A dash of curcumin makes the blood pressure go down

The left ventricle of the heart is the biggest heart chamber and is used to push the oxygenated blood from the heart out to the peripheral organs in the body. Age-related changes in blood vessels, such as stiffening of the aorta and impaired function of the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels, can increase the pressure on the left ventricle and lead to enlargement of the left ventricle mass. The development of increased left ventricular mass is an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease mortality. Therefore, any interventions that help to reduce the age-related enlargement of the heart could be beneficial in efforts to reduce cardiovascular mortality.

Lifestyle modifications, such as increased exercise and diet modification, are effective in preventing age-related increases in cardiovascular disease risk. Certain phytochemicals, such as curcumin, a traditional Indian spice used in the making of curried dishes, have been shown to have potential beneficial effects against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, but less is known about its role in cardiovascular disease.

A recent study by Japanese researchers investigated the effects of curcumin administration (150 milligrams per day for 8 weeks) on aortic blood pressure and the pressure on the left ventricle by a technique that measured radial artery pressure waveforms. The study was undertaken in 45 postmenopausal women who were assigned to 1 of 4 treatment groups: placebo; curcumin; endurance exercise; or endurance exercise plus curcumin.

At the beginning of the study, there were no differences among the groups in hemodynamic measures. After the intervention period of 8 weeks, brachial systolic blood pressure significantly decreased in both exercise groups, while aortic systolic blood pressure decreased only in the combined exercise plus curcumin group. Pressure on the left ventricle was decreased only in the combined exercise plus curcumin group.

These observations are notable because they indicate the combination of endurance exercise and curcumin ingestion may have a salutary effect on heart health in older women by reducing central arterial pressure on the heart.

Source from: Sugawara J, Akazawa N et al. American Journal of Hypertension 2012; 25(6):651-656.