Like millions of patients around the world your doctor probably told you that lowering your blood pressure (BP) to a “normal” range will help you avoid a heart attack or stroke… and of course, to achieve the “ideal” blood pressure target of 120/80 you’ll have to take drugs like diuretics, ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers.
However, what you don’t know (and what your doctor won’t tell you) is that lowering your BP to ridiculously low levels could literally starve your brain and leave you at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Both Italian and Dutch researchers have previously found in studies that elderly patients who had the lowest blood pressure were far more likely to suffer from cognitive decline and dementia. Now, more recently, an international research team analysed medical records for nearly 30,000 people and found that those with higher blood pressure were also much less likely to have Alzheimer’s.
Allowing your blood pressure to creep north of the 120/80 ideal target may seem frightening. But even top cardiologists admit that what we’re defining as “normal” BP these days has no medical foundation.
Back in the 1950s, a good BP reading was said to be a systolic (top number) of 100 plus your age, meaning that you could have a systolic reading of 150 or higher and nobody would think to prescribe you a drug.
This all changed a decade later when a study claimed that lowering BP saves lives. And the next thing we knew, blood pressure targets were lowered and doctors started handing out blood pressure drugs like sweets.
However, the current ridiculously low blood pressure targets are based on a deeply flawed study: It focused only on the bottom (or diastolic) reading, not the systolic number, which is more important and that is targeted with blood pressure drugs.
As is the case with many other drugs (think cholesterol-lowering statin drugs), this one flawed study and Big Pharma’s unstoppable marketing machine convinced doctors to lower our blood pressure to unheard-of levels. And it looks like our brains are paying the price… especially if you are an elderly patient.
Fortunately, some doctors are waking up to the dangers of over-treating BP. A panel of experts arranged by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute now claims that patients over 60 should never be given blood pressure drugs unless their systolic number is over 150.
That’s awfully similar to recommendations you would have heard half a century ago. And it proves that millions of patients are taking blood pressure drugs right now that they don’t need.
If you think you are one of them, you and your doctor need to talk because preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia could be as easy as to stop taking your BP drugs… even if your blood pressure is a little high by today’s standards.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
“Blood pressure, the mystery number” Gina Kolata, June 22, 2015, The New York Times, nytimes.com
“People with high blood pressure are at lower risk of Alzheimer’s” Rina Marie Doctor, June 29, 2015, Tech Times, techtimes.com