Over 33 million Americans are currently classified as having high blood pressure, which includes 8 1/2 million between 20 and 44 years of age!
What constitutes high blood pressure?
Normal blood pressure is 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic).
Marginal or mild hypertension is
defined as blood pressure averaging 140/90 in at least two separate measurements.
Moderate hypertension is generally regarded as beginning at 160/100.
Severe hypertension is blood pressure exceeding 190/110 or above.
Many holistic and allopathic practitioners believe the current standard for borderline hypertension is set too low. They believe most patients who have blood
pressure readings below 160 systolic and 100 diastolic are better served by nutritional therapy and lifestyle changes than anti-hypertension drugs.
A person’s blood pressure is frequently higher when measured at the doctor's office than when measured at home; known as the "white coat syndrome." As a result, many people are placed on blood pressure medication who do not, in fact, have high blood pressure!
What causes high blood pressure?
Although medical textbooks state that the cause of high blood pressure is unknown in 95 percent of cases, by far the most common reason is arteriosclerosis. Narrowed arteries plugged with fatty deposits are usually linked to excess salt, excess weight, poor eating habits, high stress, and little or no physical activity.
High Blood Pressure: It Doesn't Improve with Age!
In industrialized countries, blood pressure creeps up, millimeter by millimeter, as people age. The Framingham Heart Study took people who had normal blood pressures at ages 55 and 65 and followed them for 20 years. At age 75 or 85, close to nine out of ten had high blood pressure.
The threat of hypertension is pervasive. Approximately one out of two people over the age of 60 has high blood pressure. In short, either your blood pressure is high or it eventually will be. But why?
Salt - Public Enemy Number One for Hypertension
The evidence that links salt to high blood pressure is now overwhelming. In
non-industrialized populations that consume very little salt, blood pressure doesn't rise with age.
While the Institute of Medicine recommends a diet of only 1,500 mg of sodium a day, the average American eats about 4,000 mg a day.
What most people, including doctors, don't realize
is the salt shaker is not the culprit, processed foods and restaurant food accounts for three-quarters of the average Americans sodium consumption.
For example, many processors add salt and water to keep their raw poultry moist. Tyson Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts contains 230 mg of salt in four ounces. Swanson's chicken broth, a whopping 900 mg of salt per cup!
It gets even worst when you eat out. An 8 ounce
bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich has 1,560 mg of salt while just two slices of a Pizza Hut Meat Lover's large pizza contains 2,500 mg. For this we have the FDA to thank for not pushing the food industry to reduce sodium.
Is drug treatment really necessary for high blood pressure?
Historically, patients have been taught that high blood pressure or
hyper-tension means drug treatment for life, yet numerous clinical studies have shown herbs to be equally effective, safer, and more cost-effective than pharmaceutical anti-hypertensive drugs.
Cardiac research confirms there is little evidence patients with marginal hypertension will achieve enough benefit to justify the costs and adverse effects of anti-hypertension drug treatment. This view is shared by American experts in hypertension who believe
patients should not be placed on drugs before non-pharmacologic treatments are explored.
The bottom line is while over 75% of Americans with high blood pressure take prescription drugs, hypertension is a lifestyle ailment which can be effectively treated with nutritional therapy.
Common Adverse Effects of High Blood Pressure Drugs
Salt retention - Most blood pressure drugs (except beta-blockers) are vasodilators which lower the pressure of blood against the artery walls. However, the kidney responds to this by holding on to salt and water so it can keep blood flow constant.
Depression - especially with beta-blockers, methyldopa, reserpine, and clonidine.
and sexual dysfunction - especially with beta-blockers.
Dizziness - especially with guanethidine, prazosin, and methyldopa.
Loss of appetite and nausea - especially with hydrochlorothiazide and digoxin.
Sedation & fatigue - especially with beta-blockers, methyldopa, reserpine, and clonidine.
Stopping Hypertension Drug Treatment
If you are currently on hypertension drugs, experts state that once blood pressure has been normal for a year or more, a cautious decrease (or elimination) in anti-hypertensive dosage and renewed attention to non-pharmacologic treatment may be warranted.
Two large studies show that one-third to one-half of patients with mild hypertension for whom drug
treatment was stopped had normal blood pressures a year or more later.
Extensive research now make it possible to speak in terms of preventing high blood pressure rather than treating it with drugs, which is costly, associated with adverse effects, only partially successful, and is not a cure!