Hypertensive people can prevent dementia with traditional Chinese medicine

In many cases, the cause of hypertension is unknown. Its effects, however, are adequately documented. Among its many complications is an increased risk of dementia. But according to a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the treatment of hypertension through traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can curb this risk significantly.

Hypertension is a chronic or long-term condition characterized by heightened blood pressure. Although a specific cause has yet to be identified, it is often noted to accompany underlying conditions, such as obesity and chronic kidney disease, and the use of certain medications, such as pain relievers, antidepressants, and hormonal birth control drugs, among others.

Certain habits, such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and using illegal drugs can raise one’s blood pressure. The lack of physical activity is also a known risk factor.

Hypertension increases the pressure on the artery walls. In the long run, the condition can lead to heart attacks because of atherosclerosis, aneurysms, kidney failure, and stroke, to name a few. Sufferers are also known to be at a higher risk for dementia, a set of neurodegenerative disorders that include Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers wanted to know if TCM could help mitigate this risk. Their study used data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). The study included 142,382 patients aged 20 to 90 years who received treatment between 1998 and 2007. At the time of their inclusion, the participants needed to have been newly diagnosed with hypertension.

Among the individuals in the study, 36.52 percent (52,365 people) received TCM after the onset of their hypertension (TCM users). The remaining 63.48 percent (91,107 people) acted as the control group (non-TCM users).

The researchers followed up on the participants until the end of 2012. Researchers found that among TCM users, 3,933 individuals (8.41 percent) developed dementia. Among the members of the control group, 10,316 people (11.5 percent) developed the condition.

Moreover, the effect was observed in those who were treated with TCM for longer than 180 days. Among the most commonly used TCM products used in treatment, Tian-Ma-Gou-Teng-Yin, Dan-Shen (Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae), Chuan-Niu-Xi (Radix Cyathulae), Ge-Gen (Radix Puerariae), Jia-Wei-Xiao-Yao-San, and Jue-Ming-Zi (Semen Cassiae) were associated with lower risks of dementia.

This led the researchers to conclude that certain TCM interventions can help reduce the risk of dementia and may be used as a preventive strategy, especially for hypertensive individuals.

Reducing hypertension through diet

Like many other chronic conditions, proper diet helps in managing hypertension. The best foods to include in a hypertensive person’s diet include:

  • Leafy greens – Green and leafy vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants that protect the cells from damage and that alone is a huge benefit for sufferers of hypertension. However, these foods also contain plenty of potassium, which aids the kidney in getting rid of excess sodium in the body. Sodium has hypertensive properties. Aside from fresh vegetables, one may eat frozen products. Canned vegetables need to be avoided as they are often preserved using salt – sodium chloride.
  • Berries – These delicious superfoods contain lots of flavonols that lower blood pressure and one’s risk for heart disease.
  • Beets – Red beets are rich in nitric oxide, a chemical needed by the blood vessels to dilate and function normally. This, in effect, lowers blood pressure.
  • Bananas – Botanists will say that bananas are technically berries. However, they deserve a separate mention because of their high potassium content. Eating bananas and other potassium-rich items are often considered better for managing hypertension than taking chemical supplements.
  • Fatty fish – The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish help maintain vascular health and lowers the risk for heart disease.
  • Garlic – There are plenty of reasons to like garlic despite its pungent odor. It is known to increase nitric oxide in the body, thereby lowering blood pressure and protecting the heart from damage.
  • Dark chocolate – Studies have linked dark chocolate to lower risks for cardiovascular disease. Unlike regular chocolate, the dark variety contains far less sugar and more of cacao’s nutritional goodness, making it an excellent guilt-free dessert that goes well with fruits and berries.

Find out how you can take care of your heart at Heart.news.

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