Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition where the pressure inside the blood vessels and arteries is too high. It is most often caused by poor dietary habits, lack of exercise or excess salt intake and can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney disease if left untreated. At present high blood pressure is initially treated with changes in diet or increase of exercise, but it may require prescription blood pressure medications like Ramipril to be managed properly.
However research conducted at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, based in the United States, has discovered an interesting effect that large doses of vitamin C can have on high blood pressure.
In the scientists’ study they analysed data from 29 previous clinical trials that reported systolic and diastolic blood pressure values against vitamin C and placebo intake. When compared they found that an average of 500mg of vitamin C a day - approximately five times the daily requirement - reduced blood pressure by 3.84 millimetres in the short term. This drop increased to nearly 5 millimetres for those who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
When the results are put alongside what patients can expect from ACE inhibitors or diuretics, which reduce blood pressure by roughly 10 millimetres, the results, while modest, could have a distinct impact for large portions of society.
“Although our review found only a moderate impact on blood pressure, if the entire U.S. population lowered blood pressure by 3 millilitres, there would be a lot fewer strokes,” said Edgar R. Miller III, M.D., PhD, an associate professor at the university and the study lead, but he cautioned the results should not be seen as anything solid just yet. “Our research [does] suggest a modest blood pressure lowering effect with vitamin C supplementation, but before we can recommend supplements as a treatment for high blood pressure, we really need more research to understand the implications of taking them.”
Researchers believe the role of Vitamin C in lowering blood pressure is due to the fact that it may act as a diuretic, helping the kidneys remove more sodium and water from the body which in turn helps relax the blood vessels. However, they cautioned again that this should not yet be an indication and impetus for people to take increased amounts of vitamins as more research is still required.
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