“Diuretics, the gateway medication to other medication.”
They told me not to do this one. However, their explanation wasn’t good enough, so here we go!
Let’s start this off with a bold, but a very true statement. Medications for high blood pressure, simply don’t work! Well, let me refrain that. They will work as far as lowering your numbers on an electronic device that measures your blood pressure, but NOT as far as being useful in preventing the events; patients are hoping it will protect them from, such as heart attack, kidney failure, strokes, blindness, etc. As if that was not enough, these medications not only have harsh side effects, but they also have side effects that I can only describe as unusually cruel.
Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, are considered to be an O.G. in the game of blood pressure medications, as it has one of the longest histories of being prescribed and it is the most prescribed, especially for African Americans. Particularly this pertains to Hydrochlorothiazide, which most people who take blood pressure medications know about.
While the name “water pill” may sound cute and harmless, I, unfortunately, have to let you know that this medication is anything but benign. In fact, not only is it not harmless, it could incite the very events that you are trying to avoid.
What are Diuretics and how they work?
Once again, these medications are commonly called water pills, because of the effect that it has on the kidneys and your overall fluid levels. These medications decrease the amount of fluid in your body by reducing the reabsorption of sodium (which is a necessary mineral and electrolyte) in the areas of the kidneys known as tubules. With this decrease in the amount of fluid in your system, there will now be a decrease of fluid that the heart has to pump out (cardiac output), which will decrease your blood pressure because there is less fluid in the pipes. This will all cause the user to have to urinate frequently.
Yay, that’s a neat little trick, right? I mean surely this medication is smarter than my body and knows best. I mean continually secreting sodium and what they call “excess” fluid should be just fine right? Right?
Not so fast M’Baku. Understand this and understand it well. Anytime you alter the natural physiological process of the body, with an exogenous chemical, you get what the medical community calls, side effects. The more invasive this chemical is, the more outlandish the side effects will be.
As if losing massive amounts of sodium wasn’t enough, Hydroclorathiazide also causes your body to lose several other essential minerals/ electrolytes, potassium and magnesium. The central tragedy of this side effect is the fact that, a deficiency in one or both of these minerals, is precisely the reason a large percentage of people have high blood pressure. That’s right. Many people only have high blood pressure because they are low in potassium and magnesium. Now before you think to yourself, “but I had my blood work done, and it was normal,” I’m willing to bet, that the blood test that tells you your mineral status was not done. Most people only get their serum minerals checked, which won’t tell us much in this scenario. The blood test that is extremely valuable in this case is the red blood cell potassium and magnesium test (RBC potassium and RBC magnesium).
Losing large amounts of fluid along with sodium, potassium, and magnesium now set the stage for the remaining ratchetry I will briefly highlight. However, there is a particular side effect that I specifically want to expose.
Here are just some of the side effects of these diuretic medications, particularly Hydrochlorothiazide.
Hospitalizations – Top 5! Let’s start this off by letting you know that diuretics ranks in the top five medications that cause people to be hospitalized. Why? Well, due to the metabolic chaos that occurs over time, patient experience frequent urination, fatigue, dizziness, cramps, weakness, irregular heart rhythms and related sudden death, muscle weakness, balance problems, confusion, delirium, and irreversible brain damage. Continue reading to learn why these things take place.
Gout – Diuretics make you flush out “excess” fluid. That excess fluid excretion has to go somewhere, and when it does, this will leave behind a more concentrated bodily fluid. This concentrated fluid sets the stage for the creation of crystals that cause gout.
Arrhythmia – This is an abnormal heart rhythm. Remember all those minerals I told you about earlier? Well, it turns out that those minerals are also electrolytes. Proper electrolyte levels are imperative for proper heart function. When you are deficient in electrolytes, cramping of your calf muscles isn’t the only cramping that takes place.
Skin cancer – A recent study showed that HCTZ increase the chances of skin cancer by 29%
Homocysteine – This is an amino acid created by the metabolic process of your body as a by-product. Increases in homocysteine tightly correlate with adverse cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks. Homocysteine itself is not causing this event, but whatever is causing homocysteine to increase, are leading to these events. Diuretics have shown to cause a significant increase in serum homocysteine concentration and a significant decrease in RBC folate concentration.
There’re of course more side effects. However there is one particular that I want to make the community aware of, and that is insulin resistance and the new onset of diabetes.
While people may be taking HCTZ to decrease their blood pressure, research shows that maybe inciting another condition, that if the users were aware of, would want nothing to do with HCTZ.
Studies show that HCTZ impaired glucose tolerance within four weeks after treatment initiation. In other words, this is insulin resistance.
“Large observational studies demonstrate that thiazide diuretics and most β-blockers increase the incidence of new-onset diabetes mellitus.”
This is why I call diuretics, the gateway medication to other medication. Just look at all of these side effects, that will then go on to be diagnosed as another condition that needs to be treated with another drug.
Lastly, let’s end this off with stripping away any credibility that any of the blood pressure medications may have had, and that’s the fact that I laid out from the get-go.
They don’t work! Yes, on your digital device it may show lower numbers, your health care provider may even give you a fist bump for having lower numbers, even though you just told them that these medications make you feel like crap. However, what does all this mean??
What does it mean to decrease your blood pressure with a chemical all while setting the grounds for the metabolic chaos that will cause you to be treated with additional medications, that don’t show any improvement in mortality or morbidity?
Yes, that’s right.
“Anti-hypertensive drugs used in the treatment of adults (primary prevention) with mild hypertension (systolic BP 140-159 mm/Hg and diastolic BP 90-99 mm/Hg) have NOT been shown to reduce mortality or morbidity in RCTs. Treatment caused 9% of patients to discontinue treatment due to adverse effects.”
So not only do they cause side effects but at the end of the day, they haven’t been shown to work. Where I’m from we call this a symbolic victory or a hustle, what do they call on your side of town?
First, let me make it clear. Don’t Stop Your Prescriptions Without Talking To Your Doctor. Again; I want to be very clear here, I am not recommending you stop taking any blood pressure medication that you are currently taking. Instead, I suggest you talk to your doctor about your desire to lower your blood pressure naturally. Ask him or her to look at your plan and help you transition into coming off of your blood pressure drugs in a way that does not harm your health.
Second, eat more nutrient-dense foods. Subconsciously, I think we all know that our collective diet as a community it a large part of the problem. Simple and plain, we need to eat way more veggies, drink more water, and dramatically decrease the processed food. Oh, I forgot to mention, the Standard American Diet is a disease. Pass on the message.
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