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Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the pressure that blood exerts on blood vessels as it circulates. High blood pressure (hypertension) and low blood pressure (hypotension) can each lead to a variety of health issues.

Our evidence-based analysis on blood pressure features 8 unique references to scientific papers.

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Reviewed by
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Last Updated:

Summary of Blood Pressure

Blood pressure refers to the pressure that blood exerts on the blood vessels as it travels through circulation. It's most commonly measured with an auscultatory approach, using a sphygmomanometer, a stethoscope, and a cuff to measure pressure at two points: systolic, which is the maximum pressure during a contraction, and diastolic, which is the minimum pressure between contractions. BP is normally measured in millimeters of mercury (a unit of pressure) above the atmospheric pressure.

Blood pressure is either measured in a single sitting or as ambulatory pressure, over 24 hours with a leave-on cuff. The latter is likely to be more accurate and aboid anomalous measurements, since blood pressure can naturally fluctuate throughout the day.

Food and supplements that affect blood pressure may do so through improving the ability of blood vessels to dilate due to nitric oxide signaling, inhibiting angiotensin, which causes vasoconstriction, modifying blood volume, protecting blood vessels, or by playing a role in the function of endothelial cells.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a risk factor for atherosclerosis, while low blood pressure (hypotension) can be a result of a variety of illnesses and may lead to weakness and dizziness due to inadequate blood flow.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect blood pressure.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Supplement Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a
Minor
- See all 23 studies
While not affecting everybody, there appears to be a decrease in blood pressure when assessing mildly hypertensive people; the increase in blood flow seen in healthy people is not accompanied by a decrease in blood pressure, while the xanthine (caffeine) content of chocolate products may cause a mild and transient increase in blood pressure in some subjects.
grade-a Minor Very High See all 8 studies
May decrease blood pressure in persons with high blood pressure, but does not appear to have efficacy in persons with normal blood pressure
grade-b Notable High See all 12 studies
Garlic supplementation appears to reduce blood pressure, and the magnitude is quite respectable in persons with hypertension (around 10 points systolic or 8-10%) whereas there is a smaller but present reduction in persons with normal blood pressure.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Blood Pressure

Beating high blood pressure with beets
Previously demonized in the form of nitrate food preservatives, nitrates are now being researched for heart disease protection.
Kick the can: how BPA in canned drinks impacts blood pressure
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The downsides of caffeine intake
Caffeine can have a determinetal impact on your blood pressure, eye pressure, and acid reflux.
Click here to see all 8 references.