At the Irish Heart Foundation we believe that today’s research is tomorrow’s treatment. And one such example is how we and our kind donors helped Dr. Eamon Dolan and his team to discover the powers of beetroot in managing blood pressure.
Dr. Dolan is a stroke physician in Connolly Hospital, Dublin. Every day in his clinic he works with patients who have suffered stroke, and helps them manage their high blood pressure.
It’s often not until someone suffers from stroke as a result of high blood pressure, that they begin to take their blood pressure seriously.
1 million people in Ireland
There are almost 1 million people in Ireland who have high blood pressure – and many don’t even know they have it. And this is predicted to increase to 1.2 million by 2020. Of these people, 1 in 10 cannot be treated with high blood pressure medication.
Need to develop a treatment option
It is vital to develop a treatment option for people who have treatment resistant hypertension as well as a safe and effective option for people who are mildly hypertensive.
Being able to control high blood pressure is key to preventing stroke, and other life-threatening heart conditions. Even a small reduction in blood pressure can make all the difference.
“For every millimetre of mercury by which we’re able to lower a patient’s blood pressure, that reduces the likelihood of them developing stroke and heart disease.”
The Role of Nitric Oxide In Our Body
Nitric oxide is recognised as an important regulator of blood pressure, in that it expands the walls of the arteries allowing blood to flow more freely.
Until recently, it was assumed that nitric oxide could only be produced in the body from an amino acid called arginine. By supplying additional arginine, scientists were able to boost nitric oxide production. However longer term studies failed to show a clear benefit, and in some cases, the additional arginine harmed the body.
But now researchers have found that nitrate found in vegetables such as beetroot, can be easily broken down by the body and converted to nitric oxide.
Dr.Dolan showed that beetroot juice has a long term effect in reducing blood pressure in patients who are hypertensive and on medication.