Vitamin C Eases Blood Pressure Increase During
Exercise for PAD Patients
Older age is risk factor for P.A.D. Plaque builds up
in arteries as you age. About 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 50 has
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Nov. 9, 2012 - Low antioxidant levels contribute to
increased blood pressure during exercise for people with peripheral
arterial disease, according to researchers at Penn State Hershey Heart
and Vascular Institute. PAD and high blood pressure are common among
Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, affects an
estimated 10 million Americans and increases the chance of death from a
cardiovascular event. Reduced blood flow causes pain in the legs and
increases blood pressure in people who have PAD. However, the causes of
the disease are unknown.
"Past studies have shown that having low
antioxidant levels and increased reactive oxygen species -- chemical
products that bind to body cells and cause damage -- is related to more
severe PAD," said Matthew Muller, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Larry
Sinoway's lab at Penn State College of Medicine, and lead author of the
Antioxidants prevent the reactive oxygen species
from damaging cells.
"This study shows that blood pressure increases
more with exercise in more severe PAD cases. By infusing the antioxidant
vitamin C into the blood, we were able to lessen the increase in blood
pressure during exercise," said Muller.
Vitamin C does not lessen the increase in blood
pressure of PAD patients to that of healthy people. As the intensity of
exercise increases, the effects of vitamin C decrease but are still
seen. The researchers report their findings in the Journal of
State Hershey researchers looked at three groups of PAD patients to
study the blood pressure increase. A group of 13 PAD patients was
compared to people without PAD to see the effects of doing low-intensity
exercise on blood pressure.
From that group, a second group of nine patients
was used to measure the effects of vitamin C. A third group of five PAD
patients and five without PAD had their leg muscles electrically
stimulated to remove the brain's role in raising blood pressure during
muscle contraction in this disease.
Increased blood pressure during exercise occurs in
both legs, before pain begins, and relates to the severity of the
disease. By using electrical stimulation, the scientists show that the
blood pressure increase comes from the muscle itself, since the brain is
not telling the leg to contract and the pressure still increases.
"This indicates that during normal, everyday
activities such as walking, an impaired antioxidant system -- as well as
other factors -- plays a role in the increased blood pressure response
to exercise," Muller said. "Therefore, supplementing the diet with
antioxidants may help these patients, but more studies are needed to
confirm this concept."
Other researchers are Rachel C. Drew, postdoctoral
fellow; Cheryl A. Blaha, research coordinator; Jessica L. Mast, research
coordinator; Jian Cui, associate professor of medicine; and Amy B. Reed,
associate professor of surgery, all of Penn State College of Medicine.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) happens when
there is a narrowing of the blood vessels outside of your heart. The
cause of PAD is
atherosclerosis. This happens when plaque, a substance made up of
fat and cholesterol, builds up on the walls of the arteries that supply
blood to the arms and legs. The plaque causes the arteries to narrow or
become blocked. This can reduce or stop blood flow, usually to the legs,
causing them to hurt or feel numb. If severe enough, blocked blood flow
tissue death. If this condition is left untreated, a foot or leg may
need to be amputated.
A person with PAD also has an increased risk of
heart attack, stroke and transient ischemic attack. You can often stop
or reverse the buildup of plaque in the arteries with dietary changes,
exercise, and efforts to lower high
cholesterol levels and
Older age also is a risk factor for P.A.D. Plaque
builds up in your arteries as you age. About 1 in every 20 Americans
over the age of 50 has P.A.D. The risk continues to rise as you get
older. Older age combined with other factors, such as smoking or
diabetes, also puts you at higher risk for P.A.D.
Diseases That Put You at Risk
Many diseases and
conditions can raise your risk of P.A.D., including
● diabetes. About 1
in 3 people older than 50 who has diabetes also has P.A.D.
● high blood pressure
● high blood
● coronary heart
● metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors
that raise your risk of CHD and other health problems, such as P.A.D.,
stroke, and diabetes).
A family history of these conditions makes P.A.D.
Also called: Benign essential hypertension,
Essential hypertension, HBP, HTN, Hypertension
About 72 million American adults -- nearly 1 in 3
-- have high blood pressure. Many people get high blood pressure as they
get older. In fact, over half of all Americans age 60 and older have
high blood pressure. However, getting high blood pressure is not a
normal part of aging! There are things you can do to help keep your
blood pressure normal, such as eating a healthy diet and getting more
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing
against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps
out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your
heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When
your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is
the diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers,
the systolic and diastolic pressures. Usually they are written one above
or before the other. A reading of
● 120/80 or lower is normal blood pressure
● 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
● Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or
between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is prehypertension
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