Experts estimate that ONE out of every THREE adults in the U.S. suffers from high blood pressure (BP)—the hidden culprit behind many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and dementia.
But did you know that the range many mainstream medical “experts” use to measure high blood pressure has been all wrong, all along?
Or that there are three easy steps to help you SQUASH this “silent killer” and support healthy blood pressure as you get older…without taking a prescription drug?!
Let’s dive right in…
It’s time to rethink target BP levels
The American Heart Association (AHA) says your BP reading must fall below 120/80 mm Hg to be within the “normal” range. And that anything higher translates to prehypertension or hypertension.
But when I was in medical school back in the 1970s, we were taught that men and women experience a normal, asymptomatic rise in BP with age. And that a normal systolic reading was your age plus 100. So, at age 20, “normal” would be 120 mm Hg. But by age 70, that target would increase to 170 mm Hg and still be considered “normal” in a statistical sense.
Of course, more modern studies show that a systolic reading of 170 is probably too high in older people—and may increase stroke risk. But at the same time, forcing a 70-year-old’s BP all the way down to 120/80 mm Hg with a drug (or multiple drugs) could be problematic, too.
In fact, modern science shows there are some significant benefits to allowing blood pressure among older patients to remain moderately higher (with a systolic reading of about 130 to 140 mm Hg).
For example, research links it with better brain function and improved health. After all, as you age, having moderately higher blood pressure helps support the delivery of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain, heart, and other tissues. And a new, large study out of the U.K. found that slightly higher BP may even help reduce mortality (death) risk in older adults. Especially frail older adults.
To complicate matters even further, doctors often fail to adjust dosages for BP medications (or discontinue them altogether) as patients get older, lose weight, or start a new exercise program. As a result, many older patients develop LOW blood pressure, which causes them to suffer from dizziness, mental fog, and even serious, life-changing falls.
Thankfully, many experts now think that aggressively lowering BP targets in older adults with more and more drugs may cause more harm than good. And that leads me to question: Is so-called “high” blood pressure in many older adults really high? Or is it just a normal, natural, and even protective part of aging?
I expect the scientific and medical worlds will continue to grapple with these tough questions over the next decade. But in the meantime, I suggest you do everything you can—starting today—to support healthy BP naturally.
Take steps to lower your BP naturally
Here are three easy steps you can take to naturally support healthy blood pressure as you age.
1.) Eat like the Greeks. As always, a healthy diet goes a long way in preventing and controlling disease, including high BP. So, as always, strive to follow a Mediterranean-type diet filled with lots of fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and alcohol in moderation. You should also specifically enjoy:
- Asparagus, bananas, and avocados. The three foods all contain loads of potassium, and other nutrients, which can help reduce BP.
- Beets. These vibrant vegetables are a rich source of nitrates, which can relax blood vessels and lower BP. You can eat them shredded, cooked, or blended in juice.
- Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Colorful berries are rich in flavonoids, which can not only help control high BP…but also prevent you from developing it in the first place!
- Flaxseed. This nutritious seed is a rich source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which reduces inflammation and lowers BP. You can add two tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your yogurt, oatmeal, or salads. (Tune back in for Thursday’s Daily Dispatch about the many heart health benefits of ALA.)
- Garlic. I try to enjoy a little fresh garlic every day, as it works as a natural “blood thinner.” Plus, many scientific studies show it helps control high BP. In Europe, doctors even recommend patients take aged garlic supplements as an alternative to BP drugs.
2.) Breathe your way to lower BP. I often tell you about the health benefits of the ancient practice of aromatherapy. And the research into its effect on BP is particularly significant.
In fact, in a recent, small study, researchers divided participants with hypertension or prehypertension into three groups. The first group inhaled a combination of lavender and other essential oils over a 24-hour period. The second group inhaled a placebo fragrance. And the third group received no treatment.
It turns out, the lavender group experienced “significant decreases” in both systolic and diastolic BP after just 24 hours compared to the other two groups! They also had “significant decreases” in the stress hormone cortisol, too—all from breathing in one of my essential oils.
(I’ll tell you more about the health benefits of lavender as part of aromatherapy in tomorrow’s Daily Dispatch. So, be sure to tune back in.)
3.) Spend some time each day in meditation. Even the good, old AHA recommends that practicing some daily meditation can do wonders for your BP. In fact, one study found that older people who practice this simple, healthy habit could reduce their need for BP medication…or eliminate it altogether! It seems to work by helping the body produce nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes and widens blood vessels.
To learn about how you can incorporate mindfulness meditation into your life, check out my book with Don McCown, New World Mindfulness.
There are many things you can do to support your heart…and lower your blood pressure…without resorting to drugs. I even expand on some of the tips outlined here today—while offering you additional ways to safeguard your heart as you age—in the current issue of my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter. So if you’re not yet a subscriber, I encourage you to become one today…you won’t want to miss this important, life-saving information!