Lowering high blood pressure: what options are available
About every third German suffers from high blood pressure or hypertension, as the silent suffering is called by doctors. Many know nothing about their illness, since high blood pressure usually only becomes noticeable with high values. This is tricky because the complications can be serious and fatal. In many cases, a healthier lifestyle can lower blood pressure, but often the disease is also treated with medication. Some of them have significantly more side effects than others, researchers report.
Risk factor for dangerous cardiovascular diseases
Hypertension is a widespread disease, especially in the western world. According to the German Hypertension League (DHL), around 20 to 30 million people are affected in this country. Too high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for dangerous cardiovascular diseases. To lower blood pressure, it is often enough to eat healthier and exercise more. But in some patients, hypertension must be treated with medication. However, some drugs have severe side effects. Researchers from Switzerland are now reporting on more tolerable alternatives.
New blood pressure guidelines
Hypertension is defined by a systolic blood pressure of over 140 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of more than 90 mmHg.
Meanwhile, however, the voices are increasing that think that 120 instead of 140 should be the new blood pressure target.
US specialist societies lowered their blood pressure guidelines a few months ago (new 130/80 mmHg). Since then, up to 40 percent more have been considered hypertension patients.
More and more patients are being given medication
In addition to being overweight or obese, risk factors include too little exercise, an unhealthy, overly salty diet, tobacco and increased alcohol consumption and stress.
Medications are often used to diagnose high blood pressure.
"In the meantime, the proportion of hypertension patients who are being treated to lower blood pressure has increased to around 75 percent," explained Professor Dr. med. Bernhard Krämer, Chairman of DHL, in an older press release.
In many cases, ACE inhibitors are prescribed to lower blood pressure. However, these drugs have side effects: Frequently occurring chronic dry cough causes patients to stop therapy often.
In very rare cases, there can even be acute life-threatening suffocation attacks, a so-called angioedema. According to experts, however, there is an alternative and safer class of active ingredients.
This is shown by a comparative study published by the University Clinic for Cardiology at Inselspital Bern (Switzerland) in the journal "Journal of the American College of Cardiology" (JACC).
Less serious side effects
As stated in a communication, the research group around Prof. Dr. Franz Messerli and Prof. Stefano Rimoldi the hypotensive effects of ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) in people without cardiovascular disease as well as in those with diseases of the coronary arteries, heart failure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
The side effects of the respective patient group were also examined retrospectively. In total, they included data from 254,301 patients in the study.
The comparison showed that ARBs had similar good or even better antihypertensive effects to ACE inhibitors in all patient groups.
Both active substances reduced the risk of death, heart attack, heart failure, stroke or kidney failure equally well - especially with other risk factors such as heart disease or diabetes.
There were significantly fewer side effects among ARBs. There were significantly fewer life-threatening suffocations. There was no dry cough.
In some cases, the medication even relieved headaches and other complaints caused by high blood pressure.
With between 30 and 40 million people worldwide receiving ACE inhibitors today, the extremely rare side effect of angioedema could statistically cause several hundred deaths a year.
Under these conditions and based on the comparative data now available, ARBs should become the better choice for hypertension, according to the Swiss scientists.
Lower blood pressure naturally
However, not every patient has to resort to medication anyway, because in many cases high blood pressure can be reduced without medication.
In addition to weight loss, regular exercise and abstaining from smoking, a balanced, healthy diet can also help to reduce blood pressure.
It is very important here: salt only in moderation. A high-salt diet can raise blood pressure. No more than four to six grams of salt should be consumed per day.
It should be noted that large quantities of salt are often contained in most finished products.
The menu should generally contain a lot of fruits and vegetables. Garlic, beetroot juices and hawthorn are particularly recommended.
Mediterranean food with olive oil and vegetables is also recommended, as British researchers have shown.
According to scientific research, hot chilies and natural yoghurt can also help to relieve high blood pressure.
A magnesium supplement also helps in many cases. Alcohol should be avoided as far as possible.
Furthermore, relaxation exercises for stress relief such as yoga or autogenic training can be very effective and positively influence high blood pressure values.
Some home remedies for high blood pressure, such as Kneipp applications, can offer good support. (ad)