High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is commonly branded the “silent killer” because it raises your risk of heart disease without warning. High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around the body and this extra effort can spur on a heart attack. Luckily, your diet can provide a buffer against high blood pressure. However, there are some hidden risks.
Coffee and tea are staples of the British diet but those at risk of hypertension should beware.
“Caffeine may cause a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure, even if you don’t have high blood pressure,” warns the Mayo Clinic.
Coffee and tea both contain caffeine, so overindulging can produce unwanted effects.
It’s unclear what causes this “spike” in blood pressure, notes the Mayo Clinic.
“The blood pressure response to caffeine differs from person to person.”
However, “some researchers believe that caffeine could block a hormone that helps keep your arteries widened”.
Others think that caffeine causes your adrenal glands to release more adrenaline, which causes your blood pressure to increase, the Mayo Clinic adds.
Whatever the underlying causes, the advice is clear across the board.
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“People with hypertension should limit their caffeine intake,” says Durham Nephrology Associates.
The health body continues: “If you are a coffee lover, try switching to half-caff coffee, or decaf if you can’t give it up completely.
“There are also caffeine-free teas available and certain varieties of tea have very low amounts of caffeine naturally.”
The NHS says drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure.
“If you’re a big fan of coffee, tea or other caffeine-rich drinks, such as cola and some energy drinks, consider cutting down.”
Research has also made some surprising discoveries. Harvard Health reported on a two-year study of 45,589 men between the ages of 40 and 75.
The Harvard scientists found no link between coffee consumption and the risk of coronary artery disease or stroke, even in heavy drinkers.
But while regular coffee proved harmless, decaf was associated with a slightly increased risk of heart disease, though the link was weak.
The Scottish Heart Health Study was even more reassuring, reporting a reduced risk of heart disease in coffee drinkers, with heavy drinkers getting the most benefit.
And although some coffee drinkers are annoyed by a feeling of rapid pulse, coffee does not seem to cause serious disorders of the heart’s rhythm, even in recent heart attack patients.
“Coffee is a complex brew, and it has many effects beyond the cardiovascular system,” concludes Harvard Health.
“Some people benefit from increased alertness, but for others the neurological actions of coffee include insomnia, anxiety, or tremors.”
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