According to the Australian Foundation 32% of Australians have High Blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80. For every 20 point increase in your Blood Pressure reading (i.e. the systolic/top number) you double your risk of cardiovascular disease. So if your blood pressure has elevated to 140 points then you double your risk of getting cardiovascular disease. So obviously the aim in keeping your blood pressure low is important.
Are you a “Napper”?
A research study of nearly 400 people who had high blood pressure was done recently. These people were divided into two groups where one group had a daytime nap and the other didn’t. Regardless of other factors such as weight, smoking, exercise, salt intake, alcohol and coffee intake, the group that napped throughout the day had an average of 5% reduction in their blood pressure, or 6 points on the scale. Therefore if they started with a systolic blood pressure of 140, they reduced it to 134 points after introducing daily naps. To put this in perspective if you reduce your blood pressure by 2 points you decrease your risk of heart disease by 10% so reducing your blood pressure by 6 points is significant.
The theory behind daytime napping is taking time out, being able to slow down, have a rest and allow the body time to self-repair. It pays to remember that the body is not a machine, it is designed to have regenerative times and napping taps into that.
That said, our lifestyles aren’t very conducive to the day time nap and so we need to look to other ways we can keep our blood pressure at an optimum level.
High Blood Pressure treatment protocol
High blood pressure is not a disease in itself but a symptom that things are going awry in our body. As we know when our blood pressure increases our risk of cardiovascular disease also increases so it is a serious sign that needs to be addressed.
There are many things that can increase our blood pressure and today I want to touch on a few of those and the measures we can take.
- Fish Oil – decreases vascular ageing
The ‘endothelium’ or lining of our blood vessels produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide’s main role is to dilate our blood vessels. It makes sense that when our blood vessels are dilated our blood flows easily throughout the body. But when they become constricted, they in effect become smaller. The same volume of blood needs to circulate throughout the body but now it is circulating in constricted vessels thus the pressure of the blood increases.
Aside from plaque (cholesterol) imbedding in blood vessel lining causing constrictions in our blood vessels, it is the depletion of nitric oxide that is the main culprit for vascular constriction. Remember nitric oxide’s role is to dilate our blood vessels so our blood flows easily throughout the body. But when its production is impaired our blood vessel lining becomes inflamed, our circulation is impaired and our blood pressure goes up.
Ageing, obesity and omega-3 deficiency are the three things known to reduce repair of our vessel lining. There’s not much we can do about ageing, but we certainly can take action to reduce our weight (if we are overweight) and we can supplement with fish oil to enhance our endothelial repair. Fish oil supplementation is an integral part of our treatment protocol for any cardiovascular health problem.
- CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is widely known as an antioxidant and mitochondrial stimulant which is important for producing energy. But studies show that CoQ10 is helpful in reducing hypertension by also restoring blood vessel lining (endothelial) function. Just 225mg daily have shown to result in significant reductions in blood pressure so it is an important element of our treatment protocol for hypertension.
- Magnesium Nitric oxide dilates our blood vessels by decreasing cytosolic calcium levels and promoting muscle fibre relaxation. Magnesium also relaxes muscles. Our muscles need magnesium to relax and if we don’t have enough magnesium in the body they remain constricted and tight which can impact blood vessel constriction. Low magnesium also causes inflammation and so supplementing daily with magnesium also helps maintain a healthy blood vessel lining (endothelial) function.
Resveratrol is a great antioxidant and it has the added benefit of enhancing endothelial function. What is most exciting about resveratrol is that it increases sodium excretion from the body. Thirty to fifty percent of the population are salt sensitive, which means that when they consume sodium it will increase their blood pressure. They also have a reduced capacity to eliminate sodium. If you are one of those people it is important that you monitor your sodium intake. The World Health Organisation recommends that we consume only 5g per day (well below the 8.9g the average Australian currently consumes). As a guide the Heart Foundation recommends that low salt foods are those that contain less than 120mg per 100g of sodium. You can find this information on the nutrient panel of packaged foods. However you can’t go wrong if the majority of your diet is made up of fresh whole foods that you prepare yourself.
There are many other factors that influence our blood pressure including family history, weight, stress levels, smoking, salt intake, exercise, coffee consumption and kidney function to name a few. If your blood pressure is high it is important that you see your doctor to identify the underlying cause and discuss treatments.
What is also very exciting is that there are dietary measures, nutritional supplements and lifestyle measures you can take to optimise your health and take control where you can.
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