Safe Alternative Treatment For High Blood Pressure –
What exactly is high blood pressure and why isn’t there global agreement among the medical industry of for the best treatment? Learn more about the dangers of high blood pressure and commonly prescribed medications for hypertension in part 1 of our blood pressure report.
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of the arteries each time your heart beats. Your blood pressure is highest each time the heart beats, pumping blood into the arteries. This is called systolic pressure, and is the high number in your reading. The diastolic pressure measures the pressure in between beats, when your heart is at rest. Your blood pressure is lowest while sleeping and although it varies some during the day, it remains close to the same. Normal blood pressure is 120/80. If your systolic pressure rises to 140 or above, or if your diastolic pressure rises to 90 or above, this is considered high blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, an estimated one in three U.S. adults have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and an alarming one-third of those don’t even know they have it. It’s no wonder this condition has long been called “the silent killer”.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. And when it exists with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several times. If you don’t have high blood pressure by age 55, your chance of developing it at some point in your life is 90 percent, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Although high blood pressure can occur in both children and adults, it is most common in those over age 35, and is most prevalent in African Americans, middle-aged and elderly people, obese people, heavy drinkers and women taking birth control pills. Although many people get high blood pressure as they get older, it is not part of the aging process! Proper diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can help in prevention and lowering of blood pressure.
Commonly Prescribed Medication for High Blood Pressure
In 90-95 percent of cases, research scientists don’t know what causes high blood pressure, but fortunately they know enough to have developed both drug and non-drug products to treat it effectively.
A wide variety of medications are available to medical professionals for treating high blood pressure. Although other classes of medications are sometimes prescribed, the most commonly prescribed can be broken down into five different classes of medications that work in different ways to lower pressure.
Diuretics (water pills) work in the kidney to get rid of excess water and sodium.
Beta-Blockers reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels to cause the heart to beat more slowly and with less force.
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors prevent the formation of a hormone called angiotensin II, which would otherwise cause vessels to narrow.
Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB) block the action of angiotensin II Calcium Channel Blockers prevent calcium from entering the muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels, causing blood vessels to relax.
As of June, 2005, there didn’t appear to be much global agreement among medical experts worldwide in terms of recommended first-line therapy for treating high blood pressure. It is important to note that in June, 2006, The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the British Hypertension Society have come to an agreement within the UK, and have issued new guidelines, including important changes to help guide primary care physicians in determining first-line therapy. A major change is that Beta-Blockers, which have been shown to be less effective in preventing strokes and more likely to cause diabetes, are no longer recommended as routine treatment for the majority of people with high blood pressure. Instead, ACE Inhibitors (or Angiotensin Receptor Blockers if there are side effects) are now recommended in the UK for most people, with some exceptions, before trying other classes of medication for hypertension.
As with any medication, there may be side effects from taking ACE Inhibitors, and some should not use them at all, including black people of any age. According to the Mayo Clinic, a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, also in June, 2006, indicated an increased risk of birth defects in children whose mothers took ACE inhibitors during the first trimester, adding to the known risks during the second and third trimesters. While most people can tolerate ACE Inhibitors, some may experience side effects such as cough, elevated blood potassium levels, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, weakness, abnormal taste (metallic or salty taste), and rash. Rare, but more serious side effects include kidney failure, allergic reactions, a decrease in white blood cells, and swelling of tissues (angioedema).
Very similar to ACE Inhibitors are ARB medications, and depending on the individual’s particular health issues, a doctor may switch between the two, and may sometimes prescribe both. The most common side effects with ARBs are cough, elevated potassium levels, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, diarrhea, abnormal taste sensation (metallic or salty taste), and rash. Compared to ACE inhibitors, cough occurs less often with ARBs. The most serious, but rare, side effects are kidney failure, liver failure, allergic reactions, a decrease in white blood cells, and swelling of tissues (angioedema) .
On January 19, 2007, Rush University Medical Center reported findings that ACE Inhibitors and ARBs prevent people from getting diabetes, and that diuretics and beta-blockers increase the chance that a person becomes diabetic. The authors pointed out that more studies are required to determine whether new-onset diabetes leads to as many heart attacks, strokes or death, as long-standing diabetes. However, their data suggests that the differences between antihypertensive drugs regarding the risk for new-onset diabetes are real and are significant.