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Water down your high blood pressure

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 4/10/2014, 10:42 a.m.
Dr. Gerald Deas

Until 1955, there were no drugs to control high blood pressure. People with this condition were in deep water and became water logged due to the retention of excess fluid. Thus, a condition known as hypertension resulted.

During those early days, it was understood that the element sodium was the partial cause of this condition. Therefore, therapy consisted of restricting sodium in the diet. In other words, sodium was the bad actor. Low sodium diets were prescribed, though hypertension persisted in many cases.

Sodium is found in many forms. For example, table salt is sodium chloride. A flavor enhancer known as MSG is monosodium glutamate. Soda or pop contains sodium benzoate. Many bread products contain sodium bicarbonate. It is therefore evident that sodium comes in many hidden forms.

Sodium is needed for life. However, if sodium is retained in the body, it causes the retention of water, thus increasing the pressure within the circulatory system. As the pressure rises, the heart and kidneys will bear the pain.

The first drug to address these issues came along in 1955 and is known as hydrochlorothiazide. This drug helped to get rid of excess fluid within the circulatory system, thus reducing blood pressure. With the passage of many years, new drugs have also been produced to control high blood pressure such as ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. However, hydrochlorothiazide still remains “king of the mountain” in treating high blood pressure.

When taking any water pill, many important elements such as potassium, magnesium and calcium are depleted in the body and must be replaced to maintain a healthy circulatory system and body functions. The loss of these elements causes not only cardiac conditions but also weakness in the skeletal system.

Water pills have other side effects too such as difficulty in holding urine, thus causing bedwetting and other uncomfortable urgencies. The difficulty in controlling blood glucose has also been problematic. There is still a great deal to learn about the causes and treatment of hypertension, which is known as the “silent killer.”

To prevent strokes, kidney disease and heart trouble, controlling your blood pressure is a must if you don’t want to rust out! I hope you get my drift. If you don’t, it will be water over the dam!