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Properly Managing Your Blood Pressure May Protect Your Memory

Taking a blood pressure check with an image of a brain in the background

Study underscores importance of managing BP

It’s not just your heart health you’ll improve when you manage your blood pressure. A national study found that optimizing blood pressure targets could help your memory too.

While people’s blood pressure (BP) fluctuates all the time, the ideal BP target is 120 over 80. The first number (systolic BP) indicates the pressure against your artery walls when the heart beats. The second number (diastolic BP) indicates the pressure against your artery walls when your heart is resting between beats.

Over the years, medical guidelines have suggested managing systolic pressure to different targets, from under 140 to under 130, with recent guidelines suggesting management to under 130.

Doctors typically give more attention to the first number because it’s the major risk for cardiovascular disease — especially as we age.

What the study examined

SPRINT (the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial), a study of the heart health of more than 9,000 people ages 50+ sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, recently did a subanalysis called the SPRINT MIND trial. It looked at the brain health of a smaller group of almost 700 patients whose blood pressure was managed to 120 (or less) versus a group managed to 140.

These patients received brain scans at the beginning of the trial and again four years later. Researchers found that those who managed their BP to 120 lowered their chances of developing white matter in the brain by a third. (Less white matter means less chance of developing cognitive impairment.)

The SPRINT MIND trial’s take-aways: “We regularly see patients with memory problems and grapple with mysteries that continue to surround the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of age-related cognitive impairment,” says geriatrician Ronan Factora, MD. “So we’re naturally excited to see large, randomized trials like the SPRINT study where the findings can have a dramatic impact on patients’ health. These results give older patients who have high blood pressure, but are otherwise healthy, a strong incentive to work toward the less than 120 blood pressure target.”

But the SPRINT MIND findings are far from a one-size-fits-all prescription, Dr. Factora cautions.

But the study excluded patients who had diabeteskidney disease and a number of other conditions. That means that it didn’t take into account many real-life scenarios related to managing high blood pressure.

He notes that there’s also the other end of the spectrum, when blood pressure is managed so closely that it becomes too low, which can lead to light-headedness or dizziness when standing up.

“Especially for older patients, we have to be careful that their blood pressure isn’t so low that it leads to a fall and a broken bone,” Dr. Factora says. We must make sure the SPRINT MIND guidelines are appropriate for each patient we see, taking into account that person’s medical conditions, medications and ultimate medical goals.

That said, if hypertension is the only significant medical problem you’re dealing with, Dr. Factora recommends working with the help of your physician toward the less than 120 blood pressure target.

Source: Properly Managing Your Blood Pressure May Protect Your Memory
Cleveland Clinic

Why olive oil lowers blood pressure

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Eating unsaturated fats, like those in olive oil, along with leafy greens and other vegetables creates a certain kind of fatty acid that lowers blood pressure, scientists say.

 

The secret to the Mediterranean diet may be in the salad.

Eating unsaturated fats, like those in olive oil, along with leafy greens and other vegetables creates a certain kind of fatty acid that lowers blood pressure, scientists said recently.

These nitro fatty acids are formed when consuming spinach, celery and carrots that are filled with nitrates and nitrites, along with avocado, nuts and olive oils that contain healthy fats.

Nitro fatty acids appear to inhibit an enzyme known as soluble epoxide hydrolase, which regulates blood pressure, said the research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

The study was based on experiments in lab mice, and was funded by the British Heart Foundation.

“The findings of our study help to explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks,” said Philip Eaton, professor of cardiovascular biochemistry at King’s College London.

While most experts agree that the Mediterranean diet – which consists of lots of vegetables, fish, grains, red wine and fatty nuts and oils – brings health benefits, there has been little scientific consensus about how or why.

Some have touted red wine as a driving force behind the ability of Europeans to eat high fat cheeses and meats while maintaining better overall health than Americans.

But research published last week found that a key antioxidant in red wine, resveratrol, did not help people in Italy live longer or avoid cancer or heart disease. – AFP Relaxnews

via Why olive oil lowers blood pressure – Health | The Star Online.

Olive oil and salad combined ‘explain’ Med diet success

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The combination of olive oil and leafy salad or vegetables is what gives the Mediterranean diet its healthy edge, say scientists.

 

When these two food groups come together they form nitro fatty acids which lower blood pressure, they told PNAS journal.

The unsaturated fat in olive oil joins forces with the nitrite in the vegetables, the study of mice suggests.

Nuts and avocados along with vegetables should work too, they say.

Inspired by traditional cuisine of countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy, the Mediterranean diet has long been associated with good health and fit hearts.

Typically, it consists of an abundance of vegetables, fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, olive oil and nuts, as well as poultry and fish, rather than lots of red meat and butter or animal fats.

While each component of the Mediterranean diet has obvious nutritional benefits, researchers have been puzzled about what precisely makes the diet as a whole so healthy.

Chemical reaction

Prof Philip Eaton, from King’s College London, and colleagues from the University of California in the US believe it is the fusion of the diet’s ingredients that make nitro fatty acids.

In their study, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, the researchers used genetically engineered mice to see what impact nitro fatty acids had on the body.

Nitro fatty acids helped lower blood pressure by blocking an enzyme called epoxide hydrolase.

Prof Eaton said: “Humans have this same enzyme so we think the same happens in people.”

This explains why a Mediterranean diet is healthy, even though it contains fat, he says.

“With the fats in the Med diet, if taken together with nitrates or nitrites, there’s a chemical reaction and these combine to form nitro fatty acids.

“It’s nature’s protective mechanism. If we can tap into this we could make new drugs for treating high blood pressure and preventing heart disease,” he said.

He said human trials were planned.

Dr Sanjay Thakrar of the British Heart Foundation said: “This interesting study goes some way to explain why a Mediterranean diet appears to be good for your heart health. The results showed a way in which a particular compound could combat high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

“However, more work is necessary as these experiments were conducted in mice and this compound could also be having its effect through other pathways.”

via BBC News – Olive oil and salad combined ‘explain’ Med diet success.

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