I’m a creature of habit. I haven’t switched doctors in decades, partly because I’ve found one that I can communicate well with… and partly because I hate to fill out all the paperwork that’s required.
That’s because when it comes to filling out that sheet about family health history, well, let’s just say I could write a couple of chapters.
In fact, the second I start listing all of my close relatives with heart-related conditions, doctors flip out! Including my current physician. But that’s because he’s a creature of habit, too, like most doctors.
When my blood pressure started to climb just a bit, his first instinct was to start me on medication to keep me from becoming one more family statistic.
Luckily though, since I’m a health researcher, I knew instantly that turning to a prescription to handle a condition that’s possible to control through diet, exercise and natural supplements was not going to be my first choice.
My doctor, however, was a hard sell. He agreed to give it a try as long as I stuck to my regular checkups so he could monitor things.
So far, so good. And you can imagine my excitement at coming across recent research that helps back up my preferred approach…
Beta-blockers could lead to a worse outcome for women
A study reported in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal, found that taking beta-blockers (a favored hypertension drug option of doctors everywhere) can raise your risk of heart failure by almost 5 percent more in women than men.
In fact, after combing through the data of 13,764 adults in 12 countries who had high blood pressure and no prior history of cardiovascular disease, they found that when someone heads to the emergency room for an acute heart problem, for people taking beta-blockers:
- Women had a 6 percent higher rate of heart failure than men
- The death rate of both men and women with heart failure was approximately seven times that of patients with acute myocardial infarction and no heart failure complications
- Women who were suffering a specific type of heart attack (called STEMI) were a full 1 percent more likely to suffer heart failure than men with STEMI.
- Men and women not taking beta-blockers had approximately the same rate of heart failure.
Basically, this means that if you’re a woman taking beta-blockers, you might want to rethink it.
“What we found presents a solid case for reexamination of the use of beta-blocker therapy for women with hypertension. For women who have no history of cardiovascular disease and only hypertension, we think it is incredibly important for them to regulate their blood pressure through diet and exercise,” said Raffaele Bugiardini, M.D., professor of cardiology at the University of Bologna and lead author of the study.
Not only did the researchers discover that outcomes could be worse for women on beta-blockers, but they also have a theory about why…
“It’s possible that the increased risk of heart failure for women is due to an interaction between hormone replacement therapy and beta-blockers, though this information was not collected or tested in our study. This and other potential factors need to be investigated in more depth,” Bugiardini continued.
Diet and exercise for the win
So, it seems that Dr. Bugiardini has become a proponent of the exact method I’ve embraced for most of my adult life.
Now, there are times when blood pressure medication is inescapable. So, you have to have a doctor you trust. Especially if you’re a woman because more research has come out over the years that truly shows what works for men doesn’t always work for women.
But things that do work — without risk of any adverse effects — are what I’ve practiced for quite some time now…
#1 — Eat right for life
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is the most recommended for blood pressure control and a great way to get heart healthy. This diet is made up of 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, whole grains, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meat like poultry or seafood and healthy fats. It limits foods like red meat, added sugars and unhealthy fats.
The DASH Diet, which is rich in antioxidants and fiber — including many of the foods I mentioned earlier — as well as potassium, magnesium and nitric oxide, has been clinically shown to lower blood pressure in as little as one month.
#2 — Choose proven supplements
I know that I would not have been as successful in maintaining healthy blood pressure if it weren’t for the supplements I take daily, including:
- Vitamin K2 — Promotes healthy blood flow and blood pressure and is a powerhouse when it comes to reducing calcium deposits in your arteries and reducing stiffness.
- Pterostilbene — Helps block the creation of Angiotensin II — an enzyme that stiffens the walls of your blood vessels and triggers a hormone that increases the amounts of sodium and water retained by your body.
- Green tea extract — Contains catechins that have been proven to reduce oxidative stress and soothe inflammation, supporting your heart health.
- Grape seed extract — Activates nitric oxide in the lining of blood your vessels to keep blood platelets from sticking together and relaxes your arteries to promote healthy blood flow.
I get mine in Peak BP Platinum™ — a proprietary blend of all of these clinically-tested nutrients.
#3 — Get moving
Finally, unless you’re an outlier, the chances of getting better blood pressure as a couch potato are slim to none. So, get moving — even if it’s only taking a short walk before dinner, walking in place as you watch your favorite show or working in your garden, physical activity is a must. But if you have some get up and go, you should know that 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week could help you lower your pressure by 5-8 mm H
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