Health Insider Update


Recent Findings about Blood Pressure and Tips to Lower Yours

Recent Findings about Blood Pressure and Tips to Lower Yours
September 20
13:36 2015

Did you know that nearly one third of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure? Last week, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute announced that the current recommendations regarding hypertension are wrong. The targets aren’t low enough.

These findings come from a huge clinical trial that was cancelled almost a year early due to findings that represent “potentially lifesaving information.”

“More intensive management of high blood pressure, below a commonly recommended blood pressure target, significantly reduces rates of cardiovascular disease, and lowers risk of death in a group of adults 50 years and older with high blood pressure,” reads the institute’s latest press release.

The findings come from SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial), a clinical trial that included over 9,000 people 50 or older who were considered at risk for heart disease. Participants were divided randomly into two groups. One group was given a target systolic blood pressure of less than 140 mm; the other was pushed to achieve a number lower than 120 mm.

Researchers found that successful participants in the 120 mm group cut their risk of heart failure, heart attack, and stroke by nearly one third! These people had decreased their chance of dying by 25% compared to those in the 140 mm group.

“What we’ve been aiming for was 140,” says George Thomas, MD, one of the study’s authors. “We didn’t have any evidence to suggest otherwise. While 120 is the recommended “normal” systolic blood pressure for most individuals, those with high blood pressure were told that getting the number below 140 mm was adequate. “We thought 140 was good enough,” said Thomas.

Clinicians have already noticed far better results regarding artery function and heart muscle performance when patients achieve a systolic reading close to 120 mm. “But when the guidelines say that it’s 140, you’re always fighting an uphill battle with patients,” says cardiologist Nicole Weinberg, MD.

The full results of the study haven’t yet been published, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait to start aiming for 120.

Medicine to lower blood pressure comes with negative side effects. Thankfully there are many ways you can lower your blood pressure naturally – without medicine. We all know that sodium is the bad guy, but there’s more to it than that. The latest research shows that choosing foods both low in sodium and high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium is just as important as reducing your sodium intake. Cut your risk of heart attack/stroke by nearly 50% by adding the following foods to your diet:

• Pork tenderloin (3 ounces gives you 6% of your daily magnesium and a quarter of your daily potassium)
• Plain, fat free yogurt (great source of calcium)
• Tilapia and white beans
• Kiwi, peaches, bananas, nectarines, and avocados
• Kale (great for salads)
• Red bell pepper, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
• Quinoa (great rice alternative)
• Dark chocolate – at least 70% cocoa (eat only half an ounce per day)
• Herbal tea (we recommend hibiscus)

Limiting your alcohol intake and increasing physical activity can also help lower blood pressure. Your first prerogative should be getting to/maintaining a healthy weight. A few more habits to add to your routine:

Power walks (at least 30 minutes each day) Senior Couple Walking In Park
• Breathe deeply/meditate to decrease stress
• Ask your doctor about Q10 supplements
• Avoid caffeine
• Try not to work overtime (it’s hard to stay healthy and relaxed when you’re working more than 40 hours a week!)
• Listen to music (to relax)

It is estimated that nearly 30% of Americans with hypertension don’t even know they have it. If it’s been more than 2 years since you’ve had your blood pressure checked, we encourage you to schedule a visit with your doctor today.


About Author

April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

Related Articles