Hypertension is a silent killer. Many people underestimate the importance of a controlled and steady blood pressure. While hypertension is a serious problem, generally it is a warning sign of the body’s homeostasis being interrupted. High blood pressure can be the result of arteriostenosis (hardening of the arteries), atherosclerosis (Fatty deposits in the arteries), excessive stress, obesity, excessive sodium intake, fluid overload, sleep apnea (or lack of sleep), and so much more. As nurse practitioners, it is important for us to take into consideration the entire spectrum of the patient’s health and not become myopic in our treatment.
An article in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners titled Vegetarian Diet: A Prescription for High Blood Pressure? A Systematic Review of the Literature presents a compilation of journal entries showing large amounts of evidence that a vegetarian/vegan diet can effectively treat hypertension. The article states, “More primary care practices need to educate patients on the benefits of a vegetarian diet and the effects on lowering blood pressure… Use of these drugs [Anti-hypertensives] may be reduced or completely stopped with lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.” In addition to a vegetarian diet, the article also mentions teaching patients about coping mechanisms for stress, which can also have an impact on blood pressure.
While anti-hypertensive medications may be useful if blood pressure does not adequately respond to holistic and natural treatment, studies show eating a proper diet of whole food, plant-based nutrients can help reduce blood pressure, thereby reducing how much medication may be needed.