Volume 5, Issue 2
January 12, 2012
Over 60 and taking blood
pressure drugs? Beware!
Are you over the age of 60 and taking drugs to lower your blood pressure? If so, you’re in danger. And this is especially true if you’ve had a stroke.
Recently, I had two patients come to see me. One was 76 years old, and the other 81. Their children brought them in because they had become too weak and confused to take care of themselves. Why? In both cases it was because their blood pressure was too low.
“Too low?” you ask. “I thought the lower your blood pressure was the better.”
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Well, it turns out that while that concept is generally true for the under-60 crowd, it is often wrong for older folks. Both of these patients became their former selves once I lowered their blood pressure medication, and allowed their blood pressure to become normal.
Are these isolated cases? Hardly! A new study shows it’s far more common than you might think. In fact, the researchers draw some surprising conclusions regarding maintaining blood pressures in older people.
Doctors often very aggressively lower the blood pressures of patients who have had a stroke. The thinking is that for this group, they must maintain a systolic blood pressure below 120 in order to reduce the risk of another stroke. The problem is that because of this approach, many older post-stroke patients have blood pressures that are too low. They suffer from mental confusion and weakness. But no one takes them seriously. After all, they are old, and they have had a stroke. Now this new study shows that you don’t need to aggressively lower your blood pressure. In fact, doing so is downright dangerous.
The study was in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. So it’s not from some obscure source your doctor can ignore. The researchers at the University of California in San Diego looked at 20,330 patients over the age of 50 who had suffered a recent stroke. They followed the patients for 2 1/2 years, and compared the likelihood of them having a repeat stroke depending on their blood pressure. The results completely upset the current blood pressure guidelines that lower is better. Here’s what they found.
The group of patients who had been aggressively medicated to keep their blood pressures below 120 had an 8% chance of having a repeat stroke.
Those whose blood pressures had been kept higher, at 120-130, had an unexpected result. Not only did they not have a higher chance of repeat stroke, they actually had a lower chance! Their risk came out to be 7.2%.
And then it gets real interesting.
Those whose blood pressure was in the “high normal” range of 130-140 had the least chance of a repeat stroke. Their risk was 6.8%. That’s a risk of nearly 18% lower than the highly medicated group.
At this point, the benefits of having a higher blood pressure stopped. As blood pressures went above 140, risk started to increase. Those patients whose blood pressures went as high as 150, the risk increased to 8.7%. And finally, when the blood pressures went over 150, the risk climbed all the way to 14.1% – more than twice the risk of the 130-140 group.
But that’s not all. Increased chance of having a repeat stroke was not the only risk. Patients in both the under 120 and the over 150 groups had equally greater risks of having heart attacks as well.
I think that there are two very useful lessons we can take away from this study. First, it is important that patients who have a had a stroke keep their blood pressure under 150. If they don’t, they double their risk for either another stroke or a heart attack.
Second, it isn’t necessary to lower your blood pressure below 120. In fact, it is dangerous since it increases the risk of having both another stroke and/or a heart attack. But as the two patients I mentioned above attest to, it is worse than that. In order to keep a blood pressure that low in an older person, it is often necessary to over medicate them to the point that the quality of their life seriously suffers.
So, if you or your loved one has had a stroke, and their blood pressure is being medicated below the 130-140 zone, it’s time to take action. Please talk with the doctor about decreasing the dose to allow the blood pressure to rise into this healthier zone.
One more thing. Don’t forget that blood pressure drugs are not the only way to improve blood pressure. In most cases, you can improve your blood pressure simply by using the right supplements, exercising correctly and regularly, eating a low animal-protein diet, losing weight, and detoxifying with EDTA chelation therapy. Please refer to my website to find out specific information on how to lower your blood pressure naturally.
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REF: Ovbiagele B, Diener HC, Yusuf S, et al. Level of Systolic Blood Pressure Within the Normal Range and Risk of Recurrent Stroke. JAMA. 2011 Nov 16;306(19):2137-2144.
Copyright 2012 Soundview Publishing, LLC.
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