The Impact of Fasting on High Blood Pressure

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association confirms: Elevated blood pressure was effectively reduced after an average of 10 days of fasting, as evidenced by a study of 1610 fasting patients at the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic in Überlingen, Germany.

690 subjects in this group had high blood pressure before fasting. Among them 377 people took antihypertensive drugs, the administration of which could in most cases either be stopped or reduced during fasting as blood pressure fell or remained within the normal range.

Since antihypertensive drugs often have serious side effects, long-term fasting could be used as a complementary therapy for high blood pressure.

In 920 people with normal blood pressure, blood pressure was reduced while staying within the normal range. Low blood pressure values showed a tendency to increase. The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in November 2020 under the title “Blood pressure changes in 1610 subjects with and without antihypertensive medication during long-term fasting” by the authors Franziska Grundler, Robin Mesnage, Andreas Michalsen and Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo.

High blood pressure is an important and widespread risk factor for life-threatening diseases such as heart attack or stroke and is mainly caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. Risk factors for high blood pressure include obesity, malnutrition, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, and excessive consumption of salt, sugar or alcohol. According to European medical societies, the threshold above which one speaks of high blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg.

The study proves that long-term fasting according to the Buchinger Wilhelmi programme has a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure fell both in patients who were treated with medication and in those who were not. The longer the fasting lasted, the stronger the effect. The positive effects of fasting on blood pressure can be explained by the reduction in weight due to fasting, a reduction in waist circumference and the interruption of salt, alcohol and carbohydrate intake and, if necessary, smoking.

Fasting triggers mechanisms that act in a similar way to antihypertensive drugs: it promotes the excretion of sodium, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and causes vasodilation. The improvement in blood pressure continued for four days after the fasting ended. Closer examination showed that long-term fasting effectively lowers blood pressure, especially in people with high body weight, lipid and glucose metabolism disorders and in older people.

My name is dr francoise wilhelmi de tullido i’m the scientific director of the buchinga wilhelmy clinics fasting clinics specializing in long-term fasting in south of germany and south of spain i present you today our last publication in the journal of the american heart association and the title is blood pressure changes in a thousand six hundred ten subjects with and without anti-hypertensive medication during long-term fasting long-term fasting was defined by us and by others as a periods of fasting of 5 to 20 days or more we published that in a review in anna’s of medicine my co-workers and co-authors are francisca grundler from bohringer wilhelmi clinic robert minaj from the kings college in london and in berlin and myself this article documents blood pressure changes in a very large cohort in average they fasted 10 days with a multidisciplinary concept and medical supervision single subjects fasted shorter periods but most of them fasted even longer and one subject fasted till 41 days the total cohort could be divided in three groups first 920 persons were normal tensive meaning that the blood pressure was not was below 140 to 90 which is the maximal blood pressure which is tolerated by the guidelines of the heart associations and the rest 60 90 persons were hypertensive means they had blood values over 140 to 90 sometimes much higher and part of them was medicated with one up to four drugs it was 377 persons and the other ones were not medicated they probably didn’t even know that they had blood high blood pressure high blood pressure is an important and widespread risk for life-threatening diseases especially heart and cardiovascular diseases especially myocardial infarction and stroke and it’s caused by an unhealthy lifestyle mainly including in particular stress obesity bad or poor nutrition even sometimes malnutrition together with obesity excessive salt sugar and alcohol intake smoking and lack of exercise the official steps to treat hypertension is first according to the recommendations is to change lifestyle and the physician is supposed to teach the patient how to do it this teaching is not easy it takes a long long time and many many times it doesn’t succeed and so the patient is put on medication this medication can be a single medic a single drug or a combination of one to four drugs and the drugs therapy is efficient but has side effects in many cases so what are the side effects first of all dizziness sometimes even fainting insomnia headache in sometimes depressions even importance and physiologically you have sometimes too low sodium in blood hyponatremia hypokalemia which is too low potassium in blood or too small but blood volume all that leads to a difficult and well a diminishment of the life quality but also a bad adherence to the drug treatment and many people are not compliant because of the side effects so non-pharmacological strategies like for instance nutritional strategies are proved to have a big effects and also fasting periods short or like we show in our study long-term fasting so you remember our cohort 1610 humans um 62 were women and um they were either normal tensive or hypertensive medicated or not we saw with the total group a decrease of the blood pressure the two values the first one called the systolic value and the second one called the diastolic value the diminishing of blood pressure by by long-term fasting it’s been already published by ourselves in 2019 in plos one with a large cohort too and by other authors but the interesting in our study is that we divided the groups afterwards and what happens to the subgroups the normal transient subjects and they were 920 they showed a moderate decrease which is good because if they have already a normal blood pressure sometimes they just come from the upper part of the norm to the lower part of the norm which is a very positive but it shows that through long-term fasting even if you find a fast long time and it doesn’t go below norm and even to our surprise we had a subgroup of 69 women having low blood pressure values under 100 to 60 and we saw an increase a slight increase of their blood pressure bringing them more energy and well well-being now let us consider the hypertensive group we have of course the ones who take no medication and they are higher in the blood pressure which is understandable and this is the group who had the biggest reduction in their systolic uh blood pressure going from 140 in average 226 and in the diastolic values going from 93 to 83 so they could normalize their blood pressure in some cases but um from the whole group 190 percent it had totally normal blood pressure after the fasting on note we could notice that the people with the highest blood pressure at the beginning of the fasting had the greatest reduction some subjects we had a little subgroup with very high blood pressure values of 160 over 100 and they could normalize their values to 135 to 87 which is just below the maximum level of normal now what about the medicated subjects when a person with hypertension and an anti-hypertensive medication come to fasting then you have to monitor the blood pressure very regularly of course why because it’s decreasing and so the effect of the fasting and the effect of the medication is similar so you need to monitor and slowly um eliminate the drug or the drugs and or lower the dosage so that the persons don’t faint don’t have dizziness and other problems they can have if they come in a hypotensive situation so what happened with them um they reduced their blood pressure which sometimes was a little bit elevated despite of the drug medication they decreased and continued to decrease the blood pressure although we could eliminate the drugs and in 25 we stopped the medication in 50 percent of the cases we diminished the dosage considerably and only a small part of the group stayed at the same dosage of anti-hypertensive medication despite of fasting periods an interesting finding is that the longer the people fast it the larger the blood pressure decrease especially if they had high values at the beginning so it’s an argument to recommend long-term fasting and one detail that we could show also in this study is that the people feel well we use the two tools the one first was the vh05 measuring mental well-being and it increases considerably and the other was a visual scale for the degree of um relaxation and indeed increases also considerably in other words people fantasize sometimes that fasting periods must be agonizing experience but it’s exactly the contrary if you are in a good setting in a with a good program and good uh professionally accompanied then it can be a very enjoyable and and life-changing experience so now do how do we explain the positive effects of fasting on blood pressure of course the weight loss is important but not only there is also a diminution of the weight circumference reflecting the diminishment of metabolic active visceral adipose tissue which is a negative it triggers high blood pressure insulin resistant and others and of course you have an interruption of salt intake of sugar intake leading to a diminishment of the insulin resistance and of alcohol intake and in most of the cases people can also stop smoking which is an a very collateral they’re very positive effect and it doesn’t even cost them a lot of efforts so all together we have these effects but then we have very specific effects of the fasting which are similar to the effects of antihypertensive medication they increase the excretion of sodium the fasting activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is a system which decelerate the rhythm of our body and causes also blood vessel dilatation so from these results we can conclude that the higher the blood pressure at the beginning of the fasting the longer the fasting the bigger the effects of fasting on lowering blood pressure in the same way when the people had at the start of their fast pathological metabolic values they had too high bmi reflecting to high weight um too high blood sugar levels and the stronger the effects of long-term fasting so it improves the metabolic parameters and at the same time it diminish the blood pressure this and more conclusion could be drawn from very complex statistical calculation and machine learning models so this very large cohort probably the largest court of humans fasting long term not on the obese people but also many normal weight people we could conclude that when it can be a complementary treatment of high blood pressure especially when the drug treatment fails to control adequately the blood pressure values especially when side effects are really a problem and also and the number of people in that category is growing when people are keen to try especially at the onset of the blood high blood pressure to try to do through lifestyle changes um lowering of their blood pressure controlling their blood pressure just by um own self-healing power which is for instance when you change your nutrition you move more when you diminish the stress or just try to tend to a better emotional balance you you enjoy food which has less salt most of the time is the food you cook at home less sugar and less alcohol and of course you stop smoking because this is a bad habit and what i advise to you fast fast and don’t be afraid even of long-term fasting because this is a very very profound experience for that you need to be in a special setting a professional setting with a medical accompaniment especially if you take drugs and i thank you for your attention and i remember you that you find in the description um all our recent publications and there are more than 10 on long-term fasting in very large cohorts and their benefits on oxidative stress blood pressure and many other parameters so thank you and have a good day [Music] you

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