Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: Hypertension and Congestive Heart Failure

High blood pressure is an all too common condition as we age. About 29% of Americans have high blood pressure and only half have it under control. By age 55 more than 50% of us suffer from the condition. The health care costs of hypertension are estimated to be in excess of 46 billion dollars a year.

Traditional treatment is medication to reduce the force of the heart contraction. Beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors are commonly used alone or in combination to reduce high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, the most common side effect of these medications is congestive heart failure. Of note, an Internet search for the causes of congestive heart failure will not list medication side effect as a cause.

So you take one or more of these medications to reduce the hypertension but your ankles begin to swell, especially at the end of the day – that’s early congestive heart failure. By reducing the force of the heart contraction, the blood begins to pool in the legs, kidneys, and lungs as pump efficiency drops. Your doctor adds a diuretic to pull off more of the fluid. The swelling goes down but now your legs are cramping or your heart rate becomes erratic from the loss of potassium. So a potassium supplement is added, but that upsets your stomach. A proton-pump inhibitor is next (Nexium or Prilosec) and you’ve reached polypharmacy. Welcome to health care in America.

What is the alternative? Although modern health care considers blood pressure and heart rate as independent variables, the rate, rhythm, and force of the heart contraction are all balanced by input from the brain to the heart. Three of the B vitamins are key players in this complex communication.

Vitamin B1, thiamine is generally stimulatory. I am firmly convinced that the fortification of our grains with thiamine is an ignored factor in both hypertension and heart rhythm disorders like tachycardia and AF (atrial fibrillation).

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacinamide) are generally relaxing. It is the ratio of these B vitamins that supports normal heart function.

The average heart patient needs a 1:3 ratio of B1:B2&B3. This is found in the Standard Process product Cardio-Plus. However, if I want to sedate the heart a little, I use Cataplex G, another product from Standard Process that contains vitamins B2 and B3 only.

If the patient has congestive heart failure, I use Cataplex B, for thiamine support. Most commonly, this is the patient taking medication for hypertension.

There are other considerations – quality of sleep, stress levels, hypo or hyperglycemia and electrolyte imbalances that also must be addressed. Chaste tree, adrenal support, Gymnema, and magnesium supplementation can be very helpful for these factors.

The Bottom Line:
You can often eliminate the need for high blood pressure medication with nutritional supplementation and lifestyle changes. Even reducing your medications or eliminating the side effects can improve the quality of your life with proper nutritional support.

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