Lower Blood Pressure At Any Cost? – Hypertension Myths




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Lower Blood Pressure At Any Cost? – 5 Hypertension Myths

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects at least one in three adults in North America and many other developed countries. Even more alarmingly, it is afflicting an increasing number of young people, some as young as 12 years old. So it’s not surprising that hypertension medications are among the 10 most frequently prescribed drugs.

With an issue of such importance, it’s critical to get the facts right and to keep things in perspective. Unfortunately, a number of myths have developed around hypertension. Here are five of the most common and potentially damaging misconceptions:

Myth 1: High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Not necessarily. There is no direct connection between high blood pressure and heart problems. In a recent article for the Virginia Hopkins Health Watch, John R. Lee, M.D. writes: “heart problems (due to high blood pressure) are not correlated with any specific or absolute blood pressure reading; it is correlated with an observed rise in blood pressure from whatever the earlier blood pressure was”. (italics mine)

In other words, if your blood pressure is normally around 120/80 and rises to 140/90 your risk of heart problems is about the same as that of someone whose blood pressure increases from 140/90 to 160/90. It also means that if your blood pressure is a steady 160/90 and shows no sign of rising, it is not a sign of impending heart disease without other risk factors involved.

Myth 2: “Normal”, healthy blood pressure is in the range of 120/70. Pressure above 130/80 is either high blood pressure or “pre-hypertension”.

What is normal? For a long time the medical standard for high blood pressure was considered 140/90 and this was further moderated by age. But suddenly the standard was changed. Now some doctors call even 130/80 “high blood pressure” and many others consider it “pre-hypertension”. New medications to treat “pre-hypertension” are even underway!

The fact is that blood pressure varies widely among healthy people and usually increases with age. Many things can increase blood pressure including over-the-counter and prescription medications, stress and over-indulgence in alcohol.

Add to this the fact that blood pressure varies, sometimes significantly, at different times of the day. Then there’s the notorious white-coat syndrome whereby the stress of a doctor’s visit shows up as high blood pressure while readings taken relaxing at home can be “normal”.

These examples all go to show that just getting an accurate reading can be difficult enough, let alone setting normal and abnormal levels for a wide range of different people.

Myth 3. If you are hypertensive you must severely restrict or eliminate salt (or sodium) from your diet.

Not true. Salt is unfairly blamed for causing high blood pressure. Salt, or sodium, is not the culprit. It’s an imbalance of sodium, magnesium and potassium in our diet that knocks our blood chemistry out of kilter and thus contributes to hypertension.

The problem is that many processed and junk foods are high in salt but deficient in magnesium and potassium. This is compounded when you add table salt to your already salty bacon at breakfast.

But the answer is not to become paranoid about salt but to eat whole, natural foods (and you can even take that with a grain of salt!). Grains, vegetables, fruit, meat and fish in their natural state contain more balanced amounts of sodium, magnesium and potassium. Simply eating a healthy diet of whole foods can have a dramatic effect on blood pressure. Hypertension is almost unknown among the few remaining peoples that still eat in this way.

Myth 4. Taking blood pressure medications is better than the alternative.

Only in a minority of cases and as a last resort!

It’s no surprise when you hear natural health gurus claim that drugs are worse than the disease. But you really take notice when it’s a medical doctor saying it! That’s exactly the case when Dr. Lee writes in the same article quoted above: “I don’t like anti-hypertensive drugs because their side effects are often worse than the high blood pressure they’re prescribed to treat.” (his bolding) He goes on to say: “conventional physicians tend to prescribe anti-hypertension drugs any time blood pressure readings fall outside of so-called normal ranges. This is unjustified, and probably does more harm than good in the long run”.


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