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New Strategies to Control Hypertension
Hypertension occurs when systolic blood pressure (SBP) is ≥140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥90 mmHg. It is well known that high blood pressure (BP) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and kidney disease. However more recent research has suggested that high BP may be linked to many more health conditions than previously thought, including dementia, cancer, oral health diseases, and osteoporosis. Dietary improvements, reduced sodium intake, and regular exercise are often used to control and/or prevent hypertension, but there may a few more ways to help ward off high blood pressure.
Previous studies have demonstrated that probiotics can help improve BP by reducing both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, improving blood glucose levels, and helping regulate the renin-angiotensin system. Probiotics are living microorganisms consisting of bacteria and yeast that help to increase good bacteria in the gut and are commonly taken for digestive conditions. A recent meta-analysis found that probiotic consumption significantly reduced both SBP and DBP, and there was a greater reduction when multiple species of probiotics were used instead of a single species.
Alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risk of cancer and other health problems, but research suggests that it may also lead to an increase in BP. In a recent study, women who consumed 200 – 300 mL (≈7 – 10 ounces) of red wine per day for 4 weeks showed an increase in both SBP and DBP compared to drinking no alcohol or lower amounts of wine. This elevation in BP lasted for 24 hours.
While diet and exercise still remain the most important way to control and prevent hypertension, consuming probiotics and reducing alcohol intake both show promise as additional ways to help lower blood pressure.