High drug pressure
January 25th 2018, 17:56
If you are one of the millions of people taking powerful drugs to treat high and 'abnormal' blood pressure and prevent heart disease, you could be victim to one of medicine's greatest blunders in preventative care.
Although high blood pressure is seen as one of the most common health risks we face as we grow older, the standard method of measuring it is so seriously flawed that many millions of people believe their health is in jeopardy when it isn't, and so they're willingly taking drugs they don't need.
To make matters worse, there's no agreement in medicine about what a dangerous reading is, and the targets keep moving. In fact, just a few months ago, American medical authorities drastically lowered the threshold for what is now considered unacceptably high blood pressure, which essentially means that in a stroke millions of people will be labeled hypertensive and considered appropriate candidates for drug treatment.
According to these new guidelines, any 'abnormal' blood pressure reading—and especially any level above 130/80 mmHg—will almost inevitably trigger a prescription for an antihypertensive drug.
However, the amazing fact is that the antihypertensive drugs given to patients with high blood pressure are actually increasing their chances of suffering the very heart attack they believe the drugs are helping to avoid. One group of antihypertensive drugs—calcium-channel blockers (CCBs)—even triples the risk.
Beta blockers are supposed to lower blood pressure and stabilize the heart's rhythm, but evidence from the New York University School of Medicine, which tracked 44,708 heart disease patients for more than three years, discovered that the drugs don't protect heart patients. Those taking the drugs are just as likely as those not taking the drugs to have a second heart attack or stroke. In fact, in those with heart disease risk factors, there were more cardiovascular disease-related deaths among people taking beta blockers.
European 'best practice' guidelines recommend that 'more than one drug is needed' particularly for patients with high-normal blood pressure and a history of heart or arterial disease. The three most common two-drug therapies combine a diuretic with a calcium-channel blocker, a beta blocker, an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin-receptor blocker.
But researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle estimated that taking a calcium-channel blocker with a diuretic nearly doubles the likelihood of having a heart attack. And evidence shows that patients taking a calcium-channel blocker with a beta blocker increased their risk of heart attack by 60 percent.
Furthermore, the drug combos don't necessarily interact well together. Although calcium channel blockers can stop arterial constriction in the heart, which is caused by beta blockers, this may only happen when blood flow is normal. Likewise, while beta blockers may prevent the rapid heart rate induced by calcium-channel blockers, this may not prevent the decrease in blood pressure frequently caused by those drugs.
The bottom line? All this drug-taking isn't doing much good; a study of 2,000 patients with high blood pressure from 13 general practices across England revealed that only just over half of those taking antihypertensive drugs had achieved moderately healthy blood pressure levels.
Most drugs are not only vastly overused, but largely unnecessary for most mild cases of raised blood pressure. One study found that almost half the patients over 50 had normal blood pressure levels just one year after stopping their drugs.
High blood pressure is a symptom of our modern way of life. Processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle can all add up to an unhealthy blood pressure reading, which can often be resolved by judicious diet and exercise.
As you'll see in our Special Report on page 28, there are plenty of other ways to gently modify your diet and lifestyle that are far safer, and work considerably better, than swallowing a pill.
One of the most significant changes you can make is to stop eating high-glycemic-index foods that are readily converted into sugar. To that end, we wish to make special mention of the late Louise Hay. In addition to her groundbreaking work on the power of the mind to heal, Louise was also keenly concerned with the latest approaches to healthy diet, one reason that she lived to the age of 90. We offer her non-grain 'bread' recipes on page 38, in the hope that Louise is still baking healing foods in heaven.