Magazine article Science News

Calcium as Antihypertensive Agent?

Magazine article Science News

Calcium as Antihypertensive Agent?

Article excerpt

If there were a critics' pick list for minerals, calcium might take this year's honors. On the heels of a report linking high calcium intake to a lowered colorectal cancer risk (SN: 12/7/85, p.362) come data showing that calcium can lower high blood pressure.

The report, which appears in the December ANNALS OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, is from David A. McCarron and Cynthia D. Morris of the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. The researchers previously stirred controversy with a finding that calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C were more important than salt in blood pressure control (SN: 6/30/84, p.404).

In the current study, McCarron and Morris looked at 48 people with high blood pressure and 32 people with normal blood pressure before and after eight weeks of taking 1 gram a day of elemental calcium--clightly more than the National Research Council's 800-milligram recommended dietary allowance.

In the hypertensive subjects, reclining systolic (contracting) blood pressure dropped 3.8 millimeters of mercury and diastolic (relaxation) pressure dropped 2.3 mm. The average blood pressure of the others remained essentially unchanged.

Epidemiologic research has shown that a drop of a few millimeters or so of mercury in blood pressure readings for the entire population would significantly reduce hypertension-related illness and death.

Some people responded better than others -- 44 percent of the hypertensives had drops of 10 mm or greater. …

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