ACCORDING TO the World Health Organization, one in every three adults worldwide has raised blood pressure - a condition that causes about a half of all deaths from heart disease and stroke. Conventional medical wisdom declares that in 90 per cent of all these cases of high blood pressure, the cause is unknown. They call this supposedly mysterious disease essential hypertension. And, of course, if doctors do not know the cause, they declare the condition incurable and insist that the hapless patient must take medication indefinitely.
But we have all heard about the so-called lifestyle factors associated with high blood pressure: obesity, stress, cholesterol clogged arteries, diabetes, lack of exercise, genetic factors, poor diet, high salt intake, etc. Unfortunately, not enough attention is given to these crucial issues while the major medical emphasis is on managing the problem with blood pressure drugs.
In addition to those above, there are other less-known causes of which you may not be aware. Many of them can be eliminated with a consequent lowering of your blood pressure. Here are some other causes of high blood pressure most people do not know about.
There are too many medicines that increase blood pressure as a side effect to list them all here. Antidepressants, birth control drugs, steroids like prednisone, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents like ibuprofen and naproxen and decongestants found in cold, flu and sinus medicines are only a few common examples.
It would be helpful to think back to the time when your blood pressure began to rise and see if you started taking any medications around the same time. Please note that this side effect may or may not occur immediately after you began taking the drug.
Modern diets are in the main nutritionally imbalanced. Most of us do not consume enough vegetables and fruits while eating and drinking excessive quantities of processed food. This results in a lack of essential nutrients: several vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, with excess of others like sodium in your diet. This can most definitely elevate your blood pressure.
Supplementing with vitamins, minerals, the omega-3 fatty acids and herbs like garlic and hawthorn berry are most helpful when combined with a healthy diet. I advocate a supplement programme called Cellular Nutrition. Add to it several servings of fresh vegetables and fruit each day while cutting back drastically on processed foods and see how your blood pressure responds.
Another option is juicing fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruit such as beet, kale, cucumbers, celery, carrots, apples, papaya and pineapple. Increase your consumption of fatty fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel. Use sea salt moderately.
These problems are becoming a major factor causing high blood pressure and most people are unaware of them. Do you often feel tired especially in the morning and early evening? Have you been gaining weight without eating more? Do you sometimes have dizzy feelings when you stand up quickly? These can all be indications of a disturbance in thyroid and adrenal hormone balance, and may contribute to your high blood pressure.
This is most important, especially if you sleep less than five to six hours per night. It is during sleep that your body heals and repairs itself. Good quality and quantity sleep is vital for your hormonal balance as well as the rejuvenation of your nervous system. Develop good sleep hygiene and notice the impact on your blood pressure. If you are having trouble sleeping, try using my Time to Relax CD at bedtime.
Some research has demonstrated that one glass of red wine three to four times a week is beneficial for blood pressure and general health. Anything more can significantly contribute to high blood pressure. Hard liquor is particularly harmful and binge drinking to intoxication is much worse than drinking small amounts over the week.
Important benefits of vitamin D
Medical research continues to discover the many important benefits of vitamin D. It turns out that, the lower your levels of vitamin D, the greater your risk of high blood pressure. A daily sunbath and/or a vitamin D supplement could be the missing link in your hypertension control programme. Remember, the darker your skin, the more sunshine you need to make enough vitamin D. In a day at the beach your body could make a whopping 10,000 units of this amazing vitamin.
We are creatures of habit and your body is constantly adjusting itself to what it considers normal. The longer a pattern exists, the more deeply ingrained the physical habit becomes and creates a new 'normal'. This kind of adjustment also happens with high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is elevated over a prolonged period of time, your body begins to accept that level of blood pressure as normal and tries to keeps it at that higher level even when the original cause for high blood pressure is removed.
This is probably why so many people complain that they have tried everything to lower their blood pressure: diet, exercise, herbs, even conventional medication and nothing works. The way to lower the blood pressure in such cases is to reset your system to create a new lower normal for your blood pressure.
All the factors that contribute to high blood pressure involve some form of stress on the system - whether emotional, mental, physical or environmental stress. In addition to avoiding or adjusting to those stress factors, it is important to modify how you respond to them. Learn to relax and reboot your system for a few minutes each day to let your body reset itself to a lower 'normal' blood pressure. This is what the simple relaxation exercise on my CD - A Time to Relax teaches. Yes, you can use relaxation to lower your blood pressure.
So if you are one of the millions who have high blood pressure, please discuss with your doctor how you may exclude some of the factors mentioned above in correcting your hypertension.
You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at email@example.com or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women' is available locally and on the Internet.