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Called the silent killer, this condition has no symptoms but can lead to serious health problems. New studies show lifestyle changes and natural supplements may be viable alternatives to prescription drugs for some cases of high blood pressure.
No symptoms, even when blood pressure is in the danger zone. Some people complain of headaches and ringing in the ears when blood pressure is very high, but usually the condition is discovered during a medical exam.
When to Call Your Doctor
If your blood pressure remains high (140/90) after two months of treatment with supplements.
What It Is
Defined as the force the blood exerts on arteries and veins as it circulates through the body, blood pressure is controlled by a complex regulatory system involving the heart, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and adrenal glands. It’s normal for blood pressure to fluctuate often — even minute to minute. In some people, however, blood pressure remains chronically high, a condition known medically as hypertension. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. Systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) denotes when the heart contracts and forces blood through the arteries; diastolic pressure (the bottom number) reflects when the heart relaxes. Normal blood pressure is 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) or lower. Hypertension is defined as blood pressure averaging 140/90 or higher in at least two separate measurements.
What Causes It
In 90% of people with hypertension, the cause isn’t known; this type is called essential hypertension. However, risk factors include smoking, obesity, gender (men are twice as likely to suffer hypertension as women), a high-sodium diet, and a family history. In addition, blacks are more prone to hypertension — and suffer greater consequences from it — than whites.
How Supplements Can Help
If you have mild hypertension (140 to 159 systolic and 90 to 99 diastolic), start making lifestyle changes and take calcium and magnesium. If your blood pressure is higher, see your doctor before using supplements.
What Else You Can Do
Lose weight. Even a few extra pounds can raise blood pressure.
Walk or do some other form of aerobic exercise regularly.
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products; reduce fat and salt intake. A new study found such a diet may be an alternative to prescription drugs for mild hypertension.
If you have mild hypertension, you may want to try lifestyle changes and supplements before turning to prescription drugs, which often have unpleasant side effects. Begin a two or three-month trial with supplements. If your blood pressure drops, you can use the supplements indefinitely. If your blood pressure doesn’t respond, you may need prescription antihypertensive drugs. If you already take such medication, don’t stop or reduce your dose without your doctor’s approval.
Essential Fatty Acids
Dosage: 1,000 mg calcium and 500 mg magnesium a day.
Comments: Do not use magnesium if you have kidney disease.
Dosage: 1,000 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Reduce dose if diarrhea develops.
Dosage: 50 mg twice a day.
Comments: For best absorption, take with food.
Essential Fatty Acids
Dosage: 1 tbsp. (14 grams) flaxseed oil a day; 1,000 mg fish oils 3 times a day.
Comments: Take fish oils if you don’t eat fish at least twice a week.
Dosage: 100-150 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 1.8% vitexin.
Dosage: 500 mg L-taurine twice a day on an empty stomach.
Comments: If using longer than 1 month, add mixed amino acids.
Dosage: 1,000 mg L-arginine twice a day on an empty stomach.
Comments: Take with a mixed amino acid complex.
Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs(Reader’s Digest)