Mr. A, a 68 year-old man, had taken two drugs for high blood pressure (HBP) and a statin for high cholesterol for ten years. Six months before starting with Switch, he had been prescribed an expensive blood thinner for an episode of atrial fibrillation (a common heart rhythm problem) to decrease the chances of a future stroke.
His health concerns included increasing memory loss, dizziness (related to the HBP meds), and six months of frequent nose bleeds (caused by the blood thinner).
Mr. A was overweight and had wanted to lose 20 pounds for nearly 20 years. He described his diet as “better than average.” He hiked in the hills near his home twice a week.
A few routine questions showed that his atrial fibrillation was related to one episode of dehydration. After he was advised how to approach his primary physician, his blood thinner was quickly discontinued as unnecessary, saving $6,000 per year.
By session five with his Switch champion, Mr. A had charted a new lifestyle path which included:
- A major reduction of his salt, meat, and cheese intake plus more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains,
- A switch to almond milk,
- Choosing lower calorie density foods and using specific foods and spices that can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and
- Adding short bursts of interval training to his now three times per week hikes.
With the new regimen, his cholesterol remained normal without the statin.
After four months on the program, his blood pressure was consistently normal without medications, his memory improved, his dizziness stopped, and he lost his 20 extra pounds.
He was ecstatic and exclaimed – “I feel better than when I was 50!”
Shortly after Mr. A stopped his blood thinner, he sadly learned that a friend had died from a stroke caused by cerebral bleeding from a similar drug. Over 100,000 Americans die each year from side effects of prescribed medications that are taken as directed.
The Science – Treating High Blood Pressure
An estimated 103 million Americans have high blood pressure, which is a contributing cause in nearly 500,000 US deaths a year.
The treatment of hypertension with medications can reduce the number of strokes, heart attacks, and premature deaths attributed to high blood pressure by nearly 35%. However, about 65% of the risks still remain, despite “successful” treatment with medications.
Unlike the increased risk that remains with BP control with meds, successful reversal of high BP with better lifestyle choices can reduce nearly all, if not all of the attributable risk.
Mr. A’s results are predictable. Twenty-five years ago, a well-designed study showed successful lifestyle reversal of high blood pressure off HBP medications. Numerous other studies have confirmed the results.