The Women's Journal

Functional Medicine & High Blood Pressure

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By D
r. Cynthia Crosser  

120/80mmHg. This is the magic number that we wish to achieve. As we’ve seen chronic diseases such as diabetes increase and increased rates of obesity, we see the concomitant rise in blood pressure. When it goes up, we are usually advised to take medication. And yet, many people are seeking ways to reduce their blood pressure through lifestyle changes, diet and nutritional supplementation. This is, however, a complicated subject.

Elevated blood pressure is also called hypertension which does NOT mean being too tense.  Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of the arteries that carry blood, nutrients, and oxygen from the heart to the other parts of your body. Arteries can become damaged, stiff, non-elastic and constricted. They can even burst or clot. The systolic number is the top number and is the pressure in the arteries when the heart pumps out the blood. The lower number is the diastolic pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxed, after contracting and in between pumping blood.

There are many physiological parameters that create hypertension. Several are abnormal blood vessel health, inflammation, oxidative stress, low levels of nitric oxide, and immune disorders of the artery. Endothelial dysfunction and low levels of micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Low levels of macronutrients, such as, organic, high-quality protein, good fats (fish oil and olive oil), beneficial carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, are also major contributing factors in hypertension. All these variables should be evaluated by a health care professional when attempting to normalize blood pressure.  

There is also a category of white coat hypertension affecting mostly women and is defined by elevated blood pressure at the clinic or office only. This is not an innocent phenomenon and should be treated as essential hypertension. In these cases, treatment should consist of lifestyle and dietary modifications, weight reduction, regular exercise, smoking cessation, and correction of glucose and lipid abnormalities.  

Then we have the role of genetics. There are numerous genes for hypertension that have been discovered. Having this testing done will help your physician provide a more direct, personalized and precise program for medication and dietary changes. The outcome: blood pressure controlled sooner, better with fewer drugs, less cost and better cardiovascular outcomes. Labs will measure 25 genes related to cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Genetics and nutrigenomics (the effect of nutrition and supplementation on genes), give a more broad perspective and prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. This testing helps to determine the switching on and off of the gene expression, most of which is driven by inflammation.

Much hypertension is driven by a combination of factors such as vascular, hormonal, renal, and neurological that function in a complex interrelationship. Even heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic are also factors as the kidneys are the end-organ targets of heavy metals and are an associated risk for hypertension.

Some things you can do right now are: 

  1. Maintain an ideal body weight, body fat, and visceral fat for your age and gender. 
  2. Exercise at least 4 days per week with 1 hour each day both aerobic and resistance training. 
  3. Get at least 8 hours of restful sleep daily.
  4. Consume no more than 2000 mg salt/day. 
  5. Consume 5000 mg potassium/day and 1000 mg magnesium/day.
  6. Reduce or stop alcohol.  
  7. Consume at least 6 servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruit/day.

Preventing and controlling blood pressure requires a truly integrated approach that focuses on genetics, lifestyle, and nutrigenomics. Start the journey to better cardiovascular outcomes today! Call 302-994-1010 or go to my website at   


Wellness within reach!


5700 Kirkwood Hwy., Suite 101, Wilmington, DE 19808

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