High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measurement of systolic pressure (maximum pressure during one heartbeat) over diastolic pressure (minimum pressure between heartbeats). After the landmark SPRINT trial, published in 2015, found that lower blood pressure significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular outcomes and death, the threshold for high blood pressure (hypertension) was lowered from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg.
Natural interventions such as quercetin, coenzyme Q10, magnesium, and bioactive whey peptides, along with dietary and lifestyle changes, can help lower blood pressure.
What is Healthy Blood Pressure?
Healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg, and Life Extension recommends an optimal target of 115/75 mm Hg. Observational evidence suggests the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles for each increment of 20 mm Hg systolic and 10 mm Hg diastolic above 115/75 mm Hg.
Adding one or more blood pressure-lowering medications may be appropriate if dietary and lifestyle changes alone are insufficient to bring blood pressure into the healthy range.
People with diabetes, pre-existing cardiovascular or kidney disease, or who are over age 80 should be particularly careful with blood pressure-lowering medication. Always consult a doctor before implementing any changes to your daily regimen.
Note: High blood pressure is not the only risk factor for cardiovascular events. People interested in reducing their cardiovascular risks should follow these blood pressure-lowering strategies, and also read the Life Extension Magazine article titled “How to Circumvent 17 Independent Heart Attack Risk Factors.”
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes–The First Step in Controlling Blood Pressure
For otherwise healthy people with blood pressure above 120/80 mm Hg, dietary and lifestyle changes are often sufficient to bring blood pressure into a healthy range.
- Follow a healthy diet (eg, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension [DASH] and Mediterranean diets)
- Reduce caloric intake
- Reduce sodium intake and consume sufficient dietary potassium
- Weight loss
- Regular exercise
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Limit use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Get tested for sleep apnea, as it can increase the risk of high blood pressure
- Manage stress
Note: Using an at-home blood pressure monitor to regularly monitor blood pressure throughout the day is an effective way to track effectiveness of dietary and lifestyle changes and other interventions for blood pressure.
Medications to Help Lower Blood Pressure
If diet and lifestyle changes alone do not sufficiently lower blood pressure, blood pressure medication may be appropriate. Consult a qualified healthcare provider before beginning medical treatment for high blood pressure.
- First-line recommendation
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (particularly telmisartan)
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
- Second-line recommendation
- Thiazide diuretics
- Third-line recommendation
- Calcium channel blockers
Simultaneous use of more than one blood pressure medication, called combination therapy, may be appropriate for people in whom a single drug fails to control blood pressure.
Note: Beta-blockers are generally not recommended as first-line therapy for blood pressure reduction except in those with an indication for beta-blocker therapy such as recent heart attack or heart failure.
What Natural Interventions May Help Lower Blood Pressure?
- Quercetin. Quercetin, a plant flavonoid shown to effectively lower blood pressure, is linked to lower cardiovascular risk. It is believed to act as an angiotensin receptor blocker.
- Myricetin. Myricetin is a flavonoid like quercetin, which also appears to act as an angiotensin receptor blocker. Myricetin may lower blood pressure in diabetics with hypertension.
- Stevioside. Stevioside, an extract from the Stevia plant commonly used as a sweetener in the United States, can also act as a calcium channel blocker to reduce blood pressure.
- Melatonin. Melatonin helps relax blood vessels and inhibit the sympathetic nervous system, both of which can reduce blood pressure. A meta-analysis indicated melatonin supplementation was effective at lowering nocturnal blood pressure.
- Fish oil. Fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids are associated with lower cardiovascular risk. Fish oil supplements have been shown to lower blood pressure in numerous clinical studies.
- Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 has strong antihypertensive and cardioprotective effects, which may be due to its protection of various vasodilators.
- Magnesium. Magnesium supplementation can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. It can improve endothelial function and act as a calcium channel blocker and vasodilator.
- Other natural interventions include whey protein peptides, grape polyphenols, pomegranate, olive leaf extract, celery seed extract, and hesperidin.