The Articles below are from Dr. William Douglass

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Blood Pressure: Low equals "slow"

A while back (Daily Dose, 8/8/2003), I wrote an article lambasting the American Medical Association for lowering its guidelines for healthy blood pressure for the umpteenth time. To recap, their latest recommendations cite anything over 115/70 (!) as being "high." Just 6 years ago, that number was 140/90 (still plenty low). If their guidelines get much lower, any detectable pulse will qualify as "high risk" in their eyes...

Aside from the fact that there's no evidence that high blood pressure causes heart disease (it's often a response to the condition, but not its cause), and the fact that salt intake is only remotely correlated to hypertension, there's one more widespread myth about blood pressure that most people - and their doctors - don't seem to know about:

Your blood pressure can be TOO LOW (115/75 is borderline, if you ask me).

And now, some research from Israel shows just how big of an impact low blood pressure can have on health - especially upon those who are getting up in years. According to a recent Reuters online article, a Ben Gurion University study showed that patients over 70 with what modern standards call "mild hypertension" actually thought more clearly and creatively than those with lower blood pressure.

Both men and women in the nearly 500-subject study whose blood pressure was deemed high enough to warrant treatment with prescription drugs - and also those with clinically uncontrolled (untreated) hypertension - performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function, memory, concentration, and visual retention. Only in tests of verbal fluency was there no meaningful scoring advantage for the high-BP group...

Those with "normal" blood pressure tested the worst of all three groups in the study.

Similar studies in younger test populations yielded no difference in performance based on blood pressure. What's this mean? It means that physicians need to balance their efforts to control what they perceive as risk factors for heart disease (namely, BP over 115/75) with patients' quality-of-life concerns - like mental sharpness and creativity.

In other words, they should stop meddling with the body and mind and let it find its own equilibrium.





Challenging the salt stigma

Try as I might, I've never been able to make much of a dent on the mainstream's maligning of salt.

Even though I've shouted at the top of my lungs that salt does NOT cause high blood pressure except in a very small percentage of people who are abnormally salt-sensitive, the mainstream continues to portray sodium as a killer to be shunned at all costs. And with today's ridiculously low guidelines for "high" blood pressure - there's no reprieve in sight for salt.

But some recent European research has concluded that an extra pinch or two of salt per day can help the elderly to stay healthy - and that fully 10% of older folks suffer from a sodium DEFICIENCY! This lack of sufficient daily salt can cause nervousness, hallucinations, muscle cramps, and even urinary incontinence.

This, amidst a UK-wide drive to reduce salt in Briton's diets!

In fact, according to a recent Nutraingredients online article, the UK's Health Minister, Melanie Johnson, rejected a June proposal from Britain's major food producers to reduce levels of salt in food - for not being stringent enough! Instead, she issued more than 20 of Britain's food giants a September ultimatum to reduce the "unacceptably high levels of salt" in their foods.

I guess it takes more than direct scientific evidence to shake the "salt stigma" in the hallowed halls of parliament, huh? Perhaps she was suffering from a low-sodium-induced hallucination...

The campaign against salt - and the continuing misinformation of the public about sodium and high blood pressure - is no less militant on these shores. I'd hoped that after the last round of downward revisions in the already absurdly low blood pressure standards, people would have started to question the conventional wisdom on the topic.

Instead, we seem content with today's most popular salt substitute: Hypertension drugs.

Here's one salty dog who never substitutes for the truth,

William Campbell Douglass II, MD