Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease in the U.S., and remains the #1 killer of Americans.
Two commonly used medications to lower blood pressure may instead be doing the exact opposite by increasing blood pressure and leading to death, according to new research at The Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Researchers Warn These Meds Increase Risk of Death
Dr. Brian Clements, lead study author, and his research team concluded in their new study that two classes of medication, alpha blockers and alpha-2 agonists, used to control hypertension and blood pressure, respectively, led to a rise in blood pressure variability between doctor visits. Alarmingly, these common medications on their own presented a death risk. The findings were presented on March 12th at the 2018 American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Session in Orlando, Florida. Prior research has demonstrated that patients with large variances in blood pressure between their doctor visits are at an increased risk of death.
Nearly 50% of U.S. Adults Have High Blood Pressure
The ACC and the American Heart Association created new blood pressure guidelines last year. An individual is now thought to have hypertension if their systolic blood pressure, or top number, is at or above 130 millimeters of mercury, and their diastolic blood pressure, or the bottom number, is 80 millimeters of mercury or above. The American Heart Association calls normal blood pressure less than 120/80. Blood pressure is defined as the force of blood that exerts against the wall of the arteries. Systolic blood pressure is the force of blood that pushes against the artery walls when the heart is beating; the diastolic blood pressure is the force of blood when the heart is at rest.
Currently, almost half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, leading to higher risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Doctors who treat adults with hypertension want to lower their blood pressure. This may be done naturally with lifestyle modifications, including a healthier diet and more physical activity, and certain natural supplements like berberine, which has many benefits for blood sugar control. Higher variability of blood pressure has been found from two commonly prescribed medications used to control blood pressure — alpha blockers and alpha-2 agonists. In Dr. Clements’ study, data was collected from more than 10,500 adults with high blood pressure between 2007-2011 with regular monitoring of their blood pressure as well as the kind of blood pressure medications they were on.
Summary: Opt Natural Whenever Possible
Study results found connections between the two classes of blood pressure medications — alpha blockers and alpha-2 agonists with — higher blood pressure variability between visits. Alpha blockers dilate the blood vessels, and alpha-2 agonists reduce blood vessel constriction. Dr. Clements and his researchers recommend that these two medications not be used to treat hypertension, and encourage physicians to use other alternatives that show a decrease in risk of death.
Dr. Clements said patients should know their blood pressure number, and if it’s up and down, the patient must work with their doctor to find the best blood pressure options to reduce variability. (Check out our article Blood Test Results: The Definitive Guide to Understanding Your Numbers to better understand your test results.) There are many effective natural ways to lower blood pressure and relieve tension: taking power walks, engaging in meditation and yoga, eating healthy, taking natural supplements, drinking hibiscus tea, getting regular exercise and relaxing with music.