High Blood Pressure Affects Millions, But What Really Helps?
High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension is a dangerous condition that many people ignore. HBP is often called the silent killer, as ordinary people can go about their day without knowing that they are suffering from significant heart, kidney and blood vessel damage. Let’s take a closer look at who is affected, what remedies are recommended, and which new findings seem promising.
Who Is Affected by HBP
Some people might be inclined to avoid learning about HBP because they think it doesn’t apply to them, but this mindset may be mistaken. Carrington College reports that a third of adult Americans suffer from HPB—a number that is expected to rise by almost 10 percent come 2030. Those with a family history of HPB, advanced age, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and heavy alcohol use are especially at risk.
While 75 percent are on anti-hypertensive treatments, only under half of these individuals have their blood pressure under control. Everyday, an average of nearly 1,000 people die from conditions primarily or partially caused by HBP, including strokes, aneurysms and heart attacks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the annual cost associated with HPB is $51 billion, with almost 90 percent of that amount directly attributed to medical expenses. Given the potentially severe health complications from HBP and the staggering annual cost related to the condition, this medical issue calls for urgent intervention.
Remedies to Reduce HBP
The first and best step towards reducing high blood pressure is to embrace healthy eating. For example, the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, aims to reduce sodium intake and encourages the consumption of nutrients (potassium, calcium and magnesium) that help reduce HBP.
Furthermore, smoking and drinking alcohol are particularly detrimental for those with HBP. Try to quit smoking (or simply don’t start) and limit alcohol intake (one drink a day for women and two for men). On top of that, it is important to get active and start exercising. Try to target two and a half hours of healthy physical activity every week. Keeping a healthy weight, minimizing stress and avoiding excessive heat are crucial.
Finally, check in with the doctor regularly, so your blood pressure can be closely monitored. If needed, take medications diligently as prescribed.
Lycopene Particularly Effective
A new study by the University of Adelaide found that lycopene is an especially effective remedy for controlling HPB. Lycopene is a carotenoid without provitamin-A activity that is responsible for the red color in tomatoes and watermelon, among other red(dish) fruits and vegetables. High lycopene intake has been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and stroke. Its chemical properties have been shown to lessen oxidative stress and cholesterol levels—risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The results of this recent study suggest that lycopene is particularly potent in reducing low-density-lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), total serum cholesterol and systolic blood pressure in hypertensives when taken in daily doses exceeding 25 mg. The LDL cholesterol-reducing effect of 10 percent is comparable to low doses of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs), while it does not have the negative side effects associated with statins.
Hence, adding lycopene to a healthy diet and lifestyle may be a very valuable option, especially for HBP sufferers with elevated cholesterol levels.