High Blood Pressure

Seventy five percent of adults have high blood pressure. That’s 1 in every 3 adults. The vast majority of you who have high blood pressure were diagnosed with what is called essential or ideopathic hypertension. All that those big words mean is that your doctor has no earthly idea what is causing this disease. He or she simply took your blood pressure and put you on a pill. Your doctor doesn’t know because nobody knows the cause or at least they didn’t before the discovery of the glycocalyx. So hopefully, in the near future, your doctor will also understand the mechanism of this widespread disease.

There is a molecule called Nitric Oxide. Many of you have heard of it. Some of you take supplements to encourage the production of it. This molecule is produced by the cells that line blood vessels. In a healthy individual NO is released by these cells when there is a need for the vessels to dilate. For example, if a bear is chasing you and your heart is pumping faster and more blood is rushing through your vessels, it’s essential that they dilate, or in other words relax and expand, to accommodate the increase in blood flow. The question in science has always been how do the cells lining blood vessels sense when it’s time to release NO. The answer is the glycocalyx. The hair-like projections of the glycocalyx, the inner lining of blood vessels, are attached to the cells lining the vessels. Blood cells passing through the vessels brush against the glycocalyx and stimulate the production of NO. This is one of the most elegant systems of the body. When a bear is chasing you or when your boss is yelling at you, blood flow increases. That increase in blood flow causes greater movement of the glycocalyx and in turn a greater release of NO. It’s incredibly beautiful.

If we compare the glycocalyx to facial hair, a healthy glycocalyx would be a full beard and a degenerated one would be stubble. How much easier is it to run your hands through and move the hairs of a full beard than to move short stubbly hair. The same is true of the glycocalyx. Once it has degenerated to this point, it doesn’t matter how much or how fast the blood is rushing over the stubble. It doesn’t move and NO is no longer released in sufficient amounts. So the blood vessels remain rigid and maintain their narrow diameter. What’s the result of this? Higher blood pressure. Then to protect against the damage of higher pressure in the vessels, the vessels themselves thicken and harden. What is the result of this? Progressively worsening high blood pressure. One of my patients was on 5 different blood pressure medications when she came to my clinic and yet her blood pressure was still too high.  She was also taking 100 units of insulin a day and yet her fasting blood sugar averaged about 300. If you don’t have diabetes, you may not know how bad that it. Take my word for it. It’s bad. Today, she is off all blood pressure medications and completely off insulin. The reason is that I understand this mechanism of disease. She took the test, found out the level of degeneration of her glycocalyx and began taking the appropriate supplements to rebuild the glycocalyx.