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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Blood pressure - How low is too low?

During a national television programme to test the health of the nation some years ago, there was much lecturing and finger-wagging. At one point, the highly knowledgeable medical expert stated that even a blood pressure of 120/80 was too high and that a lower BP of 110/70 or less was desirable for least risk of cardiovascular disease. Although this view is now more or less official doctrine nowadays this still has to be challenged.

Are we producing a nation of the "worried well"? The simple fact of life is that the vast majority of us have BPs of about 120/80, so how can this be unhealthy? Well, it is not unhealthy, that's for sure. If BP is much less than 120/80 there is no doubt that your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke decline a little more; but at what cost?

I recall a very interesting study (no reference, sorry) in which the mental gymnastics of subjects was tested. Researchers discovered that the participants with the higher blood pressures out-performed the ones with the lower BPs! Now, if you are an over-trained athlete or a patient on blood pressure lowering medication, you will appreciate what I mean when I go on about "Brain Fog".

Low blood pressure means less blood to the brain and therefore poor mental function. In the over 65's, being on blood pressure medication is associated with an 8-fold increase in motor vehicle insurance claims! Fix one problem with a pill and cause a whole lot more further down the line. This is myopic medicine.

To get blood pressure consistently less than the optimum BP for daily functioning, it is necessary to either be unwell, or to be on blood pressure reducing medication. I am not aware of any research that proves that blood pressure drugs will extend life or improve quality of life for subjects with moderately raised BP (if you can call it that) - say, 130/85. The small reductions in cardiovascular risk are not worth the associated risks.

The better strategy for maintaining good cardiovascular health is not to get all worked up if BP is a few points over 120/80 - that will just push it higher. Relax! Work on your diet, exercise daily, take a few key supplements and get on with life with the knowledge that your brain is pumped and primed for a good day's work!

Manage Your Heart with!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gary your comments about blood pressure being a little above 120/80 are so commonsense and true.I am 77 and and mine is round about 127/72.It used to be more like 140/80. I use a B P monitor that you sold me and walk everyday on your advice. Thank you, thank you , thank you! Oldy