High Blood Pressure – What is your body telling you?
HYPERTENSION – #1 MISTREATED CONDITION
According to an Essentials of Family Medicine, 5th Edition (2007), hypertension is the MOST common condition seen in a general family practice. It beats out colds, sinus problems, sore throats, bronchitis, asthma and ear infections. To most people we just call it “high blood pressure.”
Over 90% of hypertension is diagnosed as “primary” or “idiopathic”. This means that we don’t know why or how you got it, you just have it. Often times genetics is blamed, which fails to appreciate the multiple causes and contributors to the condition. In medical school it is generally taught that idiopathic hypertension should be treated with medicine and in chiropractic school it is generally taught to refer a patient to a medical doctor for care of hypertension. This means that all hypertensive patients are being funneled into a system that relies on drugs for symptomatic relief rather than addressing the root cause.
Once diagnosed with hypertension and given medication, the management generally consists of taking two or more drugs for the rest of your life to maintain normal blood pressure. These drugs always have side effects and all STOP a normal blood pressure regulating process in the body.
On the other side of the spectrum, those who choose to manage hypertension naturally with nutrition and lifestyle modifications not only lower their blood pressure but have better health in general. Not only does their blood pressure decrease, but mood, muscle pain, kidney health, headaches and asthma can all improve.
IMPORTANT: High Blood Pressure is ALWAYS a sign of underlying dysfunction and/or disease. This should tell your doctor that your body isn’t in balance physiologically and it needs attention. Or in other words, if you have hypertension it is simply telling you that you are sick, the same way a temperature or a headache tells you that there is something wrong.
Getting to the root cause of high blood pressure is critical as it plays a large role in your risk of heart disease and risk of stroke. As I mentioned, blood pressure doesn’t just go up. There is a reason it gets elevated.
A simple example would be if you had lead accumulation in your body. It has been shown that very small amounts of lead in the blood can raise systolic blood pressure. If you choose to get a pill to artificially lower your blood pressure, you would still have lead in your blood. So while your blood pressure becomes lower, you may still suffer from symptoms of lead exposure such as neurological defects (fatigue, irritability, hearing loss, seizures, etc.), gastrointestinal problems (nausea, reflux, constipation), reproductive difficulties (miscarriages, abnormal and decreased sperm), kidney dysfunction, anemia, arthritis and muscle pains. The real solution in this scenario is to lower your blood lead levels (the root problem) and your blood pressure will decrease automatically.
Because there are so many possible reasons for hypertension, it should be managed with your medical doctor. If the doctor labels your hypertension as idiopathic, that is generally a better diagnosis than some of the other options which can include problems with your heart, adrenal glands or systemic disease.
So What Should Your Blood Pressure Be?
Like most scenarios, the commonly accepted measurement of “normal” blood pressure (120/80) is not necessarily the optimal blood pressure. It seems that increase for cardiovascular risk doubles starting at 115/75. For every 20/10 increase, your cardiovascular risk doubles. Hypertension is the most important risk factor for development of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of deaths in America. 41% of all fatalities are attributed to heart disease in the United States. So the goal for optimal health as far as we know now is 115/75.
It is critical to understand that hypertension can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss and stroke. Taking medicine will often reduce your blood pressure (not always) but even if your blood pressure is lowered it doesn’t directly correlate with a reduced risk in the diseases I mentioned above. For some drugs, it may lower your risk of heart attack, but not your increased risk of stroke or vice versa. Basically, just because your blood pressure numbers are lower, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily prolong your life or decrease your risk of certain diseases.
On the other hand, natural management of high blood pressure not only reduces blood pressure but almost always reduces risk factors associated with corresponding disease.