Three things you can do to avoid the silent killer (high blood pressure).
If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone.
The latest data says that 46% of adults have high blood pressure. And high blood pressure becomes almost universal as we age – 85% of those over 74 years old have high blood pressure.
*need some personal pain about high blood pressure* what feelings does having hbp create for people? What burdens does it add to daily life?
Medications, concern for stroke risk? Concern it may turn into something worse? Unable to enjoy the things they used to? Not having peace of mind
High blood pressure is so common that sometimes people lose sight of how deadly high blood pressure can be.
But don’t be fooled – high blood pressure is called the silent killer for a reason.
Although high blood pressure typically doesn’t cause symptoms, it has a devastating effect on our health. More than 1,100 people a day die in the U.S. from high blood pressure – that’s someone dying about every 80 seconds.
High blood pressure is also one of the four signs of metabolic disease – or what I call an unhealthy metabolism.
And this is important because an unhealthy metabolism is the most common ROOT CAUSE – and the biggest driver of the diseases that are killing us, namely heart disease, stroke, cancer, and dementia.
The number of people affected by high blood pressure – and the devastating effect on our health – is frightening, but here is something even more striking.
Most of the death, disease and disability caused by high blood pressure is preventable.
We just aren’t doing it.
The Surgeon General’s Call To Action To Control Hypertension notes that only 1 in 4 individuals with high blood pressure has it under control.
As a cardiologist passionate about helping people live long, healthy lives, I find this unacceptable.
Here are the three most important things I want all my patients and clients to know about lowering their blood pressure – and possibly saving their lives.
1. Know your numbers
If possible, check your blood pressure at home. Reliable automatic blood pressure cuffs (get the ones that wrap around your upper arm) are inexpensive and widely available.
Although it is tempting to rely on the blood pressure from your doctor’s visits, the reality is these blood pressures are more likely to be inaccurate than not. Regularly checking your blood pressure at home – it’s critically important to sit quietly for 5 minutes before taking it – will set you up to be your own blood pressure expert and help guide your physician in the best treatment options for your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about how often to check your blood pressure and when. Empty your bladder prior and wait at least 30 minutes after exercise, smoking, or drinking caffeine.
2. Treat the cause of your high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is commonly a sign that your metabolism is unhealthy. And it probably makes sense to you that the best treatment would be to treat the root cause of your blood pressure. For example, if you had a continuously running kitchen faucet, you wouldn’t treat it by bringing a mop. Instead, you would turn the faucet off. The same logic applies when treating your blood pressure. If your metabolism is unhealthy, the best treatment will be healing your metabolism.
And the six ways to heal your metabolism are:
1. Be physically active
Being active is the fountain of youth – no other factor has more power to impact your life’s length – and quality – and lower your blood pressure.
2. Healthy nutrition
There is no one best diet for everyone – but all “best” diets start with minimizing or avoiding highly processed foods. This can be particularly important for people with high blood pressure who are salt sensitive because most of our salt intake comes from highly processed foods.
3. Avoid toxins
The health dangers of tobacco are well known. Less well-known is that even one alcoholic drink a day can raise your blood pressure significantly.
Getting restorative sleep is an underrecognized but essential aspect of healing your metabolism.
And those with high blood pressure should also consider whether they have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common undiscovered driver of high blood pressure that isn’t responding to treatment. If you are concerned about sleep apnea, talk to your doctor to see if a screening evaluation is a good idea.
5. Stress management
Chronic stress has skyrocketed – we see it in increased rates of substance abuse, suicide, depression and anxiety disorders – and high blood pressure. And just like with sleep deprivation – you may need to first successfully manage stress to get your blood pressure controlled.
Research tells us that social isolation can be as dangerous as smoking or obesity to your health. Don’t miss out on the longevity benefits of social connection.
Healing your metabolism also gives you the added benefit of weight loss – and even 5% weight loss can lower blood pressure significantly.
7. Take your medications
Nobody wants to take medications. I get it. And I’m a firm believer we all should be selective about any medicines we take (including supplements) and know the benefits and risks.
However, if you have done all you can to heal your metabolism – and your blood pressure is regularly high (over 130/80 mm Hg) – not taking your blood pressure medications puts you at higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and early death.
The first-line blood pressure medications are effective, inexpensive, and have a low risk for side effects. It is critically important to work with your doctor to have a strategy for treating your blood pressure that makes sense to you and controls your blood pressure.
I also want to mention a hormone problem called primary aldosteronism.
Primary aldosteronism is a cause of high blood pressure once thought to be quite rare, but more recent research has shown it to be relatively common. If your blood pressure is not well controlled on several medications, ask your doctor if high aldosterone levels could be the cause.
High blood pressure is shockingly common – and its effects on our health are potentially devastating. But what most don’t know is that healing your metabolism can be the most effective way to lower your blood pressure and – even cure it.
If you recognize that you need help with lowering your blood pressure, healing your metabolism, and reducing your risk from heart disease, stroke, and dementia – if you’ve made the decision you’re not going to settle for a life burdened by chronic illness and a too-early death – and you are looking for expert guidance – here’s how I can help:
Schedule a strategy consultation with us by going to HealthspanMD.com/Talk.
In this strategy consultation, we will speak with you personally about WHAT is holding you back – how you can start applying these ideas to your health – and show you how you the best way to control your blood pressure – today.
And the cost of this valuable strategy session– absolutely free.
If you’re ready to book your strategy consultation, go to HealthspanMD.com/Talk.
And until then…
Lead the best life
Robert Todd Hurst, MD, FACC, FASE