High blood pressure is part of the metabolic syndrome. This means that almost all of us who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.
We have lots of ways to help us control our blood pressure, including pills. But if you, like me, prefer to avoid taking prescription medicine, researchers have now discovered two ways that seem much better.
The researchers reported their findings Thursday at the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Conference in Chicago. Formal papers will probably follow.
One study shows that younger women tripled their risk of having high blood pressure later in life when their levels of vitamin D were low. Those who were deficient in vitamin D -- that is with less than 80 nanomoles per liter of blood -- when the Michigan Bone Health and Metabolism Study measured it for 559 women in 1993 were more likely to have high blood pressure when researchers followed up with them 15 years later. Even adjusting for the effects of age, obesity, and smoking, the women who had been deficient in vitamin D at the start of the study were three times more likely to have high blood pressure in 2008.
Flojaune C. Griffin, MPH, made the presentation of the study. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
Another study that researchers presented at the American Heart Association conference linked consumption of fructose to high blood pressure. We get a little fructose in fruit but a lot of it comes from table sugar, or sucrose, which is technically half fructose and half glucose. Many of us get even more from high-fructose corn syrup, used in soft drinks in large amounts and in thousands of prepared foods.
Dr. Richard J. Johnson, professor and head of the division of renal diseases and hypertension at the University of Colorado, and Dr. Santos Perez-Pozo, a nephrologist at Mateo Orfila Hospital in Minorca, Spain, led this study of 74 men. Their diet included 200 grams of fructose a day. While that's a lot more than the U.S. average, some people's diets are now getting close to that level.
The ingenious study had half the men also taking daily doses of allopurinol, a drug for gout that reduces blood levels of uric acid. The other half took a placebo.
Two weeks later those men on the high-fructose diet who were taking the placebo had an average increase of six points in their systolic blood pressure and three points in their diastolic blood pressure. Systolic is the first number and diastolic is the second when they test us and give us a reading like 100/60.
On the other hand, those men who were actually taking the gout drug had only a one-point increase in their systolic blood pressure. Dr. Johnson said that the study seems to confirm their understanding that fructose raises blood pressure by increasing levels of uric acid.
I have written at least a half dozen posts here recommending much higher levels of vitamin D and much less fructose consumption. So even if the new research is preliminary I consider it to be just icing on the cake for doing what we already knew that we needed to do.