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Beware of High Blood Pressure

Source: Natural Supplements for Diabetes
Author: Frank Murray

Beware of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is reported more often in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics than in the general population. A lower blood pressure goes a long way in preventing heart disease and stroke. In determining a blood pressure reading, physicians evaluate the systolic pressure (when the heart is beating) and diastolic pressure (when the heart rests between beats). Both systolic and diastolic pressures are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Blood pressure increases with age, and it is more prominent among African-Americans than other groups. A reading of 140/90 is considered mild hypertension.

There are numerous ways of lowering blood pressure naturally without the use of drugs. These include vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, fiber, fish oil, magnesium, potassium, calcium, garlic, flavonoids, and others. Caffeine, alcohol and licorice can elevate blood pressure in susceptible people.

Almost 50 million Americans (25% of the adult population) have blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or more or take antihypertensive medications according to Medical and Health Annual, 1994. Hypertension (high blood pressure) increases with age and is more prevalent among African-Americans than in whites.

To understand high blood pressure as a diabetes risk factor, let's first look at the basics of the heart. The heart is the center of the circulatory system, which supplies tissues and organs with blood, thus delivering vital nutrients and removing the products of metabolism, the publication said.

The heart's pumping action brings a flow of blood through a series of tubes (arteries) that have an ability to expand or contract. The arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the tissues, divert into vessels of progressively smaller diameter as they distance themselves from the heart, finally dividing into millions of tiny aristoles that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Pusatile high-pressure flow is converted to the continuous low-pressure that is needed for the exchange of material between capillaries - the smallest blood vessels in the body - and the cells. Finally, blood is returned to the heart through the veins.

A person's heartbeat changes the pressure inside the arteries, with the maximum pressure, reached during the heart's contraction (systole), being called systolic or beating blood pressure. The minimum pressure, which occurs when the heart relaxes during beats (diastole), is diastolic blood pressure. Both systolic (the first number in a blood pressure readout) and diastolic (the second number) pressures are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

"Sometimes kidney disease or impaired circulation to one or both kidneys due to a narrowing of the kidney artery is the culprit in hypertension", the publication continued. "However, congenital narrowing of the aorta or an adrenal gland tumor is implicated. This cause of high blood pressure is documented in fewer than 10% of patients. When no cause is identified, hypertension is coded 'essential' or primary. Levels of various hormones produced and secreted by the adrenal glands are elevated in some cases but not in others. Renin (not to be confused with rennin, an enzyme that coagulates milk), an enzyme released by the kidneys, may be present in high, normal or low amounts."

The publication added that even those with well-controlled hypertension have an increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney complications compared with those with normal blood pressure (120/80 mmHg). The relative risk of coronary heart disease rises progressively at every level of systolic blood pressure, from 100 to 129 mmHg upward. A large clinical study estimated that 49% of the coronary heart disease deaths that occurred in more than 360,000 men aged 35 to 57 years of age were attributable to systolic blood pressure above the optimal level. Interestingly, about one-fifth of the deaths were in those with systolic blood pressures of 130 to 139 mmHg, which is considered "high-normal" blood pressure. A number of studies have documented a similar increased risk in women, the publication said.

High blood pressure, as we know, is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. In one instance, prevalence of hypertension in adults over 18 years of age was 24%. In 1994, for example, 32.1% of all deaths were attributed to heart disease and 6.8% to stroke.

High blood pressure is reported with greater frequency in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics than in the general population, according to Seymour L. Alterman M.D., and Donald A. Kullman, M.D. Uncontrolled diabetes contributes to the accelerated buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis), and it plays a prominent role in the development of high blood pressure.

It also has been suggested that hypertension may be related to insulin resistance that is found in diabetes and in obesity, they said. With insulin resistance, many Type 2 diabetics produce enough insulin, but their bodies do not respond well to the hormone. This can be due to a person being overweight or having too many fat cells, which do not react to insulin. In addition, as people age, their body cells lose some of their ability to handle insulin.


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