Many Americans report increased anxiety, depression, and insomnia as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, as I just reported last week, mental health hit a 21-year low in 2021.
And now, a brand-new study found that one important heart health reading went through the roof!
The good news is, you can improve your risk for this “silent killer”—without resorting to drugs—by making three small lifestyle changes. I’ll tell you all about those in just a moment.
But first, let’s delve more into that new study…
Readings for this “silent killer” increased significantly in 2020
The “silent killer” I’m referring to is high blood pressure (BP). Doctors consider it the hidden cause of most deadly cardiovascular diseases—including heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke.
For this new study, researchers wanted to analyze the effect of the pandemic on BP readings in nearly 500,000 participants with an average age of 46.
They noted that prior to the pandemic’s outbreak in March 2020, the participants’ BP had remained relatively stable. But in April 2020, when the major lockdowns took place, the participants’ BP began to rise…and continued to rise throughout the rest of the year.
In fact, nearly 30 percent of participants experienced a “significant” increase in BP from April to December 2020.
Specifically, systolic readings (the top number) increased an average of 1.1 to 2.5 points every month compared to readings taken the year prior. And their diastolic readings (the lower number) increased an average of 0.14 to 0.53 points every month.
There were also a few other general trends:
- Women were more likely to experience increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure during those nine months of 2020.
- Older people were more likely to see increases in systolic BP.
- Younger adults were more likely to see increases in diastolic BP.
The researchers said these findings are very concerning because across an entire population, even small changes in BP can cause an increase in mortality (death) rates.
Of course, it’s really no wonder the readings are skyrocketing…when you consider all the added stress that we experienced over the last two years.
But in an interview, the study’s lead researcher shared a few thoughts about why people experienced such dramatic increases during the pandemic…
A perfect storm for suffering a major health crisis
The researchers said people tended to follow fewer healthy habits as the pandemic wore on. For example, they began to eat more unhealthy foods, drank excess alcohol, and exercised less.
Secondly, they had to deal with the closure of organized activities—such as athletic leagues or classes—and gyms, swimming pools, and recreation areas. (As I explained earlier this month, you’re far better off taking your exercise outdoors.)
Third, they suffered more insomnia.
Lastly, although the study authors didn’t mention it, millions of people who struggle with chronic pain were also denied access to non-drug, hands-on therapies—such as acupuncture, bodywork, chiropractic therapy, massage, meditation groups, and yoga.
And yes—each of these conditions can independently cause BP to creep up. But when you combine them all, as happened over the last two years, it’s a perfect storm for a major health crisis.
Take steps to improve your BP without drugs
Of course, the researchers are hopeful that BP levels will decrease to pre-pandemic levels now that restrictions are lifting.
But I seriously doubt this will be the case for the majority.
At least, not without some type of intervention. Because even though the virus has fizzled out, many of us must continue to deal with the after-effects of living through such a stressful time.
Fortunately, even if your BP did creep up during the pandemic, there are three easy steps you can take to control it without resorting to drugs…
1.) Eat like the Greeks. As always, a healthy diet goes a long way in preventing and controlling disease, including high BP. So, as always, strive to follow a Mediterranean-type diet filled with whole fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and alcohol (in moderation).
2.) Take advantage of aromatherapy. I often tell you about the health benefits of the ancient practice of aromatherapy. And the research into its effect on BP is particularly significant…
In a recent, small study, researchers divided participants with hypertension or prehypertension into three groups. The first group inhaled a combination of lavender and other essential oils over a 24-hour period. The second group inhaled a placebo fragrance. And the third group received no treatment.
It turns out, the lavender group experienced “significant decreases” in both systolic and diastolic BP after just 24 hours compared to the other two groups! They also had “significant decreases” in the stress hormone cortisol—all from breathing in one of my favorite essential oils.
3.) Spend some time each day in meditation. Research shows that practicing some daily meditation can do wonders for your BP. In fact, one study found that older people who practice this simple, healthy habit could reduce their need for BP medication…or eliminate it altogether! It seems to work by helping the body produce nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes and widens blood vessels.
To learn about how you can incorporate mindfulness meditation into your life, check out my book with Don McCown, New World Mindfulness.
To learn more about a natural, heart-healing pathway to low blood pressure without ever taking a dangerous drug again, I encourage you to check out my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. Click here to learn more about this innovative, online learning tool—or to enroll today!