If you have high blood pressure and take medication for it, you should have two goals.
One is, of course, to lower your blood pressure.
The second is to do it consistently.
If the drug you’re taking causes big swings in your pressure, it’ll do more harm than good.
A study published in the British Medical Journal associated these swings with a 15% increase in all-cause mortality.1
Now, a new study finds that two common classes of blood pressure drugs do just that. They cause your blood pressure to dangerously bounce around.
Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah analyzed the data of over 10,500 adult patients with high blood pressure.
They measured their blood pressure at least seven times over five years. They also monitored the blood pressure medications they were using.2
‘Increased Risk of Death’
The researchers found that two classes of drugs caused dangerous blood pressure swings in the subjects. They are alpha blockers and alpha-2 agonists.3
Alpha blockers work by dilating the blood vessels to relieve pressure. They include:4
- Doxazosin mesylate (Cardura)
- Prazosin hydrochloride (Minipress)
- Teroazosin hydrochloride (Hytrin)
Alpha-2 agonists reduce blood vessel constriction by targeting the sympathetic nervous system. They include:5
- Clonidine (Catapres)
- Methyldopa (Aldomet)
Dr. Brian Clements led the study. He is an internal medicine physician at Intermountain. He concluded that taking an alpha blocker or al alpha-2 agonist causes “an increased risk of death.”6
If you are taking one or more these drugs, he recommends speaking with your doctor about possible blood pressure swings.
“The patient should work with their physician to explore options for the best blood pressure medications that will reduce variances,” he said.7
The study was recently presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in Orlando.
5 Natural Remedies to Tame High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure readings are now considered anything above 130/80. (We recently told you why you should be skeptical of these numbers.)
All blood pressure medications have side effects. So it’s best to avoid them if you can.
Doctors often tell people to cut salt. But adding potassium to your diet can be just as effective.
And there are other non-drug methods to lower your blood pressure:
- CoQ10. It’s a naturally occurring enzyme. It contains antioxidants that have been shown to decrease blood pressure and reduces the thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophy). There are no known side effects of CoQ10. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking up to 360 mg daily. It takes about eight to12 weeks to see a fall in blood pressure.8
- Vitamin D. According to a study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, the sunshine vitamin reduces blood pressure. And a study at Augusta University in Georgia found that people taking 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily reduced their arterial stiffness by over 10% within 16 weeks.9
- Hibiscus Tea. In a study at Tufts University, participants who sipped three cups of a hibiscus tea daily lowered systolic blood pressure by 7 points. That is on par with the effect of prescription medications. The researchers say the phytochemicals in hibiscus are responsible. Look for tea blends that list hibiscus near the top of ingredients.10
- Dark Chocolate. A Harvard study found that eating a small square of dark chocolate daily helped lower blood pressure for people with hypertension. The study joins the growing research into the heart-healthy benefits of flavonoids, compounds in unsweetened chocolate that cause dilation of the blood vessels.
- Flaxseed. This might be the king of natural blood pressure solutions. Canadian researchers found that subjects who ate 30 grams of flaxseed a day for six months lowered their systolic (the upper number) readings by 15 points on average. Their diastolic readings dropped by 7 points.
The researchers said that it was the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed that caused the drop. Add flaxseed to a salad, smoothie, or protein shake. Make sure you grind up the seeds well. If you don’t, your body won’t absorb the nutrients. A coffee grinder or blender works well.11
Editor’s Note: Something strange was happening to pilots training to fly F-16 fighter jets. The ones who went into the program with elevated blood pressure were coming out a few weeks later with normal, healthy readings.
They hadn’t taken any medications… Their diets hadn’t changed… And they hadn’t made any changes to their exercise regimens.