HomeLifestyleHealth & FitnessHigh Blood Pressure? What Your Meds May Not Be Telling You

High Blood Pressure? What Your Meds May Not Be Telling You

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Nearly half of adults in the United States, approximately 116 million people or 47%, are affected by high blood pressure, a condition that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Despite the absence of symptoms, the likelihood of developing high blood pressure increases with age, making it a serious concern for many. While medications are often necessary, making certain dietary adjustments can help minimize the risk of high blood pressure.

Tyramine is a natural byproduct of the amino acid tyrosine, found in several foods. While high levels of tyramine in the blood have long been recognized as a risk factor for migraine headaches, recent evidence suggests that it may also cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure for certain individuals. Those taking MAOIs are especially at risk and are advised to limit their intake of certain fruits and vegetables.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, are a type of antidepressant medication that are similarly effective to other antidepressants available in the market. These drugs work by blocking monoamine oxidants, which can lead to hazardous increases in blood pressure when consumed with certain foods.

However, MAOIs are no longer the preferred first-line treatment for unipolar depression due to their unpredictable and often severe interactions with various food-derived amines and other drugs. Science Direct explains that this makes them less reliable than other treatments. Despite this, MAOIs are still in use in clinical settings.

Mayo Clinic says “MAOIs, although effective, generally have been replaced by newer antidepressants that are safer and cause fewer side effects.

“Still, an MAOI is a good option for some people. In certain cases, an MAOI relieves depression when other treatments have failed.”

By avoiding specific foods, those taking MAOI medication can easily prevent complications. Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine are particularly problematic, as they can interact with MAOIs and result in a hypertensive crisis.

According to Science Direct, tranylcypromine is the most hazardous of the various MAOIs, due to its stimulant action. On the other hand, the health body states that moclobemide and brofaromine are the least likely to induce a hypertension reaction.

“Citrus fruits,” as explained by WebMD, “like orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime and tangerine contain high levels of tyramine.”

While citrus fruits contain relatively small amounts of tyramine, their consumption at low levels is still generally safe. However, tropical fruits have higher levels of tyramine when fully ripened. As a result, people who are particularly sensitive to tyramine should avoid ripe bananas, pineapple, and avocado, according to WebMD.

Additionally, foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled beets, pickled cucumbers, and pickled peppers have high levels of tyramine, while fermented soy products like tofu, miso, and soy sauce also contain the amino acid.

It is worth noting that, when consumed alone, tyramine can actually aid in regulating blood pressure. Furthermore, the amount of tyramine found in foods can vary depending on the processing, storage, and preparation methods used.

The key takeaway is that those taking MAOI medication may only need to follow a low-tyramine diet to minimize the risk of complications.

Image Credit: Getty

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