By Dee Woods
We’re all pretty aware of the dangers of heart attack and stroke. We’re also aware that high blood pressure is many times a precursor to both conditions.
That may explain why physicians tend to treat high blood pressure — even slightly high blood pressure — so aggressively.
The question asked by alternative physician Julian Whitaker is whether medication should be given for slightly high or mild hypertension, rather than working to reduce the blood pressure naturally. We already know that when blood pressure is very high (greater than 160/99) treatment is a must. But Whitaker states that until last year, no one ever took the time to test the premise that Stage 1 hypertension should be treated. All studies in the past lumped all hypertension classes together. He explained that 76 million Americans have mild or Stage 1 hypertension.
The study he spoke of were the findings of researchers known as the Cochrane Collaboration, who reviewed past clinical trials involving patients with Type 1 hypertension. They compared the outcomes of patients who were treated with drugs against those patients who were not treated with drugs.
Their conclusion? “Individuals with mildly elevated blood pressure, but no previous cardiovascular events, make up the majority of those considered for and receiving antihypertensive therapy. [There is] no difference between treated and untreated individuals in heart attack, stroke and death. About 9 percent of the patients treated with drugs discontinued treatment due to adverse effects.”
What Whitaker is reporting is that patients with blood pressure between 140 to 159 over 90 to 99 who had no previous heart problems, yet were taking blood pressure medications, did no better than those who had not taken the medication.
What the study did find was that those with only mild hypertension who were taking blood pressure medications had an entirely new set of side-effects from the medications.
The list of side-effects included but were not limited to erectile dysfunction, weakness, muscle cramps, depression, dizziness, insomnia, headaches and constipation.
It is clear the more drugs a patient is prescribed, the more adverse side-effects may be seen. Whitaker points out consumer protection group Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to place additional black box warnings on three types of blood pressure drugs, suggesting that when combined these drugs could create serious health issues or side-effects. If you have Stage 1 hypertension and are on medication, you must not stop suddenly. Work with your physician to reduce you dosage of medication.
The Cliff’s Notes version is that Whitaker shows those with mild high blood pressure, drugs may not be the answer because of the side effects. Such blood pressure should be reduced; however, he suggests patients adopt a low sugar, low salt, moderate protein diet that includes high-potassium vegetables and fruits as well as unprocessed foods. Exercise, walk, and make certain to have your electrolytes in balance as well as taking a few supplements. Drink low sodium V8. Daily supplements should include magnesium (500 to 1000 milligrams), potassium nitrate (600 milligrams), CoQ10 (100 to 300 milligrams), fish oil, celery and beet juice. His explanation for the minerals is that magnesium relaxes arteries, while potassium nitrate and beet juice boost levels of nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels and improve artery health. Drink at least eight glasses of water per day. In other words, take responsibility for your own health.
Those with higher blood pressure or dangerously high blood pressure must take medications because it would be dangerous to ignore high blood pressure. He suggests these patients work with their doctors to reduce their blood pressure via diet and exercise, which may be able to help them reduce their dosage or even eliminate medications altogether by becoming healthier patients through healthier living.
Dee Woods is available to give presentations about alternative health treatments and healthy living. She can be reached at