High hormone levels in African American males increase cardiovascular risks

A recent cohort study, which analyzed 191 black and white males between 15 and 19 years old, revealed that only the black subjects’ high levels of a hormone known as aldosterone raised their risk of developing cardiovascular conditions. Aldosterone is linked to high blood pressure and inhibited sodium secretion, which can cause the heart’s pumping chambers to become enlarged.

“It’s a clear pathway and is consistent with the idea that is the highest risk group for developing earlier and more severe cases of hypertension,” said study author Gregory A. Harshfield, Ph.D., a hypertension researcher at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University.

Adolsterone causes the kidneys to retain sodium, which can be helpful in survival situations when there isn’t enough water, but according to Harshfield, in ordinary circumstances, when patients consume a day’s worth of sodium in regular snack food, it can be hazardous to health.

Diana G. Murro, an MCG student and study investigator, noted that black adolescents who experience high hormone levels may want to consider taking medications that can suppress them. Harshfield commented that aldoseterone inhibitors are usually not commonly used in black populations because there is little research on its effects on the demographic.

The researchers found that there was no correlation between the hormone levels and obesity, which is usually a contributor of high blood pressure.

Aldosterone tests
To test for aldosterone levels, a physician will conduct a blood test, reports the National Institutes of Health. Usually, the hormone levels are gauged to test for fluid and electrolyte disorders, blood pressure levels that are difficult to control and excessively low blood pressure.

Having high amounts of aldosterone may also indicate Bartter syndrome, which is a congenital disease that inhibits the kidneys from properly reabsorbing sodium. Those who suffer from the condition lose sodium too quickly through their urine. This prompts the body to not only raise the hormone levels, but also to extract excess potassium from the body. Bartter syndrome usually occurs in childhood and symptoms include constipation, inadequate growth, kidney stones, muscle cramping and weakness.

Blood pressure control
While aldosterone may be the cause of high blood pressure in some patients, many times, lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can also play a role in hypertension. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) notes that nearly one-third of adults have high blood pressure. Just like in patients who suffer from high aldosterone levels, many people who have hypertension also have sodium levels that are too high. The NHLBI recommends consuming less than 1 teaspoon or 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.

In order to cut down on sodium, the Mayo Clinic suggests that people keep food diaries to track how much they consume. Also, being a conscious consumer by reducing the amount of processed foods eaten and reading food labels at the supermarket can be beneficial.

People can also lower their blood pressures by boosting potassium intake, which helps to reduce the detrimental effects of excess sodium and high blood pressure. Potassium should be obtained through fruits and vegetables rather than dietary supplements.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends exercising regularly in order to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. If a person already suffers from hypertension, being physically active for 30 to 60 minutes a day for the majority of the week can achieve significant results within a few weeks.

The University of Maryland also notes that omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood pressure. They can be found in chia seeds, flax seeds and an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.

Alcohol consumption
The Mayo Clinic also reports that drinking small portions of alcohol can be beneficial for lowering blood pressure, but having more than one or two drinks a day can increase hypertension. Binge drinking is especially harmful, which is when someone has at least four drinks in a row.