High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol–The Fallacies
The key to understanding the blood pressure issue is that blood pressure is a biological marker, a non-specific indicator, not a disease or an entity to treat. But what we have is the treatment of abstractions, numbers that mean very little by themselves. It’s similar to the way that the public education system “teaches to the test” — we have medicine treating to the test, by the numbers.
The reference range for what’s considered “normal” is arbitrarily defined and keeps narrowing so that just about every adult can fit into some category of hypertension or pre-hypertension and given drugs. The “diagnosis” of hypertension rarely even includes any understanding of causative factors which might indicate different treatments for each individual, but the drugs are usually given in a rather hit-or-miss fashion.
There are so many factors that can cause false high readings, so the measurement itself isn’t reliable even if we were to assume that the test might be meaningful. We’re not cookie-cutter people, and blood pressure naturally fluctuates throughout the day under normal circumstances, and is supposed to rise under stress. But the one snapshot reading while under the influence of white-coat syndrome doesn’t represent anything that can be interpreted meaningfully.
Killing the messenger by lowering blood pressure usually doesn’t accomplish anything, and creates iatrogenic disease. Although sometimes the messenger itself can become dangerous and needs to be dealt with while the source of the problem is also being addressed. When blood pressure drugs are used judiciously in this way, they can be useful, but the majority of blood pressure lowering drugs are given irrationally.
“The diet-heart idea (the idea that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease) is the greatest scientific deception of our times.” –George Mann, MD, former Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee; heart disease researcher
The cholesterol deception is politically driven like the blood pressure issue, and the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are among the most expensive drugs on the market. No wonder it’s so important to get everyone on them! The studies that the medical establishment have used to connect high cholesterol to heart disease were flawed, and there’s really no evidence that high cholesterol is a medical problem.
Cholesterol is actually needed for hormone production, brain and nervous system function, and low cholesterol is much more of a problem than high. Cholesterol is protective of the artery walls, and the notion that the buildup of plaque causes atherosclerosis is unfounded. There’s never been any correlation seen between high cholesterol levels, even the dreaded LDL, and athersclerosis.
There’s a hypothesis that atherosclerosis is infectious in origin and that LDL cholesterol helps to inhibit dangerous bacteria. I would look to the reason why the bacteria are there in the first place and not blame the bacteria necessarily, but it’s clear that LDL is no culprit.
So when blood pressure or cholesterol are thought to be high, first we need to look at whether it really is high enough to be a meaningful indication, or whether what we’re looking at is normal fluctuation. When blood pressure and cholesterol are elevated beyond normal fluctuations, this is really an indication of the body’s effort to maintain homeostasis in the face of certain underlying disturbances. So neither hypertension nor hypercholesterolemia are actual diseases, but rather they should be seen as signs of some underlying disease(s) or imbalance that need to be addressed. Bringing the numbers down without addressing the underlying cause is often unwarranted.
The problem with statin drugs
The cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, besides depleting needed cholesterol, deplete many other important nutrients. The main nutrient depletions are COQ10, essential fatty acids, folic acid and vit B12.
CoQ10 depletion weakens the heart muscle, and can lead to congestive heart failure, angina or myocardial infarction. CoQ10 improves the efficiency of the heart and reduces hypertension, so CoQ10 depletion could have a range of adverse cardiac effects, as well as weakness of other muscles.
CoQ10 deficiency can also lead to gum problems (and gum health can improve amazingly with CoQ10 supplementation!)
In addition to the CoQ10 depletion, the bile acids are also reduced, so that the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, F, K) may not be able to function properly. Lowering of cholesterol could lead to deficiency symptoms of those vitamins as well.
The bottom line here is that statin drugs interfere with the metabolism of ALL fats. The essential fatty acids are necessary for so many hormonal functions, bone health, the nervous system, etc.. And fats in general are necessary for brain function - no wonder that so many people on statin drugs are declining in cognitive function.
If you’re on these drugs and you want to come off them, work with a skilled naturopathic or nutritional physician to do this safely and assess your individual needs. Professional support is advisable, but you can be part of the decision making process and ultimately make your own choices. There’s more to the issue than “The number is high; we need to put you on a drug!”
For more information:
Cholesterol and Health
The Benefits of Cholesterol
Why the Treatment of Hypertension Has Become Such a Deplorable Fiasco
Dispel the Myths: High Cholesterol is Not to Blame for Heart Disease