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HIGH BLOOD PRESSUREby Dave Foreman
Avoiding the Silent Killer
High blood pressure (hypertension) is also known as the “silent killer.” Hypertension gets the name silent killer because most people don’t feel any warning signs or symptoms. Hypertension often will develop slowly and can cause serious damage to other organs without experiencing any symptoms. Most doctors now have more stringent measures when addressing what high blood pressure is. There is a new category of called pre-hypertension for those with borderline high (130–139/85–89 mm Hg) or normal (120/80). This all came about because new research is showing that the risk of heart disease and stroke can occur at lower blood pressures than we originally believed. Personally, I think this is “overkill” and another reason to medicate America. I believe that having regular checkups and monitoring blood pressure is a wise choice, but if this recommendation leads to more people being medicated—count me out. Too often we are alarmists and choose to medicate, as opposed to being alarmist and changing our lifestyle.
Understanding your blood pressure reading
We often hear that normal blood pressure is 120/80 or below. Now with pre-hypertension being 120-139/80-89 or hypertension being 140/90 or above we need to understand the numbers. The top number (systolic) is the pressure of your blood in your veins and arteries just as your heart pumps. The bottom number (diastolic) is the pressure when your heart is at rest. As we age and the elasticity of our veins and arteries decreases, the top number often will climb while the lower number remains in check. As your arteries become smaller (like your garden hose that gets blocked), it takes more force to get the blood (water) moving. This need for increased force is what results in high blood pressure. If you had a squirt gun with a large hole, it would be easy to pull the trigger. If the hole was very tiny, it would take a lot more force to pull the trigger and shoot the water out. Your body is the same way. By relaxing the arteries (opening the hole) your heart will not have to work so hard and you will have lower blood pressure. This is the mechanism of how blood pressure medications work. Of course there are several categories of BP medications (ACE inhibitors, Beta Blockers, Calcium Channel blockers etc.), but the final result is the same: reduced pressure on the walls of the arteries. Factors that contribute to having hypertension
What can you do about it?
My belief is that with proper lifestyle, the majority of the cases of hypertension can be avoided. I am going to use myself as an example. Ten years ago I owned a very successful pharmacy in Virginia. Life was great. My son was just born, it was Christmas and as far as most people would know, I had it great. What most people didn’t know is 3 days before Christmas my blood pressure was 165/110. That is way too high for anyone— especially someone 32 years of age. This didn’t make sense. I ate right, exercised and took great care of my health. So WHY? After a few more days monitoring of my blood pressure (it was still high) I realized there had to be another cause: STRESS! Yes. Even with everything going great, the stress of owning my pharmacy was taking its toll on my health. I had a choice, take medication, or get rid of the stress. So, on December 27th 1997 I decided to get rid of the stress – my pharmacy. I understand that many of you can’t just up and leave your jobs, but my example is one that many need to understand—lifestyle plays a HUGE role in your health.
Until you can learn to modify your lifestyle, there are several supplements which can help. My new focus is to guide you to combination products that support your health needs. Combination products are designed to give you a synergistic blend of nutrients which target your specific challenge. Synergy is like adding 1+1+1 and getting 5 instead of 3. There is something to be said for the power in numbers. Using just one ingredient like garlic to lower your blood pressure might work for some of you, but not all of you. The following are some of the more popular “single” ingredients you may find in blood pressure formulations:
Of all of these single ingredients, two of them stick out as extra beneficial- CoQ10 and fish oil. Research on CoQ10 (or ubiquinol) has shown that it can significantly decrease blood pressure in about 10 weeks. Most research uses about 100mg per day. CoQ10 is naturally occurring in the body and considered a powerful heart-healthy antioxidant. As discussed in earlier newsletters, antioxidants can help reduce the potential damage caused by free radicals. Eating cold water fish is a dietary recommendation from the American Heart Association and the U.S Government as a preventative for heart disease. I prefer using supplements to guarantee that I am getting the benefits of fish—but without the toxins found in fish. I use Coromega® packets daily as my source of Omega-3s from fish oil. Coromega® is not only free of toxins, but is emulsified to help aid digestion and prevent burping. I prefer its unique packaging (no light or air touches the product) because it guarantees me the freshest product every dose. There are other great brands to choose from at your local Vitamin Shoppe. The recommended dosing for hypertension varies in the research, but most are at levels of 3 or more ofOmega-3s.Make sure to read the supplement facts on your product to assure yourself that you are taking sufficient amounts of your product to reach the 3 grams per day that I recommend. If you plan to lower your blood pressure by making lifestyle changes and using supplements, remember to work closely with your health care provider. I also recommend home monitoring of your blood pressure. Monitoring your BP is a critical part of your health care. Buying a blood pressure monitor doesn’t have to be expensive, and can help you stay healthy. Remember, dietary supplements don’t work overnight and therefore your blood pressure will decrease slowly. Using supplements with your medications is not usually recommended. For those of you using multiple medications to lower your blood pressure, your first goal should be either dosage reduction or medication elimination. You didn’t get high blood pressure overnight and you won’t eliminate it that way either. Be practical. Natural medicine works only if you are committed to the program and use common sense.