Power Surge News

Issue 55

Power Surge Live! Guest Chat
Thursday, Oct 23rd
9 PM (ET), 6 PM (PT)

Menopause, Midlife, Cardiovascular Disease
Hypertension -- The Silent Killer

Author of
"What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension:
The Revolutionary Nutrition and Lifestyle Program to Help Fight High Blood Pressure"


Vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and other food-related
substances that can help reverse hypertension naturally

The amazing healing powers of supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil, garlic, L-arginine, guava fruit, and more
How to implement the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, plus delicious, healthy recipes
Exercise and stress-reduction techniques and other lifestyle habits that can help reduce high blood pressure.

One in four Americans suffers from high blood pressure, a deadly disease with no early symptoms or warning signs. More than two-thirds of hypertension sufferers do not have the disease under control, which means they have an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and kidney failure. Now a pioneering researcher and expert takes the treatment of hypertension into the twenty-first century with a scientifically researched, highly effective, and drug-free program based on his own successful, all-natural formula

Mark Houston, M.D.

author of "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension"
specializes in hypertension, lipid disorders, prevention and
treatment of cardiovascular diseases, nutrition, clinical age management
and general internal medicine with an active clinical and research practice as well as teaching responsibilities for Vanderbilt medical students, interns and residents. Dr. Houston has presented over 6,000 lectures on hypertension nationally and internationally and has published over 120 articles in peer reviewed medical journals as well as textbook chapters, handbooks, abstracts and films and completed over 50 clinical research studies in hypertension, hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease.


Meet and talk with
Mark Houston, M.D.
Oct. 23rd
at 9 PM (ET)

in Power Surge Live!

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What Is Hypertension?
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When you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, the force of blood against your artery walls is too strong. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, heart, and kidneys, and lead to atherosclerosis and stroke. Hypertension is called a "silent killer'' because it does not cause symptoms unless it is severely high and, without your knowing it, causes major organ damage if not treated.

Your blood pressure measurement consists of two numbers: systolic and diastolic.

The systolic measurement is the pressure of blood against your artery walls when the heart has just finished pumping (contracting). It is the first or top number of a blood pressure reading.

The diastolic measurement is the pressure of blood against your artery walls between heartbeats, when the heart is relaxed and filling with blood. It is the second or bottom number in a blood pressure reading.


                                                  Systolic            Diastolic
High blood pressure is:             140 or above 90 or above
Prehypertension is:                   120 to 139       80 to 89
Normal adult (age 18 or older)       
blood pressure is:                      119 or below 79 or below

Millions of people whose blood pressure was previously considered borderline high (130–139/85–89 mm Hg) or normal (120/80) now fall into the "prehypertension" range, based on new, more aggressive high blood pressure guidelines from the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee (JNC 7) on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure

Because new studies show the risk of heart disease and stroke begins to increase earlier than previously believed, health experts lowered the acceptable normal range to promote more aggressive and earlier treatment of high blood pressure

What causes high blood pressure?

In most cases, a doctor may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your high blood pressure. But several factors are known to increase blood pressure, including obesity, heavy alcohol use, family history of high blood pressure, high salt intake, and aging. A sedentary lifestyle, stress, low potassium intake, low calcium intake, and resistance to insulin may also cause your blood pressure to rise. If one or more of these factors is causing your high blood pressure, you have primary, or essential, high blood pressure, which is the most common type.

Secondary high blood pressure is caused by certain medications or other conditions, such as pregnancy or narrowing of the kidney arteries.

Labile hypertension is blood pressure that changes rapidly, often in response to stress or activity. This type of high blood pressure is most common in younger people.

Elevated blood pressure readings may not always mean you have high blood pressure. For some people, just being in a medical setting causes their blood pressure to rise. This is called white-coat hypertension.

Malignant hypertension (hypertensive crisis) is high blood pressure that increases rapidly. The cause may be unknown or may be due to medication or another condition.

Isolated systolic high blood pressure is when systolic blood pressure is elevated above 140 mm Hg, but diastolic blood pressure stays at less than 90 mm Hg. This type of high blood pressure is more common in older adults, especially older women. If you are over 50, a systolic blood pressure over 140 is a more important risk factor for heart disease and stroke than your diastolic blood pressure. Are there risk factors that make it more likely I will develop high blood pressure?

Several factors increase your risk for developing high blood pressure. Some of them, such as salt intake and alcohol consumption, are lifestyle issues that you can control. Other factors, such as your family history, are not controllable.

Risk factors for primary (essential) high blood pressure include:

A family history of high blood pressure. Aging. Ninety percent of people who, at age 55, do not have hypertension will eventually develop it Black race. Sodium (salt) intake. Excessive alcohol consumption. Low intake of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Obesity.

How will I know if I have high blood pressure?

Usually you will not feel any warning signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, and you will not know you have it until a health professional takes a blood pressure reading. Hypertension develops slowly and can cause serious organ damage, usually without any symptoms.

If you develop very severe high blood pressure, you may have headaches, visual disturbances, nausea, and vomiting. Malignant high blood pressure (hypertensive crisis), which is hypertension that rises rapidly, can also cause these symptoms. Untreated malignant hypertension can damage the brain, heart, eyes, or kidneys. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate hospitalization.

Over time, if you do not receive treatment for your high blood pressure, you may feel symptoms caused by damage to your heart, kidney, or eyes, including:

Coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, or abnormal heart beat. Kidney (renal failure). Peripheral vascular disease. Retinopathy, or damage to the tiny blood vessels that supply blood to the light-sensitive lining of the back of the eye (retina). Stroke.

How will a health professional diagnose my high blood pressure?

You will be diagnosed with hypertension if your blood pressure measurements are high (above 140/90 mm Hg) on three or more separate occasions. They are usually measured 1 to 2 weeks apart. Except in very severe cases, the diagnosis is not based on a single measurement.

If a health professional suspects you have hypertension, he or she will conduct a physical exam and medical history. If there is reason to suspect that the blood pressure measurements taken in the doctor's office do not represent your accurate blood pressure (if, for example, you have white- coat hypertension), measuring blood pressure away from the doctor's office may be needed. Your blood pressure can rise more than 20 mm Hg systolic and 10 mm Hg diastolic from white-coat hypertension. Even routine activities, such as attending a meeting, can raise your blood pressure by that amount. Other factors that can raise your blood pressure include commuting to work, exposure to cold, and drinking large amounts of alcohol.

In some cases, you may be asked to check your blood pressure at home 3 times a day and keep a record of the readings. If you are not able to measure your blood pressure accurately at home, you may need to wear an automated blood pressure cuff that periodically inflates and takes blood pressure measurements during the day. This is called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.

High blood pressure screening tests and programs vary widely in
reliability. Results from automated blood pressure testing, such as you might do at a grocery store or pharmacy, may not be accurate. Any high blood pressure measurement discovered during a blood pressure screening program needs to be confirmed by a health professional.

How can I lower my high blood pressure?

If you fall into the prehypertension range (120–139/80–89 mm Hg), your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle modifications, including losing excess weight, exercising, limiting alcohol, cutting back on salt, quitting smoking, and following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH eating plan is a low-fat and low-saturated-fat diet that emphasizes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.

If you have high blood pressure (140–159/90–99 mm Hg) and you do not have any organ damage or other risk factors for heart disease (uncomplicated high blood pressure), your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes and possibly medications. Most people with high blood pressure will need two or more medications, including a thiazide-type diuretic, to lower their blood pressure to below 140/90 mm Hg, the goal for people with uncomplicated hypertension. If you have other conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, or chronic kidney disease, your goal blood pressure is lower: 130/80 mm Hg.

If your blood pressure is 160–179/100–109 mm Hg or higher, you and your doctor may need to try various combinations of medications to find what works best for you. You will also need to make aggressive lifestyle changes.

Overall, your treatment will depend upon how high your blood pressure is, whether you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, and whether any organs have already been damaged. Your risk of developing other diseases, especially heart disease, will be another important factor your doctor will consider.

Strategies for treating high blood pressure in pregnant women are quite different. See the topic Preeclampsia and Hypertension During Pregnancy for more information.

Who can treat my high blood pressure?

Although you may have your blood pressure checked outside of a doctor's office, you must see a health professional to confirm that you have high blood pressure, so that you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan that's right for you. A family practice doctor, internist, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant can diagnose and treat your high blood pressure. If you have extremely high blood pressure or heart problems, you may also need to see a heart specialist (cardiologist).

What lifestyle changes will I have to make to lower my high blood pressure?

If you have primary (essential) hypertension, you will first need to look closely at the foods you eat. Your health professional may recommend that you follow the DASH diet. Losing weight if you need to and exercising will also be important for lowering your blood pressure.

If you smoke cigarettes, you will need to quit. If you are a heavy drinker, you will need to severely cut back on your consumption of alcohol. Also, it may be necessary for you to learn to check your blood pressure at home.

Will I need to take medications for the rest of my life?

High blood pressure treatment, whether it involves medication or lifestyle changes, usually is a lifelong process.

Whether you need medication depends on the severity of your high blood pressure and whether you have other health problems or conditions, such as heart failure or diabetes, or are pregnant.

If your doctor prescribes medication, it is extremely important to take your medications as prescribed.

The high blood pressure stages described in this topic were defined in 2003 by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7), a United States group of high blood pressure experts

In addition to lifestyle changes, several other nondrug methods of
reducing blood pressure can be tried.

Theses methods generally are considered to be safe and may have other benefits besides lowering blood pressure. Although there may be an association between a particular stressful situation and high blood pressure, this does not prove that altering the situation will affect blood pressure. Since it is simple to check your blood pressure, you can easily monitor the effects of these methods on lowering your blood pressure.

Other Treatment Choices

Potassium, calcium, and magnesium supplements Fiber supplements Alternative or complementary medicine therapies that help reduce stress and improve quality of life may have some effect on blood pressure. These therapies include:

Stress management
Guided imagery

Although eating garlic and onions has been recommended to reduce blood pressure, evidence shows that only very small decreases in blood pressure may result. Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) also may have some effect on lowering blood pressure.

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If you haven't already done so, why not check out our extensive Educate Your Body area. There you will be able to read articles on midlife issues, as well as answers to commonly asked questions such as:

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