Should we view it as being OK?
What is prehypertension? Well apparently, it is an alternative term for what we used to see on blood pressure charts, mine included, as normal/high blood pressure.
You may wonder why the reason for the change. Put simply, doctors want people to be more aware of this number because it is an indicator or marker telling us there is a risk of heart disease later in life. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute recently updated their guidelines on hypertension and introduced this new term.
Let me explain. For older people, blood pressure over 120/80 mmHg and under 140/90 is accepted as quite good considering age and lack of elasticity in artery walls. But the younger a person is with this slightly elevated blood pressure, the more serious an indicator it is for problems later on in life.
Not only that, at this stage the coronary arteries can start to develop calcification or hardening of the arteries that leads to heart failure if unchecked.
The good news is, prehypertension is easier to bring down through lifestyle change. Usually it requires just minor adjustments. Whereas, the longer you leave it to develop the more damage it can cause as other systems used in regulating blood pressure are disrupted. Also we need to be aware that the heart`s mechanics for circulating blood around the body can be indirectly faltered. One such mechanism is the contraction and relaxation of the heart`s muscles that are stimulated to contract and push, or relax and expand to fill blood into the respective chambers. When they become thick or weak, Diastolic Dysfunction (heart failure) or Systolic Dysfunction (heart failure) develops.
Are Drugs a Prehypertension Solver?
In December 2010 the Wall Street Journal reported that the risks of developing heart disease in prehypertensive men was 3 1/3 times more than those with normal blood pressure, and that teenagers with hypertension are more likely to develop high blood pressure in their 20`s and 30`s.
Clearly when we see research data like this, it`s a wake-up call for us to take action and deal with this monster before it breaks loose. But does that mean we need to revert to blood pressure meds at such an early stage? One prominent health official from the New York University School of Medicine and President of the American Society of Hypertension thinks differently. He expressed that he does not care if some are saying drugs don`t change the physiology or the path of physiology. It is obvious to realize that as far as he is concerned, the drugs do the job and bring the pressure down, bringing the patient out of the danger zone.
That is all very well, but what do you think? Is the best approach to treat the symptoms first with drugs at such an early stage of hypertension, or to try and address the cause naturally which in most cases can be very effective in reversing it?
What to take into consideration, is that there is enough information and research showing that high blood pressure meds such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors can actually elevate hypertension not reduce it. One example where this happens too often is when the wrong drug or combination of drugs are prescribed to a hypertensive person with low renin. A third of all patients with high blood pressure have low renin.
What`s more is that drugs have nasty side effects and can disrupt how our body works causing even more problems.
I think most doctors will only be too happy to help their patients look to natural ways of getting their blood pressure back to normal at this stage. Drugs should only be a secondary measure when this first step proves futile for those who fail to implement lifestyle changes, and put themselves in danger of serious health problems later in life.
There is a lot that we can do ourselves too. Home blood pressure monitoring is advised by doctors now to help them get a clear picture of our BP numbers. If you have a blood pressure that is creeping past the 120/80 line into the prehypertension zone, you can immediately take action even before seeing the doctor, by looking to improve lifestyle habits. Can you improve your diet, stress management, fitness levels. Or eliminate bad habits such as over-eating, alcohol binging or over-drinking, and drug abuse which includes tobacco.
Yes, there are ways of helping yourselves and you are guaranteed to see improvements or get rid of prehypertension for good if you make those lifestyle changes last for a lifetime.