We all know that high blood pressure is dangerous and that it can lead to heart attacks and even strokes. But, did you realize that it can also dramatically increase your risk of heart failure – a condition where your heart is unable to pump enough blood to the rest of your body?
You see, high blood pressure causes fat to build up in your arteries and blood vessels, narrowing them so that it is more difficult for blood to travel through them. Because of this, your heart has to pump much harder in order to push the volume of blood through to supply all of your organs and tissues.
Narrow vessels equals increased workload
To understand how this increases your heart’s workload, let’s take drinking a milkshake as an example…
If you have a large straw, sucking up that milkshake is easy. But, if you swap that large straw for one that’s much smaller and narrower, you have to suck much harder and strain mush more in order to drink the same amount of milkshake.
When it comes to your heart, this increased workload over time causes the heart muscle to become enlarged. And, the larger it gets, the harder it has to work to meet all of your body’s demands and the less efficient it becomes.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your blood pressure under control. But unfortunately, it might not be that simple.
That’s because at least half of the 80 million Americans with high blood pressure don’t have it under control according to Harvard Medical School. Some simply don’t try but others have what’s known as resistant hypertension, high blood pressure that doesn’t respond to medications, leaving them at much higher risk of heart failure secondary to hypertension.
If this sounds like you or someone you love, there is good news though…
A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology — Heart and Circulatory Physiology has shown that elevating the levels of a specific compound in your body can help to protect you from heart failure even if your blood pressure doesn’t improve.
Here’s what you need to know…
Lower levels of cardiac fibrosis
Researchers from the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland and the Polish Academy of Sciences set out to study the effect of a compound known as trimethylamine N-oxide or TMAO on rats that have a genetic tendency to develop high blood pressure.
One group of hypertensive rats was given low-dose TMAO supplements in their drinking water, and another group received plain water for either 12 weeks or 56 weeks and were assessed for heart and kidney damage as well as high blood pressure.
And, guess what…
Although the rats who took the TMAO did not benefit from lower blood pressure, they not only had reduced levels of the heart thickening (cardiac fibrosis) that comes with heart failure but also had lower levels of markers associated with a failing heart.
In other words, the TMAO protected them from heart failure despite the fact that their blood pressure remained high.
Eat your fish and veggies
And, the researchers had more good news…
TMAO levels are easily increased even without supplements like the ones the researchers developed for their research.
That’s because higher levels of the compound are linked with the consumption of fish, seafood and a primarily plant-based diet. Put simply, you can protect your heart by eating more veggies and fish.
So, if you have hypertension that doesn’t respond to medication, protect yourself from the damage it causes to your heart by increasing the amount of TMAO in your body by adding more seafood and healthy vegetables to your day-to-day diet.
Editor’s note: If this health issue really matters for you or a loved one… if you want to discover how to slash you risk of stroke… stop sudden cardiac death — and drop heart disease risk by 400 percent, click here to keep reading!
- How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Heart Failure — American Heart Association
- Resistant hypertension needs special attention — Harvard Health Publishing
- Eat your vegetables (and fish): Another reason why they may promote heart health — American Physiological Society