Elevated blood pressure linked to decreased life expectancy
(NaturalHealth365) Doctors have long warned that high blood pressure, which affects over 100 million American adults, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke – the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, it sometimes seems that statistics regarding elevated blood pressure are so alarming that the mere act of reading about them may raise it!
Moving on, in a recent study examining the relationship between high blood pressure and life expectancy, researchers discovered the full extent to which elevated blood pressure threatens longevity (the number of “lost” years may shock you!)
But, the picture is not all gloom. Although high blood pressure (hypertension) is indeed a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality, it is modifiable – meaning that much can be done to manage it and, more importantly, dramatically lower the risk.
CDC BOMBSHELL: High blood pressure claims up to one thousand lives per day
Researchers say that excessive systolic blood pressure causes or contributes to a wide range of potentially deadly diseases, including coronary artery disease, aortic valve stenosis, cerebral vascular diseases, kidney failure and dementia.
Note: The systolic (top) reading in blood pressure measurements involves the amount of pressure exerted on arterial walls by the heartbeat, while the diastolic (bottom) number measures the pressure between beats.
Optimal blood pressure is typically defined as 120/80 mmHg or lower – but many integrative physicians suggest striving for even lower levels (115/75 mmHg). In fact, a 2017 study showed a 25 percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular events when systolic blood pressure was targeted below 120 mmHg.
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Muthiah Vaduganathan, MD, MPH, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, is blunt about the deadly effects of uncontrolled high blood pressure. “High blood pressure has been implicated as one of the reasons for stalled progress in reducing heart disease-related deaths in the United States,” notes Dr. Vaduganathan.
Warning: Hypertension can cut lifespan by up to five years
In an eye-opening study published in Hypertension, researchers found that people with blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg had a decrease in life expectancy of five years -when compared to people with optimal blood pressure.
The good news is: getting blood pressure under control can lead to significant increases in life expectancy.
For example, studies presented at the American Heart Association’s annual 2019 meeting suggested that a 50-year-old person with systolic pressure under 120 mmHg can expect to live almost three years longer than a 50-year-old with elevated systolic blood pressure.
By age 65, the same drop prolongs life expectancy by a year.
To reach their conclusions on hypertension and life expectancy, researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, which followed participants for over a quarter of a century.
Red ALERT about hypertension: The sooner you can control it, the better
Unfortunately, blood pressure tends to rise with age, due to the wear and tear of poor lifestyle decisions.
The “catch,” or complication, of blood pressure management is that older people with preexisting vascular diseases or circulatory deficits may require higher systolic pressure (above 140 mmHg) to ensure adequate circulation throughout the body.
In other words, hypertension can damage arterial linings, which then require even higher pressure and – in a vicious cycle – inflict more arterial damage. For this reason, it is important to begin managing blood pressure earlier in adulthood.
In fact, researchers have concluded that controlling blood pressure should begin at around age 40. Naturally, when it comes to managing (lowering) high blood pressure, it is important to work with a qualified healthcare provider, who appreciates the value of good nutrition and lifestyle changes.
While a variety of anti-hypertensive medications exist, many of these can cause side effects – such as fatigue, weakness, difficulty breathing and even increased cancer risk. On the other hand, natural remedies can help you lower your blood pressure, thereby reducing the need for toxic medications.
Just keep in mind, you should never eliminate or reduce prescribed medications without first talking to your doctor.
It’s time to take action: Manage your blood pressure naturally with nutrients and supplements
The essential mineral magnesium, which regulates blood pressure by helping blood vessel relax, is of vital importance in preventing hypertension.
The National Institutes of Health recommends 420 mg a day for men 50 and over, while women in that age group should get 320 mg a day. Good dietary sources include dark leafy greens, wild-caught salmon, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and almonds.
Fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, promotes the relaxation of arteries and reduces arterial inflammation. Integrative healthcare providers typically recommend between 1,000 mg and 2,000 mg of high-quality fish oil a day.
In addition, many natural healers advise garlic to lower blood pressure. And, there is a sound scientific rationale behind this advice.
Garlic contains allicin, which increases the body’s production of beneficial nitric oxide. This, in turn, promotes dilation of blood vessels. For maximum benefit, garlic may be taken with lemon juice.
One clinical study demonstrated that 20 grams of garlic and a tablespoon of lemon juice a day lowered blood pressure and significantly cut total cholesterol.
Other supplements that may help lower blood pressure include olive leaf extract, basil, cinnamon, green tea, beet juice and celery seed.
Simple lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure
Stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy, organic diet can all help to lower elevated blood pressure. Avoiding refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, excessive caffeine and processed foods is also a wise move.
And, don’t overlook the potential of natural stress reduction techniques, such as guided meditation, controlled breathing and yoga. You may even want to consider regular sauna bathing – which has been shown to reduce blood pressure, while slashing stroke risk by 50 percent.
For years, natural health experts have been advising optimizing blood pressure to prolong life. Now, it sounds like mainstream medical experts and institutions are beginning to get on board, as well.
One thing is certain: our years are precious – and maintaining healthy blood pressure can certainly help to protect them.
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