High Blood Pressure and Reversible Nutritional Deficiencies
Nov 01, 2013 03:46PM
By Les Cole, M.D.
What is blood pressure? When your heart contracts, it squeezes blood into a tube (the aorta) that is much smaller in size. That causes pressure. Think of a hose used to wash your car as your heart and a nozzle on the end as your blood vessels (aorta). As the water gets pushed into the nozzle the pressure goes up sky high, which is why the water can shoot so far and feel so powerful. So, blood pressure is caused by pushing the blood into the blood vessels from the heart.
What is the purpose of blood pressure? As the heart contracts, the pressure increases to a level that forces the valve to the aorta open and blood enters the aorta. The sudden increased pressure causes the aorta, which is elastic, to expand. The blood flows from the aorta to the arteries downstream because the pressure downstream is lower and blood flows from higher to lower pressure. Also, the stretched, elastic aorta contracts to its original size pushing the blood downstream, acting as a secondary heart! Each successively smaller set of arteries downstream act in the same way to keep pushing the blood through the tissues. Pressure delivers blood to all the parts of your body.
What is normal blood pressure (BP)? When the heart contracts, the BP is at its highest. This is called systolic BP. Just before it contracts again, the BP is at its lowest. This is called diastolic BP. Normal blood pressure measured in your upper arm is defined as: systolic between 90 – 119 mm Hg and diastolic between 60 – 79 mm Hg normally recorded as systolic / diastolic.
Normal BP: As low as 90/60 up to 119/79
What is high blood pressure?
Pre-hypertension is anywhere from 120/80 to 139/89
Stage 1 HBP is from 140/90 to 159/99
Stage 2 HBP is > 160/100
But scientific literature has shown that there is an increasing risk of heart disease that doubles for each 20/10 mm Hg increase over a BP of 115/70.
What does this mean for me? If your blood pressure is 135/80, you have twice the risk (200%) of heart disease as someone with a BP of 115/70. At 155/90 the risk is four times (400%) as great. At 175/100 it’s eight times (800%) the risk! These numbers are greatly affected by other cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, weight, diet, exercise, blood glucose, tobacco, alcohol and a number of other measurable risk factors.
What causes HBP? In 95% of people with HBP it is due to:
Oxidative stress in the blood vessels
Inflammation of the blood vessels
Autoimmune dysfunction of the blood vessels
Abnormal blood vessel biology with
Endothelial dysfunction (ED)—damage to the cells that line the blood vessels that keep BP normal
Abnormal vascular smooth muscle (VSM)—which then does not dilate well
These combined actions of not dilating well, inflammation that causes atherosclerosis especially when cholesterol is high, and calcium deposition in the arteries cause them to be "hard"—to lose their elasticity. (Remember the elasticity in the aorta makes it work like a second heart?) So, you can see that when the heart constricts, forcing blood into an aorta and blood vessels that no longer expand, the pressure will go up!
What causes the oxidative stress and inflammation that leads to HBP? To answer that, we need to understand how the body works at the cellular level. Our genes, yours and mine, produce proteins. Proteins do one of three things. They form structures in our cells and body (like collagen to form connective tissue) signaling molecules (hormones) or enzymes that cause chemical reactions to occur. Our cells are essentially an organized chemical soup of thousands of chemical reactions. All of these reactions have to occur correctly for our cells and thus our bodies to stay healthy. There are four things that ensure this:
The genes that code for the enzyme are correct, meaning they have no mutations
We put the correct/healthy chemicals into our bodies—through our mouth, our lungs and our skin
a. The chemicals the enzymes need to work on in the right amounts are macronutrients
b. And those that help the enzymes do their job are micronutrients
We avoid putting incorrect/unhealthy/toxic chemicals into our bodies through our mouth, our lungs and our skin, e.g. herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, tobacco, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, processed foods, some medications that cause nutritional deficiencies, etc.
Exercise—for some reason we are wired to "use it or lose it!" Exercise, in the right amounts, increases all the hormones that cause our cells and bodies to be healthy.
One other way that the right micronutrients, macronutrients and exercise work is that they turn on antioxidant genes and turn off inflammatory genes! Amazing, right?!
Why is controlling my blood pressure important? From the information above, it is obviously important to prevent heart disease; however, oxidative stress and inflammation are the underpinnings for most of the chronic, disabling diseases associated with increasing years, and the steps to prevent or improve your BP will also prevent and improve many of these other health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.
If I have HBP, can I improve it with the right nutrients and lifestyle? In a majority of patients, blood pressure can be improved through nutrient assessment and repletion. A recent study out of Vanderbilt shows that blood pressure can be normalized 62% of the time by correcting micro and macronutrient deficiencies in combination with exercise and other lifestyle changes. It is important to identify the deficiency with functional micronutrient testing. Please do not stop your medications on your own, and have a doctor monitor and guide you through the proper steps.
To learn more about controlling your blood pressure and decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke, visit LesColeMD.com and schedule an appointment with Dr. Cole at one of our convenient Pinellas locations. See ad right.