Elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is associated with serious health problems, such as strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. Most people believe the problem with hypertension is that the elevated pressure damages the arteries and the body's organs. Actually, it is more often the other way around. The rise in blood pressure is a response to a sick body—the blood pressure goes up as a natural and proper adaptation—as an attempt to compensate for a plugged up cardiovascular system. After years of consuming the rich Western diet, the blood vessels develop blockages referred to as atherosclerosis, the artery walls stiffen, and the blood itself becomes viscous. All this change creates a resistance to flow, resulting in a decrease in the ability to deliver nutrients to the tissues. The body responds, as it should, with a rise in blood pressure.
The correct action for the patient to take is to decrease the resistance to flow by eating a healthy diet and exercising. Most people who follow the McDougall diet find their blood pressure decreases within a few days. Based on several collections of results from my clinic, the average reduction of blood pressure is about 14/11 mmHg in seven days, and at the same time medications used for treating hypertension are usually stopped. My customary protocol is to stop all blood pressure-lowering medications the first day of the Program, except for beta-blockers, which I slowly discontinue by cutting the dosage in half every two to three days. Unfortunately, not every patient experiences the reduction in numbers they desire. Despite their best efforts some people may need medications.