95% of High Blood Pressure readings are "Idiopathic"

Scare tactics - intimidation and ignorance

Testing Blood pressureCredit: Sue Visser cartoon and photo

How is blood pressure monitored?

The old-fashioned method is what most of us remember. That strange device called a sphygmomanometer. First an armband was placed around your upper arm. It is attached to two rubber tubes. Once in place, the Doctor or Nurse squeezed the pump a few times and you felt it tightening. They watch to inflate it to just above your highest reading. The rubber ball (pump) is attached to the tube that feeds air into the balloon inside the fabric armband. Then they listen with a stethoscope pressed against the inside crease of your arm, placed over the brachial artery (the one you can see).  They listen for a thud, (the highest one, the systole) then release the pressure slowly and wait for a sound to show the lower reading (diastole). They use an aneroid (circular dial) or flip top box with a mercury column. You are then told that you have normal, high or low blood pressure. You feel bewildered but are too shy to ask what the heck is going on, so here it will be explained in detail.

We have automatic devices that are now used to measure blood pressure. They are more accurate, providing the cuff fits you properly. When your blood pressure readings are taken you will see two numbers. The higher number (systolic) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts). The lower number (diastolic) measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood) 

  • Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
  • Pre-hypertension: 120-139 over 80-89
  • Stage 1 hypertension: 140-159 over 90-99
  • Stage 2 hypertension: 160 and above over 100 and above
  • Hypertensive crisis: 180 and over 110 and above (an emergency)  

In healthy arteries, the blood pressure should be 120/80 irrespective of age. When it starts to increase we know that there are problems with the arteries. More tests may be needed to establish a complete symptom picture associated with the raised blood pressure. A single blood pressure reading is not enough because some patients get nervous and it can raise their blood pressure. It is also higher in the mornings. Ideally, both arms should be measured, with a rest in between.

 White jacket effect on blood pressure 

The so-called "white coat effect" on the higher blood pressure of a group of patients under such unsettling circumstances in a clinical setting was investigated in 2011. It may be a significant cause of patient over treatment. 20% of the normal people gave abnormally high blood pressure readings when it was taken in the consulting room. Researchers from Duke University and the Durham VA Medical Centre also claim that blood pressure readings taken in doctors' offices were always higher than those taken at home. Repeated measurements taken at home may help give a more accurate picture of blood pressure control than a single reading in a doctor's office.

Good candidates for at-home monitoring include:

  • Seniors, whose blood pressure can vary
  • People who have "white-coat hypertension"
  • People with syndrome X or diabetes

 Before choosing a blood pressure monitor consider the following: Check the fit. The cuff (armband) must be adjustable. An irregular-heartbeat detector checks for arrhythmias and other abnormalities A risk-category indicator tells you whether your blood pressure is in the high range. Multiple-user memory allows two or more users to save readings. Make sure that the display on the monitor is easy to read and understand and that the buttons are big enough. The directions for applying the cuff and operating the monitor should be clear.

These devices may be available at a discount and some insurance plans may provide coverage for them. Newer models can be used in conjunction with lap tops and cell phones thanks to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth features. They are portable. "HeartMath" monitors are also a valuable biofeedback device for blood pressure. 

High blood pressure and Syndrome X

We all think high blood pressure is immediately a reason to rush off to a cardiologist. But before you do, investigate insulin resistance because high blood pressure is an early symptom – a warning about insulin resistance! Even before high blood sugar levels are detected, blood pressure rises. It is a precursor to syndrome X or the insulin resistant cavalcade of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, secondary diabetes and serious weight gain. All of these factors affect cardiovascular disease

 Insulin resistance causes sodium retention and magnesium loss = hypertension

Insulin resistance makes one retain sodium and it inhibits the uptake of magnesium – the mineral that keeps blood vessels relaxed and flexible. So it is excreted by the kidneys instead. Levels of insulin and leptin increase and this also raises levels of uric acid. Uric acid blocks the relaxing effect that nitric acid has on blood vessels. Nitric acid also requires Vitamin B 3 to activate it. But high blood sugar levels block the action of all our B vitamins that we need to protect our blood vessels, including B 6, B 12 and folic acid needed to control homocysteine.

 Without nutritious foods that supply the raw materials required for insulin function such as chromium, zinc and vanadium insulin resistance sets in. Medications that are given to treat high blood pressure need to be justified in such cases. They do not supply the nutrients we need to support insulin sensitivity. They don't supply nutrients for keeping normal blood pressure within healthy limits namely magnesium, potassium and Omega 3.

Salt is not the cause of all our ills

Some recent studies on the dietary causes of cardiovascular disease imply that our sodium intake is minimally related to blood pressure and perhaps even inversely related to cardiovascular risk. It has more to do with highly refined carbohydrates. That includes “natural” fruit juices rich in fructose. The sugar we consume aggravates insulin resistance and that in turn, causes the sodium retention. It is not consuming too much salt that is bad because the body can easily excrete the excess. But if we are insulin resistant the sodium is not excreted. Cutting out salt or lowering the intake will not treat the cause - that of insulin resistance.

We worry about our salt intake but any excess of sodium in proportion to potassium is normally excreted by the kidneys. We circulate about two litres of sodium bicarbonate around the kidneys as it is also used to keep the small intestine alkaline. The salt we eat provides chloride to help us top up on stomach acid and sodium to buffer acidity. So what is the problem with eating salt? Potassium is also needed to keep it in balance. The hormones aldosterone and renin control the ratio between salt and potassium.

Most people think salt is a toxic substance but that is debatable. We consume salt and need it to stay alive - but we need the same amount of potassium to maintain the balance between them. A healthy potassium status (from eating our vegetables) requires enough sodium to keep it in balance. We begin to crave salt when we need it for a good reason. Salt is also used to keep stomach acid strong and to provide sodium because it is one of our most important alkalizing minerals to maintain blood pH.

 The 4 Alkaline heart Minerals work in pairs: 

Sodium balances Potassium
The hormone Aldosterone controls the levels
Calcium balances Magnesium
They regulate the heartbeat

A salt deficiency raises blood pressure

People who think salt is bad are usually unaware that the body excretes the sodium we don't need. But if we are insulin resistant it does the opposite and we then suffer from too much sodium. However, potassium can only maintain the correct balance if it has enough sodium. If not, we lose potassium and magnesium by cutting out or severely restricting salt. Rather use potassium chloride mixed with regular salt to lower sodium.

Consider natural herbs, spices, oils and minerals*

  •  Replace table salt with potassium chloride. Or make a 1:1 mixture with natural salt. Cream of tartar (potassium tartrate) can also be used. It tastes like salt and vinegar - good on salads and avocado.
  • Take 3 teaspoons of black strap molasses in a cup of hot water twice a day for extra potassium, calcium and magnesium. This helps for constipation and irritable bowel. Also drink enough water every day.
  • Take a good multivitamin every day plus a potent vitamin B complex.
  • Take a calcium and magnesium supplement - especially at bedtime to help lower blood pressure and to relax blood vessels.
  • If you need more magnesium take regular hot baths with a handful of Epsom salts. You can soak up minerals from the skin.
  • Instead of diuretics, take natural herbs like dandelion and parsley. Eat them fresh or juice them. Vitamin B 6 helps to ease water retention.
  • Kitchen favourites can help to improve overall cardiovascular health include ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, onions and garlic.
  • Pineapples reduce fibrin and platelet aggregation to reduce the stickiness of blood

High blood pressure symptoms

There are not any really noticeable symptoms to watch out for. We need to know what our usual blood pressure readings are and keep them under control. In extreme cases it is only when blood pressure readings soar to dangerously high levels (systolic of 180 or higher OR diastolic of 110 or higher) that emergency medical treatment is required. Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis are:

  •  Light headedness
  • Nausea, vomiting, and stroke-like symptoms
  • Severe headaches, anxiety
  • Shortness of breath or a nosebleed

About 1% of people with high blood pressure do not seek medical care until the high blood pressure is very severe, a condition known as malignant hypertension. In most cases the blood pressure creeps up and does considerable damage to a number of organs over a period of time, concurrent with dietary neglect, a lack of exercise and an extreme deficiency of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory Omega oils and B-vitamins. In malignant hypertension, the diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) often exceeds 140. So note the aggravating circumstances lest you get a nasty surprise.

Organ damage that is common in chronic cases of high blood pressure:

  • Heart attacks, Heart failure
  • Strokes, especially due to bleeding capillaries or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Kidney failure
  • Eye damage with progressive vision loss
  • Peripheral arterial disease-causing leg pain with walking
  • Damage to the aorta, called aneurysms

If you are on statin drugs then take co-enzyme Q 10 to compensate. If you are on a birth control pill or HRT, take vitamin B6 to compensate. A lot of drugs rob us of nutrients that can have an adverse effect on cardiovascular health, so check up on them. Then ask your doctor to compare your blood pressure readings at a later date to see what progress you have made. Get more exercise and cut out the excessive refined carbohydrates, excessive salt, sugar trans-fatty acids, alcohol and cigarettes.”

Rather think about improving your lifestyle and supplement according what seems to be missing from your diet: Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, Omega 3 oil, potassium calcium and magnesium for a start. There are a lot more specific heart friendly nutrient combinations to choose from and they are available from health shops and pharmacies. Your Health Practitioner will be able to check your supplementation profile according to the what you eat (vitamins, Omega 3). Vegetarians and vegans, for instance do not eat meat and are less prone to the damaging effects that homocysteine has on blood vessels.

Effects of high blood pressure: aneurism, haemorrhagic strokes

If the walls of the aorta or other large blood vessels become weak they can swell or bulge out (balloon) in places and form what is called an aneurysm. This is usually a problem caused by high blood pressure. During the early stages blood may begin to leak from the walls and so blood clotting will take place. Severe damage is caused if the aneurysm bursts. It has to be treated by surgery and blood clotting factors will have to be controlled (bypassed). Using anticoagulants may exacerbate blood leakage. This increases the risk of strokes because blood can leak into brain tissue. Blood is toxic to the brain and the surrounding cells weaken and die. This adversely affects brain function.

 Drug treatment for Hypertension

 Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering cells of the heart and blood vessel walls. Some of these drugs have the added benefit of slowing your heart rate, which can further reduce blood pressure, relieve chest pain (angina) and control an irregular heartbeat. But they do have side effects that need to be considered. The biggest problem is that they do not address the initial cause of the problem: a lack of magnesium causes the excess calcium.

Calcium-channel blockers work by blocking voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels. This prevents calcium from causing muscles to contract excessively. The truth is that magnesium is what relaxes muscles between the contractions. So we need to first check magnesium levels before allowing somebody to prescribe a drug that interferes with calcium. This is especially the case with insulin resistance that depletes magnesium and increases sodium.

 In the heart, the drug decreases cardiac contractility (systolic pressure). In blood vessels, a decrease in calcium results in less contraction of the vascular smooth muscle and an increase in vasodilation (diastolic pressure) due to vasodilation. (Nitric oxide and magnesium do the same thing) The active constituents in herbal remedies like Olive Leaf or hawthorn can help to lower mild to moderate hypertension. 

 Mainstream drugs like calcium channel blockers may not work as well as diuretics, beta blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors at lowering blood pressure. So they aren't usually the first medication you'd be prescribed to lower your blood pressure. However, for blacks (they are more deficient in Vitamin D3), calcium channel blockers may be more effective than other blood pressure medications, such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers.

Examples of calcium channel blockers

 Short-acting types work quickly, but their effects last only a few hours. Long-acting medications are slowly released for a longer lasting effect, so are taken less often.

  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac)
  • Felodipine
  • Isradipine
  • Nicardipine (Cardene SR)
  • Nifedipine (Procardia)
  • Nisoldipine (Sular)
  • Verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Covera-HS)

Prescribed to prevent, treat or improve symptoms of:

High blood pressure, Chest pain (angina), Brain aneurysm complications, Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia), Migraine, Some circulatory conditions, such as Reynaud's disease. High blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs (pulmonary hypertension)

Side effects and cautions include:

Constipation, Headache, Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), Dizziness, Rash, Fatigue, Flushing, Nausea and Swelling in the feet and lower legs.

 Certain calcium channel blockers interact with grapefruit products. Check with your pharmacist or physician because some can reduce your ability to eliminate the drug from your body. This build up could cause serious side effects.

 A second opinion on C-C blockers

1  Note the interactions and side effects and consider the initial causes of your hypertension. You may get more benefit from a second opinion, especially from a Doctor who is well versed in herbal alternatives and supplements.

2  Did you notice the irony? To treat irregular heartbeats but one of the side effects is a rapid heartbeat. Some Doctors prescribe them to treat migraines but the drug has headaches as a side effect. You are entitled to ask why?

In some cases doctors prescribe a calcium channel blocker along with other high blood pressure medications or with cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins. Doctors of integrative medicine know what the causes are.

What happened to Magnesium?

Magnesium is the most important supplement for treating and preventing heart disease. It is not a prescribed medication. Insulin resistance blocks the uptake of magnesium.

 A magnesium deficiency can cause:

  •  High blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms (angina), vasoconstriction
  •  Irregular heartbeat. Calcium excess
  • Increased blood viscosity (sticky blood)
  •  Increased levels of oxidized cholesterol.

We should ask ourselves if we need drugs or magnesium.

Symptoms of dehydration include water and sodium retention and swelling

Water retention is the primary symptom of dehydration. The body fights to conserve its resources if we don't drink enough water. It shuts down urinary excretion of fluid and sodium to maintain the blood pressure and histamine levels increase, producing more swelling. Taking a diuretic will not prevent sodium retention that is a result of insulin resistance. Drinking more water will increase urine production and help to flush out the excessive salt.

 But water retention due to medical conditions such as heart, kidney or liver disease, malignant lymphoma, thyroid disease or chronic venous insufficiency may need the temporary use of diuretics under strict supervision.

 Diuretics to lower blood pressure?

Diuretics all increase the amount of water lost through the urine. They are used to treat  a number of heart-related conditions, including high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney and liver problems, and glaucoma. Most diuretics are sulfa drugs so if you are allergic to sulfa drugs, tell your doctor. They have adverse effects on cholesterol and increase LDL with the exception of Indipamide.

Thiazide diuretics, such as Esidrix or Zaroxolyn, can be used to lower blood pressure or to treat oedema in heart failure.

But they can cause potassium depletion. The loss of these electrolytes can cause muscle cramping and an irregular heartbeat. Potassium-sparing diuretics (like Aldactone, Dyrenium) help your body to retain (overload) potassium.

Loop diuretics (Lasix, Bumex) are often used for congestive heart failure but don't significantly lower blood pressure. They promote the excretion of sodium.

Common side effects of Diuretics include:

Frequent urination.  Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)

Electrolyte abnormalities affecting potassium, sodium and heart and kidney function. Extreme tiredness or weakness. Muscle cramps or weakness, Dizziness, light-headedness. Blurred vision, confusion, headache, increased perspiration (sweating) and restlessness.

Dehydration hazards from diuretics

Diuretics can make you lose too much water. Early symptoms of dehydration include increased thirst, dry mouth, headaches and dizziness with decreased urine output, dark-coloured urine, or constipation. Your blood pressure may get dangerously low from the reduced blood volume. With gout the loss of water can cause crystals of uric acid to build up in the joints. Blood viscosity will also increase.

Potassium and sodium out of balance

ACE inhibitors can increase potassium levels, which can lead to serious cardiac problems particularly for those taking potassium-sparing diuretics. At all times we need to keep sodium in balance with potassium. But taking drugs that drastically reduce sodium will also cause a sudden drop in potassium - unless the drug interferes with aldosterone, the hormone that maintains a critical balance between sodium and potassium. A potassium excess under these circumstances can be dangerous for the heart because it is out of balance with sodium.

ACE inhibitors widen blood vessels. (So do herbs like Hawthorn and Olive Leaf)

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors activate the release of water and sodium via the kidneys. Technically speaking they block the conversion of angiotensin I (A I) to angiotensin II (a hormone that triggers sodium and water retention). By getting rid of the sodium and excess water blood vessels can relax and widen to let blood flow freely and reduce blood pressure. These drugs are popular for treating high blood pressure and kidney complications in diabetic patients and those who have heart failure. Echo cardiograms have shown that ACE inhibitor drugs help to improve the pumping ability of the left ventricle (main exit) that often becomes damaged with scar tissue.

Trade names plus (generic) ACE inhibitors:

  •  Benazepri (Lotensin)
  • Captopril  (Capoten)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Fosinopril              
  • Lisinopril  (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • Perindopril (Aceon)
  • Quinapril   (Accupril)
  • Ramipril  (Altace)
  • Trandolapril (Mavik)

Common side effects of ACE inhibitors include:

 The main problem is hyperkalemia (too much potassium due to retention) as a result of the sodium excretion. This can affect nerve and muscle impulses, including cardiac tissues causing cardiac dysfunction (irregular heartbeat) and muscle weakness, trouble breathing, nausea, or diarrhoea. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, fainting and liver or kidney damage.

A persistent dry cough affects nearly 25% of ACE inhibitor users. It can be alleviated by prescribing an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) instead. 

 Beta Blockers - Drugs to block your stress reactions?

Beta blockers are chemicals that block the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline - a stress related hormone. The drug overrides your body's pre-set response to being tense, angry or upset. (It does not deal with the cause of the vasoconstriction and blood thickening activity.) Beta blockers slow down the heartbeat and force blood vessels to dilate against their natural tendencies but this helps to reduce blood pressure.

Side effects can be serious and often the drug is contraindicated or needs to be withdrawn. Beta blockers are not usually prescribed before diuretics have been tried. (Diuretics won't work if the patient is dehydrated. ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers may be given concurrently. Some beta blockers mainly affect the heart, while others affect both the heart and blood vessels. 

Examples of beta blockers

  • Acebutolol (Sectral)
  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL)
  • Nadolol (Corgard)
  • Propranolol (Inderal LA, InnoPran XL)
  • Beta blockers

Darker skinned people do not respond as well to Beta blockers because they have lower levels of vitamin D3 (due to their reduced ability to absorb it from sunshine). For them especially D3 supplements are beneficial. 

 Side effects of Beats blockers, precautions

They adversely affect cholesterol - increasing the LDL (bad type) and lowering the HDL (good type.) Statin drugs are often prescribed but have deadly side effects. 

Common side effects of beta blockers include:

  • Fatigue (from poor sleep - unresolved stress?)
  • Cold hands (peripheral circulation disorders?)
  • Headaches or dizzy spells (- dehydration?)
  • Upset stomach - constipation or diarrhoea

 Less common side effects include:

  • Shortness of breath and panting when active
  • Trouble sleeping and disturbed dreams
  • Loss of sex drive (disturbed micro circulation?)

Beta blockers may trigger severe asthma attacks. For people with diabetes, beta blockers may block signs of low blood sugar, such as dizziness or a rapid heartbeat. It's important to monitor your blood sugar on a regular basis.

Doctors say you shouldn't abruptly stop taking a beta blocker because doing so could increase your risk of a heart attack or other heart problems. But it is worth discussing a drug weaning protocol to discuss the true cause of your blood pressure or use alternative remedies. If you have a widening waistline - investigate insulin resistance. 

Naturopathic suggestions to help reduce high blood pressure

Improve insulin sensitivity to control blood pressure:*

 Old fashioned supplements that help insulin sensitivity. Some people are successful with a low carb / high protein and fat diet because they still take insulin medications. But if we suffer from chronic and almost constant stress and "burn" body fat and muscles the are converted to glucose anyway. So they still cannot be used as fuel unless insulin sensitivity is restored. Here are supplements that work better than taking insulin. Please discuss them with your practitioner as alternatives.

  • Chromium Picolinate - 200 mcgs a day. This increases insulin sensitivity and helps to burn fat and turn it into muscle. Or take the simple one called GTF (glucose tolerance factor)
  • Calcium D pantothenate called Vitamin B5  (500 mg) helps to convert sugar, fat and protein into energy It helps to make cortisone.
  • The amino acid: L-carnitine. It is also a heart-strengthening nutrient that can help for angina and congestive cardiac failure.
  • Vitamin D3  (2000 iu -  5000 iu is now what some doctors prescribe) To control cancer, weight,  heart health and  immune boosting.
  • Cinnamon powder – 1 – 2 grams per day can work like insulin.
  • The herb Coleus Forskholii has a direct link to blood sugar and fat burning. It can also effectively lower blood pressure.*
  • Zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, chrome and vanadium are all required to make insulin. A loss of taste or craving more sugar is due to a zinc deficiency.

*First consult a doctor to monitor medications when using natural alternatives

The use of Olive Leaf products (according to European Monographs)

1 Treat hypertension (high blood pressure),

2 Correct hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)

3 Lower hyperlipidaemia (bad cholesterol.)

These are the three main symptoms of Syndrome X or what we call insulin resistance. So if a patient has high blood pressure and asks for a second opinion, Olive Leaf can be considered as the first choice in preference to at least 3 medications!

Research on cardiovascular / anti-diabetic effects of Olive Leaves

How olive leaves reduce blood pressure

Some recent, detailed studies on olive leaves show that they contain chemicals that have many cardiovascular benefits. In some cases the trials on olive leaves outperformed regular drugs. The synergy of active substances in powdered olive leaves are the most potent. These anti-hypertensive "drugs" have vasodilatory anti-platelet aggregation, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. A primary cause of high blood pressure is the effect of insulin resistance. Olive Leaves also improve the uptake of glucose so they address the cause and the symptoms of high blood pressure. Most doctors who treat what they call essential hypertension are unaware of its cause.

A human study measured olive leaf extract against Captopril, one of the conventional drugs used for treating hypertension. After 8 weeks of treatment both groups experienced a drop in mean blood pressure from baseline (11.5 and 13.7 mmHg systolic / 4.8 and 6.4 mmHg diastolic, respectively). There was no significant difference between the two groups. The olive leaf acts as a natural calcium channel blocker and Captopril is a well-known ACE-inhibitor. They both promote widening of the vessels (vasodilation) to lower blood pressure. Two of the latest studies prove how olive leaf extract suppresses the L-type calcium channel both directly and indirectly. Olive leaves also increase the production of nitric oxide, a signalling molecule that helps to relax blood vessels. (Vasodilation.)

Treating insulin resistance as a cause of hypertension

Studies show that Olive leaf/extracts lower blood glucose via several mechanisms:

  • They slow the digestion of starches into simple sugars
  • Olive leaf/extracts slow the absorption of sugars from the intestine
  • They increase the uptake of glucose into tissues from the blood
  • They protect tissues from oxidative damage from glucose binding to proteins in the process called glycation. 

Metabolic syndrome and Olive leaves*

When healthy lab rats were given a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet

 they developed all the signs of the metabolic syndrome: 

  • Excessive abdominal fat
  • Hypertension
  • Abnormal lipid profile
  • Insulin resistance

But when these animals were fed the same unhealthy diet along with olive leaf extracts, almost all the metabolic abnormalities improved or, in some cases, normalized.

Olive leaves whack insulin resistance*

"In a dramatic head-to-head study, diabetic rats were treated with either olive leaf extract or Glyburide (Diabeta®), a common glucose-lowering drug. By the end of the study, the anti-diabetic effects of the olive leaf extract proved superior to those of the drug."

Reduced A1c levels

"Human studies show that supplementing with 500 mg of olive leaf extract once daily resulted in significant reductions in haemoglobin A1c levels, the standard marker of long-term exposure to elevated blood sugar in diabetic people. Supplementation also lowered fasting plasma levels of insulin”

More cardiovascular benefits from Olive leaves

The potent antioxidants present in Olive Leaves help to protect the endothelial cells that line the arterial walls. These tissues help to maintain a smooth blood flow and even pressure. Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque accumulates on this delicate surface. Here they further help to prevent the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol. (Oxidized LDL triggers inflammation that damages arteries). As a remedy for hyperglycemia, olive leaf improves insulin sensitivity, thus reducing the damage that insulin does to the cell lining.  Endothelial dysfunction and inflammation are the precursors of heart attacks caused by blockages.

They also protect the collagen (connective) tissue by inhibiting matrix metalloproteinase - chemicals that dissolve the gel-like matrix that holds collagen cells together. Olive leaf/extract inhibits “adhesion molecules" that help white blood cells and platelets to stick to arterial walls. (Plaque formation.) Olive leaf/extract boosts micro-circulation and as a patient once said: "makes the blood thin and slippery." (Controls platelet aggregation (clumping and clotting) and reduces the viscosity. Olive leaves have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. This helps to prevent blood coagulation caused by parasites, especially from a yeast overgrowth.

How stress affects your heart

Prolonged, excessive stress is bad for your heart. If you're often stressed and fail to manage it you are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, chest pains, and irregular heartbeats or more serious forms of cardiovascular disease.

The stress itself can be a problem. Increased cortisol thickens blood, making it more prone to blood clotting and raises your blood pressure and blood sugar. Being constantly exposed to adrenaline makes one very tense.

According to Cardiologist Dr Majid Ali we cause the vascular constriction:

 "Every cruelty suffered tightens the muscles in blood vessels as well as muscles throughout the body. The tighter the vessels, which carry blood from the heart (arteries), the higher the pressure of blood contained in them. Every encounter with someone’s stupidity adds to that tightness and to the blood pressure. Every insensitivity experienced compounds the problem. Over time the muscles thicken and cause arterial spasms. “

    Dr Majid Ali is a leading cardiologist and an expert in the field of integrative medicine. He says the cause of essential hypertension (95% of people diagnosed with high blood pressure) is due to our mental state of tension and reactivity. He sees how muscles tighten, walls of the arteries contract and increases cortisol and blood pressure. Habitual tensing in response to what people say and do creates a tightening syndrome. "An addiction to tightness."

  Prescribing relaxation and bio feedback

 With the help of a biofeedback specialist and special equipment you can easily and safely learn how to control stress related blood pressure without the use of drugs. The methods include relaxation, cognitive behavioural therapy, guided imagery, biofeedback and "Heartmath". Computerized software and portable devices for cell phones are available that can offer biofeedback techniques to people by self-instruction. Electrical sensors are used to detect changes in pulse or heart rate variability and offer feedback by way of audio or visual cues, even in the form of a game experience. They are addictive! 

Laughter is the best medicine for you!

Having some good laughs that make you roll over, even cry, activates a lot of muscles to provide an internal workout. This is particularly beneficial to people who are bed-ridden or are bound to a wheel chair. The deep and happy type of relaxation after a good laugh-out eases muscle tension. This happy habit breaks the stressed, spasm-pain cycle that clenches blood vessels and causes high blood pressure.

 Prescribing cats and dogs

At best, the drug companies claim they can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular deaths by 1.4%. But cat owners have a 30% lower incidence of death by heart disease according to a recent study. Now that is a substantial amount and there are no side effects. People who have dogs also enjoy the benefits of lower blood pressure, companionship and more exercise. Heart medicine that is healthy and happy!

Pets respond to our love When we stroke or brush a dog our blood pressure is automatically lowered. When cats purr they emit a healing vibration. It helps to regulate the heartbeat and reduce stress levels. So many animals are homeless and just waiting to come and lower your blood pressure. Love is what makes the world go round and pets are a lovely way to give and receive it. 


A cat for comfortCredit: Sue Visser Dog as a best friendCredit: Sue Visser




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