Not all hypertension is the same.
Hypertension in simple terms is high blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is generally said to be 100–140 mmHg (systolic) over 60–90 mmHg (diastolic). High blood pressure would be anything above 140/90 mmHg.
Hypertension is usually classified into primary (essential) and secondary hypertension. Essential hypertension refers to high blood pressure that doesn't have any other cause, so it is the primary problem. There are various factors that can cause, or contribute to this, including poor diet, certain vitamin deficiencies, hereditary factors, lifestyle issues and age.
Secondary hypertension means that the high blood pressure is being caused by an underlying, or other health problem. These could be temporary problems such as pregnancy, or they could be chronic long term such as obesity, kidney disease and thyroid problems. Amazingly, eating too much liquorice can also lead to hypertension.
So what is pre-hypertension?
Hypertension does not usually happen from one day to the next, it develops over a considerable number of years. The US National Joint Committee, therefore, proposed that a classification be created for patients whose blood pressure was above normal, but did not fall into the category of hypertension. Pre-hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure of between 120 and 139 mm Hg, over a diastolic pressure of between 80 and 89 mm Hg. Pre-hypertensive patients are an increasingly important group for research purposes as they can provide valuable information on therapies or medicines that can prevent the progression of pre-hypertension to full blown hypertension.
Vitamins C and E
The theory that oxidative stress is associated with the development of hypertension has been around for a long time. In 2008 the University of Chile published their results on a study that investigated the effects of vitamin C and E supplements on hypertension. In the 8 week study, patients with primary hypertension were given either 1 g Vitamin C plus 400 international units of vitamin E per day, or a placebo. The patients’ blood pressures were measured daily and tests were also carried out to measure oxidative stress. Results showed that the vitamin treated group had much lower BP pressure and less oxidative stress compared to both the placebo group and compared to their own results at the start of the study.
New Evidence on B Vitamins and Vitamin C
A new study published this month in Clinical Experimental Hypertension reports on research that investigated the effect of water soluble vitamins on oxidative stress and blood pressure in a pre-hypertensive group of patients. The water soluble vitamins (C and B group) were given to one group of patients for four months and compared to a group that received a placebo for four months. At the end of the study no change had been seen in the blood pressure levels of the treatment group whereas the placebo group's blood pressures had increased significantly. The placebo group also had increased markers of oxidative stress. The group conclude that treatment with water soluble vitamins can prevent the progression of pre-hypertension to full blown hypertension.
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