A September announcement by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stating, “America is losing the war against hypertension,” is alarming. The report says almost 54 percent of Americans are diagnosed with high blood pressure that often goes untreated. Hypertension is now public health enemy number two, behind tobacco use.
The CDC, analyzing data from 2003 to 2010, found that the prevalence of hypertension among adults during that period was 30.4 percent, or almost 67 million Americans. Of the 53.5 percent who were not controlling their blood pressure, 39 percent did not know they had hypertension, 16 percent knew but took nothing to lower it, and 45 percent were taking medications to no avail.
High blood pressure that is undetected or is not properly controlled can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke or death. According to the American Heart Association one in three U.S. adults suffers from hypertension, which if untreated leads to one in six deaths a year. While the exact causes of high blood pressure are not clearly understood, there is a strong association with age, being overweight, family history, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, stress, and lack of sleep. High salt intake, caffeine and alcohol have been shown to worsen the situation, causing a further increase in blood pressure. Of special concern are the growing numbers of people with hypertension who also have high cholesterol and have trouble keeping both under control.
As hypertension is not felt in the way one feels a headache or an aching muscle, preventive measures must be taken consistently and once discovered an effort taken to seek therapy.
Aged Garlic Extract and Hypertension People seeking ways to control blood pressure have options of being medicated with anti-hypertensive drugs, which often have unwelcome side effects. But those who prefer natural, non-drug therapy can choose a garlic preparation as a safe and effective treatment.
Current evidence indicates that of the many available garlic preparations, Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), manufactured by Wakunaga of America, is the most reliable and consistent in its efficacy. Published studies on the ability of garlic and garlic supplements to lower blood pressure in patients with untreated hypertension, show that AGE is better tolerated than garlic powder and that its efficacy in reducing blood pressure is superior to that of raw or cooked garlic.
The Nature of AGE as a Remedy
Aged garlic extract is safe and odorless; it is produced by the extraction and aging of fresh organic garlic at room temperature for as long as 20 months. AGE is standardized by S-allyl cysteine, a water-soluble organosulfur compound, with antioxidant activity that is the most prevalent component in AGE. This has resulted in AGE being the preferred form of garlic used in medical studies on the health effects of garlic, with over 600 scientific and medical publications.
AGE Reduces Multiple Cardiovascular Risk Factors
AGE is a modulator of a wide range of cardiovascular risk factors, including the reduction of blood pressure, increased blood flow, prevention of platelet aggregation and stickiness, a lowering of total cholesterol and LDL, an elevation of the good cholesterol (HDL) and suppression of coronary heart atherosclerotic plaques that can lead to a heart attack. In addition, AGE was shown to reduce homocysteine, protect the function of endothelial cells that line blood vessels, increase the levels of nitric acid (NO), a regulator of blood pressure and an endothelial relaxing factor, and, by its powerful antioxidant action AGE inhibits oxidative damage to the endothelium that can be caused by many stress factors, including smoking.
In a study at Brown University School of Medicine, the intake of AGE lowered cholesterol levels and blood pressure in men with high cholesterol levels, men received AGE at a dose of 800 mg/day, for six months, followed by placebo for four months. Cholesterol levels and blood pressure were measured monthly. Results showed that total cholesterol levels fell by an average of six to seven percent and that systolic blood pressure decreased by 5.5 percent; there was a smaller decrease in diastolic pressure.
A breakthrough clinical trial from the University of California in Los Angeles, by M. Budoff, MD and colleagues, found a dramatic reduction in coronary artery plaque formation in AGE treated patients compared to placebo and, among the other multiple cardioprotective effects a reduction in blood pressure.
AGE Effective Where Anti-Hypertensive Drugs Failed Investigators at the University of Adelaide in Australia showed for the first time that AGE can treat hypertension more effectively than medication. The study, published in 2010 in the Journal Maturitas, was a randomized, double-blinded placebo controlled trial of 50 patients whose high blood pressure did not respond to anti-hypertensive drugs.
The patients were adults with systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher and diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or above. They were all being treated with conventional antihypertensive medications and instructed not to change the prescribed medications during the trial. Twenty five patients received four capsules a day, containing a total of 960 mg of odorless AGE and 2.4 mg S-allyl cysteine, for 12 weeks. This daily dose was equivalent to an intake of 2.5 mg of fresh garlic. Twenty-five control patients received a placebo of similar capsules, devoid of AGE. Blood pressures were monitored at baseline and at 4.8 and 12 weeks. Patients were reminded to keep taking their usual prescribed antihypertensive medicines.
AGE as an Adjunct Treatment
The trial results showed a statistically significant difference between the blood pressure of patients on AGE and those on placebo. In patients with systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher, AGE lowered systolic pressure by an average of 10.2 mm Hg, compared with placebo controls; an effect comparable to the reduction produced by common antihypertensive medications. In patients with a systolic blood pressure lower than 140 mm Hg the differences were not significant.
This trial shows that Kyolic AGE can serve as adjunct antihypertensive therapy. Previous studies found that reduction of blood pressure protects against heart disease and that a drop in systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by 8 –20 percent. Thus, the reduction in blood pressure of 10.2 mm Hg, by AGE, offers a dramatic and highly desirable protection against cardiovascular disease.
Mechanisms of Action
The anti-hypertensive effects of AGE are linked to the stimulation of intracellular nitric oxide, a relaxing factor that is produced in the endothelial cells that line blood vessels and controls vascular tone and blood pressure. AGE antihypertensive effects are also due to increasing the production of a substance that relaxes vascular smooth muscles, improves elasticity, thus leading to vasodilator and increased blood flow.
Hypertension defined as systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or above, and diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or above should be treated as soon as diagnosed. Garlic has antihypertensive effects in humans and of the various available preparations, including the fresh bulb, odorless Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), manufactured by Wakunaga of America, stands out as the most reliable preventive measure. AGE stimulates blood vessel relaxing factor NO, improves vessel elasticity and increases blood flow. AGE is highly effective in reducing blood pressure even in patients who could not control hypertension by medication, making it a highly desirable remedy for high blood pressure.