Early last year, I told you about how I found out that I had high blood pressure, and how I started taking a diuretic, better known as a “water pill.” It reduces blood pressure by getting your body to eliminate more fluids.
I’ve been taking it for about 11 years now, with no side effects and no high blood pressure. But not everyone is that lucky.
In the same article, I told you about the dangers of ACE inhibitors and the research that links them to lung and breast cancer.
As I’ve continued my research into the risks and benefits of medications for hypertension, I’ve discovered some truly unsettling things.
Most recently, it’s another common class of blood pressure medicine that’s come under scrutiny. It’s designed to prevent damage to your blood vessels, but it actually increases that damage.
And, to make matters worse, it could aggravate the vascular damage caused by a COVID-19 infection.
The blood pressure drug that actually makes things worse
Calcium channel blockers treat hypertension by keeping excessive calcium from entering blood vessel cells. That’s because too much calcium causes vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) that line your blood vessels to become thick and stiff, which raises blood pressure. So far, so good, right?
But a team led by researchers from Penn State found that L-type calcium channel blockers (LCCBs) also cause a type of protein called stromal-interacting molecules to become overactive. This protein causes the VSMCs to divide and proliferate, essentially thickening the blood vessels.
That means, according to Mohamed Trebak, professor of cellular and molecular physiology, Penn State, “L-type calcium channel blockers are one of the most widely prescribed drugs to treat hypertension, yet we have found that these drugs may cause the same type of damage they are intended to prevent.”
Prior studies confirm these findings
But wait, there’s more.
Professor Trebak added that “extra care should be taken when hypertensive patients present with COVID-19, as LCCBs may exacerbate their vascular damage.”
In other words, LCCBs are linked to heart failure and could worsen the vascular damage caused by COVID-19.
Sadly, this information just adds to a long list of the dangers of calcium channel blockers that other researchers have uncovered…
In 2014, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that women who took calcium-channel blockers for more than 10 years had higher risks of ductal breast cancer and lobular breast cancer.
And just this year, after following a group of more than 145,000 women for about 14 years, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that women who took a short-acting calcium channel blocker were 107 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women who took other types of blood pressure medication.
Drug-free ways to control blood pressure
If you are already taking a blood pressure medication prescribed by your doctor, we certainly don’t recommend that you stop, cold turkey. Talk to your doctor to find out what type of calcium channel blocker you are on and if there are options.
But, considering what I’ve shared with you, and especially if you’re not yet taking medication, you may very well want to talk with your doctor about how you can start on some low-risk ways of controlling your blood pressure.
- Taking supplements that can help manage high blood pressure, including potassium and CoQ10. And don’t forget vitamin K2 keeps your blood vessels elastic by safeguarding elastin, a protein that keeps vessel walls pliable, and helps direct excess calcium to bones.
- Get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week to keep your blood pressure balanced… about 30 minutes a day.
- Take time to de-stress. And, while you’re at it, take up yoga, meditation or tai chi.
- Try these eight herbs that help control blood pressure.
Editor’s note: Uncover the myths surrounding hypertension and get the truth about easy, effective strategies for controlling blood pressure. Click here to discover Natural Ways to Reverse and Prevent Hypertension!
Common blood pressure drug may do more harm than good — The Institute for Natural Healing
Use of Antihypertensive Medications and Breast Cancer Risk Among Women Aged 55 to 74 Years — JAMA Internal Medicine