Healthy Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because there are no symptoms—and unless you get regular check-ups, you may not even know you are at risk. Yet high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be deadly. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s the leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

A blood pressure reading of 140/90 or greater is considered high. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89, you have a condition called pre-hypertension, which means you may develop high blood pressure unless you adopt a healthier lifestyle.

No matter which group you belong to, most doctors recommend exercise, relaxation and cutting back on salt—plus medication—to manage blood pressure. Common medications are angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (Aceon, Zestril and other brands), beta-blockers (Lopressor, Normodyne and others) or calcium-channel blockers (Norvasc, Procardia and others).

The problem is that many of these drugs can cause side effects like constipation, headache, dizziness, upset stomach and bleeding gums. Fortunately, you may be able to manage blood pressure safely and naturally with supplements. Please note: You should never discontinue a prescription medication without first talking to your doctor.

Aged garlic extract (AGE)

According to research conducted at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, garlic improves the elasticity of blood-vessel walls, reduces cholesterol, enhances blood flow and clears the arteries of deposits. But new evidence suggests that garlic, specifically aged garlic extract, can also reduce blood pressure.

One study published in 2010 in the journal Maturitas found that subjects who were given 960 mg of AGE every day for 12 weeks experienced an average drop in their systolic blood pressure (the top number in the blood pressure reading) of 10.2 points compared to placebo. This led the researchers to conclude that AGE offered benefits for blood pressure management.

For best results, look for an AGE that is standardized with S-allylcysteine, a water-soluble compound in garlic with antioxidant properties. Standardization ensures you’re getting a consistent amount of the active ingredient in every dose.

Hibiscus

Developing a taste for the tart tea made from the tropical flowering plant hibiscus may positively influence blood pressure by opening the blood vessels, decreasing the viscosity of the blood and increasing urine production (which reduces blood volume).

In a 2010 clinical trial by researchers from Tufts University, 65 subjects with mildly high blood pressure or pre-hypertension drank either three cups of hibiscus tea or a placebo tea daily for six weeks. The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, reported a seven-point reduction in systolic blood pressure for those drinking the tea—significantly more than the drop observed in people drinking the placebo tea.

A 2009 Iranian study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension reported even more benefits when researchers compared hibiscus tea to black tea. Among 60 diabetic subjects with mild hypertension, those sipping hibiscus tea twice a day saw their systolic blood pressure drop an impressive 21 points, while those drinking black tea actually saw their pressure rise nine points. But since hibiscus tea can be an acquired taste, you may prefer taking this tropical herb in capsule or tincture form.

Nattokinase

Nattokinase is an enzyme derived from fermented soybeans that has been shown to benefit heart health. In a 2008 trial of 73 individuals with borderline hypertension that appeared in the journal Hypertension Research, scientists from Seoul, South Korea found that taking nattokinase reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 5.55 points and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) by an average of 2.84 points—and it did so in just eight weeks. Earlier studies suggest that nattokinase can lower systolic blood pressure by up to 10.9 percent and diastolic blood pressure by 9.7 percent.

Nattokinase is available in capsule or softgel form. But since this novel enzyme acts like a blood thinner, check with your doctor if you are taking an anticoagulant such as warfarin or aspirin.

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Source: Wellness Times

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