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High blood pressure? Read on ...

By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Two months after my 41st birthday (in March), I seized the offer of a free heart function check that was heavily promoted on Sydney Radio 2GB. That test was short and sweet. And inconclusive.

A follow up - and not inexpensive - echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) - revealed both good news and bad news. The good news was that my heart was OK. The bad news was that my blood pressure was high. Way too high.

At my general practitioner’s insistence, I had my BP rechecked, and in no time was hooked up to a 24-hour BP monitor that confirmed my hypertension.


While I knew that the condition was hereditary, I thought that I’d “inherit” the malady later in life. Like when I’m 60 or older.

Given diet is a major influence on BP, I was safe in the knowledge that mine was always somewhere between “OK” and “good”. I don’t smoke and don’t drink. I run three times a week and am not overweight. I even pop Omega 3 pills and multivitamins now and again. And so I couldn’t fathom why I should now inherit this condition. If ever.

On a visit to the GP, my BP was checked. It was parked at 164/94 (or 164 over 94). Not a good reading. A subsequent test, a week later, registered 150/80. My GP noted that normal blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80, and prescribed an angiotensin-2 receptor antagonist of the type “irbesartan”, sold commercially as Avapro.

Medically, hypertension can be treated with a range of different drugs, including:

  • Diuretics, which make you pass urine more often and get rid of excess fluid;
  • Beta-blockers, which make the heart beat more slowly and less strongly; and
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-2 receptor antagonists, which in general relax the blood vessels. This is the family of drugs to which Avapro belongs.

After popping one tablet a day for two months (and noting the side effects: dizziness and a diminished libido), while on holiday in the United States, by pure chance I stumbled over Robert E. Kowalski’s The Blood Pressure Cure - 8-Weeks to Lower Blood Pressure Without Prescription Drugs.


The world renowned medical journalist and author of the New York Times best selling 8 Week Cholesterol Cure is the survivor of a heart attack who underwent two coronary bypass surgeries. He has turned his attention to his blood pressure, relating how he lost weight, quit smoking, managed stress, lowered his BP and managed his cholesterol levels, while avoiding medications and their side effects.

Kowalski’s book is crammed with data about the nature of blood pressure, its relationship to cholesterol, triglycerides, diet, exercise and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium).

Given my ignorance of hypertension, which is large, I was fascinated to learn that hypertension is one of the three major risk factors for heart disease and strokes. The other risk factors are cholesterol and cigarettes. BP is insidious however, as there are no symptoms of high blood pressure, until it’s too late. One “symptom” is called a stroke. Another is called a heart attack.

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The blood pressure cure: 8 weeks to lower blood pressure without prescription drugs, by Robert E. Kowalski, published by John Wiley & Sons, 2007, US$24.95.

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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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