Hypertension, or high blood pressure, was the first of the symptomless conditions that modern medicine has treated. For the vast majority of people you only know if you have it when the doctor takes your blood pressure. And that is also the only way you know if it is getting “better”.
Over the last two decades there has been a push to lower the targets for blood pressure. Some have even tried to reclassify normal pressure as “pre hypertension”. Yet does all this treatment actually help people?
New research has shown that “treatment “ of mild hypertension (140-159/90-95) does not affect mortality or even rates of heart attack or stroke. Worse still in the elderly there is an increased rate of falls when blood pressure is lowered to “targets”.
Lowering targets helps sell pharmaceuticals but does not seem to help people.
I am often asked what can be done to help control blood pressure without tablets. Moderating salt intake, and having a healthy weight are both really important.
Three other things can help –
1) Good fats. Sesame oil and rice bran oil have been found in small studies to help lower blood pressure.
2) Cranberry Juice. People consuming two 8oz glasses of cranberry juice per day showed a slight reduction in blood pressure. This is thought to be due to flavinoids in the berries. Eating blueberries has a similar effect.
3) Regular exercise. Regardless of whether you lose weight or not regular exercise helps lower blood pressure as well as providing a host of other health benefits.