K-State uses beet root juice to reduce hypertension

In this Thursday, June 6, 2013 file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. Your heart might be older than you are, according to a CDC report released Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2015 which takes a new approach to try to spur more Americans to take steps to prevent cardiovascular disease. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – According to the CDC, about 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the U.S. Staff and students at Kansas State University are trying to change these statistics through a new study with beet root juice.

“The use of beet root juice can most certainly or is currently on the way to we think having a pretty profound impact on blood pressure or blood circulation,” said KSU Kinesiology Graduate Student Jacob Caldwell. “You want to think of it as a preventative measure.  Because if I can help someone with high blood pressure before they develop cardiovascular disease, then I’ve done my job.”

The goal is for people to use a beet root juice supplement to prevent high blood pressure in people with no symptoms, and enhance medication for people who already have the disorder.  Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

“That is very near and dear to me, because I have family members who suffer from it,” said Shelbi Sutterfield, a masters student in kinesiology at the university. “So it’s just a good way to give back and hopefully move things forward so we can reduce cardiovascular disease.”

Kansas Stater’s Kinesiology Department started a trial in January, with people who have high blood pressure. There are three short trials. A blood sample is taken as the patient’s foot is submerged in ice water. In the third trial, the participant uses a hand grip to demonstrate physical exertion, while the ice water is used to measure nervous activity.

“It’s a very simple process for the most part. There’s not any exercise involved, you get to come in and relax. You get to lay down. You’re completely at rest.  The lights are turned down. So it’s very calm, cool, and relaxing in here,” said Sutterfield.

“We are seeing if the beet root can’t maintain their blood flow and blood pressure in the face of that cold stimulus,”  Caldwell added.

So far 13 people have participated in the study. A key finding is the positive impact beet root juice has on post-menopausal women.

“It’s interesting because females that are pre-menopausal are generally protected by blood pressure, massive increases. Once menopause happens and the hormone levels change, the incidents in hypertension in females is astounding,” said Caldwell.

KSU is still looking for participants who have hypertension, to take part in the beet root juice study. If you’re interested in being a part of the trial, contact Jacob Caldwell at jcaldwe5@ksu.edu or 248-469-2058.

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