To understand the science of hypertension, or high blood pressure (BP), let us begin with an experiment with the help of a BP apparatus. Check the BP of 10 healthy adults. Take an average which we shall consider as normal. Next, see if any one of them matches it. You will be shocked to see that NOT A SINGLE ONE of the 10 healthy adults has the so-called normal BP!
It seems reasonable, then, to assume that anyone going for a check-up will turn out to have abnormal BP—either high or low—mostly the former. This revelation has solved one of the riddles that has existed since I was a student in the 1950s!
Our ancestors had listed almost all the known Western diseases in their Ayurvedic texts except hypertension. This is not surprising as, according to German professor Jerg Blech, in his celebrated book Inventing Disease and Pushing Pills: Pharmaceutical Companies and the Medicalisation of Normal Life, hypertension started as a disease after drug companies invented drugs to lower BP in the 1930s with the launch of the ‘Well Man’ clinics inside mobile vans equipped with BP apparatus to check the BP of people for free, by young, charming nurses. Initially, these vans were parked outside churches and shopping malls. Thus, a new disease was invented! This clears my riddle about how and why our ancestors’ Ayurveda missed out on an important disease.
Our ancestors have been credited to have invented even light punishments for children’s mistakes that had a scientific basis: such as screwing the pinna (outer ear) that stimulates the hippocampus major which, in turn, stimulates memory. The super yoga (topukarnam in Tamil) by pulling down the pinna on both sides with opposite hands, while praying to Ganesha before going for examinations, again to enhance memory, is also an example of their scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology!
Blood Pressure Guidelines
Most anti-hypertensive studies are funded by the drug industry and are programmed to deliver positive results 95% of the times (Ionnides, 2015).
Way back, in 2005, when the Joint National Committee (JNCV) report, on the detection, evaluation and treatment of high BP, suggested simple diuretics as the first line of treatment for hypertension, there was a huge hue and cry saying that, that is not the ideal drug and the better drugs are alpha-blockers and ACE inhibitors, by a group of self-declared super-specialists, even though the JNCV was headed by an eminent specialist who, in his own right, is one of the best in the world. The reason for this noise, again, is not explained.
The ideal BP is supposed to be 130/80. One wonders what on earth the scientific basis for this recommendation is, except for the new short-term SPRINT study (https://tinyurl.com/ydc2tndr
) thrust on us by drug companies and their friends. In the US, guidelines are mandatory as the so-called modern medicine has got legal monopoly on sickness-care in the US. Let us now analyse the rationale for all these. There are no studies to support these varying claims, at different times. Most, if not all, assessments and declarations are subjective personal opinions based on some statistical data which do not apply to individual patients. While the multiple risk factor intervention trial (MRFIT) study (https://tinyurl.com/ybhrbwvm) did throw some indirect light on the subject by showing that the lower the BP reading, the better are the mortality and morbidity rates, but without any cut-off level.
There is no evidence in the MRFIT data to show that drug-induced lowering of BP is good for health. The data shows the normal BP levels in the society and not drug-induced BP levels. So, this data does not give credence to the claims that we should lower the BP to 130/80 to get better results than keeping it at 140/90. Now, it is clear in retrospect that all these guidelines, which keep changing frequently, are based on individual opinions that have no documented scientific basis.