I'm 28, male, 6'1 and about 85kg (~187 lbs). I've had primary/essential systolic hypertension for about 8 years, primary hypertension means that it is considered asymptomatic, I've tested negative to all tests that can determine HBP. I have been on medication that generally controls it for most of that time. While on medication my BP ranges from 125/60 when I first wake up in the morning, up to 160/70-80 during the day.
I've experimented a lot with it with the aim to bring it down naturally but nothing seems to make much difference. The thing that did make the biggest difference for me was reducing stress, I quit my high stress corporate job, went traveling for a year and now following a career that is far better suited to me.
I eat pretty clean, and seldom cheat, my diet is high in sat fats, and I take o3 fish oil supps, as well as zinc, magnesium, vitamin c and d supps each day. The one area I could improve on is my veggie intake, I probably only have 1-2 serves a day.
The amount of exercise I do can vary from week to week but again, it has little impact on my BP I have found.
I am determined to not be stuck on medication that is only half working for the rest of my life. So I'm really after any suggestions that could help.
Boy do I have the goods on this one. And your "essential/idiopathic hypertension" can be fixed - but you need some information about yourself. Here's how we did it:
My guy, who is 30 years old and has 8% bodyfat from daily swimming and paleo diet, suddenly fainted! His blood pressure was 190/125! And his heart was racing out of control!
We had no idea that a 30-year-old fit guy could have high blood pressure. But when we went to the fancy research hospital, they airily informed us that nearly half the young people they saw are on medication for high blood pressure! At the hospital he measured 165/115. Naturally they wanted him on medication that same afternoon. The problem is the medication often causes impotence. No guy wants that.
Instead, we wanted to do lifestyle, which seemed hard to us, since we already have a really clean lifestyle. The doctor said she had rarely seen lifestyle work. So naturally we had to prove her wrong. Screw her, in the nicest possible way. :)
We needed to understand all the possible causes of HBP, so persuaded the doctor to do all the lipid, thyroid, and mineral tests. We even got a kidney ultrasound. These all came out perfect.
So we had to dig deeper. We kept up our super-strict paleo diet. First of all we found a 2009 study from UC Davis that reported a combination of grapeseed extract and powdered Vit C taken together in the right amount lowered HBP 10-15 points top and bottom in 2 hours. I was very skeptical, but this indeed did work for him. In an hour and a half. This is really a stunning thing to see.
So he dropped to 150/100 immediately. We also began researching isometric hand grip training. This is where you squeeze a rubber ball for 8 minutes 4 times a day. It sounds loony but there are a lot of studies to back this up. This takes 8 weeks of consistent practice to work - it will also lower you about 10. Ok, down to 140/90.
Then there are the other supplements you read about, like hawthorn and garlic. We think this gave him about 3-5 down on the top number, to 135/90. Ok, at last we were out of the medication range, altho' still high.
We looked into biofeedback, and discovered the Breathe Easy system - 15 mins. of daily breathing exercises to music. You play it on your iPod. This takes 12 weeks to work, we are still in the middle of this one, but have dropped another 5 so far, 130/85.
Finally we got more tests back. We discovered that he has the AC1298 gene thing! That is, he "undermethylates." So we took Dr. Ben Lynch's advice and began methylB12 & metylfolate. This after 2 weeks has dropped him another 5 top and bottom. 125/80. The gene issue may be the true "cause" of his supposedly "essential/idiopathic" hypertension. But we can compensate for that.
This week we also added TMG (betaine) to address his tachycardia. His pulse has now fallen to 59. Finally he has added a day of yoga (more relaxation) to his usual swimming and after 3 weeks of yoga he now stands at 119/73.
So he is very near now to perfectly good BP. We are hoping to gain another 5 or so points top and bottom from continuing the isometrics and Breathe Easy breathing exercises.
The point is that the drugs rarely do much to help HBP and have strongly bad side effects. We have beaten HBP so far with this combination of lifestyle approaches.
To appease the doctor, who insisted on salt reduction, we also bought some Morton potassium salt, "Lite" salt. We don't think it makes a darn bit of difference. Because salt isn't his problem, it's more likely his genes.
There's a final, very alternate therapy as well for desperate cases - NUCCA therapy. It's quite woo, but there is 1 clinical study showing that some people were permanently fixed(!) with just 1 NUCCA treatment. We haven't gone that route yet because we are very skeptical. NUCCA certified chiropractors are very few and shockingly expensive. But it's a possibility, I suppose. Still, better than impotence.
We can't wait to go back to the doctor in another 8 weeks and blow her tiny, shut-tight mind. Controlling your HBP without drugs can be done, but you have to combine a lot of things, and there is much trial and error. Discover your genes; keep good records; measure yourself every day; and never give up. Because impotence sucks.
Good luck to you!
UPDATE: After just a week using the emwave biofeedback device as directed, my guy saw his top and bottom numbers drop 2-3. The emwave program is a 12-week program and the most successful report drops from 7-10. Will update again in a few weeks. Treating HBP with lifestyle requires a lot of changes and they are sometimes long-haul benefits. So right now he is averaging 116/71.
I am also a guy who had too-high blood pressure at a healthy weight and a relatively young age. It started around age 26 and 165 lbs for me. Paleo and exercise have helped some, but not a ton. Or rather, there have been times when it was enough to keep me in the healthy range, but then it stopped being enough. Why, I can't say - maybe stress? I moved around that time. Maybe something else. It is interesting to me that yours is lower in the morning, because mine is always normal or near to it in the AM - 120/70 or thereabouts is most common. Later in the day it is more common for me to be in the low 130s when I first sit down, and then it generally lowers to 120s after a while. When I am very nervous and agitated it can spike to 160 but this is quite rare. Diastolic has been good since I have gotten on supplements.
In any case, I think that garlic and CoQ-10 have made the biggest difference for me. (I estimate this to be near 10 points both diastolic and systolic). Hawthorn extract and hibiscus tea have also been shown to help. I believe that limiting caffeine is helpful but I can't speak definitively on that yet. I am interested to see how this thread goes, because I want to continue to manage my own blood pressure.
@Wowza thanks very much for that detailed response, there is a lot there that I haven't previously considered. See I'm quite a tangible person, I like to be able to see measurable results, so seeing that in your post is very helpful and gives me something I can keep track of easily.
When I was first diagnosed, I had my bloods done, a kidney ultrasound, an echo-cardiogram and a urinalysis conducted, all came back negative/normal. Doctors couldn't even fault my diet (which was SAD at the time) as my electrolytes/cholesterol were all good levels.
I've never had a hormonal, thyroid or aldosterone test though, and I think that is the next step to rule out any pathological and/or physiological condition that may be contributing to HBP.
The medication I'm on at the moment is Candesartan 16mg (ACE inhibitor) daily, and soon to be on Amlodipine 5mg (Calcium channel blocker) which my current doctor has suggested. I've had Amlo before and it can occasionally cause impotence, so not ideal, not to mention they are both expensive!
So, I already take 1000mg Vit C daily, what is your grapeseed/Vit C combo?
I'll also give the isometric handgrip training a go, I'm a massage therapist (training to be a myotherapist) which is only gonna get harder in my hands, so this will be beneficial for my job as well.
I'll also look into this breathing method, this is something that I keep hearing about.
I must admit, my problem with all of these methods is that although they aren't medication based solutions which is obviously a great thing, they are still a band-aids for the symptoms, and don't really address the cause or make a permanent difference.
Please keep me updated on how you go in the coming weeks, especially how you go with the doctor :)
At 41yo, I have the same problem. I was diagnosed in my mid-20's and have been on meds for nearly 16 years. Nothing seems to make much difference: low-sodium, low-carb, high-carb, reducing weight, paleo diet, SAD--nothing makes much difference except meds. I'll be interested if anyone chimes in who has successfully accomplished this. At your height/weight, it seems you are in a reasonably good place.
I have hypothyroidism, and always attributed my hypertension to this, but my thyroid condition is well-managed and I usually have good labs.
One thing I can say is that despite the hypertension, my annual physical exams don't reveal much trouble with the condition. I have no signs (so far) of heart disease or any other trouble related to it. And the drugs don't seem to cause much trouble except that one of the meds is a diuretic that causes sodium depletion. Especially on a paleo diet that is naturally lower in salt than the SAD, that can cause troubles during a hot summer when I perspire a lot. I sweat profusely, and shed a LOT of sodium in my perspiration--enough to stain my clothes with white streaks during prolonged exertion. During the current hot summer in the American Midwest, I can hardly consume enough sodium to make things right.
Could it be that for some folks, higher blood pressure is normal, and not destructive? Also, I've read that a wide gap between systolic and diastolic is desirable, and perhaps more important than the actual numbers themselves.
"About 25 years ago, David McCarron noticed that the governments data on diet and hypertension showed that the people who ate the most salt had the lowest blood pressure, and those who ate the least salt had the highest pressure. He showed that a calcium deficiency, rather than a sodium excess, was the most likely nutritional explanation for hypertension."
— Ray Peat
Don't skimp on the salt, and make sure you get enough calcium, preferably through quality milk.
What works for me:
Diet: plenty of meat, but eaten sparingly.
Exercise: walking and lately some biking, almost all outdoors. Almost all of it carrying something.
Lifestyle: stay in motion as much as possible, at least 2 hours a day. No sitting around.
This recipe used to keep me at a steady 120/80 BP. A stressful job change moved the systolic up to 150, and I've been struggling to get that back down.
Hypertension still a problem on paleo 8 Answers
Hypertension... 9 Answers