Hypertension Success Story

By Joel Fuhrman, M.D. www.drfuhrman.com

Learn How Jennifer Barlow’s Persistence Paid Big Dividends.

When I first met Ms. Barlow (age 54), she was on three medications to lower blood pressure—a calcium channel blocker (Norvasc 10 mg),a beta-blocker (Indural 100 mg), and an ACE inhibitor (Prinovil 20 mg). She was 5'4", weighed 180 pounds, and still had high blood pressure (165/80), despite the three medications. I held off on adding any medications because I expected that my diet and low-salt recommendations would help her lose weight and lower her blood pressure rapidly.

During the first four months, she did lose weight (40 pounds), but her systolic blood pressure remained elevated. At the two-month follow-up, her blood pressure was 150/80, and at the four-month follow-up, it was 145/75. Based on these readings, which Ms. Barlow confirmed with her home blood pressure monitor, she remained on all three of her medications throughout this period.

While Ms. Barlow’s experience was not typical, neither was it cause for alarm. Some people who develop high blood pressure at a relatively young age find it difficult to bring it down with diet and weight loss. I reassured her that, for many, weight loss does not bring blood pressure down initially. The pressure only comes down after the weight drops below a certain threshold, and the person has stayed off all salt for an entire year or more.

Ms. Barlow persisted. Her health continued to improve, and she lost more weight. Eight months after her first visit, she weighed 135 pounds, and her blood pressure was down to 130/75.At that point, I started tapering the Indural (beta-blocker).

It took another 12 months for her to be able to discontinue all of her medications. It took her almost two years to get her weight below 130 pounds and to get her blood pressure in the normal range without any medications. During the last year, she has had systolic blood pressure readings averaging between 110 and 120, with no medication.

The exact timetable for recovery through nutritional intervention is difficult to predict. Some people dramatically improve their diet, adopt an exercise program, lose weight, and still have high blood pressure for a period of time, while others see a rapid drop in four weeks, or even sooner.

Whether the process is quick or slow, it is important to continue closely monitoring the blood pressure to prevent a problem that could arise from too much medication and/or excessive lowering of the blood pressure.

In Ms. Barlow’s case, she learned that reversing a 50-year history of unhealthful living could not be achieved in a few months. She also learned that persistence pays off.

Not only did she lose weight and resolve her blood pressure problem, but her dietary and lifestyle adjustments literally changed the structure and function of her body. The result is that she has restored the youthful elasticity to her blood vessels and removed blood vessel plaque. Medications never do this; they just cover up the gradually worsening pathology.

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