Put the squeeze on high blood pressure

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A squeeze of the hand can mean so much. Comfort, empathy, solidarity, love.

A new kind of exercise regime that has been shown in studies to help reduce the risks of high blood pressure is redefining the power of the squeeze of the hand. Called isometric handgrip therapy, it involves tensing the hand muscles. In a study published in the Journal of Hypertension, isometric handgrip exercise was shown to help people reduce their blood pressure by 10 per cent or more after six to eight weeks.

It’s not as simple as squeezing something randomly; people can easily overdo it or, conversely, do it and have no impact at all. The key to getting effective results safely is to follow a guided program that tells you how hard to squeeze, for how long and at what frequency, and to track progress so adjustments can be made to your routine as needed.

Newly available in Canada, the Zona Plus TM device (www.zonahealth.ca) uses innovative technology to help guide isometric handgrip therapy routines. The handheld device looks similar to a joystick, and has a computerized screen. Your recommended activity is personalized to your unique needs and physiology. Simply follow screen directions and squeeze the handheld device for a total of 12 minutes per day, five days per week. The company guarantees results and will even give you your money back if you are not satisfied.

While precisely how isometric handgrip therapy works – its mechanism of action – is not known, studies published by the National Institutes of Health indicate that it helps to reverse endothelial dysfunction (damaged cells lining the vessel, artery and vein walls), which can cause cardiovascular disease.

The effects of isometric handgrip therapy were first observed in the 1970s, when military researchers found it not only increased pilots’ G-force tolerance, pilots with hypertension were also able to reduce their blood pressure. Further study and refinement have led to new devices like the Zona Plus, an easy-to-use, at-home or on-the-go high-tech tool aimed at helping you reach your blood pressure goals.

Nineteen out of 20 Canadians will get high blood pressure in their lifetime. What’s worse, one in three of those with high blood pressure won’t have it under control, making them more likely to have heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure, or to suffer from dementia, retinopathy or sexual dysfunction.

If it’s time to put the squeeze on your high blood pressure, taking action today could help reduce the risks. For many of us, that action includes medication, eating healthier and doing exercise, including potentially isometric handgrip therapy. Working with your doctor to find what works for you, and sticking with it, is the key.

The Zona Plus TM isometric handgrip device is an easy-to-use, at-home or on-the-go high-tech tool aimed at helping with compliance to an isometric handgrip therapy regime.

As with all exercise programs, one should speak with their doctor before beginning isometric handgrip therapy or using the Zona Plus TM device. This is especially the case in persons using medications to reduce blood pressure, where use of the Zona Plus TM device may result in low blood pressure. The Zona Plus TM device is intended to help manage cardiovascular fitness and is not indicated for the treatment or prevention of any disease.

You can get more information about the Zona Plus TM device, or about isometric handgrip therapy, at zonahealth.ca, or by calling 1-866-789-9662.