Hypertension and low-fat dairy intake.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Hypertension
Professional Data: Hypertension


When your doctor says you have high blood pressure, the medical name for your condition is "hypertension." Blood pressure is created when the heart beats, propelling blood throughout the body. Blood pressure occurs in two distinct phases, corresponding to the contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle. When the heart contracts, it ejects a certain volume of blood out from its right side into the body's largest artery, the aorta. This initial thrust causes "systolic" blood pressure, which is the upper number of your blood pressure reading. As the heart relaxes, the blood presses against the walls of the arteries as it circulates, causing "diastolic" blood pressure, which is the lower number in your reading. Systolic blood pressure is a measure of the heart's blood output, while diastolic is determined by the resistance of arteries in the extremities to the flow of blood. If your blood pressure reading is "120 over 80," this means your systolic pressure is 120 and your diastolic is 80.

Hypertension has many possible causes. Hypertension that results from another disease is called "secondary hypertension." Fewer than 5 percent of people who suffer from hypertension have secondary hypertension, and in the majority of those, kidney disease in the cause. Other disorders known elevate blood pressure include thyroid disorders and Cushing's disease, which is a disorder of the adrenal glands. Certain medications— nervous system stimulants, synthetic estrogen, and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), to name a few— sometimes contribute to hypertension.

A recent study examined the role of dairy intake and the effects it potentially could have on hypertension. This study involved 5880 Spanish graduates who were older than 20 years and free from any cardiovascular diseases including hypertension. Dairy intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. These participants were followed for an average of 27 months. There were 180 news cases of hypertension. The results showed that those who had a higher intake of low-fat dairy had a lower risk of hypertension. No association was seen with whole-fat dairy or total calcium intake.1


1. Alonso A. Low-fat dairy consumption and reduced risk of hypertension: the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort. AJCN. Nov 2005;82(5):972-9.