Ask Dr. Marty: Blood Pressure

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Dr MartyQUESTION:
Because of the quarantine and loss of my job, I am under a lot of stress. My blood pressure seems to be creeping up. My doctor says if it continues to climb, she will recommend I start taking medication. Is there anything I can do to keep that from happening?

ANSWER:
Blood pressure varies with the strength of the heartbeat, the volume and viscosity of the blood, the elasticity of the arterial walls, age, physical condition, health, diet and STRESS levels.

• Half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure.
• 54% of those adults have their blood pressure controlled.
• One in five adults has high blood pressure, but is unaware of their condition.
• Cases of high blood pressure have doubled in the last four decades. And the number of cases has probably increased even more since the quarantine began.
• High blood pressure is now the leading cause of disability in the world and is the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease (the world’s leading cause of death).

Essential or primary hypertension (95% of cases) – Risk factors are genetics, race, gender, weight/obesity.

Some of the most common causes of secondary hypertension are certain drugs, narrowing of the aorta, chronic kidney disease, thyroid disease, and sleep apnea.

What are some of the side effects of high blood pressure?
• Four times more likely to die of stroke
• Three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease
• Organ damage (e.g. enlarged heart or kidney failure)
• Small tears in the arterial lining, causing a narrowing of the arteries and less elasticity
• Aneurism
• Heart damage
• Coronary Artery Disease
• Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
• Heart Failure
• Brain Damage
• Cognitive impairment
• Vascular dementia
• Stroke
• Eye Problems
• Skeletal System Problems
• Reproductive System Problems
• Respiratory System Problems

What are the signs of high blood pressure?
None, but hypertensive crisis can cause dizziness, nosebleed, severe headaches, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and changes in mental status.

How can you prevent high blood pressure?
• WATER, WATER, WATER—Sipping water all day will increase blood volume so that the blood doesn’t have to be pumped so hard.
• Optimize your sodium/potassium ratio—Most people need less salt (a.k.a. less processed food!) and more potassium (more fresh veggies).
• Eat whole/organic foods. Staying away from chemicals can help.
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain healthy weight. The more tissue that has to receive blood, the harder it often is for the blood to be pumped.
• Manage stress, anxiety and fear. (See all the hints above.)
• Avoid smoking, excessive alcohol intake and caffeine.
• Prevent insulin resistance. Blood sugar balance is so important for us all.

I hope these ideas will help you to personalize a plan to be healthy from so many angles. Your entire body will thank you.

Stay well.

Marty Kernion, Ph.D. is not a medical doctor. She has a doctorate in naturopathy. Naturopathy uses natural, gentle ways to bring our bodies back into balance so that they have the God-given ability to heal themselves. She is a retired professor of herbal medicine and nutrition and has written 39 college level courses in natural approaches to health. She has published two books on natural health. She can be reached on askdoctormarty@cox.net for scheduling a class or consultation, or for sending in your questions for this column.