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 Spotlight on Reversing and Preventing High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Learn about simple tests that assess you risk of having a heart attack or stroke?

Definition

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure results from two forces. The heart creates one force as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The other is the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow. The higher, systolic number represents the pressure while the heart contracts to pump blood to the body. The lower, diastolic number represents the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.

The systolic pressure is always stated first and the diastolic pressure second. For example: 118/76 (118 over 76); systolic = 118, diastolic = 76. According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure below 120 over 80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) is considered ideal for adults. A systolic pressure of 120 to 139 mmHg or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mmHg is considered "pre–hypertension" and needs to be watched carefully. A blood pressure reading of 140 over 90 or higher is considered elevated or high. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. In fact, many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. That's why it's called the "silent killer." Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It doesn't refer to being tense, nervous or hyperactive. You can be a calm, relaxed person and still have high blood pressure.

The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked. Your doctor or other qualified health professional should check your blood pressure at least once every two years, or more often as necessary. A single elevated blood pressure reading doesn't mean you have high blood pressure, but it's a sign that further observation is required.

How can I tell if I have high blood pressure and what is truly normal?

High blood pressure or hypertension is the most common medical diagnosis in the United States with 35 million office visits occurring each year. Current treatments to control our nation’s elevated blood pressure leave a lot to be desired. Most people still have less than ideal blood pressure in spite of medication use.

High blood pressure is not the consequence of aging. It is the result of the Standard American Diet (SAD) utilized by most developed countries in the world today. Rich in processed foods, salt and saturated fat animal products, over many years, takes a toll. As a result, our blood vessels age, stiffen and lose their elasticity.

Truly "normal" blood pressure readings should remain below 115 over 75. A recently published meta-analysis pooling the results of 61 studies demonstrated that for every incremental increase of 20 mg of systolic blood pressure above 115, heart attack death rates doubled. High blood pressure is also associated with an increased risk of heart failure, kidney failure and strokes (CVA – cerebral vascular accidents). It also predisposes to dementia and heart arrhythmias.

You may have been told in the past that, if your blood pressure is below 140/90, it is normal. Unfortunately, this is not true. It is average for those above the age of 60, but certainly not normal. Being average in America means you are heavily diseased. Over 90 percent of adult Americans who die in car accidents show atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries on autopsy. The unfortunate reality is that if you eat the Standard American Diet you will have a 90 percent chance of developing high blood pressure when you get older. You cannot escape from the biological law of cause and effect.

The Standard American Diet is simply heart attack and stroke causing. The only reason the 140 over 90 figures had been used in the past is that it represents the midpoint of blood pressure readings of Americans older than sixty. The risk for strokes and heart attacks starts climbing at 115/75.

Nevertheless, you can make a decision not to have high blood pressure and not to have a heart attack or a stroke. You must educate yourself with life-saving information that, when put into action, can prevent the possibility of a heart attack or stroke. This is the purpose of the information here on this site and in my book, Eat To Live. I am hoping to develop a huge army of heart attack-proof and stroke–proof individuals.

Primitive populations that did not salt their food demonstrate child–like blood pressure readings in their elderly. In societies where we do not see high rates of heart disease and strokes, we do not see blood pressure increase with age. In rural China the healthy elderly had the same low blood pressure readings as they did when they were children.

Almost all Americans have blood pressure readings that are unacceptably high. At a minimum, we should consider blood pressure higher than 120/80 abnormal. With nutritional excellence, which includes salt restriction, we have the opportunity to add many quality years to our lives and free ourselves from the fear of these potentially deadly diseases.

Conventional Care

The majority of elderly Americans develop high blood pressure. The years of dietary abuse eventually takes its toll. Before long, doctors will inform you that you have high blood pressure and must take medication for the rest of your life. I encourage my patients to do what it takes to normalize their blood pressure so they do not require medication. Prescribing medication for high blood pressure has the effect of a permission slip. Medication has a minimal effect in reducing heart attack occurrence in patients with high blood pressure because it does not remove the underlying problem — predominantly atherosclerosis, which created stiff blood vessels. Medication just treats the symptoms; it does not melt away the diseased plaque lining the vessels.

The biggest problem with medications is that the patients given medication falsely believe they are protected, and they continue to follow the same disease–causing lifestyle that caused the problem to begin with, until the inevitable occurs – their first heart attack or stroke. Maybe, if high blood pressure medications were never invented, doctors would have been forced to teach healthful living and nutritional disease causation to their patients. Patients would then be forced to lower their blood pressure with an unsalted diet of natural foods. Their arteries would gradually lose the risky plaque that predisposes them to create blood clots, and millions of lives could have been saved, but now they have succumbed to death from heart attack and strokes.

Do not expect to receive valuable health advice from your typical doctor. Physicians usually do not disseminate information to reverse disease. They rush through their patient appointments, especially in the current HMO climate, because they are paid so poorly for each visit and are pressured to see as many patients as possible each day. Physicians just write prescriptions to dispense drugs. Drugs offer only a slight benefit, still leaving blood pressure sufferers at relatively high risk. Your physician is likely doing just as poorly as you are and eating just as unhealthily or worse. After following my guidelines in Eat To Live, you could improve your doctor’s health and reduce his or her risk of premature death more than he or she could help yours. Even when physicians offer their fullest time and effort, their recommendations are invariably too mild to have a significant benefit.

Patients should be given the clear facts that medications do not have a significant impact on reducing heart attacks, the leading cause of death in people with high blood pressure. In fact, because of their negative effect on lipids and glucose levels, drug treatments such as beta-blockers and diuretics may even increase the risk of heart attacks in some individuals. Some of the side effects of high blood pressure medication are hard to ignore. They include fatigue, headache, swelling, nausea, dizziness and many others. For example, I routinely see patients complaining of sexual dysfunction who are anxious to get off their medication. The main message is that this band-aid approach to high blood pressure is inadequate. For individuals who want to truly protect themselves, they have to look for a comprehensive approach that removes the cause of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure, allowing the body to get well.

Don’t Be A Medical Statistic — Disease–Proof Your Body

Weight loss, high vegetable diets and lots of uncooked fruits and vegetables have all been shown to be effective at reducing blood pressure. With the nutritional interventions I offer my patients, almost all of them are able to normalize their blood pressure and stop taking high blood pressure medication. Most physicians do not offer their patients sufficiently aggressive dietary advice to enable them to improve their condition enough to stop medications. Patients come to me looking to get well and not just trying to cover up their symptoms with medication. Clearly, this advice is not for everyone, but it's for those who want to extend their years of vibrant health and life. My book, Eat To Live, explains my dietary methods that most effectively normalize blood pressure, without using medication.

The difference is that the patient has not merely lowered their blood pressure; they have improved the flow of blood in their vessels by restoring elasticity, removing plaque and restoring a more youthful normalcy to their tissues. Instead of the continuation of a disease, causing diet leading to their premature demise, they have chosen a health, promoting diet leading to disease reversal and health protection.

When I discuss the futility of medical interventions and the superior results obtained with the methods described in Eat To Live with my medical colleagues or even with the esteemed physician-researchers at the medical school that I attended, their typical comment is that very few people will want so restrictive a dietary approach no matter how effective. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. We must, at least, offer patients the alternatives open to them and to let them make the decision. It is unethical to decide for them paternalistically and withhold evidence of the effectiveness of this natural nutritional approach.

I believe many physicians would be surprised at the large percentage of patients who would choose a natural approach to recover their health rather than resort to continuous drugging and medical interventions. When individuals are educated about the side effects and risks of drugs and how they treat only the symptoms of high blood pressure without addressing the underlying cause, they routinely become very interested in the natural approach. When they find out it is possible to dramatically lower their blood pressure without drugs and prevent a heart attack or stroke from occurring, they want to learn more. I am surprised at the large number of people who are willing to make the necessary dietary modifications, especially when you introduce delicious new recipes that are healthful and show them how delicious healthy eating can be.

Numerous scientific investigations have shown that the following interventions have some degree of effectiveness in lowering blood pressure:

  • Weight loss
  • Sodium restriction
  • Increased potassium intake
  • Increased calcium and magnesium intake
  • Alcohol restriction
  • Caffeine restriction
  • Increased fiber intake
  • Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • Increased physical activity or exercise

Studies have shown controlling sodium intake and weight loss to be effective in reducing blood pressure, even in the elderly. How can you implement these interventions into your lifestyle? It’s easy. To start, first read the dietary guidelines in Eat To Live and you will be on the road to better health.

Nutritional Supplements, Instead Of Drugs

Even though dietary excellence is the foundation of care for those with high blood pressure, after a lifetime of eating the Standard American Diet, dietary modification may not result in sufficient protection in the short run. We want to assure the blood pressure and cholesterol levels achieve favorable levels, and we want to achieve this if possible without the use of medications. The judicious use of appropriate nutritional supplements can also be used to lower the blood pressure, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of blood vessel disease, strokes and heart attacks. I recommend my patients with high blood pressure to take my supplements designed to accelerate reversal of their blood vessel disease.

LDL Protect – Combines 4 natural cholesterol lowering agents to effectively reduce cholesterol without the side effects risks and toxicity of medications.

DHA+EPA Purity – An all vegetable-derived (vegan) omega-3 supplement containing DHA and EPA, beneficial fatty acids normally found in fish-oil tablets.

Detailed descriptions of these uniquely designed supplements are found in the store here at DrFuhrman.com

My approach combines dietary modifications, utilizing natural foods that lower cholesterol and blood pressure (incorporating delicious recipes that do not use salt for flavor), with intelligent supplementation to further reduce and remove disease risks, without taking on a new set of risks from medications themselves. This program enables people to achieve dramatic reversal in their health conditions and dramatic protection from disease. It is the wisest way to address your problem with blood pressure and cholesterol. This does not mean that medication never has to be used to bring blood pressure down, but it does mean that the necessity for medication will be a very rare occurrence.

Conclusion

The majority of patients with high blood pressure die of heart attack, not strokes. Medications, therefore, have been shown to have little or no effect in reducing overall cardiovascular mortality in major clinical trials. Even when researchers lumped together all nine of the major hypertensive trials to achieve the statistical power of very large numbers, no significant trend was noticed in the ability of high blood pressure medication to reduce the mortality or morbidity of coronary heart disease.

In the United States, about 400,000 people a year suffer from strokes. Forty percent of these strokes may be fatal, but the 60 percent that live are often doomed to a life of suffering and disability. The cost of strokes is not just measured in the billions of dollars lost in work, hospitalization and the care of survivors in nursing homes, but the major cost or impact of a stroke is the loss of an independent lifestyle that occurs in 30% of the survivors. After a stroke, a self-sustaining and enjoyable lifestyle may lose most of its quality as the person can no longer walk, feed, or express him/her self normally. The family members find themselves in a new role as caregivers; it is a true tragedy. What makes these events even more heartbreaking is that they never had to happen in the first place.

When patients are given all of the facts, including the real benefits of removing the disease rather than merely disguising its existence with drugs, they almost invariably choose the natural way to a healthy heart, the Eat To Live way. Don’t be a statistic! You can choose to protect yourself from both heart attacks and strokes.

Remember, if you are on medication the effects of this nutritional program are so decisive that you may find yourself dangerously over-medicated. It is important to work with a competent physician who can lower your dose of medications accordingly as your blood pressure and weight decrease. Besides office visits, I also offer phone consultations for those needing advice on medication adjustment that will be necessary for those with medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.


References

Lewington S, Clarke R, Qizilbash N, et al. Age-specific relevance of usual blood pressure to vascular mortality: a meta-analysis of individual data for one million adults in 61 prospective studies. Lancet 2002;360:1903-1913.

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