Way back in 2014 I wrote a blog about the SPRINT blood pressure study. At the time the study was trying to determine what a good blood pressure is for people over the age of 60. Back then 150/90 or 140/90 was an acceptable target blood pressure. When blood pressure was lowered to 120/80 there was a 25% drop in mortality. This was so dramatic that the study was stopped and the new recommendations were charged to 120/80. This is the new target physician shoot for when they prescribe blood pressure medication.
This latest SPRINT study, completed in May of 2021, compared two groups of subjects over the age of 50. One group was treated to a systolic blood pressure of 120 or less. The other group received less intense treatment to a target of a systolic blood pressure of 140 or less. Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure measurement. The results showed that mortality from all causes was lower in the intense treatment group. So the take away of all these SPRINT studies over the years is that lower is better.
As we age, our blood vessels become less flexible and so a natural part of aging for most of us is that our blood pressure begins to climb putting us at risk for heart disease and stroke. Treating blood pressure to a target based on a study is called, “evidence based medicine” and is the standard of care today. However, one must always consider the individual patient. Some blood pressure medications cause dizziness, fatigue or depression. Some raise your cholesterol and your blood sugar. It is important to know your patient and lower the blood pressure as close to the target without making the patient sick or causing more problems like a hip fracture from a fall caused by dizziness.
For a classical homeopath, treating blood pressure is challenging. Blood pressure is not a symptom, it’s a measurement. Essential hypertension has many physical, psychological and life-style causes and usually doesn’t produce any noticeable symptoms that a homeopath can use to find the correct remedy. Homeopathic treatment is constitutional and the goal is that as the patient’s level of health improves from homeopathic treatment, the blood pressure will begin to drop. Constitutional treatment also involves life-style changes, changes in alcohol and nicotine intake, weight loss, adequate sleep and stress reduction. I am not against using a conventional medication to lower blood pressure together with a homeopathic remedy if the remedy alone will not get the job done. Sometimes homeopathic treatment will allow a reduction in the dose of conventional blood pressure medication. At a time when many seniors are on 8 or more drugs as they age, being treated with just one conventional blood pressure drug seems like a good outcome. To me it seems unethical to let a patient suffer from hypertension just so I can maintain my homeopathic purity.