Hypertension Update

Cardiovascular Care

Aug 13
Taking blood pressure.

Since writing Bypassing Bypass (currently being rewritten) and the articles pertaining to cardiovascular wellness, we’ve collected a lot of information on hypertension (high blood pressure) that needs to be passed on.

First off, drugs. Hypertension drugs. Are they effective? Safe?

Lancet Oncology published in 2010 that angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) raise the risk of cancer. There was an overall 11% increase and as much as 25% increase in lung cancers.

These particular drugs have worldwide sales of around $25 billion with doctors writing out about 82 million prescriptions.

Of course drug companies are worried that sales might take a hit because of this research. Worried over people getting cancer? Not so much. [Lancet Oncology, 2010; doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(10)70106-6]

This was the first study we found linking blood pressure drugs to cancer. In 1996, Hypertension [28: 321-4] published a study out of Canada that re-examined seven previous studies linking various cancers to blood pressure medications, eg., diuretics and antihypertensives, with researchers concluding that more research was needed. But with the beta blocker Atenolol, researchers noted that cancer was twice as common in people taking it compared to others who did not take it for hypertension.

There seems to be another problem, and that is doctors seem to be choosing a one-size-fits-all approach to hypertension. In a study in which 945 patients were monitored, 16% of them actually found their blood pressure rose because of their prescription. [American Journal of Hypertension, 2010; doi: 10.1038/ajh.2010.114]

Additionally, it’s been found that diuretics and beta blockers increase your risk of diabetes, while ACE inhibitors and ARBs (the ones that increase your cancer risks) reduce the risk of diabetes. [The Lancet, 2007; 369: 201-7]

For years, doctors have assumed that blood pressure rises as we get older. Recent studies show that the reverse is actually happening, but in stages.

Researchers at University College London discovered that when we reach our late fifties, blood pressure rises; after that, it just naturally falls. Our blood pressure also changes during the day, leading to doctors misreading our pressure levels. Thus the definition of “dangerous levels” has changed over the years. [PLoS Med, 2011; 8: e1000440]

In addition to aging (past 65), a low carb diet also seems to reduce blood pressure.

In one study of 146 people (with high blood pressure and overweight), nearly half lowered their blood pressure on a low carb diet.

The latest diet drug, Orlistat, was given to people who were overweight, and just 21% lowered their blood pressure. [Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; 170: 136-45]

You might have heard of ACE Inhibitors. Let me explain.

The enzyme Angiotensin II constricts blood vessels while causing damage to the lining of those vessels as blood tries to “squeeze through.” The results are stiff and hard arteries. This enzyme also elevates sodium levels and you retain water (and your blood pressure goes up). You can get an ACE inhibitor from your doctor and risk all the drawbacks we’ve discussed above, or you can eat blueberries.

Yes, blueberries are ace inhibitors. However, a blueberry concentrated extract works even better. [Feeding blueberry diets inhibits angiotensin II-converting enzyme (ACE) activity in spontaneously hypertensive stroke-prone rats.]

The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Cardiovascular Medications

When you take a drug, oftentimes there is a nutritional cost to that drug. The drug can inhibit the uptake of nutrients or deplete them. This is why we’ve decided to dedicate an entire page to this subject.

Click here: The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Cardiovascular Medications.

Whey Protein & Watermelon

Though most sites will tell you that “more research is needed,” both of these have been found in studies to lower blood pressure.

Watermelon is high in the amino acid L-citrulline, which provides our body with nitric oxide, that miracle molecule that relaxes our blood vessels. [American Journal of Hypertension, 2010; doi: 10.1038/ajh.2010.142] However, keep in mind that the study used watermelon “extract”  and you would need gallons of watermelon to affect your blood pressure, and that is why you can soon expect watermelon concentrate pills to be on the market. [Ref]

Whey protein, too, has been found to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure without affecting people with normal blood pressure. 

We found that whey protein beverages lowered BP only in individuals with previously high BP, but not in those with normal blood pressure …

These findings suggest that whey protein beverages had a normalizing effect on elevated BP and did not cause hypotension. This is important since hypotension can be a health concern in certain population groups,  such as young women and the elderly. [Ref]

Fat Metabolism and Fatty Deposits

Science does not support the theory that eating saturated foods puts fatty deposits on your arteries but that doesn’t stop people in white coats with ritual stethoscopes around their necks from repeating this myth to us. However, fatty deposits do happen and if we can clean the arteries early on, hypertension will be less of a problem.

Hypertension is (most often) the result of two main factors: arteries not getting the nutrition we need, and inflammation (often caused by our poor nutrition).

A recent study out of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute found that after a year on Aged Garlic Extract and CoQ10, they were able to reduce “soft plaque” in people with metabolic syndrome up to 80%. [Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial]

Additionally, your body needs more efficient fat metabolism and one great way to do this is by increasing your body’s release of adiponectin. You need to read the article on adiponectin and how to get more of it into your blood stream.

Fatty Deposits + Calcium + Oxidation = Calcified Plaque

In our article on Hypertension, we point out studies that show both Pomegranate Juice and Grape Juice (and wine) can keep fatty (calcified) deposits off your arteries. Additionally, the super secret “X-factor” that Weston Price discovered is no longer super secret. It’s a form of Vitamin K called MK-7. My favorite is NOW Foods version.

Vitamin K may affect arterial calcification for hypertensives: Multi-ethnic study

Non-Esterfied Fatty Acids and Sudden Death

A huge cohort study out of France (that recruited nearly 8,000 civil servants aged 42 to 53) was performed from 1967 through 1972. The study involved interviews concerning medical histories and family histories, as well as blood tests, physical examinations and ECGs.

Now the purpose here is not to give anyone a lesson in lipid chemistry or the difference between esterfied and non-esterfied fatty acids, except to inform you that non-esterfied fatty acids (NEFAs) are released from storage (often times right after a meal) and are used in metabolism. Medicine has known these fatty acids to be associated with arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), and learned in this study that high concentrations in the blood were found in individuals with non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

However, follow-up of this study also showed that high concentrations in the blood is an independent risk factor for sudden death in middle-aged men. [Ref]

Lucky for middle-aged men there were hundreds of follow-up studies showing that we can fight fats with fats.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (virgin olive oil), coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oils, and flax oil (hemp oil, your Essential Fatty Acids, omega-3s), and palmitoleic acid (as found in Cardia-7 and Flexinol, your omega-7s) can inhibit damage caused by free NEFAs in our blood. [Ref1] [Ref2] [Ref3]

The Miracle Molecule

Since we’ve mentioned nitric oxide, we need to go into depth on it. However, I’ve already written about this in our article Stroke Prevention Basics. And even though I’m going to just copy that here, you really should read the entire article, because Stroke Prevention is Hypertension Prevention.

From Stroke Prevention Basics

Here is a short list of all the things Nitric Oxide does for us:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Assists the immune system fighting off tumors and bacteria
  • Assists the transmission of information between nerve cells and the brain (better memory, better reflexes)
  • Increases endurance and strength
  • Regulates blood pressure by dilating arteries.

And we’ve just read that in 1998, three scientists were given the Nobel Prize for discovering the signaling role of nitric oxide. Since then, there have been over 50,000 studies done on nitric oxide. [What is nitric oxide and how does it work?]

As we age, we become less active and we slow the production of nitric oxide. There are supplements and foods that will assist us in producing enough to keep our blood pressure under control.

I personally dropped my blood pressure significantly using L-Citrulline Malate Complex and still use it when I’m not using beet juice.

All of these or any combination will be helpful, and you’ll notice the extra energy within a half hour of supplementing. People who work out always take one or more of these supplements.

All that’s left is to help clear the gunk off your arteries (arterial plaque) and you’re home free.

Pomegranate juice, Concord grape juice, and serrapeptase will do that. Personally, from my research, the pomegranate juice works best, followed by the serrapeptase, and then the grape juice. However, all of them (either of them) is better than none at all.

Serrapeptase Warning: There might be a problem with blood thinning if you use serrapeptase, so if you’re using a blood thinner, you probably don’t want to use serrapeptase. I say “might” because the experts seem to disagree, there are not enough studies, and there’s the usual hoop-tee-doo that goes along with most natural substances. And though the dosing hasn’t quite been figured out yet, you should know that 5 mg equals 10,000 SPU (serrapeptase units). Additionally, if your brand is not enterically coated, you have to take it two hours before eating or two hours after because digestive juices will destroy it. Why the huge time difference from most supplements? we do not know.   

Studies have shown that drinking pomegranate juice regularly will reduce blood pressure.

Additionally, MK-7, or as known in nutritional circles as Vitamin K, has a long history of cleaning arteries of calcified plaque and returning them to their healthy, supple state. We recommend and use NOW Foods MK-7 Vitamin K2.

That’s it. Now get out there and move your bodies.

Further Reading


Stubborn Hypertension

Busting the Salt – Hypertension Myth

Blood Pressure — The How Tos and How Not Tos

The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Cardiovascular Medications

Two Salad Dressings for Your Heart

  1. Super Omega-3 Dressing & Dip
  2. Blueberry, Pomegranate, Beet, and Mangosteen Vinaigrette