High blood pressure leads to many complications
EAR DR. DONOHUE: Is a blood pressure of 165/95 all that bad? I know my dad’s blood pressure has been over 200 and he’s still alive at age 79. I take a water pill, but I’d like to lower it without any medicine. Is that possible? How? — K.C.
ANSWER: Normal blood pressure is a reading of less than 120/80. Pressures of 140/90 or higher are considered hypertension ( high blood pressure). Numbers between those two readings are called prehypertension — not high blood pressure but likely to become high blood pressure in a short time. Elevation of either number — the first (systolic) or the second (diastolic) — constitutes high pressure. Both can be elevated. High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and eye damage. Your pressure is bad enough to put you at risk for those complications.
Weight loss lowers pressure by five to 10 points for about 20 pounds of weight reduction. Half an hour of daily exercise brings it down two to four points; a lowsalt diet reduces it by two to eight points; moderating alcohol intake (two drinks a day for men, one for women) takes off two to four points. Adopting the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can decrease blood pressure by a whopping 14 points. This diet emphasizes
Dfruits, vegetables and grains. It de-emphasizes saturated fats, the fats in meat and whole-fat dairy products. Low-fat dairy products are allowed. Adding potassiumrich foods is another way to control blood pressure — foods such as bananas, oranges, orange juice, kidney beans, navy beans, potatoes with skins, cantaloupe, raisins, dates, spinach and sweet potatoes.
These interventions work for many but not for all, and a number of people still have to resort to medicines for blood pressure control. Diuretics (your water pill) often are chosen for a pressure like yours. We have five different classes of blood pressure medicines, with many medicines in each class. Adding a medicine from another class is sometimes necessary, and not infrequently a third drug has to be prescribed.
The booklet on high blood pressure explains this common and serious disorder in detail. To order a copy, write to: Dr. Donohue — No. 104, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a cheque or money order (no cash) for $6 Cdn with the recipient’s printed name and address. Allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 88 years old, and my question has to do with a low-salt diet. My doctor has me on one for my blood pressure. I can remember the days when goiters were common. I know iodine was added to salt to prevent them. I don’t see as many goiters now. Will this low-salt diet cause me to get one? I would rather have high blood pressure. — W.W.
ANSWER: A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland, and many different illnesses cause it. It can be seen as a bulge in the lower neck. Iodine deficiency is one cause. In the 1920s, iodine was added to salt to provide a source of this mineral to those who lived in places where the iodine content of soil was low. Once that program was under way, the number of goiters dropped.
A low-salt diet still provides you with more than enough iodine to prevent goiter formation.