Lowering Blood Pressure Can Be Harmful...

I’m not like most physicians when it comes to treating hypertension. I’m not quick to prescribe medications; instead I advocate a non-drug centered approach to reverse heart disease and lower blood pressure. In my medical practice I have helped thousands of patients realize dramatic reduction in blood pressure, sometimes in as little as one week, simply by helping them adapt to my nutrient diet style and exercise program. In fact, I believe the conventional method of drug treatment is actually creating more heart attacks, strokes, and chronic disease than saving lives.

My July 2008 Healthy Times Newsletter, on treating high blood pressure, I outline the primary reasons that diet and lifestyle changes are so much safer and more effective than hypertension drug therapy, including:

  • Nutritional excellence, weight loss, salt avoidance, and exercise are proven to be the safest and most effective at providing cardio-protective benefits - actually reversing blood vessel plaque and getting rid of high blood pressure.
  • Medications have risks and side effects that can be life threatening.
  • Excessive lowering of diastolic blood pressure in the elderly and those on medication to control significant coronary artery disease actually increases the risk of heart attack.1

This newsletter offers detailed information about the risks and overuse of blood pressure medication and recent research findings corroborate my approach for lowering blood pressure.

According to a Cochrane Review treating patients with medications to reach lower blood pressure targets below the standard 140/90 did not show any reduction in morbidity and mortality. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of over 22,000 adults with hypertension taking anti-hypertension medication which indicated a higher risk for total mortality and a relatively significant increased risk of major cardiovascular events with more aggressive use of medications.

High blood pressure (BP) is defined as having a systolic (the upper number) blood pressure above 140 and a diastolic (the lower number) blood pressure above 90 mmHg. High blood pressure is a risk factor for increased risk of heart attack and stroke. As a result this range has become the standard blood pressure target for physicians and patients. A recent trend toward lower targets has been recommended by hypertension experts who set treatment guidelines. This trend is based on the assumption that the use of drugs to bring the BP lower than 140/90 mmHg range will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, this approach was proven false even in high risk patients.

The review was performed to find and assess all trials designed to examine whether lower blood pressure targets are better than standard blood pressure targets. When the data was analyzed, it revealed that using more drugs in the lower target groups did achieve modestly lower blood pressures. However, this approach did not prolong survival or reduce stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.2

Blood pressure medications are especially a concern when medication lowers the diastolic number too low. When the diastolic blood pressure is lowered excessively (as they lower systolic pressure), it increases the potential for cardiac arrhythmias that can lead to death.3 The excessive use of blood pressure medications that lower diastolic blood pressure too low also have been shown to increase the occurrence of atrial fibrillation, another serious rhythm disturbance of the heart.4

I have been educating my patients and readers about this for many years and now this meta-analysis provides even more scientific evidence that supports my recommendations--to avoid heart attack and stroke, the goal is not just to achieve a systolic blood pressure below 130; you must achieve it without medication!

Learn more about why using drugs to treat hypertension is dangerous and ineffective in my July 2008 Healthy Times Newsletter.

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Citrus Nutrient May Help Stop Obesity

In college, the only citrus I got was the lime in my beer bottle, but now I know better. Citrus fruits are loaded with health-promoting nutrients, like vitamin C.

Kiwi fruit, watermelon, strawberries, mangos and raspberries are all packed with vitamin C. And in May, vitamin C was found to stave off age-related vision loss.

Now, new findings in the journal Diabetes claims another fruit nutrient, naringenin—a flavonoid in citrus fruits—halts the development of metabolic syndrome, which leads to diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

For the study, scientists fed mice a high-fat diet—to simulate a western diet—in order to induce symptoms of metabolic syndrome and discovered mice fed a fatty diet plus naringenin had “corrected” levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.

Naringenin also protected against insulin resistance. Experts say naringenin reprogrammed the liver to burn up excess fat, instead of storing it. However, more research is needed to determined naringenin’s exact effect on heart disease.

In related news, pomegranates were found to reduce inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease.

Via EurekAlert!

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Q & A: Do Chicken and Shrimp Lower Cholesterol?

A lot of people think a healthy diet means grilled chicken and pasta. Nope. Try again. In his book Cholesterol Protection for Life, Dr. Fuhrman explains chicken—and even lean meats—don’t do much to lower cholesterol. In this discussion from the member center, Dr. Fuhrman explains why foods like chicken and shrimp aren’t wise choices for heart health:

Question: I remember reading a while back that chicken and shrimp are low in fat but high in cholesterol. Is that true? My friend has a heart condition and his nutritionist told him shrimp and chicken were good to eat depending on how it was cooked. I would like to convince him otherwise. First, I want to make sure I have my facts straight.

Dr. Fuhrman: Animal products, including high protein white meat chicken raise cholesterol, not just because of its saturated fat and cholesterol content, but because animal protein also raises cholesterol. Secondly, it is not just about cholesterol. You must reduce low-phytochemical and low-antioxidant foods like animal products and leave room for the high-nutrient plant foods.

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Q & A: HDL Cholesterol and Fasting

You hear a lot of LDL cholesterol, i.e. bad cholesterol, but HDL cholesterol—the good stuff—is just as important to heart health, especially when you’re losing weight. In this quick discussion from Dr. Fuhrman’s member center, he talks about LDL, HDL, weight-loss and fasting:

Question: My HDL went from 26 to 21. My cardiologist told me to eat more avocados to improve it. I did and my weight responded immediately. I gained weight. I think this was a bad idea. Am I right?

Also, I heard you say that the best treatment for heart disease is a combination of nutrition and fasting, but I read in your book it's not wise to fast if you're overweight. I went from 245 to 210 on Eat to Live in a few months, but I'm still overweight.

So I am confused. On the one hand, you say don't do fast when you're overweight, but on the other hand, you recommend fasting instead of do surgery.

Dr. Fuhrman: Listening to the nutritional advice of typical doctors is like asking your mailman for advice on your taxes. They typically have little knowledge or experience. Focusing on HDL and not your weight is a mistake.

A low HDL reading is of no practical consequence, just get rid of your plaque and keep LDL low. A high HDL can benefit a person with a higher LDL, but a low HDL does not hurt a person with a favorable, low LDL.

Weight loss is much more important than your lipid numbers because the plaque can be reduced most effectively once you have reached a lower body fat percentage, i.e. below 10%.

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