Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
U.S. Neglects High Blood Pressure
The Institute of Medicine said that nearly one in three adults have hypertension recently, and feels that doctors are not treating it aggressively. “If you live long enough, you’re almost guaranteed to get hypertension,” said Dr. Corinne Husten of Partnership for Prevention, a co-author of this report. Normal blood pressure is now defined as below 120 over 80, with pre-hypertension up to 140 over 90, and various levels of hypertension above that. Treatment is simple-cut the salt, eat more potassium, get some exercise, lose 10 pounds. Anti-hypertensive medications could have the co-payments eliminated and simplify patient-assistance programs for the poor, declares the article.
Dr. Gardner’s comments: When I went to medical school, the cardiovascular disease and heart attack rates were lower, and hypertension was defined as a blood pressure above 160 over 95.
In the 1950s, a study was released about a town named Framingham in Massachusetts. The results of this study, demonstrated on a graph, showed the medical and scientific communities that there was a direct correlation between higher blood pressure levels and higher risk of mortality (death). Unfortunately, this graph did not show patient data points, but spurious boxes drawn in the computer to make a straight line on the graph. When the correct patient data was inserted into the graph, there was no correlation between blood pressure levels and higher risk of mortality. In fact, the study demonstrated no increase in mortality until the blood pressure levels were greater than 165 to 185 over 95 to 100.
Based on many subsequent randomized studies, mortality does go up when blood pressures below that level are treated with medications. You have healthy alternatives to drugs for blood pressure support:
- 1. Good diet, no sugar or processed food
- 2. Basic potent multi-vitamin and essential fatty acids
- 3. Relaxation, yoga, energy work, meditation
- 4. Specific supplements-magnesium 600 to 1,000 mg per day, CoQ10 100 mg per day, Hawthorne (or the berry), L-arginine
- 5. Life-style changes-reduce salt (if you are in the 20% that is salt-sensitive), lose weight if overweight, stop smoking, increase potassium intake, exercise.
I have greater concern over the apparent U.S. neglect over alerting the public to, and protecting us from, the potential side effects of medications, than I do over the constantly changing criteria for high blood pressure. The blood pressure meds have no long-term (30-year) studies to assure their safety, or the safety in using more than one medication at a time.