This month’s theme has been all about longevity and in my last blog post I talked about the role vascular risk factors play in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. One of those key risk factors is blood pressure, and today we are going to take a deeper dive into this topic.
If you are like me, you don’t just want to live longer, you want to be vital and healthy for as many years as possible. With heart disease being the #1 cause of death worldwide, and a major contributor to failing health, taking care of your vascular system should be a top priority.
High blood pressure is a major cause of damage to our arteries and is referred to as the “silent killer” because we do not feel it injuring our blood vessels. There are no symptoms.
Many of my patients have blood pressure levels that are just too high….but are doing nothing to fix it. Sometimes, levels are only slightly high, so their doctor is watching and monitoring year after year. Or they are concerned about the side effects of blood pressure medication so choose no treatment. Or they just have no idea they are walking around every day with blood pressure levels that are damaging the delicate lining of their arteries. Whatever the situation, if your blood pressure levels are not optimal, you are compromising the health of your vascular system and significantly increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
The exciting news is that there are a variety of effective and natural solutions to lower blood pressure and immediately start reducing your risk of vascular related diseases (did you know that for men, erectile dysfunction is an early sign of vascular disease). With the proper steps you can start ensuring a longer and healthier life.
Jason is a 45 year old male that came to my office with concerns around elevated blood pressure levels, particularly because there was a strong family history of heart attacks. Under the direction of his primary doctor, he was taking two different blood pressure medications. He did not like the idea of taking these medications every day and in addition to that was dealing with uncomfortable fluctuations in his blood pressure levels. To control his spikes, his doctor had adjusted the medication, but this was causing him to have episodes of low blood pressure that would leave him feeling dizzy and weak and lightheaded. And worst of all, he was still having blood pressure spikes despite being on multiple medications! Something was not right so he decided to seek my help, knowing I take a more natural and holistic approach to managing blood pressure.
Within 8 weeks of making changes to his nutrition and getting started on the right nutrients and natural therapies he was no longer having blood pressure spikes and was able to follow up with his doctor and discontinue one of the blood pressure medications. This immediately alleviated his episodes of dizziness and weakness. Over the next 6 weeks he was able to completely come off prescription blood pressure medication and enjoy optimal blood pressure numbers without the unpredictable lows and highs. He had more energy, an improved mood and finally had the peace of mind that he was doing what he needed to protect his heart…….naturally!
If you want to enjoy a healthier and longer life, here are 3 proven steps to lower blood pressure naturally.
- Monitor Your Blood Pressure- Knowing if you have even slightly elevated levels of blood pressure is the first step to fixing the problem. Just having your levels checked a few times a year at a doctor’s visit is not enough. To really know if you need to improve blood pressure, you must monitor it regularly, at home. I recommend creating a blood pressure log that measures two readings each day for 14 days. Optimal guidelines for blood pressure in relation to longevity are readings no higher than 120mm/hg for the top (systolic) number and readings no higher than 80mm/hg for the lower number (diastolic). While traditional guidelines allow for levels above this, not exceeding 120/80mm/hg is the best guideline for longevity. Take your readings once in the AM and once in the PM. Readings should be done when you are feeling relaxed, but also when you are feeling stressed. If you are like me, daily stressors can get high, so you must make sure your levels are optimal even in times of stress. Log your numbers on paper or in a spreadsheet and look for patterns or trends. If you have levels that are consistently getting over 120mm/hg for systolic or over 80mm/hg for the diastolic, it is time to take action! Home blood pressure monitors are inexpensive and easy to use. I recommend ones that fit on the upper arm and NOT the wrist. Here is a link to one that I recommend to my patients #homebloodpressurecuff How well do you know your blood pressure?
- Boost Nitric Oxide– When nitric oxide is produced in the arterial wall it triggers the smooth muscle to relax and the artery to open and expand. This increased diameter lowers the internal pressure of the artery and decreases overall blood pressure. Nitric oxide is the main way our body controls blood pressure. Boosting nitric oxide is a proven way to lower blood pressure and can be done effectively in a variety of natural ways. Increasing nitrate rich vegetables in the diet is a common way I help patients lower blood pressure. Leafy greens and beets are the best sources of vegetable-based nitrates and nitrites. WARNING: Avoid cured meats. While processed meat like bacon and lunch meats have high levels of nitrate, it is not in the same form and does not convert to nitric oxide. Instead, it converts to N-nitoso compounds (NOCs) which are linked to cancer. The only safe and effective way to boost nitric oxide and lower blood pressure with food is vegetables, not meats. In the clinic, I use natural supplements in addition to food to boost nitric oxide. Beet extracts, grapeseed extract and olive leaf extracts are all clinically proven ways to boost nitric oxide and lower blood pressure. Are you eating at least one large serving of greens per day?
- Do a Sodium Detox– Reducing dietary sodium is a sure-fire way to lower blood pressure…and you don’t have to settle for bland food to do it. Modern processed food is loaded with sodium! As a result, our palates have adjusted to this flavor profile. About 3 years ago, on the recommendation of our staff nutrition advisor, Angela Thomas CNC,MCPC, I started reducing the sodium in my diet to optimize my cardiovascular health. I began by preparing meals with ¼ – ½ the amount of salt I would typically use and just being more generally aware of any salt I added to food. At first, the food tasted different and was slightly less stimulating to my taste buds. However, over time I began to taste the natural flavors of the food and didn’t miss the salt at all. I began using more fresh herbs and other seasonings to bring flavor to my food…and it all tasted so much better!! My palate had to detox from the sodium. I also became more mindful of how much sodium was in any packaged food I ate like canned soups, tinned fish or canned sauces. I started choosing the reduced sodium variations and noticed that I didn’t miss the extra salt at all. Do you pay attention to your sodium intake daily?
Natural treatments and lifestyle changes can be powerful tools to lower blood pressure and reduce vascular risk factors related to heart disease, stroke and dementia. If you are concerned about your blood pressure, call the office at 410-266-9110 to set up a complimentary discovery call to learn more about how a natural treatment plan would benefit you.
Dr. Kevin Passero