Patients with high blood pressure, or hypertension, usually report lower health-related quality of life. This comes as no surprise considering high blood pressure is such a serious condition with even more serious health ramifications. However, it is less clear whether this lower quality of life was due to high blood pressure itself, or the drugs used to treat the condition.
Researchers in Brazil aimed to find out what exactly was causing hypertensive patients to report having such low quality of life. To do this, they evaluated 1,858 people who were part of the SOFT (Syndrome of Obesity and Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease) study.
Among this group, 34.2 percent had high blood pressure. Those with hypertension had lower scores for health-related quality of life in both physical and mental health than those without hypertension, and the differences were significant, particularly with regard to physical health.
Broken down further, the researchers realized that the health-related quality of life scores varied even more when they took into account whether the patients were using medication to lower their blood pressure.
In fact, they found that participants with moderate-to-high blood pressure not using antihypertensive drugs tended to have higher health-related quality of life scores in all components of the survey, compared with those with moderate-to-high blood pressure on antihypertensive drugs or those with normal blood pressure using antihypertensive drugs.
They concluded that quality of life was lower in participants with controlled hypertension under drug treatment than in participants with normal blood pressure or with controlled hypertension not using blood pressure medication.
The Natural Way Is Often the Better Way
For many patients with hypertension, these results will come as no surprise. The conventional approach to lowering blood pressure and other heart-related problems, like high cholesterol, usually involves a cocktail of drugs that may or may not work, and more often than not, leaves patients with a host of unpleasant side effects.
The side effects of blood pressure-lowering medications include erectile dysfunction, fatigue, leg cramps, insomnia, headaches, dizziness and heartburn, to name just a few. And statins, used to treat high cholesterol, are even worse. First of all, statins do little to actually decrease cardiovascular-related deaths. And second, considering they have so little real benefit, their side effects are vast, ranging from fatigue, muscle soreness, memory loss, headaches, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, nausea, to even death.
Fortunately, most cases of high blood pressure and high cholesterol can successfully be lowered naturally with exercise and diet modifications.
If you are one of those patients with hypertension who feels lessened quality of life since starting drug treatment for high blood pressure, consider talking to your doctor about a more natural approach to therapy, especially if your blood pressure is in the moderately high range.
 Trevisol DJ et al. Health-related quality of life is worse in individuals with hypertension under drug treatment: results of a population based study. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2012 June;26;374-80.