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A Reason World-Wide blood Pressure readings are up

A recent article by Lauren Neergaard on Washington AP states that blood pressure readings are higher than normal, in Europe and other places more than the US.  38% of adults in England, Sweden and Italy have high blood pressure as do 45% in Spain and 55% in Germany, 1/3 in India and 1/4 in China.  In the U.S. high blood pressure is most common in blacks.

Doctors treat this symptom with drugs to lower blood pressure.  A cheap method, possible in low income countries, is by using a diuretic to decrease the amount of fluids in the body.  Restricting salt can also prevent the body retaining water.  All these methods just reduce the symptom of blood pressure greater than 140/90.

Wouldn’t it be better to consider possible causes of hypertension (high blood pressure)? In the European countries mentioned as well as in the U.S. Black population, more people smoke cigarettes.  I remember on a trip to Spain in the 1970s seeing ten-year-old boys smoking.

Nicotine, in any tobacco product, causes the heart to beat faster.  At the same time it causes the arterioles (tiny arteries just before capillaries) to clamp down. More blood being pumped by a faster heart plus a restriction as to where it goes naturally causes higher pressure in the circulatory system. In young, healthy persons the bigger blood vessels are elastic enough to expand so blood pressure doesn’t get too high.

However, all blood vessels can get stiffer and less elastic after years of a diet containing trans-fats, from margarine or artificially hydrogenated cooking fat. A diet too high in sugar can also make stiffer blood vessel walls by the action called glycation where sugars combine with proteins. A high sugar diet already contributes to obesity and diabetes, two factors associated with high blood pressure.

Smoking and consuming too many sweets are addictions or habits not easily broken, but the end result would be better than being dependent on drugs to get blood pressure down.