High Blood Pressure. What Does It Mean, And How To Help Your Doctor Help You.

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What is the mechanism of hypertension? How does high Blood Pressure cause future disease?

Hypertension and high blood pressure are considered to be signs of future disease.  The treatment of high blood pressure has been one of the first preventive medical treatments that was embraced by modern medicine.  Ever since we learned how to take a blood pressure we have used it to determine who should be treated to prevent chronic serious illnesses.  Having hypertension does not produce any symptoms until it is severe and already causing damage—like the worst headache of your life.

In general, modern medicine does not consider preventive medicine REAL medicine so they have made this a sign of future disease, and actual diagnosis, with an ICD 10 code, so that we can treat it as a disease.  Well whatever gets your medical treatment paid for!

I am a great proponent of preventive care, so don’t tell anyone that insurance companies are actually paying for hypertension treatment, to prevent heart disease stroke, arteriosclerosis, kidney failure, and sudden death.  Those are the outcomes of high blood pressure when it has been left untreated for many years. Preventive care should be paid for by insurance companies.

What is hypertension?  If your BP is over 120/80 your blood pressure is not normal.  The American Cardiologists and American Heart Association has just changed this from the old normal of < 140/90.

The recent guideline change in NORMAL BP levels was ostensibly to make patients aware that they were nearing a medical problem … an early warning that another problem might occur in the future.  This new normal is a warning, for a warning.  When should we get worried about BP?  The new guidelines say that Stage 1 hypertension begins at 140/90, and that you should change your lifestyle if you are over 120/80.  OK, so the new normal is just a yellow light to make patients aware that their blood pressure is increasing so they should do what they can without medicine to avoid getting hypertension and the diseases that can follow.

 

What is the mechanism of hypertension?  How does high BP cause future disease?

Hypertension means that the pressure in your arteries is pushing to hard against the walls of the arteries in your body. When this pressure is consistently high it actually damages the vessels themselves and they start getting stiff, so they don’t dilate to improve blood flow in critical areas of your body.  Most important result of hypertension to my patients is the stiffening of arteries that prevents erectile function.  ED is one of the first signs of damage to the arteries by hypertension (there are other causes of vascular ED) in men.  It generally occurs about 7 years before the damage progresses to create narrowed arteries in the heart that results in a heart attack.  This timeline is of course that of a man who is not treated for his hypertension.

The other hypertensive mechanism that leads to disease is the stress on the heart muscle that occurs with hypertension, when the heart has to push harder and harder against stiff and narrowed vessels.  If you have ever plunged a drain when it was clogged, you will understand the excessive work of the heart with hypertension. It takes much more energy to push the plunger and water against the clog, than after the clog clears and you are just pushing against water through a clean pipe.  That is what happens to your heart when it is constantly, 24-7, pushing against stiff clogged arteries.  At some point it becomes exhausted, doesn’t get enough oxygen to the muscle for the work it is doing and part of the muscle dies.  That’s a heart attack, the outcome of many factors, but primarily secondary to many years of pushing blood too hard against high pressure.

The good news about hypertension if you have it is that you have a lot of company.  That doesn’t mean you don’t have to treat it, but that there are a lot of people being treated for it so the treatments get more creative and better all of the time.  Generally if you live long enough you will probably get hypertension.

 

What Are The Risk Factors That Can’t Be Changed That Increase Blood Pressure?

  • Aging
  • Genetics- + family history
  • Race– Hypertension is much more common in African Americans than Hispanic Americans and Caucasian Americans
  • Chronic illness– kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea can cause High Blood pressure

 

This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author, with Brett Newcomb, MA., LPC., Family Counselor, Presenter and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com