Lowering Blood Pressure Can Be Harmful...

I’m not like most physicians when it comes to treating hypertension. I’m not quick to prescribe medications; instead I advocate a non-drug centered approach to reverse heart disease and lower blood pressure. In my medical practice I have helped thousands of patients realize dramatic reduction in blood pressure, sometimes in as little as one week, simply by helping them adapt to my nutrient diet style and exercise program. In fact, I believe the conventional method of drug treatment is actually creating more heart attacks, strokes, and chronic disease than saving lives.

My July 2008 Healthy Times Newsletter, on treating high blood pressure, I outline the primary reasons that diet and lifestyle changes are so much safer and more effective than hypertension drug therapy, including:

  • Nutritional excellence, weight loss, salt avoidance, and exercise are proven to be the safest and most effective at providing cardio-protective benefits - actually reversing blood vessel plaque and getting rid of high blood pressure.
  • Medications have risks and side effects that can be life threatening.
  • Excessive lowering of diastolic blood pressure in the elderly and those on medication to control significant coronary artery disease actually increases the risk of heart attack.1

This newsletter offers detailed information about the risks and overuse of blood pressure medication and recent research findings corroborate my approach for lowering blood pressure.

According to a Cochrane Review treating patients with medications to reach lower blood pressure targets below the standard 140/90 did not show any reduction in morbidity and mortality. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of over 22,000 adults with hypertension taking anti-hypertension medication which indicated a higher risk for total mortality and a relatively significant increased risk of major cardiovascular events with more aggressive use of medications.

High blood pressure (BP) is defined as having a systolic (the upper number) blood pressure above 140 and a diastolic (the lower number) blood pressure above 90 mmHg. High blood pressure is a risk factor for increased risk of heart attack and stroke. As a result this range has become the standard blood pressure target for physicians and patients. A recent trend toward lower targets has been recommended by hypertension experts who set treatment guidelines. This trend is based on the assumption that the use of drugs to bring the BP lower than 140/90 mmHg range will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, this approach was proven false even in high risk patients.

The review was performed to find and assess all trials designed to examine whether lower blood pressure targets are better than standard blood pressure targets. When the data was analyzed, it revealed that using more drugs in the lower target groups did achieve modestly lower blood pressures. However, this approach did not prolong survival or reduce stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.2

Blood pressure medications are especially a concern when medication lowers the diastolic number too low. When the diastolic blood pressure is lowered excessively (as they lower systolic pressure), it increases the potential for cardiac arrhythmias that can lead to death.3 The excessive use of blood pressure medications that lower diastolic blood pressure too low also have been shown to increase the occurrence of atrial fibrillation, another serious rhythm disturbance of the heart.4

I have been educating my patients and readers about this for many years and now this meta-analysis provides even more scientific evidence that supports my recommendations--to avoid heart attack and stroke, the goal is not just to achieve a systolic blood pressure below 130; you must achieve it without medication!

Learn more about why using drugs to treat hypertension is dangerous and ineffective in my July 2008 Healthy Times Newsletter.

1. Swaminathan RV, Alexander KP. Pulse pressure and vascular risk in the elderly: associations and clinical implications. Am J Geriatr Cardiol 2006; 15 (4):226-32; quiz 133-134.

2. Arguedas JA, et al "Treatment blood pressure targets for hypertension" Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009; Issue 3: CD004349.

3. Swaminathan RV, Alexander KP. Pulse pressure and vascular risk in the elderly: associations and clinical implications. Am J Geriatr Cardiol 2006; 15 (4):226-32; quiz 133-134.

Mitchell GF, Vasan RS, Keyes MJ, et al. Pulse pressure and the risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation. JAMA 2007; 297(7):709-715.

4. Mitchell GF, Vasan RS, Keyes MJ, et al. Pulse pressure and the risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation. JAMA 2007; 297(7):709-715.

Image credit: kirikiri

Pollution Linked to Arrhythmia and Scientists Get the Lead Out

A new study in the European Heart Journal claims patients with implantable heart defibrillators are at greater risk of ventricular arrhythmia, a potentially fatal heart rhythm, when exposed to air pollution. Of the 211 participants observed for 33 months, researchers determined 73 patients had rapid abnormal heart rhythm due to pollution; Reuters investigates.

In related in news, researchers from South Korea may have figured out how to remove dangerous metals, like lead, from people’s blood. Appearing in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, scientists claim magnetic fields can fish out harmful metals from the bloodstream. High lead levels can cause anemia and brain damage; via Reuters.

And chemical contaminants, specifically pesticides, are actually causing fewer male births in both animals and humans.

Image credit: Simone Ramella