Does High Blood Pressure Matter

This is a topic that has become lost to more ‘exciting’ news over the years yet…
Because it kills so many people, and it kills people indirectly.
So what is “high blood pressure”
It’s as the name suggests, but compared to what? This is where so many go wrong.
Quite simply, you have a heart (you do, really!) and its role is to provide every single cell in your body with oxygen and nutrients and remove waste products (eg carbon dioxide). It’s a closed-loop system, meaning if the pressure is higher anywhere it’s high everywhere.
Let’s think about what this means in practical terms. If the pressure is too low, your body won’t get enough oxygen and nutrients.
If it’s too high, something might burst. However, it’s rare for these extremes (although they do happen).
The usual method we think about measuring blood pressure is as we’ve had at some point with a blood pressure cuff and it gives us some numbers.
Usually, we get 3 numbers
The systolic number – this is how high the pressure is when the heart is pumping.
The diastolic number – this is how high the pressure is when the heart is relaxed between pumping.
And usually, our pulse, how frequently our heart is pumping.
Note – our blood pressure even when our heart is relaxed between pumping is not zero.
An example might be:
115/70 mmHg pulse 58 (that’s mine right now)
We can also work out the pressure gradient; the difference between the higher pressure and the lower pressure; this is important too. In my instance here it’s 115-70 = 45 mmHg.
mmHg refers to how many millimetres of mercury (chemical element symbol Hg) the blood pressure would push a fixed amount of mercury (liquid metal) vertically. It’s a bit old school, but it’s still used in medicine, meteorology, aviation and a bunch of other scientific fields…
Anyway, back to the point here
Let’s think about what happens if your blood pressure is higher than your body is designed for… remember I said it’s a closed loop and it is to nourish every cell.
That means higher pressure in your brain, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, hands, feet, and every single blood vessel too.
In the very short term, for example, if you’ve just walked up a bunch of stairs it should increase to supply additional oxygen and that’s good, but what about the effects long term?
Long term is the ticking time bomb
To be clear – this is my definition of high blood pressure. Higher than 120/80. You’ll find different definitions and I don’t really care – when it’s higher than this, that’s when you find problems.
Blood pressure in Western countries also tends to increase with age significantly. Why? Increase in body fat, increase in arterial plaque (imagine having to pump blood through a rough tube rather than a smooth tube) and a few other factors, namely management of stress. All lifestyle-related, that we do not often see in developing countries until they start to live like us…
We’ll come onto solutions soon… (spoiler – one is to pay me and I’ll help you get it sorted – that’s a simple side effect-free solution)
So let’s start with the brain…
Ok, so your brain is provided with blood by some super cool arteries called the circle of Willis. They’re pretty big and can handle a lot of pressure, but as they branch off into smaller arteries in your brain then they can’t handle so much pressure.
Guess what happens if it’s too high for too long?
Maybe one will pop, and you’ll have a stroke… Doesn’t sound good does it? And here’s the thing, if you survive that, it’s likely you’ll suffer some quality of life loss and likely need medication for the rest of your life (usually blood thinners).
What about if you’ve got some plaque built up on the big arteries and that high pressure causes some to break off and cause a blockage in a smaller artery in the brain .. now you’ve got an ischaemic stroke. None of this is good.
But it’s not only a stroke that high blood pressure can cause in the brain, it’s headaches, increased risk of dementia, cognitive decline, macular degeneration, the list goes on. There are no positives here.
Ok, what about the heart…
I’ll keep this one simple – the key bits are as follows:
The heart has 4 chambers, two at the top, two at the bottom.
The top ones are called atria, and those are the collecting chambers for blood.
The bottom ones are called ventricles and these are the pumping chambers.
What do you think will happen if they have higher pressure blood going through them over time?
The heart will enlarge, valves can start to leak, and you are at a higher risk of having a heart attack than someone who has lower blood pressure. Again, no positive side effects. And this is before you consider that the heart itself needs to be supplied with blood which is does via the coronary arteries. These are tiny and a lot of pressure through these, it’s a matter of time…
Ok, kidneys…


Again, let’s keep it simple…
Your kidneys are really cool. They regulate how much water and other salts you have in your body via the blood.
What do you think happens if too much pressure goes through these?
Yup, kidney failure. Particularly around the loop of Henle (this is where water is retained, urine is produced, and blood pressure is regulated for the most part).
Guess what some blood pressure-lowering drugs target? Yup. Your kidneys…
Ok, so what causes high blood pressure?!
Well, loads.
Here are the main ones:
  • Arterial plaque buildup due to the western diet
  • Western diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor management of stress
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • High cortisol + adrenal (social media usage I’m looking at you!)
I’m going to write salt separately as it’s poorly understood. What I mean by that is about 90% of the salt we consume on the western diet is in the food, not salt we add. This is where so many go wrong…
I literally had these boards made for exhibitions… in an attempt to highlight the point…
The thing is, all of these are super insidious and take years to cause problems but when they do; the results are not pretty. They’re ugly and they cause a ton of problems.

How can we fix it?
The first line treatment is to sort the above as much as possible, maybe score each one from 1-10, 10 being terrible and decide what you need to do to decrease the number…
Another option is medication and there are tons… I’m not going to go into them all. Some work by relaxing your arteries or how hard your heart pumps eg beta blockers, some lower the amount of fluid your body retains and some work with other mechanisms.
However, remember this:
ALL drugs build tolerance over time.
IF you treat symptoms, the problem gets worse with the passage of time. Drugs treat symptoms.
IF you treat causation, the problem tends to resolve with the passage of time.
Treat causation.
And don’t muck around with high blood pressure. As the Buddha says “the trouble is you think you have time”…
Why wait…
Hopefully, this is helpful 🙂
All my love,
If you want help at all,
Let me know,