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Beyond pills: Cardiologists examine alternatives to halt high blood pressure
Date:8/30/2011

modifications recommended by the American Heart Association. Any alternative options should be considered for use in addition to these lifestyle changes. When it comes to safety, Bisognano adds, "These alternative options are usually harmless, except when they keep patients from taking medications they need to take. If a patient is taking a supplement instead of something that we know is useful, that could be a problem."

Dietary Supplements

The shining star among supplements is coenzyme Q10, an enzyme involved in energy production that also acts as an antioxidant. Patients with hypertension tend to have lower levels of the enzyme, and a meta-analysis an overarching analysis of past studies found that treatment with coenzyme Q10 supplements significantly reduced blood pressure.

Woolf noted that "Coenzyme Q10 has a pretty profound effect on blood pressure, but whenever research is based on a collection of other data you have to have some skepticism." Woolf said he still thinks the compound is promising.

Woolf also found that potassium helps lower blood pressure, and there is evidence that increasing the amount of potassium we get through the foods we eat could carry some of the same mild benefits as taking supplements.

Herbal Remedies

The potential herbal remedies Woolf identified include mistletoe extract, used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat hypertension. Mistletoe extract reduced blood pressure in animal studies, but Woolf cautions that it may be toxic at high doses. The extract from Hawthorn, a type of tree, is also used, but provides only a slight reduction in blood pressure. Conversely, Woolf uncovered a handful of herbal remedies St. John's wort, ephedra/ma huang, yohimbine and licorice that may increase blood pressure.

Woolf and Bisognano stress that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary and herbal supplements the way they regulate traditional pharmaceut
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Contact: Emily Boynton
emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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