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  • Writer's pictureJean Jordan

Time to have a Heart-to-Heart

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

How important is it to understand your blood pressure?

50 years ago, a doctor may have said to his patient, "your blood pressure is fine, I was taught in medical school to add your age to 100, you're 62 so 158/90 is good.” However, today many doctors would put you on blood pressure medication. Just recently I read that the American Medical Association is considering lowering the systolic blood pressure, that's the top number to 110?

Who decided to make healthy women unhealthy and need medication?

Slash of the pen - you are unhealthy

This lowering of numbers on test results applies to other diseases. One such is the bone thinning disease osteoporosis. Someone decides with the slash of a pen to lower the numbers, in one day when a decision was is made millions of women in America went from being healthy to be unhealthy suffering with osteoporosis. This is particularly worrying as the general treatment is bisphosphonates that change the natural process of bone turnover that keeps bones resilient and strong - that in reality is best treated by exercise and resistance exercise. Only side-effects are some aching muscles for a while?

Older people's livers challenged by too many medications

As we age nothing works as well as it used to, as us older people will attest, consequently our liver is not able to break down chemicals as easily or effectively as when we were younger. Increasingly these days more and more people over 60 are taking more and more medication.

Don't we need less medications?

Prescription drugs - are they overprescribed?

If drugs, or the chemicals within the drugs are not fully metabolised by the liver when they first reach the liver, there is no option but for the body to just recirculate the medication around our body.

If this is the case they once again act on our body in addition to the next ones we take today, and the next day and the next day and so on.

Also, other parts of the body’s clearance system are again older and slower also being affected by the overload of medications and doctors should consider how this impacts on other medication that a person may be atkeing. This is called polypharmacy - several medicines that interact with each other - and needs to be discussed with your chemist.

Time to consider replacing medications in some cases by lifestyle changes.

The correct way to measure blood pressure

Or, as my husband discovered how to NOT measure your blood pressure. My husband was in the process of his annual health check for his work, okay he is fit and well so need to be worried about a physical check-up, but on the day, he went for his medical he overslept, had a quick cup of coffee, no time for breakfast and dashed out the door running late, rushing into the clinic. Hey presto he had high blood pressure! The clinic was also pretty busy with quite a few other people around, taking or having their medical checkups.

Hey presto he had high blood pressure!

Who me, did I do that?

The company insisted he went to his GP and start to take blood pressure medication that turned out incidentally to be a combo - included a statin because it was easier - so his doctor said, although his cholesterol was not known to be high and wasn't even checked. As the doctor said it was easier.

Hubby in trouble

Being married to a naturopath he was in trouble, not for the medication but how he successfully managed to get himself measured and diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Well, interestingly enough, the other day I stumbled across an article that said blood pressure medication is over prescribed, one of the reasons being blood pressure may not be measured with sufficient care and accuracy.

What he did wrong to get a high blood pressure reading?

  • First there was the coffee - wrong, wrong.

  • Rushing out the door, with no time for breakfast – wrong, wrong.

  • He went charging into the clinic, was given no time to settle and sit and rest – wrong, wrong.

  • The clinic was busy and noisy – wrong, wrong.

Also, he does have a natural tendency towards white coat syndrome – a challenge.

For a full description of what you should do to get an accurate blood pressure reading you need to go to this page on the website.

By using this method many of my clients are gaining much lower readings. Tests in any form are stressful especially if there is a genetic predisposition, or stress because you don't want medication.

You often hear, and also something my clients have been told by their doctors "once you start medication it's for life.” But diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes are all "lifestyle" problems. So, if we change our lifestyle, we may be able to discuss reducing medication with our doctor.

The side effects of medication - on all of your body.

Consider ibuprofen for the headache, it just doesn't go to our head, it acts on all parts of our body. What does it mean that many medications give some people side-effects such as headache, nausea, dizziness for days when their first taken? Is that good for us?

Generally, we are told not to worry, the body will get used to the medication and the side-effects will pass. I really do wonder what that means as the effect on the body is still the same, it's the same medication so what exactly is happening when the side-effects cease?

Do we give the same dosage to a small woman and a large man?

What about 50 kg woman versus 150 kg man? Not just the weight but the relative size of the liver. Does it have more space to detox chemicals? I'm sorry that in this article I can offer no answers all I'm doing is posing questions and the research is outside the remit of what this article is about. Questions, perhaps you can ask your doctor.

A client's serious blood pressure emergency.

As recently as 2015 I referred a client with a blood pressure 200/118 to a local GP. Instant medication, okay I agree this was dangerously high. However, my client was categorically told it was not due to stress, it was physical, and stress had no influence.

Strange, what about the fight and flight response, specifically with the respectively high level of "political" stress at executive level in his company and the recent changes he felt were detrimental to the future of the company that he'd been with for over 30 years.

If you need to find out more about the effects of stress click here.

Is screening for disease, preventative medicine?

Having recently returned to university to study pain management to improve my knowledge and skills, I am having the best time with the online library, discovering many interesting items. Some of the information from this article comes from a review of the book below. I think I'll have to purchase this to find out more, as some of my clients have been diagnosed with often two, three or more health conditions

Over diagnosed: making people sick in pursuit of health, by Dr. H.G. Welch et al.

This quote is intriguing?

"such testing of healthy individuals all too often results in over diagnosis and over treatment, because in reality there is "nothing to fix""

In fact some people can be harmed, by treatment that may not be necessary. Particularly as we age, many visible imperfections appear, we have veins that are more lumpy or they’re turning blue, increasing each decade. As your body keeps changing, often not a ‘structural improvement’ to put it under a microscope may not be the best idea?

If I put on my none prescription glasses on that have three times magnification, chemist bought, then look closely in the mirror, ahhhhhh!

Who is that old lady?

Goodness, it's me!

Quick, take the glasses off.

Putting our bodies under the microscope - is this a good idea?

In much the same way high-resolution technology puts our insides under a microscope, that produces incidental findings. Clinicians are then obliged to report and document these incidentalomas that morph into a diagnosis with concomitant tests and further investigations, perhaps a biopsy.

Medical tests and investigations cause anxiety

Now we are all aware of the anxiety caused by these tests and investigations. The stress of waiting can cause us to start catastrophising, which is only natural. It could be serious, or it could even be fatal, or other negative thoughts go around and around in our minds. Elsewhere on this website I describe the serious health affects of stress on our minds and bodies, so these incidental findings can even cause the ill health that we didn't have, when we were well, before we went under magnifying technology.

Dr Welch goes on to inform us that incidentalomas are found in "healthy" people, 50% in lungs, kidney 23% and liver 15% and even 67% of thyroid if that is scanned, although the chance that these, or any of these represent a lethal cancer, is less than 1%.

Therefore, if we undergo health screening to prevent disease, we run the risk of finding incidentals, getting a diagnosis and treatment that is unnecessary. Could precious resources and money not be better spent on "real preventative medicine"

What is real preventative medicine?

By real preventative medicine I mean, ensuring we eat healthy food, food that includes knowing exactly what food is healthy. Getting or should I say demanding, accountability in marketing so we know what we're eating with independent advice on how to eat healthy.

Then we need facilities for movement and exercise, cycle lanes, public transport, together with encouragement and motivation to care about looking after ourselves. Oh dear, it sounds like we need holistic government? Our health departments and transportation departments that talk to each other, discussing, planning and make great decisions.

What used to be a good blood pressure before an abundance of medications

Finally I decided to go back to the last century and found this article in the British medical Journal (BMJ) in July 1993. This article discusses the management of raised blood pressure in New Zealand and this certainly gave some interesting information and also raised questions too, about how ideas and the thoughts about the levels of healthy blood pressure have changed. When fewer medicines were prescribed. If you're interested here is the link to the full article.

Jean Jordan is a Kinesiologist, Naturopath and trained Yoga Teacher who lives and has a clinic in Christchurch, New Zealand where she works with clients who have chronic pain and anxiety, enabling them to change their lives.The ideas and thoughts expressed here are those of the author, aiming to prompt discussion and moving forward to encourage us all to take care of our health.

Visit PASC website to find out how clients have worked with Jean to change their lives. Read their stories about how change can happen, often with one to two consultations.

Due to changes and challenges over the past two years, and also completing postgraduate study for a Certificate in Pain Management from Otago University Jean now has a new online chronic pain business Natural Pain Solutions.

Take the opportunity to check out the educational information and self-help techniques this new website contains and subscribe to get the latest health blogs.

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