Doctor Patient RelationshipJuly 29, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
I believe that the cornerstone of good health is a constructive relationship between patient and physician. It’s a real gamble to remain passive and simply hope that doctors will ask all the right questions and pass along every piece of pertinent information that is currently available. That’s simply too great a burden to place on any type of “healer”. But beyond that, I think all patients have a responsibility to share what they’ve personally learned in order to improve the quality of their own care and, possibly, the care of fellow patients. The following information may be relevant to many who would like to take a more pro-active approach in their own wellness program.
A scientific review published in July puts into question the current recommendations regarding the use of certain anti-hypertensive medications. The concluding remarks of this medical summary determined that there was no clear basis for attempting to lower blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg. Reducing diastolic and systolic readings under that level was not associated with lower death rates or incidence of chronic heart failure, heart attacks, kidney disease or strokes. This is a big shift in thinking. Currently, the American Heart Association lists blood pressure levels between 120-139/80-89 as being “pre-hypertension” and possibly worthy of medical treatment. (1,2)
If you fall into the “pre-hypertensive” category, you may want to discuss this new information with your cardiologist. It could very well be that keeping a close watch over your blood pressure and taking certain natural approaches may be enough to help you avoid prescription medications, while still preserving your cardiovascular health. Please keep in mind that anti-hypertensive medications are not without risks of their own. It’s always important to weigh the proposed benefit against the relative danger of each prospective drug. (3)
Several new studies point to two simple nutritional strategies for promoting a healthier heart and lower blood pressure:
- The August 12th edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that eating freshly crushed garlic is a more potent way of deriving the cardiovascular benefits of these cloves as compared to “processed” garlic extracts. In this study, rats were fed either fresh crushed garlic or processed garlic for a 30 day period. Both forms of garlic showed signs of protecting the heart. But the fresh garlic contained a substance called “hydrogen sulfide” that further helped to relax the blood vessels. Such an effect improves circulation and can reduce hypertension. Another study from earlier in 2009 found that garlic extracts promoted lower blood sugar and blood pressure in diabetic and hypertensive rats. (4,5)
- The reason that blood sugar is relevant can best be explained in two other studies published within the last few months. The first trial determined that a carbohydrate-restricted diet (CRD) was more effective in improving several measures of cardiovascular health than a low-fat diet (LFD). A total of 40 overweight men and women participated in the 12 week experiment. The CRD participants demonstrated greater reductions in post-meal triglycerides, insulin and inflammatory markers. Perhaps the most impressive finding is that a benefit was noted in circulatory function in the carb-restricted group, while the low-fat dieters actually exhibited poorer blood flow (as indicated by “flow-mediated dilation”). These findings are considered contrary to the current medical/nutritional dogma. However, they are supported by a study in the Journal of Pediatrics which recently identified sugar consumption (as contained in sweetened beverages) as a significant contributor to high blood pressure and elevated uric acid in adolescents. Elevated uric acid is thought to be a possible indicator of cardiovascular risk. (6,7,8)
The take home messages are: a) borderline high blood pressure may not require pharmaceutical treatment; b) regularly eating crushed, raw garlic and avoiding processed carbohydrates and sugar may be helpful in keeping blood pressure in a safe range. Only you and your doctor can determine whether this new data can or should be applied to your specific health maintenance program. But if this information is relevant to you and it hasn’t been raised by your physician, then I would encourage you to take the first step by starting the dialogue. By doing so, you could benefit yourself, as well as countless others.
Tags: Garlic, High Blood Pressure, Low Carb
Posted in Heart Health