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High Blood Pressure Hoax

Ok, so you have been diagnosed with hypertension, high blood pressure, the pressure … it goes by several names but it’s deadly serious by any name. Hypertension is more common as you get older … at least here in America. It affects about half of all adults in the USA. Hypertension is a significant risk factor for strokes, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney failure and loss of vision. It’s serious and should be taken seriously. I just finished reading The High Blood Pressure Hoax by Dr. Sherry Rogers so I can offer you a new perspective on this critical health topic.

People can rightly argue about taking statins for cholesterol. (Statins are just not that effective and have significant side effects.) People can go back and forth about how tightly we should be controlling your sugar (it’s the insulin level that’s important not your blood sugar) but no-body argues that hypertension should be treated. Dr. Rogers thinks anything over 120/80 is hypertensive which is a pretty strict definition. I usually use 140/80 in most adults and 160/80 in frail elderly since HYPOTENSION in this group is especially dangerous due to increased risk of falls and underperfusion of the brain leading to an INCREASED risk of dementia.

Don’t let your doctor diagnose you with hypertension on the basis of a few office blood pressure measurements. This is serious enough that you should get multiple readings either at the drugstore or, better yet, buy your own BP machine and take your own readings. Best of all is getting your doctor to check a 24 hour blood pressure monitor. That’s considerably more accurate as a cardiovascular risk evaluator that the readings your doctor gets in the office. This was just evaluated several months ago in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Ok, so we agree that you should get multiple blood pressure readings before getting labeled as hypertensive. So what about treatment? Well, first we have to talk about the cause of hypertension. Is your doctor telling you it’s just caused by aging? Then why is hypertension so very uncommon in the third world? Same reason that cancer and heart disease are low … their diets are healthy, ours are not. We are killing ourselves with our diet, plain and simple. We health care providers repeated the mantra that came down from on high … high fat diet is bad and you should get most of your calories from carbohydrates. How embarrassing to admit that we had that completely wrong?! So why would you put any trust in what I am going to recommend here? Because the things I am going to recommend are cheap, readily available, nontoxic, natural, gluten free, blood diamond free, gender indiscriminate, and hopefully you get my point. I am not endorsing any product or getting any benefit from these recommendations. As we say in the business I have nothing to disclose.

Your doctor will say that you are getting older and your pipes are getting stiffer and you exercise less, and we all take in too much salt so it’s only natural that you get hypertension as you age. Well, how do you explain those that age but don’t get hypertension? My short answer is they lived healthier … less processed foods, less processed oils and much less carbs !

In the 1950’s only 5% of dietary intake was carbohydrate based. By the 1990’s 60% of the standard American diet were carbohydrates. That’s a ginormous shift. The government experts said saturated fats were bad and carbohydrates were not only harmless but better for you. That advice, so readily taken up by nutritionists and doctors alike, continues to be ruinous to America both as a country and one citizen at a time.

No … as Dr. Rogers points out in her book and as also attributed to Linus Pauling … all disease is a result of some deficiency or the presence of some toxin. Translation: hypertension is caused by the combination of wrong lifestyle and environment with the ratio changing from person to person but it’s mostly lifestyle people. Unless your diet is righteous you could have a nutritional deficiency that, once corrected,could resolve the high blood pressure which is just your body’s way of showing stress on the system. Why not try some simple supplements before taking some prescription medicine? Well, taking a pill is easy for you and it’s easy for your doctor. But, think of it this way, you don’t have a beta blocker deficiency, you don’t have a calcium blocker deficiency, you do not have a diuretic deficiency. You weren’t born with these deficiencies and you didn’t develop these deficiencies. You could, however, easily have a magnesium deficiency or a potassium deficiency or both and when you correct the deficiency the blood pressure may return to normal. Unfortunately the usual magnesium and potassium test that your doctor does is not accurate in reflecting total body magnesium needs. Sodium you can measure from a simple blood test because most of it is extracellular. Magnesium and potassium are primarily intracellular so you have to measure the RBC magnesium and potassium. The big local lab LACNY can do this test for you and your doctor and it’s usually covered by your insurance.

Of course you must eat less processed foods eliminate corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, soda and canola oil. These all inflame your system and raise your blood pressure. This is the way to improve your heart disease, your diabetes, your pressure, etc. Unless your blood pressure is sky high why not try different things for a month before resorting to BP meds. Blood pressure takes years and decades to exert its effects. -Ample time to deal with the underlying problem rather than turn immediately to some pharmacologic prescription. There are other supplements to consider including L Arginine; an amino acid.

Your doctor will tell you that hypertension is just you getting older and your artery stiffening up but really it’s endothelial dysfunction which is the inner lining of the blood vessels and we know that nitric oxide relaxes the muscles surrounding the endothelium, lowering the blood pressure. It also keeps platelets from sticking to the blood vessel forming plaques. It regulates many other enzymes. Nitric oxide is made from L-Arginine which is a simple amino acid that you can supplement. Why not try that first before taking a pill? In her book Dr. Rogers referenced several articles published in major medical journals that criticized the use of diuretics. Dr. Rogers claimed that people taking diuretics had WORSE cardiovascular outcomes. Because it’s important I get this right I actually found those references and reviewed them and they were both published in major medical journals and do substantiate her claim that diuretic therapy, especially for diabetics, was associated with increased mortality not decreased. Unfortunately, when you bring this up to your doctor he or she is going to say “That’s crazy, I don’t know anything about it.“ That’s when you hand him copies of the article. Here are the references for those who are interested. Just type the following in the web browser PMID: 1823530 and And N Engl J Med 1994; 330:1852-1857

Besides L-Arginine another amino acid has been shown to cause vessel dilatation and promote diuresis and stop abnormal platelet aggregation is taurine, another simple amino acid. Why not give taurine a try before subjecting yourself to prescription medicines. Of course you have to get rid of the corn oil and canola oil and all the processed oils in order to stabilize your membranes and although this will take a while it will slowly help you return your natural ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 back to 1 to 1 instead of the 1 to 20 it is now in the developed world. This drastic change in the ratio from the norm cannot be a good thing for your health. I have not yet found a commercial salad dressing sold in Wegmans or Walmart that is free of these processed oils , except Braggs which I don’t think tastes that great (at least not compared to my wife’s home made dressing). Olive oil on the other hand is not a processed oil. How about trying some celery which has also been shown to lower blood pressure. There is no such thing as too much Brassica vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, turnips, radishes, horseradish, and watercress. They are natural and aggressive detoxifiers and the toxins you build up in your body certainly contribute to hypertension. Bottom line is that if you are interested there are multiple natural ways to try to treat your blood pressure before resorting to prescriptions. Dr. Rogers lays all this out for you in her book which is readily available on the internet. There is a ton of referenced literature in all her books. They are not too technical and I recommend them to all my patients who want to try natural products before resorting to big pharma. I used to think Dr. Rogers was on the fringes of medicine but now I know she was at the forefront and I have learned much from her books and you can too!

Until next month … Get well … Stay well.

Dr. Barry