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It’s a safe bet you’ve got high blood pressure. Good guess? Of course not, it’s in the title you just clicked.
But the odds are in my favor if I were making a blind guess.
That’s because approximately one billion people around the world live with chronic high blood pressure.
And according to the renowned Mayo Clinic, if you’re one of them, you’re at significantly increased risk of everything from aneurysm and heart failure to heart attack, stroke, dementia and even hearing loss.
The truth is, high blood pressure leads to a laundry list of health dangers and can even negatively affect your sexual function.
But you’re safe as long as you take your blood pressure medicine, right? Not so fast…
According to research findings from the University of Virginia School of Medicine (UVA), simply taking blood pressure medication long-term could actually damage your kidneys over time…
The long-term effects of prescription blood pressure drugs
So where does the kidney danger come in when you have high blood pressure or take medication to keep that pressure in the green zone?
Well, according to those UVA researchers, it all comes down to specialized cells in your kidneys called renin cells.
And since it can get a little complicated, let’s walk it through from the beginning…
When your renin cells are working normally, the namesake hormone they produce helps to regulate your blood pressure.
However, when your blood pressure stays up too long, they just can’t keep compensating.
And instead of your renin cells helping with your high blood pressure, your high blood pressure leads to harmful changes in your renin cells, causing them to invade the walls of your kidney’s blood vessels, which become thick and stiff.
Blood no longer flows freely through your kidneys and dialysis becomes a nasty shadow lurking over your health and your future.
The problem is, those blood pressure drugs can instigate the same harmful changes in renin cells that high blood pressure does.
In fact, the UVA researchers found that long-term use of blood pressure drugs, including the widely-used ACE inhibitors, was associated with hardened kidney vessels in both lab mice and humans.
In other words, taking blood pressure medications for an extended period of time can lead to serious kidney damage.
“Our studies show that renin-producing cells are responsible for the damage. We are now focusing on understanding how these cells, which are so important to defend us from drops in blood pressure and maintain our well-being, undergo such transformation and induce kidney damage,” said Maria Luisa Sequeira Lopez MD, of UVA’s Department of Pediatrics and Child Health Research Center.
Natural help for your blood pressure
So do you chuck your blood pressure meds in the trash in order to save your kidneys?
The researchers say no.
Instead, talk to your doctor about the risks to your kidneys, and whether or not continuing your medication regimen is in your best interest.
Chances are he’ll have another pill, or another pill combination, for you to try, no doubts there.
But if you’ve ever given any credence to the thought of committing to real changes that could turn your health around, this may be the gumption you need.
In addition to eating right and losing weight, stopping smoking and getting a grip on stress, these natural steps have helped others support healthy blood pressure:
- Giving up gluten – For some people, gluten may increase inflammation that can trigger high blood pressure problems.
- Eating more yogurt – Findings from a study conducted by findings by the University of Maine and the University of South Australia showed for people with elevated blood pressure, even small amounts of yogurt were associated with lower blood pressure.
- Getting regular exercise – Time and again, exercise has been shown to be the most effective tool to lower blood pressure.
- Increasing fiber intake – Multiple studies have shown that eating more fiber can help lower blood pressure.
- Practicing self-care – Taking time to care for yourself can help reduce stress and relax the nerves that affect your arterial wall muscles.
- Grab some supplement support – These four blood-pressure supporting supplements have a lot of research behind their reputation for promoting naturally healthy blood pressure.
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