You or a loved one may have been told that once you have high blood pressure, the medication to reduce it has to be taken for the rest of your life. Well, I am here to tell you that this is not necessarily true. Read on and find out!
What Is High Blood Pressure, And How Did I Get It?
Also known as hypertension, you may have heard the old saying “High Blood Pressure-The Silent Killer”. This is true to a certain point as many times there are not symptoms until your first heart attack or stroke.
Back in 2003, U.S. guidelines were reassessed and the definition of “Pre-hypertension” was adjusted. For years, if your blood pressure was 140/90, you were considered normal. But the numbers were changed to include the category “pre-hypertension”. So if you were inbetween 120-139/80-90, you were now in the category of either adjusting your lifestyle or starting medications to reduce it. Literally overnight, people with blood pressures in this range were now being diagnosed with this medical condition. https://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/15/us/us-guidelines-reassess-blood-pressure.html
This is similar to what has been done to our cholesterol level numbers. Normal range for cholesterol in the past, was 280 milligrams per decilitre. Then it was lowered to 240mg/dL which added 100’s of thousands to the prescription market. Now many doctors seem to be in a panic if you are over 200! This is a fallacy. It has already been proven that seniors with high cholesterol levels live longer. The majority of heart attack patients had LOW cholesterol. That is a whole other blog post!! Watch for my Cholesterol Deceptions book coming soon!
Now Back to High Blood Pressure…
If you have a family history of HBP, you stand a good change of getting it yourself. But remember, just because you have “the gene” doesn’t mean it is 100% for you! Epigenetics proves that the environment the cell lives in, determines its health. In other words, if the gene is in your family and your mom or dad had high blood pressure, it was probably because they were overweight, had regular alcohol consumption, lived a sedentary lifestyle (ie: spent hours on the sofa binge watching TV), and loved their hamburgers and french fries from McDonald’s.
Well if you also follow in your parent’s footsteps, then don’t be surprised when the day comes and you are told that your blood pressure is too high. Eye colour is genetic, table habits are not genetic.
What Was Used BEFORE High Blood Pressure Drugs?
I came across an interesting piece of information that I will share with you here. The National Institute of Health-NIH, sponsored a drug trial called ALLHAT. This stands for Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to prevent Heart Attack Trial. This was organized by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the NIH. It was 8 years long and had 42,000 participants at more than 600 clinics. This was the largest clinical trial on the treatment of high blood pressure that had ever been done at the time.
There were 4 types of drugs that were tested. 1) a calcium channel blocker-sold by Pfizer as Norvasc*, also known as the generic Amlodipine after the the patent expired in 2009. 2) An Alpha-adrenergic blocker-sold by Pfizer as Cardura, and also sold genetically as doxazosin. 3) an angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor sold by AstraZeneca as Zestril and by Merck as Prinivil and also genetically as lisinopril. and 4) a generic diuretic (“water pill”) of a type that was on the market for over 50 years at the time.
The startling results were reported in 2002 in The Journal of the American Medical Association. It was found that the old-time diuretic turned out to be just as good for lowering blood pressure, and actually better for preventing some of the devastating complications of high blood pressure-mainly heart attacks and strokes. Participants treated with the diuretic were much less likely to develop heart failure than those treated with Norvasc (Amlodipine). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/science/antihypertensive-and-lipid-lowering-treatment-prevent-heart-attack-trial-allhat#:~:text=What%20were%20the%20key%20findings%20of%20ALLHAT%3F&text=The%20ALLHAT%20blood%20pressure%20trial%20found%20that%20the%20calcium%20channel,heart%20attack%20and%20heart%20failure.
*Norvasc was the 5th best selling drug in the world in 2002
What Does Systolic and Diastolic Mean?
The systolic and diastolic numbers make up your blood pressure reading.
The first number is “Systolic” and it indicates the pressure the blood is placing on your artery walls when your heart contracts or pumps the blood.
The second number is “Diastolic” and it indicates the pressure the blood is placing on your artery walls when your heart is at rest between contractions. Tip: In the beginning, I had a hard time remembering which number was which. D for Diastolic, D for “downstairs” therefore, it’s the bottom number!!
Are Prescription Drugs the ONLY Remedy for Hypertension?
Absolutely not!! Especially if you are on the cusp! There are a few things that you do have control over. One of them being, your weight. The more weight your body carries, the harder your heart has to work. Makes sense?
Next, cut out the McDonalds and fast foods. Limit it to special occasions, once or twice a month. Nothing beats REAL food that does not come in a paper bag! Fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic and locally grown when in season. Limit meats from the grocery chains as those are more likely to be factory farmed and anti-biotic laden (unless clearly marked as being anti-biotic free). Also, do not buy any beef labeled as “corn fed”. This is why they are given antibiotics, as the corn rots in their digestive systems, hence the need for antibiotics. Pasture raised chicken and beef are preferable.
Love Sugar? Your Body DOESN’T
Cut out the sugar. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar If you do have a need for sweets, there are several options on the market. Monk fruit looks and tastes just like sugar, with NO calories. It is a natural product. There is also a company called SWERVE that makes granulated, brown as well as icing “sugar”. Then of course, there is Stevia which is a natural sweetener from a plant.
Exercise. Now you don’t have to join a gym. Just a nice leisurely walk after dinner for 20 minutes. It will make a world of difference. There are also several websites promoting exercises you can do while sitting on a chair! Another option are “Wall Pilates”, simple stretching exercises you can do with your wall!!
Reduce alcohol consumption. Maybe go dry from Monday to Thursday and just drink sparkling water with a juice enhancer if you need flavour, but watch the ingredients and stay away from anything with polysorbate 80, sodium benzoate or tween 80. This preservative is a known carcinogen if combined with vitamin C. Best just to steer clear. When the weekend rolls around, a glass or two of wine with dinner, or your favourite cocktail. There are a lot of non-alcoholic substitutes available now. For example, Budweiser and Corona both have 0% alcohol beers and they are pretty good!!! (They still have the carbs, so limit those!)
What About My Morning Cup-A-Joe?
Ease up on the coffee. Have your cup or two in the morning if you need, then substitute with decaf if you crave the flavour later in the day. Coffee constricts the arteries and raises the heart rate.
Now they say to decrease your salt intake. I would limit the iodized salt. This is highly processed and is the salt that you will find on the food labels listed as sodium. If you do add any salt to food, use the Himalayan pink salt. This is full of all the natural minerals and trace minerals, that are removed from the white processed salt.
I know, I know – easier said than done. Smoking constricts the arteries and raises blood pressure temporarily. Now don’t say “well it’s only a temporary rise in blood pressure”. You are missing the point. Smoking is bad, PERIOD. Take it from a girl born and raised on a tobacco farm. Probably why I NEVER started smoking. I worked in tobacco in my teen years and literally, after handling the tobacco for 30 minutes, I was peeling tar off of my plastic gloves. This is what is in your lungs! My first summer working with tobacco, I did not use gloves and my hands were stained until December (when harvest ended in September) This is the colour that you see on the teeth of those that smoke.
There are several products on the market to help you to stop. It is worth the effort. ***Just a side note*** If you are thinking about vaping being safer-IT’S NOT! If you stop smoking, your lungs will heal in time. If you vape, you slowly destroy your lungs, they will never recover, and if you vape long enough, you are looking at a lung transplant. A very successful heart surgeon told me this. I think he knows what he is talking about. Your choice! You can’t pick up a new set of lungs from Walmart for a double lung transplant.
What About Natural Supplements?
Glad you asked! Of course there are natural supplements that can assist in keeping the blood pressure in the normal range. But again, you have to change your lifestyle. You cannot just take a drug or a natural supplement for that matter and carry on with the lifestyle that gave you your high blood pressure.
Magnesium is the number one supplement for your heart! https://cardiogram.com/the-magic-of-magnesium-supporting-your-cardiovascular-health-with-this-mighty-mineral/ Work with your natural health care practitioner to find the dosage that is right for you! Next is potassium, yes from bananas! L-arginine, Vitamin C (Liposomal form is more absorbable), cocoa flavonoids (found in dark chocolate 70%), beetroot juice (powder, caps or gummies) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288229, CoQ10 and aged garlic extract has also been shown to help with high blood pressure. https://healthmatch.io/high-blood-pressure/taking-garlic-for-high-blood-pressure
Lifestyle is our personal choice. There is NO pill that will cure an unhealthy lifestyle, and no pill that will allow you to continue with one. Eventually everything catches up to you! The information I have given here is hopefully going to help you do some more of your own research. Work with your doctor and NEVER be afraid to question them if you feel you are not getting answers. They work for you, remember that.