SALUTING NATIONAL HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE EDUCATION MONTH
Dear Patients and Friends,
We designate May as blood pressure awareness month, and for good reason; it remains the single most predictive risk factor for heart disease. The prevalence is huge. Over 75 million Americans are hypertensive. Most are either unaware of its presence, or are under-treated.
What’s the big deal here? 7:10 people who experience their first heart attack are hypertensive. Moreover, 8:10 people who experience a stroke are hypertensive. There is clearly a cause and effect relationship here.
What remains elusive after all these years is that we still don’t know what actually causes high blood pressure. We know that it tends to run in families and that the numbers often rise with age. Blood pressure is generally higher in the early morning hours, coincident with our stress hormone levels. Dropping as the day proceeds, values also generally fall after exercise.
These properties are well appreciated, but in 92% of people living with hypertension, the actual cause is unknown. The term essential hypertension describes just that; a malady with unknown cause.
Besides the association with heart attacks and strokes, uncontrolled hypertension plays a huge role in kidney failure and congestive heart failure. More recently it’s been shown that poorly controlled hypertension in mid-life can lead to dementia.
It’s obvious that treatment is mandatory .As noted in the attached diagram, the guidelines have recently been changed. Now any value above 130/80 denotes hypertension which portends an adverse outcome in the long term.
What about treatment options? Naturally I opt for lifestyle changes whenever possible. Let’s start with the obvious: regular exercise, quitting smoking, and following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Such foods are rich in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.. Although Americans tend to be a bit too liberal with salt, I don’t place a lot of emphasis on salt restriction, except for high risk groups such as those with diabetes, preexisting kidney disease and in the African American population.
DIET AND SUPPLEMENTS: You can’t go wrong with a Mediterranean diet which has been studied more than any other diet, and which has withstood the test of time. Besides potassium rich foods, I recommend supplementation with magnesium, fish oil and Coenzyme Q 10.
Many so called gurus advocate fancier supplements, but I prefer to keep things simple. I have created a supplement of my own, PRESSUREWISE whose main ingredient is olive leaf extract. I have employed this supplement in many of my patients, often times with success.
But truthfully supplements do not work in every patient. Although I am known to be a holistic integrative cardiologist, I do not hold back on prescribing antihypertensive medication to those who clearly need it.
Other modalities which may clearly be of benefit include biofeedback and varying forms of meditation.
Another non pharmacologic treatment that costs absolutely nothing is EARTHING. I was involved with a small study which demonstrated the potential blood pressure lowering effects of earthing or being grounded.
During Blood Pressure Awareness Month we recognize the importance of this major cardiac risk factor. Regardless of what it takes; lifestyle measures, supplements and/or medications, getting your blood presser to goal is in your best interest.
As your own best medical advocate, I urge you take control of your health. After all, whose body is it? It’s your body, so stay in the driver’s seat now and for always.
Yours in health,