How important is high blood pressure?

Control of blood pressure is crucial for coronary plaque control and stopping your heart scan score from increasing.

Dr. Mehmet Oz (of Oprah fame and a cardiac transplant surgeon at Columbia University) made graphic point of this on the ABC TV news show, 20/20, last evening on an episode called "Our Bodies: Myths, Lies, and Straight Talk". (See a summary on the ABC News 20/20 website at

Although I believe he somewhat overstated the case for hypertension (proclaiming "If you're going to remember one number, if you're going to focus and fixate on one number in your entire health profile, it better be your blood pressure"), he made the point that a blood pressure of 115/75 is what you should have for optimal health.

I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, the old advice that desirable blood is 140/90 or less is absolutely wrong. At this level, we see flagrant increases in heart scan scores. We also progressive enlargement of the thoracic aorta, the large vessel that leaves the heart and branches to provide the major arteries of the body. Growth of the aorta to an aneurysm is also common at these formerly acceptable blood pressure. (The diameter of your aorta in the chest is an easily obtainable measure on your CT heart scan.)

The blood pressure you need for halting and reversing plaque growth on your heart scan is indeed 115/75 or less. (Not so low, however, that you're lightheaded.) This is the blood pressure that you were meant to have evolutionarily. It's also the blood pressure that helps tremendously in keeping your aorta from enlarging.

Watch for an upcoming exhaustive report on blood pressure and its plaque-raising effects and how to reduce it using nutritional strategies on the membership website.