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Hypertension and Its Related Risks




Excerpted from
Reversing Hypertension : A Vital New Program to Prevent, Treat, and Reduce High Blood Pressure
By Julian M. Whitaker, M.D.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a silent killer. It places tremendous stress on the arteries and overworks the heart with each beat. Hypertension may progress for years without symptoms, slowly chipping away at the blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. And it eventually takes its toll-high blood pressure is the major underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes. Conventional treatment is some- times worse than the disease, as patients with hypertension are often overmedicated with prescription drugs that have unpleasant side effects. Even if these drugs do lower blood pressure, they may significantly decrease quality of life and increase the risk of other health problems, while doing little to prevent cardiovascular complications.

Though many doctors still define hypertension as "causeless" or of "unknown origin," don't buy it. Extensive medical research, which I will tell you about in this book, makes it perfectly clear that unhealthy living is the primary cause of hypertension. And while its true that age, race, and genetic and environmental factors can put you at increased risk, your daily habits do far more to determine whether or not you will develop this condition. This is great news, for it means that preventing and reversing hypertension are within your control.

I've spent more than twenty-five years treating patients with hypertension and have found that the human body responds rapidly when nurtured and given a chance to heal itself. Like Nicole, hundreds of patients treated at the Whitaker Wellness Institute have lowered their blood pressure using safe, effective, natural therapies. This book offers you the same sensible program I offer patients at my clinic. Reversing Hypertension is your complete guide to regaining and maintaining normal blood pressure for life. In Part I I'll explain exactly how blood pressure is maintained, what drives it up, and how hypertension affects your overall health. We will discuss the drugs commonly prescribed to lower blood pressure, how they work, and how some of these drugs can increase your risk of premature death. Most important, in the detailed program laid out in Part II, you'll learn how to prevent and reverse hypertension by addressing its root causes.

I strongly encourage you to work with your physician; is you implement the elements of this program for reversing hypertension. If your doctor is new to natural approaches to medicine, you may wish to share the information in this book with him or her. However, if your physician does not support your desire to utilize these safe nutritional and lifestyle approaches, I suggest you find one who will.

It is important for you to know that 90 to 95 percent of all hypertension cases can be treated. And an estimated 80 percent of patients with high blood pressure have what is classified as mild to moderate hypertension, which can often be managed through diet, nutritional supplementation, exercise, and stress management. By taking full responsibility for your health and making a few changes in the things you do every day, you can turn your health-and your life-around. Let's get started!

If Your Blood Pressure Is Dangerously High

If your blood pressure is severely high (systolic over 180 mm Hg or diastolic over 110 mm Hg), turn immediately to the Quick Start Diet in Chapter 11. Time is of the essence! Under your physician's supervision, follow the instructions for bringing down blood pressure fast, and watch your blood pressure safely drop to healthy levels. Then go back and read this book from beginning to end to get a good grasp of the causes of and solutions for hypertension. If you've been diagnosed with less severe hypertension, or if you are interested in preventing hypertension, I suggest you take the time to read through the entire book, making the recommended changes as they apply to you.

Understanding Blood Pressure

Hypertension is generally attributed to persistent tightening of the arterioles, the small blood vessels that branch off the arteries. But this is like saying that flipping a switch turns on the lights, or watering a seed makes it grow-it's only part of the picture. In this chapter we're going to take an in-depth look at blood pressure and the organs and systems involved in its regulation. We'll discuss the heart and blood vessels, which are obviously the primary players in hypertension. We'll also look at other systems that are involved in blood pressure regulation. Your kidneys play a key role, as do your adrenal and pituitary glands and your nervous system. So let's begin our exploration of the inside story of blood pressure. I'll do my best to simplify this very complex subject-and I promise "not to fill a book."

The Pump and Pipes Of The Cardiovascular System

To describe the cardiovascular system and the basics of blood pressure, I like to use a model that most everyone is familiar with-plumbing. While this analogy may be overly simplistic, your cardiovascular system is essentially a network consisting of a pump and multiple pipes. Your heart is the pump, your blood vessels a complex set of pipes, and your blood the fluid coursing through the system.

The Pump

What a pump your heart is! About the size of a fist, this muscular organ contracts and relaxes from 50 to 200 times per minute without rest. At an average heart rate of 70 beats per minute, the human heart beats 4,200 times an hour, 100,800 times a day, 37 million times a year, and an amazing 3 billion times over an 85-year lifetime. The heart pump is divided into two halves, right and left, separated by a muscular wall called the septum. Each half has two chambers, the upper atrium and the lower ventricle. Blood flows into the right atrium and then, through a valve, into the right ventricle. When the right ventricle is full, another valve opens and the heart contracts, or pumps. This sends the blood from the right ventricle to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen. Oxygenated blood returning from the lungs enters the left atrium, then the left ventricle.




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