Johns Hopkins researchers have identified the genes responsible for aortic ballooning and the sequence of events leading to aortic aneurysms. Dr. Hal Dietz currently conducts clinical trials of therapies for people with inherited aortic aneurysms to improve health and quality of life for these patients.Learn more about Dr. Deitz and his aortic ballooning therapies.

On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional. No statement herein is to be construed as a diagnosis, treatment, preventative, or cure for any disease, disorder or abnormal physical state. The statements herein have not been evaluated by the Foods and Drugs Administration or Health Canada. Dr. Marchione and the doctors on the Bel Marra Health Editorial Team are compensated by Bel Marra Health for their work in creating content, consulting along with formulating and endorsing products.


Some years ago I was put on medication for elevated blood pressure, as my mother before me. I took my medication and checked my values “religiously”… All of a sudden last October I developed malignant hypertension. I was hospitalized 3 times in 3 days with values over 220, then the hospital sent me to a nephrologist. He started running tests which were all normal. The hospital put me on Clonidine but the nephrologist did not add anything while running tests. In November I had to be hospitalized again. That time the ER doctor said they were not going to release me back to the same situation and added Amlodipine Besylate. My blood pressure has been normal with one brief spike since. Problem now are medication side effects: edema of feet and legs, hearing loss from fluid retention, bloating and constipation and generally not feeling well. I had always worked full time but finally retired this March. I am very disappointed to think that after working so hard for so may years I am going to feel like this in retirement due to side effects. I have talked to my nephrologist, especially a few weeks ago when I developed hearing loss from fluid retention and found that all the side effects are cumulative. He sent me an email saying we will stop the Clonidine and Amlodipine with no adjustments or anything in their place!! My pharmacist has tried to be helpful but can’t change anything. He says Amlodipine is one of the worst meds for side effects and many patients have to stop it for something else. The nephrologist does not seem to have done any research on side effects in order to suggest alternative medications, or to offer adjustments. He seems kind and listens, but offers nothing. In fact all of my medications for this condition were prescribed at the hospital. We have few geriatric doctors in this area, and no geriatric cardiologists. My regular cardiologist who just prescribed my standard meds cancelled my appointment when I developed the spikes. I already knew he was not up to challenges…I see an adult congenital cardiologist every so often even though he tells me I don’t need him as my congenital repair and heart are fine. There are not a lot of nephrologists here, but I think there is a better one in the same group so I doubt he will see me. I am really in a dilemma because I certainly cannot risk spikes, but would hope to feel better and not risk side effects such as fluid retention causing worse problems. It has also elevated my blood glucose which I watch and control through diet and exercise. The medication had my blood pressure running as low as the low 80s over low 50s, obviously too low, which is when the edema developed and I was lethargic. Now values are good. I have found little information on malignant hypertension and had never heard of it. I will greatly appreciate any suggestions. Thank you! PS I do not have a primary care doctor because so many here will not take Medicare and the “good” ones are not taking new patients or retiring. I have been looking for some time. My neurologist even had me send records to his good friend, an internal medicine specialist and they called and said he couldn’t help me….I had endocarditis at age 5 and have some medical PTSD. Sorry to write a novel, but I am thrilled there may be some help for me! 

“We have many people with hypertension who come to Pritikin,” says Pritikin’s Associate Medical Director Danine Fruge, MD, “and within three days, many have blood pressures that have dropped so low that we need to reduce their medications or take them off their pills altogether. Yes, just three days. That’s how quickly and powerfully our bodies respond to healthy food, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.”
Eat dark chocolate. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are both full of heart-healthy plant compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids are good for you because they cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can help lower blood pressure. Just make sure your chocolate doesn’t have too much sugar. Choose chocolate that is at least 70 percent dark for best results. You can buy individually wrapped chocolate pieces that are the perfect size. Eat one or two a day and enjoy the delicious heart-protective effects.
In addition to these methods being effective, other lifestyle changes and diet adjustments may also be useful in lower blood pressure. One study explains that losing weight can have a significant positive impact on patients that have been diagnosed with hypertension. Even small reductions in bodyweight amongst those individuals who are both obese and hypertensive can yield life-saving benefits. Dietary changes can also help. In particular, the patient should aim to lower their daily intake of sodium, which causes an elevation in blood pressure. The patient should also focus on obtaining more calcium, potassium and other minerals that are useful in balancing blood pressure levels. Fiber, fruits and a lot of vegetables should also be an essential part of the patient’s daily diet.
Caffeine can raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and magnifying the effects of stress, says James Lane, PhD, a Duke University researcher who studies caffeine and cardiovascular health. "When you're under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure," he says. "And caffeine exaggerates that effect." (Not sure whether you need to cut back? Here are 6 physical symptoms that mean you're drinking too much coffee.)
Much of the salt we ingest comes from fast food, ready-made meals, bread and soft drinks – things to avoid when on a low-carbohydrate diet. This will lower your salt intake automatically. Furthermore, the hormonal effects of LCHF make it easier for the body to dispose of excess salt through urine; this can explain the slight lowering of blood pressure.
Did you know high blood pressure affects nearly half of all Americans? When left untreated, it can cause serious problems. High blood pressure (or hypertension) makes the heart work too hard to pump blood around your body. That can increase your risk of other health problems such as heart failure, heart attack or stroke. It can also cause kidney failure and vision issues.
The causes are most often some combination of clogged “pipes” and excessive salt in the diet. Lifestyle changes, such as appropriate diet and exercise, are among the most effective treatment strategies for high blood pressure. Relaxation, meditation, and otherwise “taking it easy” are not effective solutions, as valuable as such strategies may be for your psychological well-being.
Well, it sounds like you started with one BP med in the angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) class, and then your doctor switched you to another drug in that same class. These drugs do affect potassium, which can affect muscle function but otherwise, I haven’t heard of them being particularly associated with joint pain, and I didn’t see much mention of this when I looked just now in my clinical reference (Uptodate.com).

The conventional solution to this growing health epidemic is to simply take more blood pressure medications like angiotensin-receptor blockers, which have been scientifically linked to causing cancer and other serious health problems. But the alternative route, which should really just be called the common-sense route, is to eat more foods and herbs that naturally lower blood pressure without causing any harmful side effects.
Ask your doctor if low-fat or nonfat milk is better than whole milk for you. Whole milk can lower blood pressure better than low-fat or nonfat milk, but there may also be risks. Whole milk contains Palmitic acid, which, according to some studies, can block internal signals responsible for relaxing blood vessels. As a result, your blood vessels stay constricted and your blood pressure remains high.[7]
Eat berries. Berries have many health benefits, and one of them is improving blood pressure and reducing other heart disease risks. Berries, like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, have lots of polyphenols, which are great for your heart. They’re also really tasty. So, load up on the berries for better blood pressure. If you don’t like eating them all the time, try adding them to a smoothie made with low-fat or fat-free yogurt without added sugar. Throw in some ice, banana, and low-fat milk for a heart-healthy treat.
“Beware of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 'Salty Six' — six popular foods that can add high levels of sodium to your diet,” says Rachel Johnson, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington and the former chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee. The Salty Six include breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, sandwiches, pizza, soup, and chicken.

6. Add garlic to everything. If you're already suffering from high blood pressure, eating garlic regularly can reduce your blood pressure by about 20 points, or 10 to 15 percent. When garlic is crushed it releases allicin, which decreases blood pressure and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Make sure you let your garlic sit for about 15 minutes after chopping or crushing, to allow the allicin to release. Cook on a low temperature to get the maximum benefit, as a high temperature will kill many of garlic's healing properties.


Again, foods that lower blood pressure are usually high in potassium and similar nutrients. Famously rich in blood pressure-lowering potassium, one banana contains about 420 milligrams, or 11 percent of the 4,700 milligrams the American Heart Association recommends people consume daily. Surprisingly, however, many veggies are actually higher in potassium than these popular fruits. A cup of Swiss chard boasts 960 milligrams, a cup of cooked white beans has nearly 1,200 milligrams, and a whole avocado has 975 milligrams.
4. Cut down on processed food. Just about all processed foods contain huge amounts of fructose, particularly fruit drinks or any fruit-flavored products. Fructose is hidden all over the supermarket, even in the most unlikely places: processed meats, breads, pasta sauces and dressings. Fast food chains love fructose. The only thing they love more is vegetable oil.
Thank you so much for your highly informative article on hypertension for seniors–the best one that I have read. Presently, my wife, age 78, weight 98 lbs., height 4′ 11″, has been on a 4 m Atacand (brand name) per day for close to ten years now. Healthwise, I was concerned about its side effects on her. Pricewise, it is a very, very costly drug and our plan now requires her to pay a newly required deductible of $350 before reaching a new copay that has also become more expensive as well. She does not smoke or drink. Her family doctor has suggested that she switches to a generic brand Atacand but she prefers not to risk with its poorer bioavailability. Is such a preference valid? Are there any benefits in a generic that would outweigh its bioavailability constraint? Is there any alternative brand name drug that would offer her a good transition? Thank you kindly again for sharing the above highly informative, useful, and rare article regarding hypertension for seniors. I’d look forward to your reply with great appreciation–if I may.
Elevated blood pressure refers to an increase in the pressure or tension applied to blood vessels. Blood pressure is measured by providing two different readings, including systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure levels that raise beyond 120/80 is considered elevated. At 130/80, a person is considered to be experiencing high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often classified into two stages. State 1 hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure levels fall between 130-139/80-89. Stage 2 hypertension is diagnosed when a patient’s blood pressure becomes higher than 140/90.
Exercise is the soulmate to eating right. You’re more likely to lose weight if you exercise and follow a healthy diet. Official recommendations call for at least half an hour of exercise most days of the week. The effects can be dramatic: Blood pressure drops of 4 to 9 points. Remember that exercise isn’t just going to the gym. It can be gardening, washing your car, or housework. But things that get your heart rate up -- aerobic activities -- like walking, dancing, jogging, riding your bike, and swimming are best for your heart.
When you get a high blood pressure reading at the doctor's office, it might be tough for you to understand exactly what impact those numbers can make on your overall health, since high blood pressure has no unusual day-to-day symptoms. But the truth is, having high blood pressure is a serious health risk—it boosts the risks of leading killers such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. What's more, high blood pressure is a primary or contributing cause of death in more than 1,000 deaths a day in the United States.
4. Find an exercise that works for you (and do it). Moving more can help reverse high blood pressure. One meta-analysis of 65 studies found regular exercise provides both an acute and longer-term reduction in blood pressure. Whether you’re an exercise novice or a conditioned athlete, these four strategies can help you create an effective workout plan to optimize health.
The right tunes can help bring your blood pressure down, according to Italian research. Researchers asked 29 adults who were already taking BP medication to listen to soothing classical, Celtic, or Indian music for 30 minutes daily while breathing slowly. When they followed up with the subjects six months later, their blood pressure had dropped by an average of 4 mmHg.
4. Find an exercise that works for you (and do it). Moving more can help reverse high blood pressure. One meta-analysis of 65 studies found regular exercise provides both an acute and longer-term reduction in blood pressure. Whether you’re an exercise novice or a conditioned athlete, these four strategies can help you create an effective workout plan to optimize health. 

Often, hypertension can improve with lifestyle changes. In some cases, high blood pressure can go down to normal levels with only lifestyle modifications, particularly if you have stage 1 hypertension (systolic blood pressure of 130 mmHg to 159 mmHg, or diastolic blood pressure 80 mmHg to 99 mmHg), or if you have elevated blood pressure (systolic blood of 120 mmHg to 129 mmHg and diastolic less than 80 mmHg). 

5. Take apple cider vinegar. In addition to lowering blood pressure almost overnight, apple cider vinegar has a myriad of fringe benefits. Apple cider vinegar helps with indigestion, especially if you suffer from diarrhea. It also soothes sore throats, cures hiccups instantly, and lowers cholesterol. Most importantly, it helps with weight loss by improving metabolism and reducing water retention -- and a healthy weight is key to normalizing blood pressure.

As blood pressure tends to vary somewhat from day to day, it’s recommended to only diagnose someone with high blood pressure if they have given a repeatedly high reading. If the average of either of the readings (either the systolic or diastolic) is higher than the norm, it will be considered an elevated blood pressure. That is, an average of 150/85 or 135/100 over readings on several occassions will be considered too high.
Knowing how to lower blood pressure fast is very important. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause irreversible damage to internal organs and shorten your life. When starting anything new please consult your primary care physician. With natural ways to lower your blood pressure always check to see if they will interfere with any current medication, you are taking. You can speak with your local pharmacist.
CoQ10 is a naturally occurring enzyme. It contains antioxidants that are good for maintaining cardiac health. CoQ10 has been shown to decrease blood pressure and reduces the thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophy). There are no known side effects of CoQ10 since it naturally occurs in the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, for the treatment of hypertension, take 60-360 milligrams daily for 8-12 weeks.
Visit the zoo: Viewing and being around animals can be very therapeutic, having a positive effect on blood pressure levels. A study in Japan found that when people visited a zoo, their systolic blood pressure dropped by six percent and their diastolic blood pressure dropped by eight percent. It is thought that observing animals simulated the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces blood pressure to help counteract stress-induced adrenaline spikes.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been proven best for controlling blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.  People who follow the diet eat 2,000 calories a day of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and whole grains. The diet is rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as protein and fiber, and low in sodium. Foods on the diet are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol.
8. Take less stress: If you want to stay healthy, take less stress. Every individual faces some kind of difficulty in their life. What matters is the attitude you have towards these difficulties. If you constantly take stress or tension, you are likely to have blood pressure problems. Being chronically stressed puts your body in constant fight-or-flight mode. This could lead to faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels. Listen to good music, do yoga, meditate. These are some effective ways to control your stress and also keep your blood pressure under control.
Regular visits with your doctor are also key to controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it. Your doctor may suggest checking it daily or less often. If you're making any changes in your medications or other treatments, your doctor may recommend you check your blood pressure starting two weeks after treatment changes and a week before your next appointment.
A 2013 review on yoga and blood pressure found an average blood pressure decrease of 3.62 mm Hg diastolic and 4.17 mm Hg systolic when compared to those who didn’t exercise. Studies of yoga practices that included breath control, postures, and meditation were nearly twice as effective as yoga practices that didn’t include all three of these elements (24).
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