Just holy crap.
Over 100 million people in the USA have high blood pressure according to CDC data. I just googled how many adults there are in the US. Just over 200 million age 21 and over.
So more than half of adults in the USA are living with a disease that they must surely have been told will kill them eventually. The pre-COVID-19 death rate from high blood pressure was around 1300 people every day. Let’s ignore how many of these deaths are now being classified instead as coronavirus deaths (that’s a whole different article – but I’d be willing to bet that the deaths from high blood pressure have miraculously dropped to nearly zero for the duration of deaths from COVID-19), but instead look at the fact that nearly 20% of deaths in the USA are directly related to high blood pressure. The rest of the world isn’t much better.
So what’s going on here? The situation is summarised nicely if unintentionally by an article on the shortage of frozen fries in America while actual potatoes rot in the ground. People would rather eat fries than potatoes. Pizza rather than tomatoes, and drink 32oz sodas rather than water. My somewhat oblique point here is that 100 million Americans have decided that living with a disease that will almost certainly contribute to their early death is easier than doing what it takes to lower their blood pressure. Well, they are correct, it is definitely easier to live with it and die young than to do something about it. Especially when the easy choice mostly involves just taking half a pill daily.
There are a couple of very important points here though. The first, timely because of COVID-19 deaths is that there is a strong hypothesis being bandied about that blood pressure medication actually increases susceptibility to COVID-19 by making it much easier for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to invade the lungs via significantly increased ACE-2 levels in the body. ACE-2 is the protein that acts as a landing pad for the virus. So the ‘easy’ option of taking a pill could well be the cause of 100,000’s of COVID-19 infections.
But the second important point is long-lasting and will still be important long after we’ve all forgotten about COVID-19. And that is that the 1300 deaths every day are DESPITE the availability of drugs to treat hypertension. Those 500,000 deaths every year in the USA are DESPITE seemingly effective treatment.
So back to my point about potatoes vs fries. The less-easy choice is to start to get in shape. This doesn’t have to mean aiming for a six-pack, or even dramatic changes in lifestyle. But it does mean learning how to make sensible food choices, and learning how to exercise in an effective and efficient manner.
It should be obvious that losing weight and exercising is a great way to lower blood pressure, but unfortunately this fact is not widely studied. The reason for the lack of research is that getting people to reliably lose weight during a scientific study is very difficult. So conclusions are hard to draw, which means doctors only have common sense rather than science to back up a recommendation for exercise and moderated diets. Fortunately U.P. is beginning to change this, and our preliminary data show that our high-blood pressure clients dropped their blood pressure on average from a systolic level of 149.2mm/Hg to 118.5mm/Hg , typically in just over 3 months while following a U.P Personal Training programme. Although we are working on making this data more rigorous for scientific publication, the current data speak volumes. Once we are able to publish this as peer-reviewed research we can start to change the world. Medical doctors will have something to back up their recommendations, and government advisory panels will have something to advise policy makers with.
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