HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: THE FLOW OF LIFE

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Blood pressure is the driving force of circulation, and provides the energy needed to propel oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. Nearly 1/3 of Americans have high blood pressure, and are at serious risk for heart attack and stroke.

By conservative estimates, almost 50 million Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension. Yet, it does not receive the attention that it deserves. In part, it may be its inevitability, for blood pressure (BP) increases with age, and most people with high BP feel perfectly fine for decades -- until it causes a heart attack or stroke. A solid one-third of American adults -- including two-thirds of those over the age of 60 -have elevated, or high, BP (HBP). As such, a differentiated reappraisal of hypertension is in order.

The driving force of circulation, BP provides the energy needed to propel oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. Blood pressure depends on two factors: The "pumping" force of the heart and the diameter of the arteries that receive blood from the heart. The stronger the heartbeat, the stronger the BP; conversely, the narrower the arteries, the higher it is.

Blood pressure is a dynamic function that can vary within minutes, and quite literally within the span of a heartbeat. Thus, BP rises at times of stress and falls during repose. In healthy people, BP is at its lowest during sleep, spikes upon awakening, and fluctuates over the course of the day depending upon circumstances.

As new facts about hypertension are being continuously discovered, the method to measure dates back to 1896. The use of sphygmomanometer (the BP cuff) measures both systolic and diastolic pressures. The systolic reading (the upper number) is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping blood; the diastolic reading (the lower number) is the pressure when the heart is relaxed and refilling with blood between the beats. It is small wonder then that untreated HBP poses serious risk for heart disease, kidney failure and stroke, among other chronic diseases.

What causes HBP, though? There is no one single factor that has been unequivocally linked to hypertension. Ordinarily, an intricate series of control mechanisms regulate BP. These involve the brain and the nervous system, the adrenals and other endocrine glands, the kidneys and the heart, and even blood vessels. In addition, genetic factors and lifestyle choices are of central importance as well. When everything works in sync, the BP remains within the healthy range. When BP increases, however, that imbalance is not apparent in 95% of the cases. When BP is high without knowing its cause, it is called essential hypertension. On the other hand, when a cause can be identified in rare cases, it is referred to as secondary hypertension. For example, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormonal disorders and, among others, sleep disorders give rise to secondary hypertension.

What is normal for blood pressure? Since BP can vary over a wide range in healthy people, there is no sharp cut-off between normal and high. Quite like the issue with cholesterol, the common wisdom has it that the lower the BP, the better. The risk for chronic diseases begins to increase above a systolic pressure of 115 and a diastolic pressure of 70. It is for this reason that in 2003 the guidelines for BP were revised and the normal BP redefined as less than 120/80. The BP readings previously considered as normal (120/80 to130/89) are now considered as pre-hypertensive.

This redefinition is hardly capricious, for there is a direct correlation between BP and disease across the entire range above a reading of 115/70. Thus, for people between the ages of 40 and 69, the risk of serious heart disease and stroke doubles with each 20-point rise in the systolic pressure and 10-point rise in diastolic pressure.

Lifestyle changes could potentially bring BP to within the normal ' range, especially among the pre-hypertensives. Thus, weight loss, health dietary habits, reduced salt intake, physical exercise, smoking cessation and limiting alcohol consumption may lower BP. In cases of hypertension, lifestyle changes may have to be bolstered with one or more drugs.

While drug therapy may be unavoidable in some cases, their side effects can be quite serious. Ironically, some of the BP drugs may in fact increase the risk of heart attack significantly. Therefore, lifestyle changes along with nutritive management of BP are by far more desirable. In combination with rutin-based bioflavonoids, enzymes such as papain, bromelain and nattokinase working systemically have been found to both normalize BP readings and to strengthen the blood vessel while maintaining their elasticity (Fig. 1).

How does a combination of systemic enzymes and bioflavonoids provide nutritional support for BP? To reiterate, since BP is the force exerted on the artery wall, if elevated, it exposes arteries to additional stress. As such, it may damage the arteries and overwork the heart. The result may be progressive narrowing of the arteries, which may enhance and hasten accumulation of fatty deposits inside the artery walls. Likewise, high BP may cause normally elastic arteries to harden or become brittle, and susceptible to reduced blood flow, clot formation, or rupture.

Nattokinase, an enzyme isolated from fermented soy cheese is known to degrade excessive amounts of fibrin, which otherwise would cross-link and damage the inside of the blood vessel wall.

This injury would both cause an inflammatory response and "seed" clot formation. The upshot is that the blood will not flow as smoothly and, as a result the blood pressure will rise. By simultaneous breakdown of excessive cross-linked fibrin and mitigation of inflammatory response, these enzymes effectively help modulate the blood flow throughout the body (Fig. 2). That alone, however is not sufficient to facilitate maintenance of blood flow with its baseline value. It also requires elasticity of the blood vessel wall. Rutin-based bioflavonoids accomplish that rather effectively.

Elevated BP warrants an aggressive plan of action, and must include lifestyle changes, dietary modification, and support system for the vasculature as with systemic enzymes and bioflavonoids, weight loss and, if applicable, smoking cessation.

Editors' Note: For additional information on hypertension, visit www.bioaginginc.com, and follow the Hypertension Resource link.

DIAGRAM: Figure 1: Dissection of Rutozym content

DIAGRAM: Figure 2: Corrective Action of Rutozym on Blood Pressure. Subjects, afflicted with more than one comorbid conditions of the vasculature, were on multiple drugs. Rutozym was dispensed under clinical supervision against a placebo group. The higher the blood pressure, the more readily amenable to nutritive management it is with Rutozym.

PHOTO (COLOR)

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By Aftab Ahmed, Ph.D., Publisher

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