High blood pressure is closely linked to COVID-19 deaths.
The reason for this is that most people with hypertension have other co-morbid conditions like heart disease, lung disease and kidney disease. It’s a multi-system failure that kills these people, not just a simple respiratory virus.
High Blood Pressure
When I came out of medical school 140/90 was considered okay. Now it’s 120/80 and below.
For me, I want my blood pressure at 115/75 or below.
The American Heart Association says you want it below 120/80.
This means that half of adult Americans have hypertension.
As you get older you’re more likely to have high blood pressure because your blood vessels get more hardened. This is something that’s very important to know.
How does hypertension kill you? Slowly, usually through heart attacks. Besides smoking, the leading cause of heart attacks is just having high blood pressure.
It can also kill you through kidney disease and heart failure. And don’t forget about it being a leading cause for strokes, which you definitely don’t want to have. In my opinion having a stroke is one of the worst things that can happen to you.
Hypertension can also cause dementia.
Having high blood pressure means that there is increased pressure in your arterial walls. I like to describe it as how your arteries pulse.
- Systolic – Top number (max pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts)
- Diastolic – Bottom number (pressure in your arteries when heart relaxes)
The heart has to work harder if it’s pumping out against a higher pressure gradient. This thickens the wall of ventricles and causes heart failure. This is the most common cause of readmission to hospitals.
High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer, but there can be symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Sometimes nausea
- Poor vision
- Urinary problems
What do you do?
Start by measuring your blood pressure on a regular basis.
And if needed, make lifestyle changes! Lose weight and start exercising. Get rid of body fat. Get moving, which is the main thing. Get rid of sleep apnea, which is a leading cause of hypertension.
Drinking more water directly reduces blood pressure. Relax and meditate.
And as you know, we’re big on supplements.
There are some supplements that can help reduce blood pressure. One of my favorites is potassium, which will directly lower blood pressure. Also magnesium at night, which every adult should take for many reasons.
I take a magnesium supplement that has potassium in it, and I think it’s helped my blood pressure. I’ve seen my blood pressure gradually rise as I’ve gotten older, and this has certainly helped me get it down.
You should try to get potassium mostly through food. Spinach, broccoli, grapefruit, oranges, beets, prunes, garlic, hawthorn, cayenne pepper, coconut, ginger, celery, and even dark chocolate. All are great sources of potassium.
Notice I didn’t mention bananas. I’m just not a fan of bananas because of how much sugar is in them.
Medications For High Blood Pressure
Lots of people ask me whether or not I suggest medications for high blood pressure. My answer is I would if I couldn’t control my blood pressure.
Diuretics – This is the first class you probably think of. They remove water and salt, and depletes your potassium. This is not my first choice unless you’re in heart failure or have a lot of edema. It also lowers your testosterone levels.
Beta Blockers – Slows your heart rate down. There’s a lot of side effects that come with this class, from being tired to sexual dysfunction. I don’t like these.
Calcium Channel Blockers – Cuts down the influx of calcium through an electrical system (too complicated to explain in this Note). Causes lots of side effects like constipation and swelling of the legs.
*Note: Some patients require beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, and even diuretics because of certain types of heart disease. So always consult with your doctor before changing blood pressure medicines.
ACE Inhibitors – ACE Inhibitors like lisinopril, which is the most common blood pressure medication that I see people on, prevents the body from making a hormone called angiotensin which constricts your vessels. So, it does relax your vessels. Not my first choice as it can cause a persistent cough, and also rarely an abnormal swelling in your face called angioedema.
ARBS – This would be my first choice. They’re related to the ACE, but without some of the side effects. Common examples are Losartan, Telmisartan.
*Note: Most diabetics will either require an ACE or an ARB to protect their kidneys from diabetes.
The main point of this Note is to monitor your blood pressure. I check mine all the time.
I find that when I’m not sleeping, stressed, or not exercising it goes up.
Remember there is a thing called “White Coat Hypertension” that you have to look out for. You don’t want to go see your doc, have “White Coat Hypertension” and they put you on two medications.
Get your own blood pressure monitor!
*Note that I haven’t talked much about salt, because salt only affects 20% of people that are salt sensitive. An easy fix is to use Himalayan salt, which you should be doing anyway.
Make those lifestyle changes and CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE.
Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.