There is a silent epidemic in our country where people with high blood pressure are being treated with medications to make the actual blood pressure numbers look normal without treating the underlying causes of the disease.
Interestingly, the primary causes are often the same as the causes of diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and most other chronic diseases. They are micro-nutrient imbalances(link), chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and genetic or autoimmune dysfunction(link), obesity and unhealthy diet and exercise habits.
The most common underlying cause of hypertension begins with scarring and inflammation of the cellular lining of the blood vessels called the endothelium. This can happen with blood pressures in the normal range and then progress to deposits of fatty acids and white blood cells to become atherosclerotic plaques. As the blood vessels narrow and constrict due to the plaque deposition and hardening by calcium deposits there is less room in the vessels for the blood to flow resulting in high blood pressure or hypertension. This process also describes the progression of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, coronary artery disease and stroke.
Endothelial dysfunction is involved in numerous systemic disease processes such as: erectile dysfunction, metabolic syndrome, cerebrovascular diseases (stroke/TIA), pre-eclampsia toxemia, renal failure, sleep apnea, claudication, and gangrene.
How do the naturopathic doctors at North Coast Family Health assess the underlying causes of my high blood pressure/hypertension?
We begin with a thorough history and appropriate physical exam. We also order extensive lab testing to look for predisposing factors such as chronic inflammation, genetic predispositions, micronutrient deficiencies, lipid peroxidation, fatty acid and hormone imbalances, cholesterols, triglycerides and the percentage of harmful lipid particles relative to protective.
Measuring hsCRP is extremely useful because hsCRP predicts both cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality. It is the best marker of vascular inflammation. Even small increases in hsCRP will increase blood pressure; unfortunately, hypertension increases hsCRP, creating a vicious cycle.
Optimal homocysteine levels are also very important for healing the endothelium of the blood vessels.
For patients with high cardiovascular disease risk, we refer to cardiology specialists for further evaluation and intervention. The reversal of cardiovascular disease is a healthy lifestyle as proven by Dean Ornish, M.D. and other leading cardiologists who emphasize diet and lifestyle therapies similar to those we recommend.