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>When Higher Blood Pressure Is Good

>By Don Whie
Windermere, FL — In both politics and health there is no unanimity among experts, and that’s good.

Who would want our country to always be of one mind? That’s the essence of who we are. It’s called freedom of the press, speech, expression and ideals. We aren’t clones, but belong to a two-party system of government, with plenty of far left liberals and far right conservatives to pull us one way or the other. I happen to be conservative, but I would die to allow my left-hugging friends the chance to express their beliefs and I hope they would do likewise for me.

But in medicine, where truth reigns — or should — why do we have so many people of education saying different things?

For example, what is a safe blood pressure for an older person. What day of the year is it, for what is true today will surely be preempted by a new scientific study or breakthrough. The following article weighs in on that. My big concern is a national health program which will set the rules and will determine once and for all what is high or low blood pressure — and the “truth” in all diseases and condition and standards of treatment.

I’m a state’s rights person, myself. I don’t think someone in far off Washington should govern my behavior, and neither do most Americans. But when we get our health care nationalized, when we socialize the system, we will all be of one mind and belief — oh, sure. What is this, communism or fascism? It could be the beginning of those dictatorial regimes, and then we’ll beg for a return to the free enterprise and capitalistic way of doing things. Don White

Blood Pressure: Low equals “slow”

A while back (Daily Dose, 8/8/2003), I wrote an article lambasting the American Medical Association for lowering its guidelines for healthy blood pressure for the umpteenth time. To recap, their latest recommendations cite anything over 115/70 (!) as being “high.” Just 6 years ago, that number was 140/90 (still plenty low). If their guidelines get much lower, any detectable pulse will qualify as “high risk” in their eyes…

Aside from the fact that there’s no evidence that high blood pressure causes heart disease (it’s often a response to the condition, but not its cause), and the fact that salt intake is only remotely correlated to hypertension, there’s one more widespread myth about blood pressure that most people – and their doctors – don’t seem to know about:

Your blood pressure can be TOO LOW (115/75 is borderline, if you ask me).

And now, some research from Israel shows just how big of an impact low blood pressure can have on health – especially upon those who are getting up in years. According to a recent Reuters online article, a Ben Gurion University study showed that patients over 70 with what modern standards call “mild hypertension” actually thought more clearly and creatively than those with lower blood pressure.

Both men and women in the nearly 500-subject study whose blood pressure was deemed high enough to warrant treatment with prescription drugs – and also those with clinically uncontrolled (untreated) hypertension – performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function, memory, concentration, and visual retention. Only in tests of verbal fluency was there no meaningful scoring advantage for the high-BP group…

Those with “normal” blood pressure tested the worst of all three groups in the study.

Similar studies in younger test populations yielded no difference in performance based on blood pressure. What’s this mean? It means that physicians need to balance their efforts to control what they perceive as risk factors for heart disease (namely, BP over 115/75) with patients’ quality-of-life concerns – like mental sharpness and creativity.

In other words, they should stop meddling with the body and mind and let it find its own equilibrium.



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