High blood pressure is a huge problem in this country. And the No. 1 cause of heart disease. So, as I have always said, you should do everything you can to keep it under control.
Even safe, proven drug therapy, if your doctor recommends it.
Now, just about any doctor will tell you that 120/80 mg Hg is your ideal blood pressure reading. And if your systolic number (the top number) is over 140, your doctor might recommend you take a low-dose hypertensive drug to help lower it.
But is this always right?
Maybe not, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). This new study has researchers questioning the old standby reading of 120/80. And questioning whether or not we should even treat mild hypertension with drugs in the first place.
The new BMJ data shows that treating “mild” hypertension (140–159 mm Hg systolic, or 80-99 diastolic) with drugs does not significantly reduce heart disease or deaths. This led the study’s authors to suggest that we raise the threshold for treating high blood pressure to 160/100 mg Hg.
Now, you can certainly finger Big Pharma for helping keep this threshold unnecessarily low over the past 30 years. And I won’t disagree with you.
They did the same thing more recently to our cholesterol levels, as I point out in the August Insiders’ Cures newsletter. And we now know that lowering cholesterol is worthless. If not harmful.
If you still think 120/80 is the ideal number, consider this…
Thirty years ago, researchers in Europe studied blood pressure treatment guidelines. They found that half the world’s population would be considered at risk by the age of 24 when you use the 120/80 threshold. And 90 percent by the age of 49. This accounts for more than three-quarters of the world’s entire adult population. And quite a prime market for drug companies over the last 30 years.
But clearly, there aren’t three-quarters of adults in the world taking blood pressure drugs.
Ever wonder why?
Well, a lot of it has to do with how they make us feel. And while high blood pressure is a silent disease, the drugs used to treat it are not. In fact, nearly one out of 10 patients stop taking their blood pressure medications due to side effects.
That’s one reason you should stick with blood pressure drugs that have been on the market for at least seven years. They’re safer with fewer side effects. Plus, this will save you a lot of money, since you’ll have more generic drugs to choose from.
Fortunately, you can do many things, aside from drug therapy, to keep your blood pressure low. Especially if you only have mild-to-moderate high blood pressure.
Take yoga, for example.
New research shows that yoga reduces mild-to-moderate high blood pressure.
In a recent clinical trial, University of Pennsylvania researchers studied 120 participants with mild-to-moderate high blood pressure. Patients were 50 years old, on average. And their average systolic blood pressure was 134 mm Hg.
The researchers gave the participants three treatment options: yoga, diet, and yoga-diet combined. Then, they divided the participants into three groups. One group practiced yoga two or three times a week in a studio. The second group began a walking regimen and received nutritional counseling. The third group practiced yoga and received dietary counseling.
Men and women who practiced yoga reduced their [systolic] blood pressure by 5 to 6 mg Hg after 12 weeks. And they reduced both their systolic and diastolic numbers at 24 weeks.
The lead researcher said, “It’s not a huge decrease in blood pressure; it’s not a drug effect; but it is significant.” And for those experiencing early, mild-moderate elevations in blood pressure, lifestyle modifications like yoga can help keep you off drugs.
Interestingly, U Penn researchers presented these findings at the 2013 American Society of Hypertension Scientific Sessions. This same group rejected my study on high blood pressure 35 years ago. My study examined the effects of stress on schoolchildren in Southeast Asia. Eventually, the study did get published elsewhere in the American Journal of Public Health. But at the time, the American Society of Hypertension wasn’t so open-minded.
The very first study connecting yoga with lower blood pressure also appeared 35 years ago in the British journal Lancet. However, as you know, the medical community is slow to embrace alternative approaches. And usually only does so after drug approaches are proven wasteful and/or harmful.
And that’s exactly the predicament we face when it comes to high blood pressure. But I’m not complaining. It’s great to see an alternative approach treated seriously by U Penn researchers.
Going forward, just remember that mind-body approaches work differently for different people. So, yoga may help you lower your blood pressure. But it may not help your spouse or a friend.
Fortunately, many different mind-body approaches can help reduce high blood pressure. Not just yoga.
Take meditation and biofeedback, for example. You just need to find the one that will work best for you as an individual. To find out more about what will work best for you, take the quick quiz. That’s some real personalized medicine.
Of course, you can also learn more about how to conquer high blood pressure in my special report called The Insider’s Secret to Conquering High Blood Pressure & Protecting Your Heart. Subscribers to my Insiders’ Cures newsletter get this Special Report for free. Subscribe today.
1. “Cochrane review finds no proved benefit in drug treatment for patients with mild
hypertension,” BMJ August 15, 2012; 345
2. “Waste and Harm in the Treatment of Hypertension,” Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine June 10, 2013; 173(11): 956-957