High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a chronic concern in the United States. Around 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure and it has been the cause of more than 400,000 annual deaths in the U.S.
We spoke with Zona Health CEO Mark Young about the company’s device, Zona Plus, designed to help lower and control blood pressure without medication.
Science of the Zona Plus
The device is based on research that showed pilots in the U.S. Air Force who had used a specific hand grip while flying experienced lower blood pressure.
The Zona Plus looks like a hand-held barcode scanner and uses isometric therapy in the form of grip training exercise. “Using your own hand grip, you actually reform the blood vessels in the body and increase elasticity,” Young said. “This ultimately leads to reduced blood pressure.”
An equivalent would be doing a squat, but only going down about 30 percent of the way and then holding that position for two minutes, Young explained.
The magic of the Zona Plus is that it allows you to hold the position for an extended period so that blood continually rushes to the area. This helps the blood vessels to grow wider over time and increase elasticity.
The therapy takes 12 minutes each day to complete, Young said, and Zona recommends those with high blood pressure use it five times per week.
The device calibrates itself after every use. It measures maximum grip strength on the right and left arm and walks users through two-minute therapies per hand using 30 percent of their maximum grip strength. The Zona Plus features a custom algorithm designed to help users maintain the appropriate grip strength, as well.
There are no known side effects of using the Zona Plus more than recommended, and in some cases, users may see results more quickly if they use the device every day. For those with a predisposition toward high blood pressure, using the Zona Plus even after blood pressure is reduced may be necessary on an ongoing basis to maintain the benefits.
The Zona PLus is designed to make the process easy. It tracks usage and readings and allows users to upload information to the company’s website to track their gains.
“Most people report back to us that those 12 minutes are the most relaxing 12 minutes of their entire day,” Young said. “It forces you to pay attention to something other than what's on the TV, or what's going on at work or anything like that. It actually keeps you very relaxed and focused during the therapy.”
Talk to Your Doctor
Every patient is different, and results vary based on individual circumstances.
“People react differently,” Young said. “One of the things that you'll find from the Zona Plus is that someone’s response to the therapy depends on their body's natural production of nitric oxide. Holding isometric therapy increases nitric oxide levels in the body, which is incredible.”
In Zona’s clinical studies, Young stated, 90.4 percent of users saw a significant decrease in blood pressure of 15 percent in both systolic and diastolic readings.
The average person sees results usually within four to six weeks of using the Zona Plus, Young noted, though it can take longer in some cases. Also, the further someone’s blood pressure is out of the accepted range, the faster they'll see results, like what many people trying to lose weight experience when they drop their first 10 or 15 pounds.
When beginning any treatment plan—whether it involves a change in diet or a new exercise regimen—it is important to speak with a primary care physician, Young noted. He recommends potential Zona Plus users talk to their doctor and carefully monitor their blood pressure using a blood pressure cuff, especially if they are on blood pressure medication.
Some physicians may not be aware of the science behind the Zona Plus, and patients may need to bring it up with their doctor. However, Young said, some doctors are already prescribing the device. Over time, users may even be able to reduce the amount of medication they are taking, he added, or go off their blood pressure medication entirely.
“Our entire goal is to help people stay off of the pharmaceuticals,” Young said. “Often, the side effects of blood pressure medications are worse than the blood pressure itself.”
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