Do The New Blood Pressure Guidelines Affect You?
You bet they do! The pharmaceutical companies (along with you doctors) NEED to keep you medicated!
On November 12, 2017, nearly one third of U.S. adults—75 million or so—had high blood pressure (HBP). On November 13, that number jumped to around 105 million. Here’s what happened, and how it might affect you.
An overnight high blood pressure epidemic?
Did 30 million people “catch” HBP overnight? Of course not—it’s not contagious.
So what happened?
The medical community redefined HBP. You know the XX / YY metric—the top number is your systolic pressure—the maximum force your heart can exert when it pumps. The bottom number is when your heart relaxes between beats, your diastolic pressure.
Since 1993, “high” has been defined as 140/90. The new measure is anything over 120/80.
Why the change in measuring HBP risk?
A major study in 2015 found the risk of heart disease was significantly lower in people who aimed for a blood pressure high of 120 / 80. The data were persuasive enough that Canada and Australia also took that as their new “high.” Most countries in Europe will do the same next year.
Does the new “high” blood pressure affect you?
It depends on a number of variables, including your age.
If you’re under 65, let’s look at how the new high of 120 affects where your own blood pressure level puts you, compared to when “normal” was 140/90:
|Blood Pressure Category
So if your top number is 120–129 and your bottom number is 79 or lower, you’re now said to have “elevated” blood pressure.
If your top number is 130–139 or your bottom number is 80–89, you’re considered a Stage 1 HBP risk.
And if you’re at the old “normal” of 140/90, you’re now in the highest risk level, Stage 2. I’ll cover the change for those over 65 separately in a minute.
Red flag. This means that 46 percent of U.S. adults now have HBP (stage 1 or 2) versus 32 percent under the old rules. That’s an increase of some 30 million people.
I’m concerned that Big Pharma will pile on for the kill here—tens of millions of people who were “normal” yesterday are now considered at risk. Great opportunity to sell drugs.
Green flag. But the good news is that the medical community, as represented by some dozen groups behind the new guidelines, is very clear in insisting, finally, that high blood pressure at any level is fixable with lifestyle changes and natural remedies. Healthy diet, regular exercise, and an active social and intellectual life are all but miracle workers. In instances of nutrient deficiencies—easily diagnosable and far too common among those eating the over-sugared, over-processed, toxin-laden Standard American Diet—good quality, natural supplements are the go-to choice—not Big Pharma’s heavy-hitting conventional meds.
That’s why, while the number of those at risk younger than 65 skyrockets, the new guidelines recommended that only those with Stage 1 hypertension and diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or peripheral artery disease should begin medication right away (about 2% of the newly diagnosed with high blood pressure)—diet and lifestyle improvements are greatly preferable.
HBP when you’re over 65?
For people over 65, however, the new “high” has been lowered from a systolic pressure (top number) of 150 to anything higher than 130. At that level, the new guidelines recommend medication for these older adults, pointing to research that’s found a lower risk of serious HBP consequences—heart attack and stroke, for example—among those who hit and hold the 130 target. The exception: those with conditions that make Big Pharma’s conventional meds too risky. That’s an open invitation to put those diet and lifestyle improvements to work—pronto.
Why measure your own blood pressure?
The answer is simple: HBP can kill you. It’s one of the top risk factors for a heart attack, stroke and most other bad outcomes.
If you’re somehow spared those drastic or terminal endings, HBP can still make life uncomfortable, with symptoms including:
- Severe headache
- Fatigue or confusion
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
For extra encouragement, I use a magic number to remind my patients why low blood pressure is so dearly important.
The number is 5. That’s how many years longer healthy people live compared to people with HBP. And that’s on average, so the healthier you are, the more years you get.
How to measure your own blood pressure
Most people rely only on one-off monitoring, in the doctor’s office, or the pharmacy, or even at home.
That’s not enough. That’s why 3 is my other magic number.
Our blood pressure fluctuates naturally over the course of the day and night—enough to put you into or out of a risk level. I recommend getting a simple, affordable blood pressure cuff and recording your blood pressure 3 times a day—morning, midday, and night—for at least a week. Bring the record to your checkup.
And don’t put too much emphasis on your doctor’s or nurse’s reading—it’s well documented that just being in a doctor’s office can be stressful—and can raise your blood pressure.
Prevent and reverse HBP without Big Pharma side effects
For some people, all of the lifestyle and dietary changes in the world don’t seem to move blood pressure into a healthy range. For those people, medication is the only option.
But please please, try the natural route before opting for the pharmaceutical route. Because the Big Pharma solutions can come with some nasty side effects:
- Internal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Easy bruising
- Erectile dysfunction
Yes, those blood thinners, diuretics, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors can help control your blood pressure. But don’t let some mainstream doctor convince you that the side effects are a small price to pay for an easy way to lower BP.
Especially because there are better ways to lower and control your blood pressure—so you can grab those five extra years or more to enjoy with family and friends.
Safe, natural blood pressure control alternatives
Nattokinase, an enzyme extract from fermented soy or natto, is a natural blood thinner and a safe, effective, way to help normalize blood pressure. And what a powerhouse—it doesn’t just prevent clots, it actually helps get rid of them.
In a Japanese study, volunteers with high blood pressure were given 30 grams of natto extract—one serving—orally for 4 consecutive days.
- Systolic blood pressure decreased on average from 174 to 155
- Diastolic blood pressure decreased on average from 101 to 91.
That’s nearly an 11 percent drop in in blood pressure, and a nearly 10 percent drop in diastolic blood pressure—after only 4 days. Other studies show similarly dramatic results.
I recommend 50 mg per day.
Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract is a vasodilator, normalizing blood pressure by relaxing and dilating blood vessels to keep blood flowing smoothly. And its powerful antioxidants can help slow the effects of aging by neutralizing the free radicals that damage your cells and DNA.
Dosage recommendations vary somewhat from study to study. I recommend the University of Maryland Medical Center’s dosages:
- 25 to 150 milligrams daily for general antioxidant support
- 150 to 300 milligrams daily for chronic venous insufficiency
- Grape seed extract can act as a blood thinner, so work with your doctor if you’re already taking blood thinners or are at risk for bleeding.
- Don’t confuse grape seed extract with grape seed oil—the oil contains an overload of omega-6 fatty acid, the kind we don’t want.
Magnesium is a reliable, powerful, loyal protector of your blood pressure and cardiac systems, regulating the enzymes that relax constricted blood vessels or prevent them from constricting in the first place.
That means your heart doesn’t have to work so hard to keep your blood flow moving.
Result? Lower blood pressure.
An analysis looking at 34 studies of magnesium as a supplement showed the kind of conclusion that’s music to everyone’s ears:
“Our findings support a causal anti-hypertensive effect of [magnesium] supplementation in adults.”
Nothing tentative or cautious here. Not a “possible” anti-hypertensive effect—a causaleffect.
Your best bet, as always, is to eat a magnesium-rich diet—chicken, nuts, halibut, shrimp, and leafy greens like spinach and kale. It’s a long list of delicious choices. If you opt for a supplement, I recommend 350 to 500 mg per day.
L-arginine relaxes and opens arteries, which helps lower blood pressure. Our bodies can usually make all the L-arginine we need from our food, so some experts say that a supplement is “rarely necessary, and may be of benefit only to people who have a deficiency.”
My take? Thanks to the Standard American Diet (SAD) of over-processed, toxin-ridden, artificial non-foods…many people do, in fact, have a deficiency.
If you’re unsure of your l-arginine status, have your doctor check it, along with other essential nutrients you might lack in effective amounts (especially vitamin D3). If you do need to supplement, the best way to increase your l-arginine levels is to take l-citruline, which your body converts efficiently to l-arginine.
Good old water…our dear, life-sustaining, thirst-quenching, high blood pressure-reducing friend.
HBP or not, drink a lot of it. Every day. Ten glasses sounds like a lot, but not when you sip all day. If you’re healthy, it’ll help you stay that way. If you’re not, it’ll help you get better.
Pink Himalayan salt
This exotic salt contains trace minerals that set it apart from ordinary salt, including heavy health hitters like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which give the salt its light pink tint.
It’s also more “pure” than ordinary salt, without the chemical anti-caking agents we get in ordinary salt.
Adding a pinch of pink salt to meals or drinks can help the body achieve optimal fluid balance, thus preventing dehydration.
Celery leaves have loads of vitamin A, and the stems are an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, with loads of potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty of essential amino acids.
Celery contains an unusual organic sodium. And unlike the sodium that I always warn against, this particular form actually reduces blood pressure. A compound called phtalideshelps relax the muscle around the arteries, dilating the vessels and allowing blood to flow normally.
Best bet? Celery juice for a week, then stop for three weeks, then start over.
It’s as easy as pie to pile some celery into your diet—soups, salads, sauces, juice. Eat your fill—you can’t overdose on healthy food.
Healthy blood pressure is all in your hands
I know it’s a bit confusing so it’s essential that you bring this up with your doctor right away, especially if you’re already taking HBP meds.
But always remember what sets you on the best road toward healthy blood pressure—exercise, even a walk around the house or the neighborhood, and a healthy diet.
If you’re exercising and eating a fresh, local, organic, humanely raised diet, rich in healthy oils, fruits, veggies, beans, and leafy greens, light on red meat—you’re already doing yourself the greatest of favors.
Just remember my magic numbers—5 years average longer life with healthy blood pressure, and 3 blood pressure readings per day for a week before coming to any conclusions about your levels.
And don’t think it will take years to collect your health benefits. You can see and feel those in a matter of weeks.
If you’re on Big Pharma meds, please work with your doctor to get a safer, natural blood pressure regimen. Increasingly, natural treatments help make powerful prescription meds more effective and more tolerable.
Five or more additional years of good health, family, friends, and all of life’s treasures are the richest of all rewards.
Take good care.
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