High blood pressure research

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In this special feature, we collate some
of the most intriguing hypertension
studies from 2019. We particularly focus on nutrition, risk factors, and hypertension’s relationship with dementia.
Hypertension increases the risk of cardiovascular events, such as stroke and coronary disease, and, if doctors don’t treat it, it can reduce lifespan.
Because it is worryingly prevalent, and because the physical ramifications can be significant, scientists are plowing a great deal of effort into understanding hypertension.
Although people first identified hypertension as a medical condition thousands of years ago, scientists are still picking away at the details.
Research that scientists completed in 2019 has thrown out some exciting and, in some cases, unexpected findings. For instance, a paper appearing in February concluded that, for women over 80 years of age, having “normal” blood pressure had an increased risk of mortality when compared with individuals with high blood pressure.
Elsewhere, Greek scientists concluded that napping might help reduce blood pressure. “Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes,” explains one of the researchers, Dr. Manolis Kallistratos.
Another surprising study, which scientists presented at the 83rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Circulation Society, concluded that needing to urinate multiple times at night might be a sign of hypertension.
The food that we eat has a huge impact on our overall health; that goes without saying. The America Heart Association, for instance, suggest that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding products with high levels of salt and fat can help keep blood pressure in check.
Over the past few years, interest in nutrition, in general, has skyrocketed. More and more, scientists are focusing on individual foods or food compounds that can directly benefit health. So, although poor diet is a well-known risk factor for hypertension, researchers in 2019 drilled down deeper.
One study appearing in 2019 investigated the impact of consuming walnuts on blood pressure. It concluded that the individuals who ate an experimental walnut-heavy diet experienced a significant reduction in blood pressure.
In these types of studies, it is worth digging a little deeper; often, industry or organizations who might stand to benefit from positive results are funding them. The walnut study above, for instance, was partly funded by the California Walnut Commission.
This observation does not mean that we should dismiss the results out of hand, but it provides pause for thought.