Today’s post is a little different – I am going to share some interesting and encouraging information from the world of Blood Pressure medication treatments.
I do not usually target my blogs on developments in the realm of pharmaceutical treatments for blood pressure, as the focus of my posts is concentrated primarily on looking for natural ways to lower blood pressure without using prescribed medication.
This is motivated by the fact that all drugs tend to have the unfortunate property of producing undesirable side effects, especially when taken over extended periods of time. And BP medications fall within that category of drugs which have to be taken on an ongoing basis in order to maintain blood pressure control.
It seems to me that rather than searching for the root cause of the elevated blood pressure and treating it – and in many cases hypertension can be traced to lifestyle choices which involve poor diet and obesity, lack of exercise and chronic unmanaged stress – medication is used rather to treat the symptoms of the condition, as opposed to its causes.
However, I realize for some people who are dealing with elevated BP readings, which stubbornly resist responding to more natural approaches, be it because of an underlying disease process, or because high blood pressure is in their genes, that there is currently no option but to follow Doctor’s orders and take prescription BP medication.
For for this group I would like to share some news about blood pressure medications which will offer encouragement…
Australian Researchers test the “Triple Pill” Concept
The concept itself is amazingly simple, and was essentially out there for the taking by any researchers who were willing to connect the dots… The Australian Team from Sydney’s George Institute for Global Health were the first to try it and with great success.
They took small doses of three types of medication commonly used to treat hypertension and combined them into a single pill. It was just that simple… But the results were, I suspect, more than they dared to hope for.
In the trial which the researchers projected would need 6 months to show results, they compared the use of the “Triple Pill” versus existing approaches to treating blood pressure.
And to their surprise and delight they found that the test subjects on the Triple Pill reached their BP goals in as little as six weeks, rather than the expected 6 months. The trials were completed at the six month point with promising results:
Approximately 70% of subjects with mild-to-moderate hypertension who were given the “Triple Pill” reached the target of 140/90 mmHG or less within the six month period. This compared favourable with 55% of test candidates who were taking one, or in some cases two, separate blood pressure medications – (the conventional treatment).
What Was Learned from the Study?
Some important lessons have been learned from this study.
Trial Director Dr Ruth Webster commented on the findings from the trials that this triple pill was not only effective, but also safe. Further there were no significant side effects between it and normal treatments which use one, or more, drugs.
The Triple Pill contained three different classes of BP medication, but at half-strength doses. The pill included:
- a calcium channel blocker which relaxes blood vessels.
- an angiotensin II receptor antagonist which prevents the blood vessels from constricting.
- a diuretic which stops the body from absorbing too much salt and thereby retaining fluid.
Dr Webster further noted when comparing the new single pill treatment with conventional blood pressure medications:
“Traditionally, patients begin treatment with one drug at a very low dose, which is increased over time with additional drugs added and increased in dosage to try to reach the target.”
The problem here is that this forces the patient to undergo multiple visits to the Doctor’s Office to see if they are meeting their targets. This becomes costly, time consuming and is often not seen through by the patient and the Doctor alike, because the whole process is just too cumbersome.
A combination drug, such as the Triple Pill, containing a low dose of medication not only addresses the multiple medication concern above, but also provides the greatest bang for the buck whilst improving the chances that the desired BP lowering outcome can be reached., whilst also making it tolerable for the patient.
As Dr Webster concluded:
“We need to be more courageous and start with multiple drugs early in the treatment process to get blood pressure under control faster and prevent heart attacks and strokes.”
What’s the Next Step?
One of the really exciting outcomes of this study is that the group which funded it – The George Institute, whose goals are to change health practice and policy throughout the world – is now looking at ways to enable this pill to become available everywhere, so that can it can globally help people who are classified in the ‘mild to moderate’ hypertensive range.
There is already pressure on US pharmaceutical manufacturers to develop a similar drug for the US markets. And the potential for a “Quadruple” pill with four different ingredients at an even lower dosage is being investigated.
If you are on prescription medication which is helping to control your blood pressure, then developments such as the study I have covered above, and its promising implications for future treatment of hypertension with combinations of blood pressure drugs, are probably music to your ears.
However, I would still encourage you not to give up the hope of also finding some alternative approach to treating your blood pressure. There are a great many options out there, as I keep finding out myself the more I do research into these options, and so often it is being able to find the right solution, or combination thereof, which works for you in particular.
One encouraging aspect in the evolution of professional medicine is that there are more and more practitioners out there who are interested in not just treating symptoms (usually with medications), but rather in zooming in on the core of the problem. It will be easier collaborating with this type of Doctor if you are interested in weaning yourself off your BP medications, if perchance you do find an alternative approach which is working for you.
Such Doctors are practitioners of Systems Medicine or Functional Medicine, and their approach is one of considering the symptoms presented, then looking at core systems in the body, such as immune, digestive, hormonal systems to determine what may be out of balance which is giving rise to the symptoms.
This approach is analogous to a trained mechanic who actually looks “under the hood” of the car to determine what may be the problem, rather than just listening to the sounds the engine is making to figure out what may be wrong!
There is also great emphasis placed on the patient’s nutritional intake to see how that is affecting the body and its cores systems.
I have always felt that Dietary change and proper Nutrition is one of the first places to consider when looking for ways to help control blood pressure. This is why I devote so much of my time to the various aspects of Diet in my posts.