Healthy Blood Pressure. Healthy Mind
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
It’s probably no surprise that a recent study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found evidence which suggested that people’s blood pressure levels rose during the pandemic.
What they found was that adults who already had hypertension (high blood pressure) experienced “a small, but consequential” increase in their blood pressure during the first eight months of the pandemic, reports the NIH. The number of times they had their blood pressure measured dropped significantly, which may explain the increase.
If you don’t know your blood pressure status, you may not know you are in dangerous territory as the symptoms of high blood pressure may not appear initially. This is why monitoring blood pressure at home is necessary.
“We expected blood pressure control to be worse due to decreased physical activity, stress, poor sleep, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors that worsened during the pandemic,” said Dr. Hiroshi Gotanda, lead study author.
The reality is that hypertension has been a major issue well before the pandemic and continues to be today, with an estimated almost half of all Americans having hypertension (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)).
Unfortunately, it’s safe to say we have a hypertension pandemic on our hands. Reportedly, more than 1.2 billion people are currently living with hypertension (with more than 700 million having untreated hypertension). This hypertension pandemic must be addressed, because this condition significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke. Also keep in mind that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both American men and women.
When it comes to high blood pressure, there is more you have to keep in mind (pun intended). I have previously blogged about how high blood pressure may impact our cognitive abilities, because it may damage our brains. Hypertension may accelerate the mental decline that often leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2013, the NIH published a study reporting, “There is growing evidence that hypertension is the most important modifiable vascular risk factor for development and progression of both cognitive decline and dementia. High blood pressure contributes to cerebral small and large vessel disease resulting in brain damage and dementia.”
And now, a very recent global study involving more than 28,000 people “has provided the strongest evidence to date that lowering blood pressure in later life can cut the risk of dementia,” according to this Medical Xpress report discussing the study.
This is a big deal, because there really is no treatment for dementia. This is why preventing dementia is critical. An estimated 6.5 million Americans 65 and older are currently living with Alzheimer’s. The CDC predicts that by 2060 Alzhiemer’s disease cases will rise to 14 million people (with minorities being affected the most). This makes sense, as hypertension more commonly affects African-American and Latino communities.
According to the Medical Xpress article that discusses the recent study, “Dementia is fast becoming a global epidemic, currently affecting an estimated 50 million people worldwide. This is projected to triple by 2050—mainly driven by aging populations.”
I think it is extremely important to note that although the risk of dementia increases with age, it is by no means a natural part of aging.
“As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed,” (The CDC).
And a great preventative method appears to be maintaining a healthy blood pressure. The recent global study involved 28,008 people with an average age of 69 and a history of high blood pressure. The subjects were a diverse group, as they came from 20 different countries.
"Our study provides the highest grade of available evidence to show that blood pressure lowering treatment over several years reduces the risk of dementia, and we did not see any evidence of harm," said one of the lead doctors.
Prevention is always better than cure, however, I want people to see that it is never too late to start taking charge of your health. These subjects were over the age of 60 and had a history of high blood pressure, but addressing their high blood pressure appeared to significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia.Be proactive.
There is so much you can do to maintain a healthy blood pressure such as exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, manage stress and follow a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, but I think this pH Labs blog in particular really gets into the details of how you can truly be proactive and some key differences between men and women. I highly recommend giving this blog a really good read and taking the time to consider lifestyle changes you may need to make. If you are a slow caffeine metabolizer like myself, this is also something you need to be very aware of.
Finally, check out Cleveland Clinic’s 6 Types of Foods That Lower Blood Pressure. What is particularly important and effective about diet is that if you eat healthily, you are helping prevent pretty much every disease under the sun. Diabetes, dementia, hypertension, cancer, depression and so much more have all been associated with a nutrient-void, pro-inflammatory diet. So avoid processed foods as much as possible, and reach for fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean animal proteins (if you are someone who consumes animal foods).
As always, be sure to take routine nutrient tests. Having nutritional deficiencies and imbalances has been shown to increase the risk of disease developing or exacerbate existing health issues. If the test reveals you are not nutritionally balanced, a competent healthcare professional can work with you regarding making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements in a safe manner if necessary.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.