Hypertension is the medical term for abnormally high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common condition in South Africa and is a major risk factor for heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hypertension is the medical term for abnormally high blood pressure. It is commonly considered normal for a blood pressure higher than 120/80 to be "higher than normal" however it isn`t as simple as this claim. Research shows that any person that uses some form of blood pressure medication will live longer. Of those that take blood pressure medication, the control rates vary between less than half to only two-thirds, meaning that most patients diagnosed with hypertension have blood pressure levels that are dangerously elevated throughout most of the day.
High blood pressure is a common condition in South Africa and is a major risk factor for heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure. Consequently, hypertension is commonly underdiagnosed and inadequately treated resulting in extensive target-organ damage and premature death.
This is the scary bit. More often than not, there are NO symptoms. Hypertension is the silent killer! Commonly, a heart attack or a stroke (often fatal events) is the first symptom. But symptoms can range from headaches, a "fuzzy" feeling or nausea to absolutely no symptoms at all. The degree of hypertension is also not a reflection of the symptoms experienced, and vice versa. If there is one test you should be doing often, it`s a blood pressure reading. It`s fast and easily accessible.
- Age- The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Through early middle age, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after menopause.
- Race- High blood pressure is particularly common among dark skin types, often developing at an earlier age than it does in lighter skin types. Serious complications, such as stroke and heart attack, also are more common in dark skin types.
- Family history- High blood pressure tends to run in families.
- Being overweight or obese- The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
- Lack of physical activities- People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction – and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.
- Using tobacco- Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure. Secondhand smoke can also increase your blood pressure.
- Too much salt (sodium) in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
- Too little potassium in your diet- Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don't get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.
- Too little vitamin D3 in your diet- its uncertain if having too little vitamin D 3 in your diet can lead to high blood pressure. Vitamin D may affect an enzyme produced by your kidneys that affects your blood pressure.
- Drinking too much alcohol- Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than two drinks a day can raise your blood pressure.
- Stress- High levels of stress can lead to a temporary, but dramatic, increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure.
- Certain chronic conditions may also increase your risk of high blood pressure, including high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea.
At Health Renewal, we recognize that for many individuals, a target blood pressure of 115/75 mm Hg yields the best benefits and we work toward that level.
The development and progression of high blood pressure is complex and multifactorial. Thus, effective management is rarely achieved through a single intervention. Instead, optimal management often requires a broad-based approach including lifestyle modification, nutritional components, pharmaceutical medication(s) and regular self-monitoring.
The management of hypertension is not as simple as taking a blood pressure tablet daily. This might drop the blood pressure, but won't fix or diagnose the cause of the problem. At Health Renewal we look at ALL the possible causes, as well as the damage high blood pressure might have already caused.
Hypertension tends to spend time in the company of obesity, cholesterol issues and sugar/insulin malfunction. We develop a tailor made program for the individual using nutraceuticals and medication if needed. If the problem is caused by obesity, we look into the causes of it and manage this problem too. Obesity is the disease of this millennium.
With hypertension; the supplements are individually tailored. Please do not self medicate. Self Medicating is done when a person takes prescription medication or nutraceuticals on their own without a doctor's supervision and/or consent. There is no single supplement given to all clients with hypertension. The doctor will decide- based on your examination, history and blood tests, what would be the best for you and your specific needs and/or deficiencies.
This could include:
- Balancing your hormones:
The risk of developing primary hypertension is significantly higher in postmenopausal women and men older than 55 years of age. As hormone levels decline with age, the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease rise. Vascular endothelium and smooth muscle cells have sex steroid receptors. Research has supported bio-identical hormone restoration of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone for use in the management of blood pressure and overall cardiac health. Sex hormones stimulate endothelial cell growth, inhibit smooth muscle proliferation contraction and relax the vascular endothelium via nitric oxide and prostacyclin. When hormones are present in youthful concentrations, vascular function in patients with high blood pressure may be modulated. Likewise, in males, low testosterone levels are predictive of hypertension and cardiovascular disease risk. We suggest that aging men maintain free testosterone levels of 20ᆭ pg/ml for optimal health.
- Nutrients to Support Healthy Blood Pressure Levels:
Although conventional physicians usually consider the aforementioned risk factors, mainstream medicine has overlooked two important contributors that may play a significant role in blood pressure regulation-vitamin K2 and vitamin D3.
Low Vitamin D3 intake-Insufficient intakes of this hormone-like vitamin are implicated in the pathology of high blood pressure along with numerous other diseases. Studies suggest that vitamin D might target many of the factors that contribute to hypertension including suppressing renin (a hypertensive enzyme) and protecting kidney function. We suggest that all individuals maintain a blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 50ᇤ ng/ml.
Low Vitamin K2 intake-Vitamin K2 is required to maintain soft and pliable arterial walls. Inadequate vitamin K2 intake can result in an accumulation of calcium in the arterial wall, leading to hardening of the arteries and increased peripheral resistance. Ensuring adequate vitamin K2 intake- allows for proper allocation of calcium into the bones to maintain skeletal integrity and away from the arterial wall, helping prevent the arterial "stiffness" that robs so many aging individuals of proper circulation.
- Additional Nutraceuticals:
Daily supplementation with 300 to 500mg of elemental magnesium is vital for those taking diuretic drugs. Absorption of magnesium into the bloodstream is not particularly effective.
Potassium is one of the most abundant electrolytes in the body. Due to their antagonistic roles in metabolism, the balance of sodium and potassium plays a critical role in blood pressure regulation.
Hawthorn, Coenzyme Q10, Chlorogenic acid from green coffee beans (unroasted) is a hypotensive antioxidant. Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble antioxidant vitamin in humans. It is thought to exert hypotensive effects through an improvement in endothelial function, reduction in arterial stiffness, and its ability to bind the angiotensin receptor.
Other nutraceuticals which improve hypertension are: Grape seed extract(Resveratrol), pomegranate, L-Arginine and omega 3 fatty acids.
In recent years, researchers have made huge advancements on the understanding of the connection between high blood pressure and various cardiovascular diseases. Raised blood pressure damages one's arteries at the endothelium. Endothelial dysfunctionis related to the development of cardiovascular events.
The artery wall consists of three layers;
Tunica Adventitia is the strong outer layer which consists mostly of connective tissue which provides support for the two inner layers.
Tunica Media is the middle layer which is a smooth muscle that contracts and expands to facilitate circulation and help maintain blood pressure.
Tunica Intima, the inner layer, also known as endothelium, is composed of a thin layer of cells which protects the integrity of the artery and promotes blood clotting in the event of injury. It also helps prevent damaging molecules such as low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides from penetrating the artery wall.
Heightened blood pressure has been shown to significantly contribute to Endothelial dysfunction. High blood pressure is the source of functional alterations in the endothelium which is associated with reduced arterial mobility and amplified stiffness in the artery wall. Once an artery becomes "stiff" or hardened, it can no longer contract and dilate as sufficiently. Additional stress is then placed on the main pumping chamber of the heart, known as the left ventricle, which causes the left ventricle to be enlarged. This is called left ventricular hypertrophy which is often the first sign that damaged has occurred due to uncontrolled high blood pressure. If this is not treated, ventricular hypertrophy could evolve into congestive heart failure.
The relationship between high blood pressure and Endothelial dysfunction highlights the urgency to address both conditions as separate concerns, however combined as contributors to cardiovascular disease. In order to reduce cardiovascular risk, one must address the network of interconnected cardiovascular risk factors which includes numerous additional components.
The degree of Endothelial dysfunction correlates with target organ damage. Physicians measure the effects on high blood pressure when looking at target organ damage. This means that treatment decisions are made based on the amount of damage caused by high blood pressure to the organs such as kidneys, eyes or heart.
The list of complications which can be caused by hypertension is endless. The scariest being heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, eye damage, heart failure and liver disease to name a few.
Risks with treatments are limited to side effects from any medications used. If we decide to use any scripted medication, the side effects will be discussed. But it must be emphasized that most of the newer classes of hypertension medication has a very limited spectrum of side effects. We will only use scripted medication if needed and, if possible, only for a specific duration. The idea is to supplement the body and get the source of the problem sorted out, not mask it with medication.
The lethal misconception about Anti-Hypertensive Drugs:
A properly functioning heart is of little consequence without the means to maintain a predictable pressure throughout the circulatory system.A dangerous assumption made by doctors is that once a day dosing with an anti-hypertensive drug will keep a patient`s blood pressure under control over an entire 24-hour period.
The reality is that these drugs will wear off in many patients within 12 to 18 hours, leaving the body vulnerable to dangerous daily blood pressure spikes.Few physicians understand that it is during periods of the day when blood pressure spikes above 115/75 that damage is inflicted. Therefore, keeping blood pressure suppressed for even 18 hours leaves patients exposed to the damaging effects of hypertension for 6 hours every day.
The best way to effectively monitor blood pressure is with an at-home blood pressure monitor. If one takes a 50mg dose of anti hypertensive agent in the morning, and their blood pressure exceeds 115/75 at any time of the day thereafter, they should consult their physician about taking a second dose of anti hypertensive agent in the evening to ensure all-day blood pressure control. It does not matter what drug or natural therapy one employs to lower their blood pressure. The objective is to use at-home blood pressure devices to achieve blood pressure readings no higher than 115/75 throughout a 24 hour period.
For all health conditions, the nutraceuticals are individually tailored by the Health Renewal Doctor. The doctor will decide- based on your history, physical examination and blood tests what would be the best for you and your specific needs and/or deficiencies. It cannot be overemphasized that one must not self-medicate. Self-Medicating is done when a person takes prescription medication or nutraceuticals on their own without a doctor's supervision and/or consent. By not having a physical examination and blood testing done by a qualified and practising integrative medical practitioner, you could be not treating vital deficiencies or conditions such as elevated blood pressure, high sugar level, high stress levels (that can lead to adrenal burnout ) and high blood clotting factors that could lead to heart attacks and stroke. In addition, aggressive program of dietary supplementation should not be launched without the supervision of a qualified physician. Several of the nutrients suggested in this protocol may have adverse effects. There is no single supplement prescribed to clients as there is no magic bullet that can support all the essential nutrients that one's body needs. Today's food is not functional and we need to supplement in order to maintain optimal bodily functions and nutrition.
Make an appointment to consult with your Health Renewal Doctor who is an integrative doctor and he / she will assist you in determining your risk factors and how best to prevent any problems or conditions that you may be susceptible to. The importance of early management of any condition cannot be overstated. Once certain conditions set in and damage to organs occurs, complete recovery may be difficult to attain. Best results for prevention and longevity is early detection of a possible problem combined with conventional treatments , nutritional supplements and a healthy diet and lifestyle.
The initial medical consultation at Health Renewal will be approximately 45 minutes, where you will have to complete an in-depth questionnaire before the consultation so please arrive 20 minutes before the time. During the 45 minute consultation, your Health Renewal doctor will obtain a FULL medical history from you to determine your personal risk. A physical examination will be done after which the Doctor will decide which blood tests need to be requested from your local pathology laboratory. If you have medical aid, these should be able to be claimed as well.
Once your blood results are received, they will then be analyzed by your Health Renewal doctor who will begin working on a unique prescription plan for you with the compounding pharmacy. At your pre-scheduled second appointment 2 weeks later, the results and examination findings will be discussed with you. This will determine what abnormalities or deficiencies exist and you will be advised on your treatment options. These options may range from prescription medications, nutraceuticals, bio-identical hormonal creams/tablets, or alternatively to having bio-identical implants/pellets inserted.
In-office treatments such as carboxytherapy may also be recommended for certain conditions such as hair loss, erectile dysfunction ED, menopause, or PMS. If you need to lose weight our Body Renewal Medical Weight loss program may be recommended. All these recommendations will be summarized on a sheet/print out which you can take home with you. The nutraceuticals offered at Health Renewal are of superior quality (Solgar) and are not rancid nor contain Hg (mercury ) or PCB'S (which is very important for Omega 3 Essential fatty acids EFA's). They are also free of gluten, preservatives, wheat, dairy, soy, yeast, sugar, artificial flavor, sweetener, and colour. We have a great professional team made up of doctors, trained and registered nurses and therapists to support you at any time.
1. You are kindly requested to bring any supplements that you are currently taking, along to your consultation. The doctor can check the ingredients in take this into account when prescribing a treatment plan for you.
2. Also, if you have had any blood work done in the past 6 months, please bring the results along to the consultation. Should you not be in possession of the hard copies, please request these results from the lab you visited. Usually your ID number is sufficient.
Depending on the exact prescription given, you may be required to return to the doctor within 1-4 months’ time, in order to ensure optimum hormone levels are achieved. This will be determined by a repeat blood test and may be requested by your Health Renewal doctor.
You should ensure that you are current with your gynaecological visits/breast exams/mammograms (for female patients) and prostate exams (for male patients) as recommended by your GP/gynaecologist.
Depending on which form of supplementation you and your Health Renewal Doctor have decided on, one could expect to follow up with your physician from anything between every 3 months to once every 6 months.
With hypertension the main focus is on diagnosing the condition. Most of the treatment plan is related to supplementation, lifestyle changes and, if needed, medication. Once you have completed the evaluation with the doctor we will be able to prescribe an individualized treatment plan which will be developed according to your unique needs and circumstances.
The importance of early management of any condition cannot be overstated. Once certain conditions set in and damage to organs occurs, complete recovery may be difficult to attain. Best results for prevention and longevity is early detection of a possible problem combined with conventional treatments, nutritional supplements and a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Advancing age, gender, family history and genetic predisposition all contribute to the development of high blood pressure. However, they are considered non-modifiable risk factors, meaning that it is not possible to reduce the risk that these factors pose by taking preventive action. Modifiable risk factors, on the other hand, also contribute significantly to the development of high blood pressure, but can be addressed through preventive action.
Follow these steps to reduce the modifiable risk factors for hypertension;
- Have your blood pressure checked. One check alone is not enough. Do at least two blood pressure checks on two separate days and continue to keep checking it. Even if your blood pressure appears normal remember that hypertension can creep up on anyone!
- Decrease your sodium intake and substitute normal salt for Himalayan salt. According to emerging hypotheses, excess sodium appears to alter the balance leading to increased blood pressure.
- Lose weight! Body weight gain accounts for as much as 75% of the risk for high blood pressure. As body fat mass increases, blood volume increases as well, which contributes to increased blood pressure. Insulin resistance, which often occurs in tandem with obesity, contributes to vascular resistance and increased blood pressure. The Body Renewal Medical Weight loss program is offered at Body Renewal. If the program is strictly adhered to patients lose between 8 and 15 kilograms in 6 weeks, generally find it quite easy, and feel good with high energy levels. In fact, depressed patients have mood elevation as the Leptin levels "Kick in" 7 days into the program. Many of our patients have tried numerous other well known diets but find this to be the magic one that actually works.
- Unwind every day- Stressful situations cause the release of hypertensive (increased blood pressure) hormones, such as epinephrine. As chronic stress causes the continual release of hypertensive hormones, sustained elevations in blood pressure become dangerous. Start your day with yoga, meditation, or a walk.
- Walk as much as you can every day. Sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and too much alcohol can all increase the risk for high blood pressure.
- Light alcohol consumption does confer benefits for cardiovascular health, while heavy alcohol ingestion increases the risk of hypertension. Therefore, intake should be limited to two drinks daily for men and one drink daily for women.
- Stop smoking! Smoking doesn't directly cause high blood pressure but it puts you at much higher risk of a heart attack and stroke. Smoking, like high blood pressure, will cause your arteries to narrow much faster and your risk of a heart or lung disease in the future is dramatically increased. Get help to stop smoking.
- Get enough vitamin D3 and K2. Although conventional physicians usually consider the aforementioned risk factors, mainstream medicine has overlooked two important contributors that may play a significant role in blood pressure regulation – vitamin K2 and vitamin D3.
It is thus very important for high risk candidates to manage their hypertension situation by regular self-monitoring with an at-home blood pressure cuff. Doing this, combined with healthy diet changes and following a balanced lifestyle with additional exercise, various supplements and prescribed medication (if deemed needed by a medical practitioner) will results in an effective multi-modal treatment plan. Aiming for a healthy blood pressure of 115/75 mmHg is the aim of these treatments.
Your Health Renewal Doctor will advice the correct nutritional supplement, in combination with prescription drugs to ensure your condition is managed closely. Older patients will most likely need a combination of natural and synthetic medication for optimal protection against high blood pressure.
Cardioinhibitory and cardiotonic nutrients, are nutrients which can be prescribed for controlling the force with which the heart pumps:
- Magnesium: 350 – 1500 mg daily
- Hawthorn Berries: 2 – 3 g daily
Regulation of Blood Volume (Blood is mostly water, so its volume is dynamic – therefore interventions that help control water storage can modulate blood pressure as well)
- Potassium: 99 mg daily (or more) when instructed to do so by a health care professional, based on blood test results.
- Calcium: 1000 – 1200 mg daily
Antioxidants (decreasing oxidative stress helps maintain the ability of blood vessels to dilate, a critical step in blood pressure regulation)
- Coq10: 100 – 300 mg daily (ubiquinol form of coenzyme Q10)
- Lycopene: 15 – 30 mg daily
- Green Coffee: standardized extract: 400 – 1200 mg daily
- Vitamin C: 1000 – 2000 mg daily
Vasodilators (Compounds that enhance the production or activity of nitric oxide and help the blood vessels dilate, allowing for a reduction in blood pressure)
- Grape extract (containing seed and skin extracts): 150 mg daily
- Pomegranate extract: standardized to 30% punicalagins: 400 mg daily
- L-arginine: 1600 mg three times daily between meals
- Soy Isoflavones: 135 – 270 mg daily
- Solgar: Olive Leaf Extract: 500 – 1500 mg daily
Other Hypotensive Dietary Factors
- Vitamin D: 5000 – 8000 IU daily (depending on blood test results)
- Vitamin K: 2100 mcg daily (as 1,000 mcg K1; 1000 mcg MK-4; and 100 mcg MK-7)
- Garlic; standardized extract: 1500 – 6000 mg daily
- Fish Oil (with sesame lignans and olive polyphenols): 2000 – 4000 mg daily
- Whey Protein Peptides: 1700 – 3400 mg daily
In addition, the following blood testing resources may be helpful:
- Female Panel / Male Panel
- Cortisol AM/PM
- Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy
- RBC Magnesium
- Coq10 (Coenzyme Q10)
- Omega Score®
Here are ten quotes from great thinkers to challenge, motivate and inspire us to exercise, eat right and live healthier lives: Health and intellect are the two blessings of life.
- "Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health and is as friendly to the mind as to the body." - Joseph Addison
- “We can, and must, develop dialogue and relatedness with our body because it’s talking to us all the time. And please remember, your body loves you. It does everything it can to keep you alive and functioning. You can feed it garbage, and it will take it and digest it for you. You can deprive it of sleep, but still it gets you up and running next morning. You can drink too much alcohol, and it will eliminate it from your system. It loves you unconditionally and does its best to allow you to live the life you came here for. The real issue in this relationship is not whether your body loves you, but whether you love your body. In any relationship, if one partner is loving, faithful and supportive, it’s easy for the other to take that person for granted. That’s what most of us do with our bodies. It is time for you to shift this, and working to understand your cravings is one of the best places to begin. Then you can build a mutually loving relationship with your own body.” ― Joshua Rosenthal, Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness
- "A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses. - Hippocrates
- "You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae." - Paul Walker
- “Since the experience is different for each individual, the tension will reflect that experience. In some persons the whole lower half of the body is relatively immobilized and held in a passive state; in others the muscular tensions are localized in the pelvic floor and around the genital apparatus. If the latter sort of tension is severe, it constitutes a functional castration; for, although the genitals operate normally, they are dissociated in feeling from the rest of the body. Any reduction of sexual feeling amounts to a psychological castration. Generally the person is unaware of these muscular tensions, but putting pressure upon the muscles in the attempt to release the tension is often experienced as very painful and frightening.”
- “When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us, so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves.” ― Jess C. Scott, Clear: A Guide to Treating Acne Naturally
- “About eighty percent of the food on shelves of supermarkets today didn't exist 100 years ago.” ― Larry McCleary, Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly
- “It is your brain that decides to get you out of bed in the morning to exercise, to give you a stronger, leaner body, or to cause you to hit the snooze button and procrastinate your workout. It is your brain that pushes you away from the table telling you that you have had enough, or that gives you permission to have the second bowl of Rocky Road ice cream, making you look and feel like a blob. It is your brain that manages the stress in your life and relaxes you so that you look vibrant, or, when left unchecked, sends stress signals to the rest of your body and wrinkles your skin. And it is your brain that turns away cigarettes, too much caffeine, and alcohol, helping you look and feel healthy, or that gives you permission to smoke, to have that third cup of coffee, or to drink that third glass of wine, thus making every system in your body look and feel older.Your brain is the command and control center of your body. If you want a better body, the first place to ALWAYS start is by having a better brain.” ― Daniel G. Amen, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body: Use Your Brain to Get and Keep the Body You Have Always Wanted
- “The center [of the supermarket] is for boxed, frozen, processed, made-to-sit-on-your-shelf-for-months food. You have to ask yourself, "If this food is designed to sit in a box for month and months, what is it doing inside my body?" Nothing good, that´s for sure.” ― Morgan Spurlock, Don't Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America