University of Houston Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Mohammad Asghar recently received a $1.5mil grant from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging for his pursuit of treating hypertension associated with inclining age.
Resistant hypertension, chronic high blood pressure which resists treatment, is a common problem for aging individuals. Currently doctors prescribe a combination of drugs in effort to treat it, yet the drugs cannot effectively solve the problem.
Asghar’s research focuses on receptors of two hormones, dopamine and angiotensin II, on the kidneys, the organ that balances your salt/water balance, thereby controlling blood pressure. As a person gets older, damage to the receptors results in high blood pressure.
Through the receptor AT1, angiotensin II increases sodium transporters, so the kidneys reabsorb more salt and increase blood pressure. Dopamine, through the receptor D1, has the opposite effect of inhibiting sodium re-absorption and instead, it lowers blood pressure. However, defective receptors fail to maintain a healthy salt/water balance.
The cause of damage, suspects Asghar, is inflammation resulting from high levels of oxidative stress.
How to prevent aging by reducing inflammation in kidneys:
According to Asghar, exercise and a proper diet are key to lowering oxidative stress, and plenty of research supports this advice.
Because dopamine lowers blood pressure, squeeze rewarding activities, such as social games or a favorite hobby, into your day to release the feel-good reward hormone into your bloodstream. Dopamine levels in your body are also sensitive to your schedule, so be sure to get restful sleep eight hours a night.
Ensure you have a healthy antioxidant system; consume fruits and vegetables, tea catechins, plenty of water, and antioxidant vitamins.
Other benefits of reducing inflammation:
A study has shown that the hormone ghrelin lowers blood pressure. That same ghrelin also increases appetite and slows down your metabolism. Damaged kidneys that continue to raise blood pressure will trigger ghrelin production in order to counteract. A higher level of ghrelin may partially explains the weight-gain associated with increasing age. But, by maintaining a healthy antioxidant system you could also also prevent your body from producing unnecessary amounts of the hormone which makes you fat.