (transient ischemic attack)
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • Hypertensive encephalopathy (brain dysfunction)
  • Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Retinopathy
  • Dementia and vascular dementia
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy (enlarged left heart)
  • Kidney failure

Summary

High blood pressure  

Life Extension has long maintained that the blood-pressure readings called normal by national guidelines were in fact much too high, lulling millions of people into a false sense of security while they are experiencing body-wide dangers.

New official guidelines have finally validated Life Extension’s longstanding blood-pressure recommendations.

High blood pressure elevates the risk of disorders ranging from kidney disease to dementia because of the severe damage it does to blood vessels and the organs they serve.

A unique combination of five nutrients—quercetin, myricitrin, myricetin, stevioside, and melatonin—can work by multiple mechanisms to control blood pressure around the clock.

No one should ever assume a drug, supplement, or healthy lifestyle regimen is producing optimal blood pressure readings.

Use of an at-home blood-pressure monitor can enable people to better achieve 24-hour blood-pressure control.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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