Approximately 75 million people in the United States over age 20 have high blood pressure. After age 55, it’s estimated that Americans face a 90 percent chance of developing it.
The “good” news is that a doctor can diagnose high blood pressure (also called hypertension) in just a few minutes. All too typically, the doctor will then prescribe an antihypertensive medication and advise the patient to take it for the rest of his or her life. In fact, this drug treatment is often not needed.
Conventional doctors rarely concern themselves with the underlying cause of elevated blood pressure. More than 95 percent of cases are simply labeled “essential hypertension,” meaning there is no known cause.
Many times, the cause is a mystery because nobody has bothered to search for it. My experience has clearly shown a direct relationship between low magnesium levels and hypertension — and lack of the mineral is a huge factor in the spread of this risky condition.
Another thing I have discovered is that even if blood tests show normal magnesium levels, the vast majority of patients with hypertension will significantly improve by supplementing with magnesium.
Magnesium helps to relax the smooth muscles of blood vessels, resulting in less resistance to blood flow, which helps to lower blood pressure. The mineral also reduces nerve and muscle excitability.
In addition, magnesium helps optimize circulating levels of the hormones norepinephrine and serotonin, and levels of nitric oxide, which is a powerful vasodilator — a substance that opens blood vessels for better flow.
It is interesting to note that nearly all synthetic anti-hypertensive medications work to reduce blood pressure by a similar mechanism. However, all of those drugs are associated with severe adverse effects. Diarrhea, the only adverse side effect of magnesium, is easily solved by lowering the dose.
Studies have clearly shown the benefits of magnesium. One found that 625 mg per day caused a significant decline in blood pressure. That effect of magnesium was similar to the best anti-hypertensive medications.
The initial workup for anyone with high blood pressure should include testing magnesium levels (red blood cell and/or hair mineral levels) and a trial of oral magnesium — before using medications. Diuretics, the most commonly prescribed anti-hypertensive drugs, accelerate magnesium loss and lead to deficiency.
In addition, lack of magnesium hinders the use of potassium in cells. But oddly enough, diuretic drugs also lower potassium levels.
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