I love talking anything heart-related, it’s relevant and people need to hear it.
Currently, in America, there are 103 million people dealing with high blood pressure. This number represents nearly half of the adults in the U.S. Sadly, it’s spilling over to our children as well, the CDC reported that 1 in 29 children have high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension-related deaths have increased by 38% over the last decade.1
This topic matters. How you approach it matters.
There’s a reason that your blood pressure is driven up. Your body needs higher blood pressure. It needs more blood flow to certain areas of your body. There are many factors and reasons why it goes up. If you can get to the cause, you can identify and overcome the issue of hypertension and the damage it may cause long-term.
Do I Actually Have a Problem?
First, let’s understand do you actually have a problem. We’re very quick to put someone on medication. Drug companies would like blood pressure to be treated as low as possible so it benefits you to understand the risks and when intervention is actually needed. One bad blood pressure reading on one specific day is a very faulty way to understand the issue. Here are the new recommendations as of 2017 by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.
The new guidelines lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. The new definition will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, with the greatest impact expected among younger people. Additionally, the prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45, the guideline authors note. However, only a small increase is expected in the number of adults requiring antihypertensive medication.
Blood pressure categories in the new guideline are:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80;
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.
The guidelines eliminate the category of prehypertension, categorizing patients as having either Elevated (120-129 and less than 80) or Stage I hypertension (130-139 or 80-89). While previous guidelines classified 140/90 mm Hg as Stage 1 hypertension, this level is classified as Stage 2 hypertension under the new guidelines. In addition, the guidelines highlight the importance of using proper technique to measure blood pressure; recommend the use of home blood pressure monitoring using validated devices, and highlight the value of appropriate training of health care providers to reveal “white-coat hypertension.”
Medication, however, is NOT recommended for those in elevated or Stage 1 hypertension. As long as you have not had a previous heart attack taking meds for blood pressure below 140/90 is not warranted. Since it is now labeled “Hypertension” where previously it was pre-hypertension, drugs CAN now be subscribed to an additional 30 million Americans. With that new recommendation, 32% of people having hypertension grew to 46% overnight. Drug companies want these numbers to get tighter and tighter as they just gained 30 million new customers overnight!
There is strong evidence to support that that a new “normal” for someone over 60 is actually 150 over 90. That means, if you’re over the age of 60, you can get away with your blood pressure being a little bit higher. I constantly run into patients 60 and older who are being treated for hypertension, and who did not know that those studies existed.2
What is MY normal?
120/80 is not the proper blood pressure for everyone.
The reason I state this is because recommendations are 120 systolic blood pressure over 80 diastolic blood pressure. Where the problem comes in is that everyone is put into a bucket, saying, “This is exactly what your blood pressure is supposed to be.”
However there is a bell curve, some of you are going to be lower than that while others will be higher. It seems as if everyone is treated as if they should fall right in the middle.
How you measure your blood pressure is very important. Let me give you a couple of key tips that you always want to use, especially to try to avoid “white coat syndrome.” This is when you go to a doctor and get scared, and your blood pressure is higher. Then they assume that you have high blood pressure.
One reading, one time is a poor way to judge your blood pressure.
I would suggest:
- Measure daily at the same time. Measure your blood pressure over one to three weeks and chart it. This way, you can have an idea of the trends of what made it go up, what made it go down, and what’s affecting it.
- Use the same arm. There’s about a 10-15 point blood pressure drop based on the right to left arm. This is because the heart begins on the left side.
- Use the same position. Your blood pressure changes depending on if you are sitting, standing, or laying. The same applies to your arm up, down, or bent. Chart it the same way each time.
You’ll want to do it the same way every time. I also recommend that you do it at the same time of day so you can actually see is there a trend. Is it actually high? Or is it that you just had a hectic day? Or did that doctor stress you out? If you conclude that you do have a blood pressure problem, then you must get to the causes.
Your heart is controlled by the electricity of your body, which is the nervous system. If messages cannot move from your brain to your heart, you have a problem.3
Increased fluid retention increases blood pressure. You may have swelling in your legs, hands, or other areas of your body. Diuretics are usually prescribed to help with the retaining of water and salt. Common drugs for this are HCTZ and Lasik. The problem with these is that they cause cramping, mineral imbalances, and gout. They increase blood sugar and can lead to impotence. There are many dangerous side effects of diuretics.
Vasoconstriction is when the blood vessels themselves actually constrict. Your blood pressure is going to go up naturally, so what’s often prescribed are vasodilators. These make your blood vessels relax. One of the common ones I see is hydralazine, which causes headaches and heart palpitations. These drugs have major side effects, but you can see why they’re given. When blood vessels constrict, this causes a lot more problems.
In your body ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) stimulates the production of angiotensin. This is the most common process that makes your blood vessels constrict. So if you stop the enzyme, you actually restrict the blood vessels from having that contraction in the first place. One of the most common blood pressure drugs does exactly that. These cause the blood pressure to go down and are called ACE inhibitors. Common ones that you may have heard of are Lisinopril, Lotensin, and Monopril. Again, these come with heavy side effects like headaches or dizziness. They’re inhibiting and relaxing the arteries, but there’s a better way to go about it. I agree that we should get the arteries relaxed, but are those harmful drugs the only way to do it?
When there is stiffness in the tissue or your muscles are too contracted, doctors want to get them to relax and give a calcium channel blocker to do so. The problem is that you’re blocking calcium which is used in a number of important bodily functions. Your muscles relax, but they can’t contract the way they’re supposed to. The most important muscle you have is your heart, so that creates a huge heart attack risk. Drugs such as Norvasc, Lotrel, and Cardizem cause palpitations, constipation, swelling, headaches, dizziness, and other side effects.
Epinephrine and Adrenaline
You’ve experienced this before…your heart starts racing, sweaty palms, a surge of energy…adrenaline. Adrenaline and epinephrine increase blood pressure. Too much of it is a bad thing. The common way to go about driving it down is beta blockers. They’re one of those dangerous drugs that I’m aware of–atenolol and any of the drug family ending in “olol.” There’s a whole list of them. Drugs like these cause insomnia, cold extremities, tiredness, depression, and heart failure. They down-regulate the heart and cause issues for obvious reasons.
Oxidative stress can cause damage to the inside of the blood vessels, affecting blood pressure.
This is a big problem, especially in diabetics. As blood sugar goes up, insulin goes up. You’ll see as blood sugar goes up and insulin goes up, blood pressure rises right behind it. Common drug treatments like metformin come with toxic side effects.
If you are suffering from one of the above causes or are on one of the above meds then strongly consider a natural approach to see if you can uncover the cause of your hypertension in the first place.
7 All-Natural Blood Pressure Remedies
Let me give you the natural solutions for each of the above causes so that you can start getting to the cause instead of covering up the problem. I’m not telling you to throw your drugs out. Work with your healthcare provider to do that. My question is always, if there’s a way to help control your blood pressure without having to use a toxin, what is that?
7 All-Natural Solutions for High Blood Pressure
1. Address Nerve Damage.
The University of Chicago did a study several years back and found that if the top bone in your neck is out of position, and it puts pressure on the vagus nerve, it would actually increase your blood pressure. If you went to a chiropractor, got x-rays and pre- and post-testing, and got this area aligned properly you can lower your blood pressure by two medications combined. They found a 17-point drop in blood pressure repeated several times with patients, just by addressing the nerves. Start from the inside.3
A botanical that is a natural diuretic which helps address water retention. At the same time, it is an ACE inhibitor, a beta blocker as well as a calcium channel blocker. Hawthorne is very powerful, it helps to relax the muscles, reduces vascular tone, and lowers the blood pressure. Studies show that it stimulates nitric oxide to be produced, which also relaxes and helps bring the blood pressure down. It’s high in bioflavonoids–antioxidants that are very heart-friendly. Hawthorne has also been shown, as a side note, to trigger triglycerides, cholesterol, and LDL to decrease. All of this is backed up by the research. We already know this information, but when’s the last time your doctor told you about Hawthorne as a botanical to address your blood pressure?4
According to studies, pomegranate reduces your blood pressure because it’s really high in tannin and antioxidant levels. Studies have also shown that it decreases your LDL, and stops the formation of atherosclerosis and hardening your arteries. Pomegranate is an ACE inhibitor and it will lower it by 36%. It also lowers your blood pressure by 5%.5 It is a great, safe alternative.
Really high in sulfur content, it helps lower your blood pressure. It’s a natural diuretic and is an ACE inhibitor.6 As long as these and other supplements are not taking at therapeutic, high doses, they have virtually no side effects.
I love using magnesium for many different problems. It’s really good and very healthy for the heart and all the muscles of your body. Magnesium has actually been shown in studies to decrease your top number of blood pressure 5.6, and your bottom number 2.8.7 This means that if you were running at 160 over 90, it would literally lower it down to 154 over 87, just by taking a proper amount of magnesium (400 milligrams on a daily basis). You can split that into two doses or take it in one dose. It’s a calcium channel blocker that increases nitric oxide, and studies have literally proven that there’s a direct correlation between low magnesium numbers and high blood pressure numbers.8
6. Alpha Lipoic Acid.
This is a powerful antioxidant which I personally use on a regular basis because it’s such a good antioxidant. It’s very heart-friendly and it does help reduce hypertension. Alpha lipoic acid and several of the herbs handle oxidative stress.9
7. Sugar Fast.
High blood sugar is often correlated to high blood pressure. The solution is all about weight and your diet. A proper sugar fast to get all forms of sugar out has a dramatic impact on the high blood pressure itself. High blood sugar also damages the kidneys by putting a strain on them, affecting how you absorb minerals, and how you get rid of fluid. Too many patients that I’ve come across over the years have to do dialysis because they never got this under control. The more weight that you lose, the less your heart has to work and pump. The less blood flow is actually needed, so naturally, your blood pressure will go down. Your kidneys will thank you too.
With 340 million children that are now obese worldwide our kids need a sugar fast too. It is why we are now seeing an ever-increasing number of children with diabetes and hypertension.10
Are you dealing with one of these blood pressure issues? There are many good health solutions out there. This one is my favorite. Of course, you want to be smart about it. Contact a health provider to understand your blood pressure before you ever change a medication or come off of it altogether.