Currently viewing the tag: "high blood pressure"


130620_MEDEX_CIGAR.jpg.CROP.article568-large (Copy)A big fat duuuuuuuhhhhhh in the world of health today, as a new study discloses that half of all cardiovascular deaths are due to preventable factors. Why duh? I have been reporting on this phenomenon since I wrote my quintessential health manual, The Six Keys To Optimal Health, a decade ago. Okay, okay, to be fair, many of you have not read it; and I am certain many of you do not peruse the health news in the same manner I do. However, saying that, we all know the risk factors for cardiac events, so why are people not taking heed?

The study, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine online, looked at data from the BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) 2009–2010 of over 500,000 people, ages 45 to 79, to asses risk factors associated with cardiovascular deaths (heart attacks, heart failure, etc). The five primary risk factors were: smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure—and all are preventable. Complete elimination of each of these risk factors would reduce cardiovascular deaths—the leading cause of death in the U.S.—by 54% in men, and nearly 50% in women.

heart disease risk factorsSmoking and high blood pressure led to the highest proportion of preventable deaths, and nearly 80 percent of people reported exposure to at least one of the five risk factors. Despite these risks being preventable, if every state was brought to the level of the best state, only ten percent of the deaths would be prevented. Get it? What this means is that Americans, in general, practice risky cardiovascular behaviors. Yes, eighty percent of the country either smokes, is obese, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. And many have several, and some have all! Do you get it? That’s freakin’ abysmal. And we wonder why health is so poor in the U.S. Can’t blame healthcare (sickcare) for this one.

Like I said, we all know the risks, so why do we fail to avoid them? Ummmm…I can take a guess…let’s see: because American citizens have become so spoiled by ease and comfort that we believe we are entitled to live as we please, and then be “saved” by medicine. That’s precisely what universal health care was all about – our inalienable right to have our preventable conditions treated – and this study proves it. Preventable! I know it is hard to hear, and it certainly doesn’t endear me to the masses when I say it, but it’s the truth and we both know it.

So let’s go over it again:

I know we are all going to die, but nobody reading this wants it to be them, not prematurely anyway. So do the right stuff and I promise you will get more out of life, and more life to get things out of. I’ll continue to send out tough love via health information, facts, and no nonsense interpretations meant to wake…you…up. Hope you are listening.

Got an interesting call this evening from a fifteen-year-old boy who asked, “Why is taking ADD drugs bad?”

I asked why he wanted to know this, and if he was on one of these drugs.  He said he was, and his parents wanted him to wean off.  Hmmm….

I asked the lad why he had chosen to call me, and how he found me in the first place.  Expecting him to say, “From your informative blog, sir,” I was somewhat surprised when he said he found me in the Yellow PagesDoh!

Tucking my chest back in, I informed him that I am not a medical doctor, I am a chiropractor, so I can’t give him medical advice; but I certainly know enough about various drugs, ADHD meds included, to give him some general, if not pertinent information.

So I asked him which drug he was on, and why his parents wanted him off it.  He said he was taking Concerta (a lighter version of Ritalin).  His parents were concerned because it made him tired all the time and non-functional when he wasn’t on it.  Basically, he said he was sleeping more than usual when not on the drug.

I asked him what it was like when he was actually on the drug, and he said it made him lose his appetite and his stomach hurt.  I told him what he was describing was very much like what people who take methamphetamine experience.  In fact, I said, ADD and ADHD drugs are essentially speed; his parents and he were observing the side effects that come along with a speed trip.  The sleeping all the time is called “the crash,” and his loss of appetite (upset stomach) was his body’s reaction to taking a speed-like drug.

I told him that the rationale behind giving speed to a child labeled ADHD was to help the child focus, and indeed, one of the effects of any stimulant–meth and coke included–is a heightened concentration when taken at low to moderate levels.  The problem, I explained, is that these effects are relatively short-lived, and ultimately, tolerance and withdrawals set in.

Further, I told him, the body has to neutralize the drug, which it does through the liver; and it also needs to filter out and remove the drug from the body, which is carried out by the kidneys.  So when taken over a long period or in high quantities, any drug (even those prescribed by a doctor) can cause stress internally, leading to illness and disease.

This is why his parents were concerned, I explained.  But more importantly, why was he still on the drug if his parents didn’t want him to be?  Where was his doctor in all of this?  He said that he just saw his doctor today, and the doctor wanted to give him his Med Card.

“What’s that?” I asked, naively.

“For medical marijuana.”

“Your doctor wants you to have that…why?

“Because I have high blood pressure.”

“Where did you find this doctor?  And do your parents know about this?”

“I just moved here and I went into this place, and there was a medical doctor there.”

“OK, listen; you need to go see a real doctor, not just one that’s out to make money.  I know that no responsible doctor is going to give a fifteen-year-old kid a prescription for medical marijuana.  You need to go to a real doctor, with your parents in tow, tell him/her about your high blood pressure, your Concerta meds, your parents concerns, and go from there.”  I also let him know that I was not telling him to get off the doctor prescribed speed; that wasn’t my place.  But, I said, your parents know what’s best for you, so listen to them.  OK kid, I’ve got a patient waiting…call me anytime.

“You should be a real doctor,” he said.

Thanks kid, I’ll think about it.

Part 2 tomorrow.


No free ride—dang!  There never seems to be something for nothing. Always a cost, always a price. Anyway, now it looks like a popular blood pressure medication may raise cancer risk. You mean I can’t eat what I want, neglect exercise, or indulge in type-A behavior at any time I want, and then just take a magic little pill that’ll make everything all right? Whuh?

According to a recent analysis of five previous studies following about 60,000 patients, researchers found a link between taking angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) and cancer. ARBs are taken by millions of people worldwide for conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetic kidney disease. Researchers found that people taking these meds had a one percent higher risk of developing a whole range of cancers, including prostate, breast and a noticeable spike in lung cancer. About 85 percent of the people in the studies were on telmisartan, sold as Micardis, made by Boehringer Ingelheim Corp.

Although the individual risk is modest, the wide numbers of people taking these drugs means that the overall cancer numbers worldwide should increase due to ARB use. It is unknown at this time if the cancer risk is reduced following discontinuation of the drugs.

Of course, Boehringer Ingelheim Corp., makers of the drug Micardis, dispute the results, claiming their hypertension drug is one of the most-studied in the world. The company claimed in a statement that it had “internal safety data” contradicting the recent study. According to studies run by the pharmaceutical company, there was no link between increased cancer risk and Micardis. Yeah, yeah, yeah…

Lead author of the study, Dr. Ilke Sipahi, warned patients not to stop taking their drugs, and recommended they consult their doctor if they were concerned. However, he does say that he now thinks twice before prescribing ARBs himself. Nevertheless, for some people that can’t handle the side-effects of some of the other hypertension drugs, the risk of dying of stroke or heart disease far outweigh those of developing cancer.

Well let me interject my two-cents. Hypertension comes in two flavors, primary and secondary, the former being due mostly to lifestyle behaviors, the latter secondary to other causes, many hormonal. 85 percent of people with high blood pressure have the primary type. I hope you see where I’m going. If you handle your own lifestyle modification, take things into your own hands, why…you could lower your blood pressure and avoid the increased risk of developing cancer by using and ARB, like Micardis. Go figure.

Here are a few simple tips to lowering blood pressure:

  • Get adjusted—studies have shown chiropractic care can reduce blood pressure by 17mmHg systolic and 10mmHg diastolic*
  • Lose weight—obesity increases blood pressure; the heart has to work harder to pump through the fat
  • Reduce sugar intake—yeah I know it’s hard, I live it every day. So what, do it anyway; sugar is a killer
  • Reduce salt intake—this decreases blood pressure in about 33% of people
  • Quit smoking and reduce or quit drinking alcohol—I know, I know, but just so you know, both increase blood pressure immediately
  • Learn to handle your stress—stress is a necessary part of life; however, putting things into balanced perspective is essential (don’t know how? contact me)

Blood pressure medications are supposed to be prescribed after lifestyle changes have been modified. But you know as well as I do that, like pretty much all medications in our arsenal, they are prescribed first and immediately, with lifestyle behaviors touched only obligatorily with the five second, “Oh, and you should probably lose weight and quit smoking,” line your doctor says as he hands you your scrip and walks out the door.

Listen, don’t rely solely on your doctors. They are overworked, and they know that most people won’t comply with suggestions on lifestyle changes (although this is not entirely true, it is a belief of the average medical doctor).  Be good to yourself, take your health into your own hands.  The results are yours and yours alone.  Trust me, there’s never something for nothing.  Nobody can do your exercises for you, and there is no such thing as a magic bullet.  Don’t worry, it’ll be worth all the hard work.

*Thank you Dr. Tim Swift, best chiropractor in San Clemente, for the reminder of my obvious oversight.

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