Prolonged high blood pressure can lead to stroke, congestive heart failure, heart attack, kidney disease, eye disease, and ultimately even death. So what can you do to stay clear of these risks? In this episode, Dr. Jack Wolfson and Dr. Lauren Lattanza do a deep dive into high blood pressure, including its common misconceptions. Discover how our bodies respond to nutrition, lifestyle, evidence-based toxins, deficiencies, and excess of other things. Tune in and learn more about blood pressure to maintain a healthier life!
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High Blood Pressure Deep Dive With Dr. Wolfson And Dr. Lattanza
I‘m here with Dr. Lauren Lattanza. We’re going to be talking all about high blood pressure. Dr. Lauren, take it away. Tell us why so many people are affected by high blood pressure. What are the numbers? How many people have it?
Depending on where you find your statistics, it’s anywhere from 50% to 25% of adults in the US and globally qualify as having high blood pressure. It’s a large topic that we need to take a deep dive into. We’re taking the Healthy Heart Show into a new direction, breaking down the topics we see every day. We should take a crack at it. If you would elaborate, what is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure, in general, is the amount of force exerted on the inside of the tube or inside of the blood vessels. That tells us the amount of force pushing against the vessels and against the heart muscle itself. That is typically reported as two numbers, a top number and a bottom number. The top number is that systolic pressure, or the pressure when the heart squeezes. That’s the higher number. The bottom number is what’s called the diastolic blood pressure and that’s when the heart is relaxed and, hopefully, the blood vessels are relaxing. The problem is oftentimes, the blood vessels don’t relax because of a variety of reasons we’ll talk about and therefore, that number is higher.
When patients come in or when people, in general, are thinking, “I need to check my blood pressure to find out if I have high blood pressure,” what is an ideal time for patients to be checking these numbers?
Blood pressure shouldn’t be checked too often because it’s a little bit much. For people I’ve seen over the years that are taking their blood pressure 2 or 3 times a day, a little bit of elevation leads to stress, which leads to a higher blood pressure, which leads to more stress. It’s a bad cycle to get into. I usually say 2 to 3 times per week. Record those in a diary. That 2 to 3 times a week should be at different times of the day. On one day, you check it in the morning, one day, you check it in the afternoon, and on the other, you check it before bedtime or something like that. That’s typically when it’s best.
The rule that pretty much nobody follows is that you want to be relaxed when you take your blood pressure. Ideally, you want to make sure that the blood pressure cuff, whether it’s on your arm or your wrist, is there for five minutes before you check. If you’re at the doctor’s office and your blood pressure is high, the way that your textbook is supposed to do it is to wait five minutes with the cuff on your arm so you can relax and get settled. That’s the best way to get the appropriate reading.
That’s important information because it makes him minute and having that cuff on your arm, but if you’re somebody that’s worried about your blood pressure, it’s going to increase by that little amount of stress of you thinking okay, “I’ve got this cuff slapped on my arm now. They’re going to go for it.” That raises you probably a few points. What is considered to be high blood pressure in terms of the systolic and diastolic numbers you mentioned?
The lower the blood pressure, the better off people are.
The standard normal blood pressure is 120/80. That’s always been the classic number. Certainly, the lower the blood pressure, the better off people are. The lowest blood pressure, where you still feel good, is typically the best. If your blood pressure is 100/60 or 120/80 may be great for you. One issue is that the pharmaceutical companies keep lowering the normal blood pressure numbers in an effort to push more pharmaceuticals. Therefore, it allows tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people worldwide to be considered hypertensive.
The issue is the higher the number over a longer period of time puts people at risk, but we should not be fearful, in most cases, about numbers that are 160/90, 156/86. We’ve got time to fix that and it’s not an emergency to do so. Whatever your blood pressure is, the best number is probably somewhere in that 120 to 130 or below range. We always want to look towards how we can make it better by going after the natural causes of this and natural treatment solutions for high blood pressure.
You mentioned that a large majority of pharmaceutical patients still aren’t even well controlled on those medications, so that’s where the root cause testing and identifying what’s going on comes in handy. Are there symptoms associated with high blood pressure or things that patients might feel like, “Maybe this is my blood pressure increasing and I need to be aware of it?”
I don’t know what your experience so far has been, but my experience over many years is that people do not have symptoms from high blood pressure. If the blood pressure is markedly elevated to 220/110 or 240/120, people may experience symptoms. That could be a headache, shortness of breath, or chest pain, but those are few and far between.
Oftentimes, when people have symptoms, they check their blood pressure. They see that their number is high and they’ll attribute the symptoms to the blood pressure when in fact, the blood pressure is a reaction to the symptoms. They get a headache, which leads to elevated blood pressure or feels nauseous or feels their heart racing. At that moment, the high blood pressure is the result of whatever they’re feeling and it’s not the cause.
You might look up a list of symptoms and it might say, “Headache, disturbed vision or maybe a racing heart, and things like that,” but it’s often silent. You don’t always have symptoms associated with that so that makes it pretty dangerous. What are some of the risks that we might expect from having prolonged high blood pressure?
The longer you have high blood pressure, the higher the number is. Yes, there is a higher risk of stroke, congestive heart failure, heart attack, kidney disease, eye disease, and ultimately even death from that particular problem. It’s twofold. Number one is that the blood pressure itself, when elevated, can cause damage.
Whatever leads to high blood pressure, whatever is causing that number to go up, the body’s not making mistakes. The body is reacting to its nutrition, lifestyle, all these evidence-based toxins. It’s reacting to deficiencies and excess of other things. That leads to this response of higher blood pressure. Ultimately, all that can wreak damage to the body. As we’ll talk about, the answer certainly is not pharmaceuticals.
You mentioned the kidneys and the eyes. We have to monitor these end organs and the microvasculature because we have these large vessels, then it winds up in the small vessels, which is where you find the damage. Is there a way to measure the damage from high blood pressure?
We can assess how the damage is happening if someone takes out their ophthalmoscope and looks into the retina of a person’s eye. Unfortunately, this is a lost art amongst doctors. They do not rely on this, but you can look at the back of the eye, the inside of the eye, and see changes to the blood vessels, as you alluded to.
Most commonly, you can listen to the heart and you can hear an extra sound called a fourth heart sound. That’s also seen in people with chronic high blood pressure and hypertension, and then we can also do an EKG. The EKG can show changes consistent with high blood pressure. A cardiac ultrasound known as an echocardiogram can show changes as well as consistent with high blood pressure. What’s cool about some of the tests that we do is that we test for heart stress. It’s a marker called the BNP. I know you check this on all your patients as well.
We check the BNP and when the heart is under stress from chronic high blood pressure or hypertension, that number will go up. When that heart stress number is in the normal range, I feel comfortable telling people that we’ve got more time to deal with it. It doesn’t appear that there are changes that are happening to your body because of high blood pressure. Let’s take our time. Let’s not stress out. Let’s figure this out. Ultimately, when people have high blood pressure for a long time, it can lead to kidney damage and we would see that as more of an end-stage thing where their kidney function is reduced.
You mentioned the pro-BNP and I often explain to patients that your heart is this pump working against the high-pressure gradient, so it’s going to wear out and it’s going to send stress markers out into the bloodstream. That’s what we’re monitoring. It’s a good way to figure out how your heart is responding to that. We will definitely get into how we treat high blood pressure here at Natural Heart Doctor, but what is the conventional approach to treating high blood pressure?
For many years as a hospital-based cardiologist, I saw how typical medicine is done. When someone comes and their blood pressure is high, they immediately start on a pharmaceutical. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people over the years who were checked once, they were nervous in the doctor’s office. Their blood pressure was high and they started on one drug, which led to side effects and begot more and more pharmaceuticals.
Going after the cause is how you get the best results.
It’s unfortunate that the doctors use a whole array of pharmaceuticals and they’re all problematic. They all have their risks. They all have their side effects and conventional medical doctors are not trained to go after their cause. They’re not trained to talk about nutrition, lifestyle, environmental toxins, and evidence-based supplements. They’re not trained to give the body what it needs and take away what it doesn’t. It’s unfortunate because it’s the patients who pay the price.
Yes, the pharmaceuticals lower your blood pressure, but I imagine that they also come along with quite a few risks. Maybe you can allude to some of those patients who have been on pharmaceutical drugs to lower their blood pressure and might be experiencing these symptoms.
Beta-blockers are a common class. Those are the ones that end in a -lol like atenolol, labetalol, and metoprolol. Those lead to a lot of different things. One, they block adrenaline, so they lead to fatigue, exhaustion, and erectile dysfunction. They’re problematic. Those are often used again with other pharmaceuticals, diuretics, for example. Diuretics lead to loss of potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients. Calcium channel blockers lead to constipation and fatigue. The ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers can lead to coughs and increased risk of viral pneumonia, for example. People who use those pharmaceuticals can also waste zinc, which is important for the immune system.
There are so many different pharmaceuticals that are being used. They all have side effects and ultimately, they don’t do what they’re supposed to do because they can lower the numbers down, but if they’re not addressing the cause, they have little benefit. If you look at the data and the research and in the large blood pressure drug trials, they lower numbers down, but they have a negligible benefit when it comes to preventing strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, and eye problems. Ultimately, it’s not about how people can take pharmaceuticals to lower their stroke risk from 5% to 4%. It’s about how someone can lower their stroke risk to 0% and that’s what you and I and the team at Natural Heart Doctor helped provide.
Arguably, outside of making you feel better about having a lower blood pressure number, I don’t know if there are any benefits worth noting of any of these pharmaceuticals.
Most of these side effects are not positive. It’s interesting that you bring that up again. Beta-blockers can be useful for people with high blood pressure, especially when they have a large anxiety-driven component. Their adrenaline is surging. Beta-blockers can help that. There’s a class of pharmaceuticals called alpha-blockers, things like doxazosin and terazosin. Those can be helpful for men with high blood pressure who also have prostate issues. Ultimately, what we’re all about here is we go after the cause and that’s how people get the best results.
I love how you always say you do not have a pharmaceutical deficiency. There are many other factors at work, so we come in here at Natural Heart Doctor and get to the root of it. Maybe we can segue into our treatment philosophy here at Natural Heart Doctor.
You and I always talk about how it’s the whole concept of Eat Well, Live Well, and Think Well. When we start to follow all that, that’s where people get the best results. We talk about this in a lot of other videos on a lot of different blogs. I mentioned all this stuff in my book. When it comes to Eat Well, we’re talking about organic, healthy foods without chemicals. We’re talking about a hunter-gatherer diet as much as possible and living that Paleolithic lifestyle.
There are plenty of free-range grass-fed meats, wild seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconuts, olives, vegetables and fruit. What we do is limit everything that’s artificial. We keep our sugar content on the lower side. Always be organic and always be gluten-free. Those are two keys as far as the Eat Well is concerned.
When it comes to Live Well, we want to make sure we get sunshine. Sunshine is beneficial for people with high blood pressure for a whole variety of reasons. Get smart sunshine. You want to make sure you get a decent sleep. Our ancestors went to sleep shortly after sundown and they woke with the sunrise. They watched the sunset and the sunrise. That’s medicinal. People who sleep seven hours or less have a higher risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease, you name it.
Ultimately, we go to see a doctor of chiropractic and we get adjusted. Chiropractic care has proven to lower blood pressure by 17/10. We make sure that we see holistic and integrative dentists to make sure our teeth are taken care of. We make sure that we’re physically active, preferably outdoors, doing activities that we love like hiking, biking, stand-up paddleboarding, skiing, gardening or outdoor yoga. Whatever you enjoy doing, go outside and enjoy it.
We definitely want to address the environmental toxins because all of these toxins, from air pollution to mold mycotoxins to plastics, phthalates, pesticides, and all lead to cardiovascular issues. We want to make sure that we address all facets of Eat Well, Live Well, and Think Well. As it pertains to Think Well, it’s super-critical. Mental and emotional health and wellness are so important. “Find your happy,” as we like to say at Natural Heart Doctor. It’s helped so many people. The concept of meditation is getting stressful things out of their lives.
We are not meant to be in this chronically stressed state, so we want to make sure that we get assessed there. Let me circle back as it pertains to sleeping well. That’s also a point where we want to make sure you do not have sleep apnea. If you’ve been told you have high blood pressure, you definitely want to get tested for sleep apnea. There are natural treatment solutions for sleep apnea. Let’s find out if you have it, and then we can work on fixing it.
Many cases of high blood pressure can be attributed to sleeping at night. If you’re not getting proper sleep, there’s no way you’re going to have a proper mindset and everything downstream, so it always starts with the foundational pieces, Eat Well, Live Well and Think Well. Keeping in mind with holistic medicine, we have to address the entire body mindset and everything involved.
Let me throw this back at you because I know that you are certified in acupuncture. The literature supports acupuncture use for hypertension, although we don’t want to necessarily claim that. We’re not claiming that anything cures anything less we get in trouble with the authorities that are always monitoring us. What is your experience with acupuncture and people with high blood pressure?
I often find that these chronically anxious people have high blood pressure. That’s where acupuncture works incredibly well for them. They’ve got tinnitus, ringing in the ears, they’re not sleeping well and these chronically anxious people. We can talk about vagal tone and all of that. We can go in-depth and probably have a whole episode on that, but when we’re addressing the parasympathetic state, this rest and digest, this calm state of your nervous system that’s central.
Mental and emotional health and wellness are so important. Find your happiness.
Especially these hypertensive patients are often anxiety-driven, poor sleep, a surge of cortisol and adrenaline, and all of this coursing through the blood at all hours of the day. If we can hone in on a minimally invasive 20 to a 30-minute procedure like acupuncture a couple of times a week, get them thinking better, sleeping better, and in a better mindset, it’s a relaxed button and overhauls the system. I’ve had great success treating hypertension with acupuncture.
I know the next topic you want to bring up is the idea of, Test, Don’t Guess.
What are we testing?
As we test, we want to make sure this whole idea of Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well, and then we want to make sure that we’re on the right path. We want to make sure that we test and we don’t guess and in doing so, there’s a whole variety of tests that we do that conventional doctors don’t do. We want to make sure that we’re giving people the best information so they can get the best results. We do our first test, which is the advanced cardiovascular panel. On the advanced cardiovascular panel, we’re looking at markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, advanced lipids, hormones, thyroid, and advanced blood sugar. We look at all those things.
We look at intracellular vitamins and minerals. We know that magnesium and potassium are so important. What are your levels? Do you need magnesium? Do you need potassium? Maybe you don’t. What are your levels of Omega-3 and CoQ10? The Test, Don’t Guess applies to all of those. We do a test called the Wheat Zoomer, looking for leaky guts.
When you have leaky gut, you have leaky heart. Leaky gut leads to endothelial dysfunction, which winds up leading to blood pressure and problems with high blood pressure. We do the triple toxin test, where we’re looking for metals, mold mycotoxins, and environmental toxins. We’re trying to dial in why someone has high blood pressure because then we can come up with a strategic plan to help once we dial in the why now.
In all of those tests, there are so many markers and knowledge that can come because there are so many nutrient deficiencies, toxin accumulation, or everything that could factor into the patient’s blood pressure. A few other things that you didn’t mention but are on all of these tests are testing for homocysteine elevations, Omega-3 balance, cortisol, stress hormones, and blood sugar.
It’s everything that factors into blood pressure that probably most patients that have been put on a blood pressure pharmaceutical have not even been discussed. Where are you on all of these markers? Is this something that we need to be considered with you? Why are you being put on this drug? There’s a lot that’s being left out in the standard treatment approach.
The people who are on pharmaceuticals, and we see these people again, the pharmaceuticals lead to deficiencies like low levels of magnesium and potassium. Zinc is commonly wasted with diuretics and with ACE inhibitors. That’s where that concept comes in. We talked about all the different vitamins and minerals. We’ve mentioned before sunshine and the objective measurement of sunshine exposure. Yes, we can look at people and see if they’re getting enough sun, but the other thing is checking Vitamin D and seeing what those numbers are.
To that end, the answer is not necessarily Vitamin D supplementation. It’s getting the sunshine, eating animal-rich food and seafood that are high in Vitamin D. We’ve talked again about the Sunshine Lamp. We’ve got it at NaturalHeartDoctor.com/lamp, which is our recommended Vitamin D lamp. You could supplement Vitamin D as needed. Typically, in the wintertime, we always want to make sure we add Vitamin K. I recommend Vitamin K to everybody and anybody. I know you do as well.
That’s a good standard approach to dieting. You want to make sure that most things are coming through your diet and supplements are used as a supplement to things that might fall short or things that your individual body is not accumulating enough of. Therefore, you fall short and maybe magnesium and potassium, particularly. We need to support those in particular. What are some other supplements that might be focal and central to the treatment of high blood pressure?
As we read the medical literature, and it’s all coming from the medical literature, we both know that there are so many things that can help people with high blood pressure. My standard approach is typically, “Let’s do things to boost levels of nitric oxide and open up those pipes.” To do that, we hit from two different angles, one of which is the food-based nitrates, which is why we have the organic HeartBeet powder. We mix that in with our Vessel Support, which is L-Arginine, L-Citrulline and Taurine that crank up levels of nitric oxide, and then we add in grape seed extract which helps prevent the breakdown of nitric oxide.
There are two different ways to increase nitric oxide levels and we do that ideally in the sunshine, and that’s the third way to increase nitric oxide levels. Also, the magnesium supplementation of our product, Mange 5, with five different forms of magnesium and our potassium powder product called Potassium Boost helps increase people’s potassium levels, which we find so many deficiencies of. I don’t know what your experience is, but I see as many if not more people who’ve got the problem with potassium than they do magnesium.
It’s more than on a standard metabolic panel that you might get this. You’re a general practitioner. We test the red blood cell potassium, which you and I know if you’re deficient in your bloodstream, it’s going to take it from neighboring cells, which is why it’s critical to maintain that value. The nitric oxide is something that we didn’t mention when it comes to testing and not guessing. You and I both have these nitric oxide test strips on our desk so we can see where you are exactly. It’s another thing that probably a number of patients have never had or even haven’t been discussed with in an office visit with their practitioner before getting a script handed to them for a prescription.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve seen someone with high blood pressure and/or someone with atrial fibrillation or these other cardiac diagnoses. They didn’t even have a serum or blood level of magnesium tested, let alone how we look intracellular. A lot of times, that blood level is totally normal, but the intracellular is reduced. That’s where we need to hone in because if it’s floating around in the blood, it’s not doing any good.
It’s got to get inside the cells and inside the endothelium, which certainly helps. Another one of our favorites in the supplements arena when it comes to all things cardiac, but certainly blood pressure, is our Arterosil. One cap, two times a day of our Arterosil, it’s got the patent for plaque stabilization and reversal. That’s a great product as well.
Always starts with the foundational pieces: eat well, live well, think well.
When we talked about protecting the endothelial layer and how critical that is for supporting nitric oxide in the bloodstream. If I can have every patient on one supplement, it would be Arterosil. It’s huge and that’s something that is not a specific nutrient, but there is research on that supplement which is unique in the world of supplements.
There are definitely lots of great options that we can use, but that’s where Test, Don’t Guess comes in because, again, you may not need magnesium or potassium. If we test your levels of nitric oxide, and they’re high, then we don’t need to push some of these other things. There are so many other items that we could use but invariably, which is great because we’ve got so many options to be able to help and support people Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well, and then ultimately, Test, Don’t Guess. Get into the evidence-based supplements and from there, we’re able to get rid of people’s pharmaceuticals, which is exciting.
That’s the goal of providing hope outside of pharmaceuticals and not becoming reliant on that. How can people get started? Where should people start working with Natural Heart Doctor to get their blood pressure in check?
The idea is we can reduce or eliminate pharmaceuticals. Our goal is always getting people off of pharmaceuticals. If it’s your goal out there to get off the Pharma, we’d love to be able to help you with that. We do it in a smart and appropriate way. It’s easy for us to stop a statin drug, for example, and say, “We’ll stop the statin drug immediately or cold turkey,” but we take our time for blood pressure. We would carefully wean people off of pharmaceuticals. As they get healthier, we’re removing the drugs, and people continue to get healthy.
For anyone interested, reach out to us at NaturalHeartDoctor.com and Health@NaturalHeartDoctor.com. We’re here to help people in any way to be able to get to their best health. Dr. Lauren Lattanza, I’m so appreciative of you and having you over here at Natural Heart Doctor helping everybody achieve that 100-year heart.
When it comes to blood pressure, I know people are scared and nervous. People don’t want to be on the pharmaceuticals, but they don’t want to have a stroke. They feel pressured into the pharmaceuticals and it’s great that we can offer people a better way. Thank you for helping me share this information with the world.
If you’re reading, that means that you are in the right place, so reach out to us. We can do this safely and effectively. Root cause medicine is the way to go.
Cheers to the 100-year heart. We’ll see you all next time in another episode of the Healthy Heart Show where we will continue to bring you the best topics and help you on your path to the 100-Year heart. Be well.
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About Dr. Wolfson
Jack Wolfson D.O., F.A.C.C., is a board-certified cardiologist who uses nutrition, lifestyle, and supplements to prevent and treat heart disease. He completed a 4-year medical degree, 3-year internal medicine residency, and 3-year cardiology fellowship. He served as the Chief Fellow of his cardiology program, managing all of the other cardiology trainees.
Dr. Wolfson then joined the largest cardiology group in the state of Arizona and spent 10 years as a hospital-based cardiologist performing angiograms, pacemakers, and other cardiac procedures. He was the Chairman of Medicine, Director of Cardiology, and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation.
He was selected by his peers as one of the Arizona “Top Docs” in 2011. In 2012, Dr. Wolfson founded Natural Heart Doctor to offer patients the ultimate in holistic heart care. People from all over the world consult with Dr. Wolfson, traveling to Arizona or virtually for natural heart care.
Dr. Wolfson has appeared on every major news station and major newspaper along with hundreds of appearances at live events, podcasts, and online interviews. He has taught medical doctors and practitioners from all over the world.
Dr. Wolfson was recognized as one of the Top 50 Holistic Medical Practitioners. The Paleo Cardiologist, The Natural Way to Heart Health is the first book by Dr. Wolfson and is an Amazon best-seller. He is also a contributing author to The Textbook of Integrative Cardiology.
About Dr. Lattanza
As a Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Lattanza is trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease. Knowing that the world we live in is full of toxic elements, sedentary lifestyles, nutrient-depleted food sourcing, and environmental chemicals, it is Dr. Lattanza’s goal and passion to identify the often overlooked causes of disease. She offers specialized testing and treatments to optimize patients’ health which can prevent, decrease, or eliminate the need for pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Lattanza is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and helps patients across the US reclaim vitality and work towards their 100-year heart.