Doctor James on Health and Wellness

Common sense answers to your most burning health questions

Why is High Blood Pressure So Dangerous?

Posted by doctorjames on March 5, 2008

High blood pressure tends to be dangerous because of the way blood is supposed to flow through your vascular system. In a healthy artery, blood flows in a streamline fashion, meaning it flows without interruption. In an artery that has been affected by high blood pressure, the flow of blood through the artery becomes turbulant. A healthy blood pressure is 120/80. When it becomes 140/90 on three separate days with three separate readings, a diagnosis of hypertension can be given. Letting your blood pressure creep any higher than this is not OK! If your normal resting blood pressure is no where near 120/80 and it is on the high side, you need to see your doctor.

Now, to understand the difference between streamline and turbulence, one just has to understand how water comes out of a hose on a nice hot summer day. We have all been there as kids playing with the hose with no spray nozzle on it. If the water is coming out of the end of the hose in a streamline fashion, we can take a drink out of it because it just flows so nice and gently out of the end. But, when your friend comes walking by you put your thumb over the end of the hose and it sprays harder and in all kinds of directions…this is essentially turbulence…the loss of a smooth and uninterrupted flow.

Now, imagine your heart. In a good healthy heart of a fit individual, the stroke volume is large and the pulse is slow…possibly in the 50’s and even lower in elite athletes…40’s. Normal pulse rate is 72 beats per minute in the average adult. Having a slower pulse rate and a larger stroke volume is easier on the heart. In an unhealthy individual, the pulse rate tends to go above 72 and the stroke volume decreases. This results in more work for the heart with little time to rest…not a good thing! As soon as the heart is at rest and reaches 100 beats per minute, tachycardia can be defined.

To understand how the heart beats we have to think of pumping and relaxing. Pumping is considered systole, and resting is considered diastole. How much our heart gets to rest and the subsequent volume it pumps out is our stroke volume. It is very important that our heart gets adequate time to rest and fill. After the heart pumps, blood enters into the left ventricle to be pumped again. The more blood allowed to go into the ventricle to be pumped out to the body, the larger the stroke volume.

We can’t talk about blood pressure without including the arteries. Believe it or not, arteries are muscles. They are constructed of what is called smooth muscle. The interesting fact about arteries is that they do contract. Why you ask? Arteries use a series of contractions to propel the blood to where it needs to go. Now, you can imagine what happens if your arteries are “out of shape” due to lack of exercise or calcium deposits. The arteries don’t push the blood as long as good as they used to so your blood pressure has to go up! This puts more stress on your left ventricle which has to hypertrophy due to increased demands to pump blood to the body. More resistance causes the heart to push with more force to pump the blood out of the ventricle and into the aorta. This puts more stress on your heart, and more stress on your arteries.

The problem with turbulence in an artery is that it breaks down the inner layer of the artery overtime. The artery is composed of three layers, the inner layer, the middle layer, and the outside layer. When blood pressure increases, it damages the inner layer of the artery because of the turbulent nature of the blood flow. We can liken this to a water pipe in a home. When calcium builds up on the inside of the pipe, water passes over this bumpy area and becomes turbulent instead of streamline. Eventually, the water will make a hole in the copper pipe and the pipe will start to leak!

Now, your artery is just about the same. When the blood pressure increases, the blood in the artery starts to bounce off of the walls and break the inner layer down. When it damages the inner layer of the artery enough, it eventually creates a “hole” in the inner layer. When this hole appears, the body reacts by either patching it with LDL cholesterol or HDL cholesterol depending on how high or low your good and bad cholesterol levels are. The problem with LDL making a plaster over the hole is that it is easily oxidized. When the fatty cholesterol plaque closes off the hole, the plaque will oxidize and turn into what is called a foam cell. The problem with oxidation is that the foam cell begins to grow. When it grows, it starts to narrow the lumen of the artery because it cannot expand the middle layer due the muscle being to strong. So, it has no where to go but to bulge inwards!

Here in lies the problem. We already have turbulent blood flow and now we have a bump in the middle of the road! The problem with turbulence and with the bump is that platelets in our blood stream bounce off each other and activate an enzyme system called complement. When this happens, platelets become “sticky.” Sticky platelets create a problem downstream from the bump in the form of a thrombus. Eventually the thrombus grows and either breaks free or completely closes off the artery resulting in tissue death!

An interesting fact is it is not the arteries that are 90 percent closed that we need to worry about. The most troublesome and dangerous arteries are the ones that are 50 percent occluded. This is because the 50 percent occluded artery is less stable. The fibrous cap is jelly like and has not hardened. If turbulent blood comes flowing through this artery, the chance of this fibrous cap breaking off is extremely high. As a matter of fact, doctors seem to worry about the worst occlusions and want to stent them. A stent is put in to open up the arteries and keep them open. The sad fact is that 40 percent of stents will fail by the 3rd week! That is not OK! It is almost like flipping a coin to see if it will actually work for you or not.

Arteriogenesis is the process in which the body provides a new route for the blood to flow through. The body actually produces a brand new vessel. It is just like a river forming another route due to a damning up by some natural barrier. The water will continue to flow, it just finds another route. So, most arteries that are 90 percent occluded have been around for a long time. In dogs, they have found if the clamp off an artery to the heart they are able to grow a brand new “tributary,” or brand new arterial supply to that area of the heart within 3 months. Are we overdoing stents? We will leave that one for the future to answer!

An infarction occurs when there is tissue death in the area where the blood can’t get to because your blood carries oxygen in the form of red blood cells. If it happens in your brain, it is called a stroke, if it happens in your heart it is called a heart attack.

Your best bet to break free from high blood pressure and its sequelae of tissue oxygen lack to a vital organ is to start eating right and exercising. Really, it is simple when you think about it. Stay away from all the processed sugars, and grains and eat from the “garden of life” again. Like I say, if it wasn’t here 200 years ago…don’t eat it!

By adopting an organic, gluten and dairy free diet, your body will recover by losing weight and effectively ridding itself of toxins. Eating more pure, and eating only grass fed animals will produce amazing results in your health. To heal your body, you cannot eat any meat that is not grass fed or organic free range like a chicken. Grass fed animals and free range animals have an omega 3 to 6 ratio that is consistent to produce healthy cells in our body. Any thing else, will ruin your health. Just think for a moment, a grain fed animal is grain fed because it makes them get fat faster so they can be sold for more money! Is it any wonder why we get fatter and fatter? In order for these animals to gain weight so fast, it is also necessary for them to be on antibiotics everyday in everyway! This is because these animals are usually confined and are very sick. So, whether you like it or not, you are getting antibiotics everyday if you eat anything other than grass fed.

Trust me, there is no miracle exercise plan. Do whatever you want to do to increase your heart rate higher than getting up from the couch to go to the fridgerator. Thirty minutes per day is sufficient exercise. Do you get it? Just do something, anything to get your heart rate up. Even if you want to start jogging, it does not mean you have to jog for one half hour straight. You jog 3 minutes and rest 3 minutes up until 30 minutes. This is perfect for you to start off with! IT IS OK! Trust me, your heart rate will stay elevated during those three minutes of rest if you are not used to exercising. Then, it is simple when you get more in shape, you just manipulate the numbers…run 2 minutes, rest 2 minutes…run 1 minute, rest one minute…run 2 minutes, rest one minute…run 3 minutes rest one minute…run 5 minutes, rest one minute…and so on…you get it! Exercise is not a one month thing, two month thing, or three month thing…it is a lifestyle…FOR LIFE…so you have to have fun with this and mix it up. It is not about killing yourself with the latest exercise technique!!!

Put all of this together, exercise, diet, and stress control methods and your blood pressure will drop dramatically. It will drop so much in fact that you have to watch out for you blood pressure going too low if you are on blood pressure medication. If you plan to start an exercise regimen, make sure you tell your doctor. He will want to monitor your strength of your medication because if your blood pressure drops too low you will fell dizziness, possible tunnel vision, fainting, fatigue…etc.

The best thing about all of this is that your heart will get stronger, your arteries will heal, and your strength of contractions in your arteries will become greater to push the blood along! This will result in lower blood pressure because your muscles are stronger…your heart and the smooth muscles in your arteries. Do you get it? Also, you will increase your HDL, or good cholesterol levels, which will help to take the sludge out of your blood stream resulting in lower blood pressure. On top of that, your muscles will once again become more sensitive to insulin! That is awesome because you won’t have as much sugar storing as fat or floating in the artery itself.

When you think about it, your artery is simply a pipe. If you fill it up with a bunch of cholesterol, sugar and other solutes, it is a thicker substance, which means it needs more of a force to pump it along! So, medical doctors use a blood thinner to help in this situation because it thins the blood! What a concept! It decreases the solutes in the blood stream essentially lowering blood pressure by requiring less force to move the fluid through the artery!

The best thing you can do today to prevent these adverse reactions is to make sure first of all that your blood pressure is right for your size. You see, not all of us should be 120 over 80. Some of us are a little bit older so there is an adjustment for age. Also, if you have a really small frame, your blood pressure tends to run a bit lower. So, check with your doctor and if it is looking like it is high, you need to start your life change that day! High blood pressure is the silent killer, so chances are you have been having high blood pressure for some period of time that has already caused damage that you may not even know about. This is why high blood pressure is so scary. My advice…quit killing yourself and change!

We need to start taking control of our health and take responsibility for our bodies. Trust me, if we take away your high blood pressure medicine and you are not eating right or exercising, you will still have high blood pressure! So, my question to you is this…DID THE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINE DO ANYTHING TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH? It did not reverse a condition, it just silenced it. Don’t be fooled by this and give into temptation. Medicine is there to buy you time…maybe three months to give your body a bit of help to get started on an exercise program without further damage occurring. This is the ONLY and I repeat ONLY thing high blood pressure meds can do…buy you time!

Time and time again we have worked with people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in our clinic. It really is simple, take the junk out and the sugars and trust me, one month your blood pressure will drop massively! Stay on the plan long enough and you can actually reverse heart disease! Now, doesn’t this sound better than taking some sort of pill? And for all of you men out there, uncontrolled high blood pressure is the leading cause of impotence! That should be enough to get your butt off of the couch and get out there. If you are really unsure of how to change your diet you need to take a nutritional typing test. The nutritional typing test is one of the best things you can possibly do for your health. You can find it with the following link (

When it is your time to change, it is absolutely necessary to go through an intense detox week. This will jump start your system in one week and clean it out. At our office, we use a product by Metagenics that is a medical food. By cleaning up the body and cleaning up the blood, we can take the patient to new and great health faster than ever before.

Spring is a time for new beginnings. Get out into the sun and nature and start exercising. Take it one day at a time, have fun with it, and most importantly remember this is for life…not just a fad your going to start and do for a few months. As soon as you form a habit and get passed your head…our biggest obstacle…you will have the health you have always wanted and always deserved!

Any questions or if you need solutions, email me at

Your health and wellness advocate,

Dr. James R. Haakenson


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