Lower Your Blood Pressure to Prevent a Heart Attack

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Blood Pressure
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Last week was a sad one for the entertainment world. We lost actress Farrah Fawcett, singer Michael Jackson, and pitchman Billy Mays. Fawcett found peace after her anguishing battle with cancer, and Jackson’s cause of death is yet to be determined. But it looks as if Mays most likely fell victim to hypertensive heart disease.

This condition encompasses a number of cardiovascular problems that result from long-standing high blood pressure. Initial autopsy findings showed that Mays had an enlarged left ventricle, an oversized heart weighing more than 500 grams, and plaque buildup in one of his coronary arteries. All are classic side effects of chronic hypertension.

It has not been stated whether Mays knew he had a cardiac problem, or if he was taking steps to address it. But this fact is undeniable: His death is a tragic yet valuable reminder of how important it is to control high blood pressure. Simple changes to your diet, exercise regimen, nutritional supplementation, and stress reduction techniques can often do the trick. They cost very little, don’t require prescription drugs, and are the best way I know to prevent heart attack and cardiovascular disease.

After decades of experience with sudden cardiac death (SCD)—and remember, the grim truth is that 50 percent of the time SCD is the first sign of cardiovascular problems—I would be remiss if I did not also mention that emotional stress may have been a factor. Mays was onboard the U.S. Airways flight that blew out its front tires upon landing in Tampa the day before his death. There have been several firsthand accounts of the terror passengers experienced when this happened. Many understandably feared for their lives.

For someone with chronic hypertension and underlying atherosclerosis, this would have been a dangerous situation. Psychological stress can cause sudden spikes in blood pressure. As blood pressure rises, the amount of "shear force" that blood exerts against arterial walls increases—sometimes to a point where it can disturb areas of plaque buildup and even potentially cleave them off. This in turn can lead to clots, heart attacks, and strokes. I've written about many of my personal experiences with stress-related SCD in my book Heartbreak and Heart Disease.

It is for the families surviving SDC to mindfully put the puzzle pieces together and try to understand what happened to their loved one. But the take-home message for you is that none of us can afford to be casual about high blood pressure.

Take control of yours today.

For more information on lowering your blood pressure naturally and preventing a heart attack, visit www.drsinatra.com. 

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