Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hypertension Breakthrough

After slowly freeing myself from my ineffective blood pressure medicine without physician's supervision (to the dismay of my friend the emergency room nurse, who mordantly jokes about saving me a spot in the stroke treatment center), I have been faithfully, even obsessively, exercising and watching my diet. My blood pressure has eased to a moderate pre-hypertensive level, not optimal yet but well below the danger zone. I had expected to continue a gradual descent to the "normal" reading of 120/80 over the coming months. However, upon taking a blood pressure measurement this morning, I found that I had made a surprising descent all the way to "normal" overnight.

What caused such a significant reduction in blood pressure? The previous night had been typical of my routine, with one notable exception: my younger son and I had made chicken fajitas and added some very hot Hatch chiles.

I checked the internet to discover whether hot peppers or their active ingredient capsaicin are known to reduce blood pressure. I found this blurb on the Scientific American website: Rats with high blood pressure benefited from a long-term diet rich in capsaicin, which gives the heat to hot peppers and starts a chemical sequence that relaxes blood vessels.

Perhaps I am more ratlike than I had thought.

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