Blood Pressure Monitor Fairbanks AK
By Bill Gottlieb
Fred Wilson, a 53-year-old construction worker and heavy-equipment operator, could handle a backhoe or bulldozer with nonchalant ease. But the heart beating inside his chest couldn’t handle his blood.
Wilson was among the millions of Americans who have high blood pressure. His arterial pipes had become narrowed, forcing his heart to generate extra pressure to pump blood through them. The added effort and abnormal flow were overworking Wilson’s heart and further damaging his arteries, greatly increasing his risk of heart disease and stroke.
Wilson, a stoic sort, didn’t care much about the increased risk; he figured everybody had to go sometime. And he didn’t care much about the cost of the medications he took to try to normalize his pressure, because his union paid for them. But Wilson did care—quite a bit—about one of the most common side effects from blood pressure medications, a problem he shared with one-third of the men who take them: impotence. So when Wilson’s doctor suggested he consider a drug-free alternative, he was eager to try it.
Many health practitioners oriented toward natural remedies would say Wilson was on the right track. “Scores of scientific studies show that diet, lifestyle changes, and other natural methods can lower blood pressure in most patients, without drugs,” says physician Julian Whitaker, founder and president of the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach, California.
Anyone with high blood pressure, of course, should consult with a physician before starting to use alternative remedies. Happily, though, most people with readings from 130/85 (high normal blood pressure) to 159/99 (the upper range of mild high blood pressure) can safely be treated with alternative methods, says Chris Meletis, dean of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. (Although they, too, should periodically check in with a doctor.)
For people whose numbers fall within this range, a 12-point drop in systolic pressure (the first number in a reading, measuring how strongly blood is pumped from the heart as it contracts) is typically what drugs can achieve. But many non-drug therapies, whether taken singly or in combination, work just as well or even better—without the troublesome side effects. Here’s a look at the best of what the alternative world has to offer.
Try a vessel-relaxing herb
In a recent study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, 36 people with mild high blood pressure took either 500 milligrams (mg) of an extract of the herb hawthorn, 600 mg of magnesium (a mineral that relaxes arteries), a combination of the two, or a dummy pill. The hawthorn group showed the biggest decrease in blood pressure. “Hawthorn is rich in flavonoids, biochemicals that relax the musculature of the vessels, decreasing blood pressure,” says Ann Walker, lead author of the study and a senior lecturer in human nutrition at the University of Reading in England. She recommends ...
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