The recommendation was that doctors should now consider preemptively medicating any patient whose blood pressure was creeping up towards the 140/90 cut off point. I remember thinking, “Are these people out of their minds? Now there is such thing as treating a ‘pre-disease’?” I thought. Worst yet, they treat these “pre-diseases” with medications that have not even proven their worth in treating the actual “disease”?
Needless to say, we at Your Prescription for Health did not sit quietly by and allow them to decree fabricated claims of disease prevention. We quickly wrote articles and stood angrily atop of our soap boxes to preach the fallacy of this ridiculous conclusion. Months later, it was determined that this “panel of experts” were actually cronies for the drug companies—having direct ties to the companies that make drugs used to treat hypertension, and now, pre-hypertension. Alas, the word was out and the damage done. Medicine had accepted their phony pre-disease as another medical “fact” that was beyond contestation.
Recently, a controversial article that was published in the reputable Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, issue 3, determined that lowering blood pressure to levels below 140/90 provided no benefit to the risk of heart attack, strokes or funeral rates (death rates per year). In this review, lowering blood pressure to 135/85 compared to 140/90 did nothing to improve the health and longevity of over 22,000 patients in the review.
So, yes, this is a big “I told you so!” It is not our first and it certainly will not be our last! But, I don’t want to end with an “I told you so.” Let’s talk about blood pressure, why it happens and how to fix it.
First, I am going to speak in generalities here. There certainly are extenuating circumstances that could lead to atypical hypertension. These include the use of certain medication and kidney disease. We will not discuss these less common situations in the interest of helping the majority of our readers. This article is for people who have run-of-the-mill hypertension without any definitive cause; this is called “idiopathic hypertension”. People with idiopathic hypertension often ask the doctor, “why is my blood pressure high?” and they receive the dismissive reply, “because you are getting older.”
The number one cause of elevated blood pressure is what we call “metabolic syndrome” or “insulin resistance”. This occurs when we consume more carbohydrates than our body can tolerate. When this happens, insulin steadily increases resulting in a catastrophic series of biochemical events that causes blood vessel constriction and water retention. Here is a quick and easy method to begin correcting this health issue:
1. Regulate the amount of carbohydrate that you consume. People with insulin resistance may want to consider decreasing carbohydrate intake to approximately 20% of their daily caloric intake. So if your daily caloric intake is 2,000 kilocalories; 20% equates to approximately 400 kilocalories or 100 grams of carbohydrates. After the body has normalized, you may be able to increase this to 25-30%.
2. Pay attention to the quality of carbohydrate that you consume on a daily basis. A high quality carbohydrate is one with a low glycemic load. For more information on glycemic load, see www.mendosa.com .
3. Exercise at least 5 days a week for at least one-hour. Exercise burns sugar and fat while improving insulin sensitivity. Most people do not exercise often enough, nor do they exercise for long enough. Commit to one-hour a day, if you do this then you will enjoy improved blood pressure and overall health and wellbeing. Your exercise program should include weight training, walking (or light jogging) and stretching.
4. Eat your fruits and veggies. There is no faster way to help normalize the potassium/sodium balance in the body than to cut the amount of refined/prepared foods while filling the void with fruits and vegetables.
5. Supplement to correct deficiencies and improve blood vessel health. Rather than taking herbs for blood pressure, we want to correct deficiencies that may cause elevated blood pressure. These include:
a. Omega-3 fatty acids – Fish oil is the best for improving blood pressure.
b. Magnesium/Potassium aspartate – Be careful if you are on medications for blood pressure as some medications, such as ACE inhibitors, can increase potassium levels to dangerous levels. Standard dose: 2 capsules two to three times daily.
c. Vitamin D3 – This will enhance the absorption of minerals such as potassium and magnesium while providing other benefits to the cardiovascular system. 2,000-4,000 iu daily.
d. HTN Complex – This formula is designed for those who need to more aggressively lower blood pressure. It contains many nutritional and herbal ingredients to improve blood pressure when the above mentioned measures are insufficient. Recommended dose: 2 capsules twice daily.