Blood Pressure a Global Crisis
Okay, I guess if obesity is a worldwide epidemic—which it is—then it would make sense if high blood pressure was also running rampant. And today, the Associated Press reports 1 billion people across the world have high blood pressure. Take a look:
It's not just a problem for the ever-fattening Western world. Even in parts of Africa, high blood pressure is becoming common.Here’s the weird part—maybe there’s more. Because according to Dr. Fuhrman you might have high blood pressure, even if your doctor says you’re fine. Here’s why. Check out this previous post, Your Doctor Lied: You Do Have High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol:
That translates into millions of deaths from heart disease alone. Yet hypertension doesn't command the attention of, say, bird flu, which so far has killed fewer than 200 people.
"Hypertension has gone a bit out of fashion," says Dr. Jan Ostergren of Sweden's Karolinska University Hospital, co-author of a first-of-its-kind analysis of the global impact of high blood pressure.
The idea: to rev up world governments to fight bad blood pressure just as countries have banded together in the past to fight infectious diseases.
International heart specialists welcome the push.
"Even in the U.S., the majority of people with high blood pressure are not treated adequately," says Dr. Sidney Smith of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who advises the World Heart Federation. "Look at China, look at Africa, go around the world. It is a major risk factor."
I know you were told that if your blood pressure is below 140/90, it is normal. Unfortunately, this is not true, either. It is average - not normal. This number is used because it is the midpoint of adult Americans older than sixty. The risk for strokes and heart attacks starts climbing at 115/70.1. Miller, E. R., T. P. Erlinger, D. R. Young, G.P. Prokopowicz, and L.J. Appel. 1999. Lifestyle changes that reduce blood pressure: implementation in clinical practice. J. Clin. Hypertens. 1: 191-90; J., R. Fagard, P. Lijnen, et al. 1989. Body weight, sodium intake and blood pressure. J Hypertens. 7: S19-S23; Appel, L.J., T.J. Moore, E. Obarzanek, et al., for the Dash Collaborative Research Group. 1997. A clinical trial of effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. N. Eng. J. Med. 336: 1117-24.
In societies where we do not see high rates of heart disease and strokes, we don't see blood pressure increase with age. In rural China the healthy elderly had the same low blood pressure readings as they did when they were kids. Almost all Americans have blood pressure that is unhealthfully high. At a minimum, we should consider blood pressure higher than 125/80 abnormal.
Numerous scientific investigations have shown that the following interventions have some degree of effectiveness in lowering blood pressure.1
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