Blood Pressure for the Novice

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but as of November 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have made some changes in what they classify as “normal” and “high” blood pressure. Previously, your reading had to reach 140/90 to be considered high. Now, however, you’re labeled with high blood pressure with a reading of 130/80. This change captures about 50% of the adult population in the United States!

Reading about this made me question how much I truly know about blood pressure, and what these numbers really tell us. I know that high is bad, and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard high blood pressure nicknamed “the silent killer.” I’m also aware that every time I go into the doctor’s office, my blood pressure is checked, deemed normal, and noted in my chart. Phew! Right? But now, with these new changes, I wonder if my readings still qualify as normal?

Well, the answer depends on what these readings are based on to begin with:

“Medicine, Inc., has an obsession with changing medical metrics to fit new drug capabilities and popular causes. For example: Broadly redefining AIDS-related death in the late 1990s in order to bring more people into the epidemic. Or massively lowering cholesterol and blood pressure normal numbers to match new drug capabilities. In the 1970s, medical students were taught that a person’s age plus 100 was a safe level for systolic blood pressure. This calculation was based on studying countless thousands of people who were at a normal stage of health for their age. From those studies doctors found that that calculation produced accurate information and the right results. But now, in 2017, drug capabilities encourage medical authorities to lower the systolic to 120 regardless of age. They may have learned this deceptive technique from politicians who say, “We’re only raising taxes on millionaires.” But when it’s discovered that the tax also affects people who make 200K a year, they reply, ‘Well, in five years, it’s a million dollars.”
Mark Anderson, author and educator

Seems like a topic I should educate myself on. The first thing I reached for is my copy of Health Is Simple, Disease Is Complicated by James Forleo, DC. The take he offers on most any health-related topic is always refreshing in its simplicity, and his explanation of blood pressure is no exception:

“Currently, high and low blood pressure readings are treated as if they were diseases, when in reality they are symptoms of trouble in circulatory system function. In other words, blood pressure is not the problem; it is the indicator of a problem—and a much larger one. This larger problem involves the inefficient function of the heart, and the slow but steady increase in the body’s resistance to the pumping of blood through the vascular system.”

This makes sense to me. When we experience a random symptom, it usually means our body is trying to tell us something else is going on.

Forleo goes on to explain that a high systolic number (the first one) indicates your heart is pumping inefficiently, your blood vessels aren’t as elastic as they used to be, or there’s a buildup within the arteries. The diastolic reading (the second number) reveals increased resistance of your blood vessels, possible liver concerns (such as toxicity), or more resistance in blood flow to your kidneys.

Now, my memory that high blood pressure is also known as “the silent killer” is correct. That’s because high blood pressure doesn’t offer up any obvious symptoms to help you realize you’ve got it. Finding out you have high blood pressure so you can deal with it is dependent on getting your blood pressure checked.

If you’re like me and you don’t frequent a doctor’s office, it may be a good idea to look into a home device that will help you stay on top of things. According to the research I’ve done, I found that the Omron brand gets great reviews. This is the model we have (though unfortunately I’m not very good at remembering to use it).

The topic of home devices brought up another question for this self-healther. How often should I take my blood pressure at home? According to the Mayo Clinic, twice a day is the way to go. Once in the morning, before eating or taking any medication. (However, you should make sure to use the bathroom first, as it can elevate your reading a bit if you don’t.) And then once again at night, at least thirty minutes after eating or drinking any alcohol, etc. To ensure accuracy, you should take two or three readings each time, with a minute or so in between. Once you’ve established your blood pressure is normal, you can check it less frequently.

This is just one of the ways we can take notice and reduce our risk of strokes and heart attacks sooner than we have in the past. We can also make other beneficial lifestyle and nutrition changes that can help us turn things around before it’s too late. Making these changes can be difficult, especially since we’re very routine creatures by nature—but our lives may depend on it.

If high blood pressure is a concern of yours, you may want to consider getting in touch with a holistic healthcare provider who is well-versed in a variety of approaches, including the Heart Sound Recorder. You can use the practitioner search tool at to seek out a provider in your area who is familiar with the Standard Process line of whole food supplements. It could be just what you’ve been looking for.

Hopefully, with the help of a holistic provider and your commitment to making some changes, you won’t be taking any trips to the pharmacy. Lifestyle and nutrition changes will help your overall wellbeing anyway—and get you closer and closer to optimal health. The title of James Forleo’s book says it all: “Health is simple, disease is complicated.”

What’s a health and/or nutrition subject you’d like to know more about?

Image from iStock/Sasha_Suzi

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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