Hypertension: How much of a health risk?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be a contributing factor to heart attacks, stroke and premature death. For years, anything over 140 the upper number, or systolic, and 90 for the lower number, or diastolic, was considered high enough to warrant medication.
A couple of years ago official medical guidelines dropped those numbers to 130/80, instantly making millions more people eligible for a lifetime of medication, clearly a boon for the pharmaceutical companies. But will it save more lives or make more suffering from the many side effects of blood pressure medications?
In 2012 the Cochrane Collaboration, an international research group, reviewed the medical literature comparing drug treatment of mild hypertension with placebo or no treatment. They found no differences in heart attacks, strokes and deaths between treated and untreated individuals. But they did find that the drugs created a lot of side effects. About ten percent of individuals in these studies dropped out because of the side effects.
Other scientific studies in the last three years show that mild hypertension is not risky. The famous Framingham Heart Study shows that deaths related to hypertension don't increase until systolic blood pressure reaches 175 and death rates only climb significantly above 185.
Malignant hypertension is a death risk, while mild hypertension is not. Sixty percent of hypertensives are in the mild category. Even so, more than half of these people are given drugs.
The costs of physician visits to get these drugs, and the visits to doctors for the side effects of these drugs, plus the cost of these medications is part of the reason American medical costs are so much higher than any other country, yet our health outcomes rank us 50th in the world in life expectancy.
Many of the unnecessary prescriptions for blood pressure and statin drugs are part of the high cost-and the high mortality rates of Americans compared to any other country.
Controlling High Blood Pressure (HBP)
HBP is as common as obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea. These are all part of Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance cause us to excrete, rather than absorb, dietary magnesium and potassium, both minerals very important in maintaining normal blood pressure.
The dietary approach to insulin resistance, and for HBP, is to reduce sugars and starches and increase beneficial fats like omega threes, coconut oil, pasture butter and the fats that naturally occur in grass fed meats, wild caught fish, egg yolks, avocados and nuts.
- magnesium – 400-800 mg daily
- potassium – 300-600 mg daily
- fish oil – 1-3 grams EPA/DHA
- B vitamins – especially methyl folate, B-12, and B-6
- Hawthorne – very good heart tonic
- Arjun – slows heart rhythm
- Rauwolfia – lowers blood pressure
- Sleeping less than 7-8 hours may raise blood pressure.
- Stress control lowers stress hormones, which elevate blood pressure. Stable blood sugar reduces anxiety.
- Meditation – Daily meditation lowers anxiety and has many health benefits.
Pharmacotherapy for Mild Hypertension. Cochrane Database 2012 August
Open Heart – July 2014
Mild Hypertension in People with Low Risk, BMJ 2014
Health & Healing, October 2015, Dr. Jonathan Whitaker