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Handling hypertension

Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects nearly 50 million Americans, and is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke in the U.S., resulting in 40,000 deaths each year. A study conducted at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson found that Pycnogenol lowered blood pressure in subjects with mild (Stage 1) hypertension. Pycnogenol is a natural antioxidant made from the bark of the European coastal pine (Pinus maritima). The study focused on Stage 1 subjects because they are not typically prescribed pharmaceutical medication for the condition.

Lead investigator Dr. Ronald Watson, PhD, conducted the double-blind study of Stage 1 hypertensive men and women, average age 50, none of whom used medication. Participants took 200 mg of Pycnogenol per day for eight weeks. At the end of the study period, average systolic blood pressure had reduced to 134 mmHg, compared to a starting range of 140-159 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure had reduced to an average of 94 mmHg, compared to a starting range of 90-99 mmHg.

Researchers believe that Pycnogenol elevates the production and blood levels of nitric oxide, whose action causes the muscles that surround blood vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Stress hormones, which constrict muscles, reduce the diameter of blood vessels, and increase blood pressure. 

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