Each and every time you see your doctor (right after that dreaded weigh-in), they slip a cuff on your arm, pump it up and check your blood pressure.
After all, healthy blood pressure equals a healthy heart. Or so we’ve been told.
But, according to the latest findings, relying on normal blood pressure as a sign that your heart is healthy could be a big mistake.
It could even be a deadly one…
The problem, according to the research published in JAMA Cardiology, is that for years we’ve been told by the medical community that if your blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg, your heart is in good shape.
This leads to the assumption that your blood vessels are healthy, you’re unlikely to have a heart attack or stroke, and that in general, you’re doing all the right things.
Well, think again…
The new research — a long-term multiethnic study of otherwise healthy adults — actually found that you can have completely normal blood pressure, yet still be at high risk of hardening of the arteries caused by calcium deposits and suffering a cardiovascular event.
120 isn’t low enough
That top number — known as your systolic pressure reading that measures the pressure within your arteries as your heart pumps (compared to your diastolic pressure, or lower number, that measures your resting heart rate) — is the one that the so-called experts have told us is just fine as long as it stays below 120 mmHg.
But the results of the new study found that for every 10 mm increase in your systolic pressure above 90 mmHg, the risk of damage to your coronary arteries, as well as your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, rises steadily.
And specifically, the damage to your coronary arteries is the risk of calcium deposits that can lead to hardening of your arteries — something you and your doctor won’t see without performing a Coronary Artery Calcium Scan. And if your numbers are looking “normal” your doctor won’t think to have a scan done.
In fact, The New York Times reports that the study proved that “Compared with people with systolic pressures of 90 to 99 mm, those with pressures of 120 to 129 mm were 4.58 times more likely to have experienced a cardiovascular event.”
Taken together, the team says that all of these findings show that even when your doctor considers your blood pressure normal, you can still be at risk.
A two-pronged attack for healthier blood pressure
As this research brought to light, working to maintain lower blood pressure may not be enough — though you still need to try, and I’ll get to that shortly…
But clearly, you need to consider the health of your arteries — and that means doing what you can to prevent the unseen calcium buildup that leads to atherosclerosis.
Of course, the number one thing a doctor or nutritionist will recommend is a heart-healthy diet. Recently a study proclaimed the Pesco-Mediterranean diet the best at promoting heart health.
So that’s a recommendation I whole-heartedly endorse. But this latest research proves that’s not all you should do. You need to go straight after the invisible culprit attacking your arteries — calcium.
Start with vitamin K2
The first thing you should do is look at how much vitamin K2 you get in your diet. I’ve studied the relationship between vitamin K2, calcium and heart health rather extensively, that’s why I can say this.
Vitamin K2 is associated with inhibiting arterial calcification and arterial stiffening because it activates a protein that inhibits the deposits of calcium on vessel walls. It also helps direct calcium to the bones where it is beneficial.
You can find vitamin K in green leafy vegetables, but K2 (also known as menaquinone) is found in animal sources like beef liver, pork and chicken. Eggs and hard cheeses are also excellent sources.
But my ultimate source is Peak Cardio Platinum™ — because what vitamin K2 can do for me is far too important to hinge on how well I’m following my diet on any given day.
Increase your nitric oxide
Nitric oxide — NO, for short — is a small messenger molecule in your blood that helps the blood vessels relax and is involved in the regulation of blood pressure.
When your NO levels go up, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood through tight arteries — think of it like sucking water through a straw, versus a milkshake.
This means that raising your NO is a great way to help keep your pressure healthy.
Your body converts nitrates to nitrites and then to NO so adding more natural nitrates to your diet could help keep your blood vessels healthy and blood pressure in the healthy range. And one of the best sources of these beneficial nitrates is beets or fermented beetroot powder.
Fermented foods, like the Japanese specialty, natto, made from fermented soybeans, are also rich in K2 and also possesses a circulation-boosting enzyme known as nattokinase. I never developed a taste for natto, but both nattokinase and my nitric oxide needs are met in Peak Cardio Platinum™.
Remember, just because your doctor tells you that your blood pressure is normal, doesn’t mean that your heart is safe. Be aware of what’s happening below the surface and take preventative steps to avoid the worst.
Think You Have ‘Normal’ Blood Pressure? Think Again — The New York Times
Managing Stress to Control High Blood Pressure — American Heart Association
Here comes the sun to lower your blood pressure — University of Southampton
15 natural ways to lower your blood pressure — MedicalNewsToday