Fish Oil and Blood Pressure
I am a naturopathic physician with nearly 20 years of experience developing breakthrough nutritional products.I also have extensive television and radio experience and have lectured widely to health professionals, the military and the public on all aspects of natural health.
Dr Myers, an expert who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine
Stephen Fry in my surgery during the making of the BBC TV program
Me with Lord Bragg, accepting my "Champion of the Year" award
After graduating, I was recognised as being the 'best young neurosurgeon in Britain'
The heart is the core of the body, the muscle that pumps blood from one part of the body to another, helping the nutrients from food reach the right systems and allowing oxygen to get from your lungs to the rest of your body. Without the heart, the body can not live. This is why it is so important during a heart attack to get help as soon as possible. During this heart attack situation, the heart muscle is dying, thus the quicker help can be reached, the less tissue that is damaged. Most people don’t think of high blood pressure as a heart problem, but it is becoming one of the most virulent problems in the world – and one that needs to be dealt with.
What is Blood Pressure?
Simply put, the measurement of your blood pressure is the measurement of how hard your heart has to push blood throughout your body as well as to expand in order to pull enough blood inside of it from the extremities. This measurement is seen as a systolic over diastolic measurement, with the recommended level being about 120/80 or less. Anything over this is considered to be either pre-hypertension or hypertension. This measurement is crucial to regulate as it allows your body to maintain levels of nutrients as well as oxygen. But a higher reading can also be a sign of trouble – one that often goes unnoticed until it has done damage.
When the heart beats too hard and registers a higher blood pressure reading, it causes the walls of the vessels in the body to become thinner. This can lead to a number of problem – bulging veins that lead to aneurysms, problems with vessel hardening, issues with vision and kidney function, as well as causing the heart to become larger from the strain. What high blood pressure is doing is causing the body to work harder than it should, eventually wearing down the body at a much faster rate.
What are the Symptoms and Causes of High Blood Pressure?
The main concern with high blood pressure is that it is usually undetected until there is a larger problem. Patients should be sure to go to their doctor at least once a year for a blood pressure reading to be sure they are falling within the normal parameters – especially when they are at risk for high blood pressure. There are no specific high blood pressure symptoms, aside from a higher reading (in most patients).
The causes of high blood pressure vary and can sometimes be a sign of a more significant problem in the body. High blood pressure can be caused by activity (but this should be something that is temporary), heart disease, hardening of the arteries, heart defects, high sodium levels in the diet, obesity, diabetes, and stress. Very often, high blood pressure will accompany a more serious medical condition as is the first sign that the body is working harder to do the same work it had done in the past.
Sometimes high blood pressure can also be a sign that a more serious medical condition like a stroke or a pulmonary embolism is occurring in the patient, so if a person feels like their heart may be beating too hard, they should call their doctor or go to an emergent care centre.
How Can Fish Oil Help?
According to a study done by the University of Western Australia in 1999, 63 men and women in the study were given various different regimens in which to control their blood pressure readings. Some were placed on a diet that contained a fish meal each day, while another group simply ate fewer calories, and the final group had a calorie restricted meal plan as well as a daily fish meal. There was also a fourth group that served as the control group without any changes to their diet.
After sixteen weeks, those that had a daily fish meal were measured to have much lower blood pressure readings than they did at the initial measurements in comparison to the calorie restricted dieters and those in the control group.
Researchers believe that the essential fatty acids in the fish oil help to protect the heart and the veins, allowing them to beat normally at a normal blood pressure. There is also some debate as to whether or not fish oil can also help to repair previous heart damage from high blood pressure.
Where Can You Find Fish Oil Sources?
While the study in Australia gave the subjects daily fish meals, this is not often recommended in today’s times. Since realising that many fish from the sea have higher levels of mercury, the new recommendation is that people eat only two servings of fish a week. But since this seems rather low, given the study results, doctors are often recommending that patients begin to take fish oil supplements as well. These supplements contain the Omega 3 fatty acids that are necessary for good health, but they also remove any excess mercury for an even better source of nutrition.
Taking fish oil supplements seems to be a good way to protect the heart from high blood pressure as well as from heart disease.
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