A healthy blood pressure is an important part of good health maintenance, especially cardiovascular health. Maintaining blood pressure below 130/90 mmHg lowers your risk of most cardiovascular health problems including heart attack and stroke.
If a person has blood pressure at, or above, 130/90 mmHg, they will need to take steps to reduce it including: diet and lifestyle changes, increasing physical activity, stress management, specific nutritional treatments and potentially medication-based treatment.
One commonly used blood pressure lowering medication, valsartan, has been used for decades around the world. While this medication has potential side effects including dizziness, low blood pressure, diarrhea; it is otherwise safely used daily by millions of people worldwide.
Recently, the European Medicines Agency reviewed medicines from the valsartan supplier Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals in Linhai, China. The result of their testing found that a large number of batches of the medicine contained N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a cancer-causing compound (carcinogen). The cause of NMDA being present in the valsartan medication was reported to be due to changes in the manufacturing process by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals.
“There is no acute health threat to patients, but we know from trials with animals that it can cause cancer,” said Doris Stenved, chief physician of the Danish Medicines Agency. “We don’t know if it has the same effect on humans, we just know it’s a substance that should not be in the medicine,” said Stenved.
It has been reported that this impurity is only affecting certain batches of this medication, including batches which have ended up in Canada, Germany, Norway and Finland, among others. It was reported that the United States has not been affected by these contaminated batches. As a result of the carcinogenic properties of NMDA, 22 countries have issued recalls of valsartan. As of July 9, Health Canada has not issued any formal warnings to the public regarding valsartan.
If you are currently taking valsartan for high blood pressure or any other reason, you should speak with both your family medical doctor and your naturopathic doctor as soon as possible. You may be able to take a different medication to help with your blood pressure and even use nutritional and lifestyle measures to manage your blood pressure effectively.
Do you have questions about natural treatments for high blood pressure? Ask your naturopathic doctor.
Dr. Colin MacLeod ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing full-time in Upper Tantallon at MacLeod Naturopathic. His practice focuses on pain management and maintaining health through physical activity and diet. Visit him online at drcolinmacleod.com.