High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure is one expression of a disease-complex caused by the wrong diet and unhealthy lifestyle. For years, excessive sodium salt was associated with hypertension and low sodium diets were recommended to all sufferers. According to the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, non-drug strategies should be the priority for hypertension control. Smoking cessation, low fat diet, weight loss, exercise, reduced alcoholic beverage consumption and increased potassium, calcium and magnesium intake with decreased sodium are the important steps to avoid the problem of high blood pressure.
A normal adult blood pressure is below 130/80. High blood pressure has been defined as over 140/90. The goal of hypertension treatment is to reduce blood pressure to approximate a normal reading of 120/80 or less. Blood pressure varies with activities and time of day. "Normal" values represent resting, relaxed readings averaged over a period. An athlete in top condition may have a blood pressure of 200/120 during peak exertion and a pressure of 90/60 in the morning before getting out of bed. There tends to be a 10% reduction in systolic pressure and a 14% to 17% fall in diastolic pressure during sleep. Continuous blood pressure monitoring has revealed different patterns of elevated pressure during the day and night.
Blood pressure is a dynamic variable, always changing depending on circumstances. Vigorous exertion raises pressure to pathological highs as does anger. Any threat, fright or uncertainty triggers the flight and fight response which raises both heart rate and blood pressure. The challenge when measuring pressure and comparing each person to a somewhat arbitrary guideline is to decide what measurements, where and when are required to diagnosis disease risk of disease.
Normal systolic pressure tends to increase with age; an old adage suggested that if the systolic pressure was less than 100 plus your age, everything was OK. Newer evidence demonstrated that lower systolic pressures are healthier. Diabetes 2 increases the need for blood pressure control – the lower the blood pressure, the better the long-term results at all ages. Controlling elevated blood pressure reduces the risk of strokes 35 to 40 percent, heart attacks 20 to 25 percent and heart failure more than 50 percent.
In the US, 50 million people are thought to have have high blood pressure; about half are receiving treatment and half of the treated are successful at reducing their blood pressure to below 140/90. This leaves about 37 million people in the US with persisting hypertension. The incidence of high blood pressure rises with age; more common in men under 50, but more common in women over age 65. Over age 70, the incidence approaches 2/3s of the population. In Canada 57% of the estimated 4 million people with hypertension are treated by a physician but the overall success of this effort is in doubt.
Hypertension is divided into two groups - primary or essential hypertension and secondary to a specific disease. Diseases of the kidney and blocked kidney arteries, for example, can produce high blood pressure as a secondary effect. No specific cause is found in 90% of hypertensives. One explanation is that the population at risk is becoming more sedentary with an increase in obesity. Their food supply is clearly suspect and it is not just the fat in the diet. These arterial problems with different and complex origins link to the diets and lifestyle popular in Europe and North America and occur less often among physically active, vegetable-eating populations who seldom eat dairy products, meat, and other high-protein-fat foods.
Arteries are muscular tubes that regulate blood pressure and blood flow by constricting and dilating. Their behavior is important to day-to-day function and important to the evolution of disease over decades of living. The arterial system is a branching structure. The smaller branches can contract to increase the resistance to flow, thus increasing blood pressure. To reduce pressure, you dilate the smaller arteries, decreasing peripheral resistance and increasing blood flow. The heart is a muscular pump that pushes blood through the arterial tree against peripheral resistance. As the resistance to flow increases, the blood pressure increases and cardiac work increases. If high blood pressure is persistent, the heart may enlarge to accommodate the extra work. At some point, the work required may exceed the heart muscle's endurance and heart failure occurs.
Some concerns about BP diagnosis and treatment
A large number of drugs and drug combinations have appeared for the treatment arterial disease. The battle for market share is fought among the drug producers with double blind controlled studies that compare drugs to placebo and drugs to one another. The studies are designed to provide favorable news thru press releases to doctors and their patients. The drug industry prefers that medical doctors only think in terms of drug therapy and the producers aggressively market their newest and most expensive drugs. Smart patients prefer to change their diet, lose weight and exercise, rather than become drug users.
Listen to a Description of High Blood Pressure
Listen to a Discussion of Blood Pressure Readings
The Solution Diet Revision
The 50 million Americans and 4 million Canadians who have high blood pressure and arterial disease should seek the benefits of complete diet revision therapy! To improve the health of modern citizens and to reduce, at the same time, the increasing costs of health-care, self-responsibility for disease-prevention is required. Each person will have to alter disease-causing habits, change poor eating habits, stop smoking and drinking, and become more physically active. We have no difficulty in recommending aggressive diet revision, vigorous enough to prevent vascular disasters. Imagine that you live in a little cottage by the sea, think quiet thoughts, walk everywhere, tend your organic vegetable garden, cultivate fruit trees (never sprayed) and go fishing once or twice per week. Now you have a perfect setting and a perfect diet for enduring good health.
Current recommendations for fat intake are shrinking progressively from 35% of total calories to 20%; for people with high risk of heart disease, fat intake should go below 10% of daily calories. Typical American diets contain as much as 37% fat, an extravagant surplus. A total of 15-25 grams of fat per day supplies our needs. The minimum requirements are 1-2% of total calories for adults and 3% for infants. Sodium restraint is considered a primary strategy of reducing high blood pressure. Increased intake of calcium and potassium may lower high blood pressure and extra potassium may protect against stroke-associated death. North American diets tend to offer sodium levels 10 times higher than actual need (minimum of 1100 mg/day, adults). Average consumption of sodium salt is over 10 grams/day. The proper ratio of Sodium to Potassium is not obvious. Most diets have sodium disproportion, tending toward sodium excess of 3-10 parts Sodium to 1 Potassium. The foods in Phase 1 and 2 of the Alpha Nutrition Program automatically improve the sodium/potassium ratio and increase intake of magnesium.
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