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Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School
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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Controlling Your Blood Pressure

A shocking one in three American adults has high blood pressure, yet barely half of them have it under control. Millions more have high blood pressure and don’t even know it because there are no warning signs or symptoms. It’s called the silent killer because the first “symptom” is often a stroke or heart attack.

Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and treat. Sometimes people can keep blood pressure in a healthy range simply by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing activity, and eating more healthfully.

In this Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School experts, you’ll uncover the best ways to stop this silent killer, including:

  • 5 ways to lower your chances of ever getting high blood pressure.
  • The only type of exercise that lowers your blood pressure.
  • The drug that lowers blood pressure and has fewer side effects than most others.
  • Prevent plaque buildup in arteries—which can lead to high blood pressure—just by moving around more.
  • The diet that could keep your blood pressure normal – without medications!
  • A technique that can help 50% of people to eliminate at least one blood pressure medication. And 35% can lower their dosage!

You’ll get important information about blood pressure and how it’s linked to everything from heart disease and stroke to memory loss, like:

  • Blood pressure number that could mean you’re 10 times more likely to have a stroke.
  • How to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease up to 59% by controlling your blood pressure.
  • 6 ways to help ensure you get an accurate blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office.
  • Test you should have if you’re taking a diuretic to control blood pressure.
  • 8 over-the-counter meds that can cause high blood pressure.

Plus, you’ll get a special bonus section that reveals the health hazards of salt. Just how bad is it? Consider this:

  • Cutting salt by just 15% lowers deaths from heart attacks and stroke by 40% or more!
  • Higher salt intake is linked to more strokes and cases of heart disease.
  • Little known reason you could be at a much greater risk for heart attack, stroke, or even needing bypass surgery.
  • Shocking places you find sodium – licorice! Alaskan King Crab – just 3 ounces (less than ¼ pound has 911 mg!)
  • And 20 ways to cut back on salt!

You'll also find tips on how to use a home blood pressure monitor, as well as advice on choosing a drug treatment strategy based your age and any other existing medical issues you may have.

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Randall M. Zusman, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Director, Division of Hypertension, Massachusetts General Hospital. 48 pages. (2014)

  • Blood pressure basics
    • Understanding the numbers
    • What does blood pressure measure?
  • Types of hypertension
    • Essential hypertension
    • Isolated systolic hypertension
    • Secondary hypertension
    • White-coat hypertension
    • Labile hypertension
    • Resistant hypertension
    • Malignant hypertension
    • Hypertension during pregnancy
  • How high blood pressure harms your health
    • Stroke
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Atrial fibrillation
    • Dementia
    • Kidney disease
    • Eye damage
  • Diagnosing high blood pressure
    • Testing for hypertension
    • Monitoring blood pressure at home
  • Lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure
    • Quit smoking
    • Attain a healthy weight
    • Follow a healthful diet
    • Be active
    • Stress less
  • SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: Conquering your salt habit
    • Strategies for cutting back on salt
  • Medications for lower blood pressure
    • Classes of hypertension drugs
    • The right drug for the right person
  • Resources
  • Glossary

Conquering your salt habit

Salt — sodium chloride — is essential for survival. Your body depends on sodium to transmit nerve impulses, contract muscle fibers, and, along with potassium, to balance fluid levels in all your cells. Because the human body is so good at conserving this vital mineral, you need only a tiny amount of sodium. Some tribes, like the South American Yanomamo Indians, consume a mere 200 mg, or about one-tenth of a teaspoon of salt—per day. Thousands of years ago, when humans roamed the earth gathering and hunting, sodium was scarce. But potassium — found naturally in many plant-based foods — was abundant. In fact, the so-called Paleolithic diet provided about 16 times more potassium than sodium.

Today, the average American diet contains about twice as much sodium as potassium, thanks to the preponderance of salt hidden in processed foods. This sodium-potassium imbalance, which is at odds with how humans evolved, is thought to be a major contributor to high blood pressure. Findings from the Trials of Hypertension Prevention study suggest that changing the balance between these two minerals can help the heart and arteries. Researchers measured the amounts of sodium and potassium excreted over the course of 24 hours by nearly 3,000 volunteers. (The amount excreted is a good stand-in for the amount consumed.) The higher the ratio of sodium to potassium, the greater the chance of having a heart attack or stroke, needing bypass surgery or angioplasty, or dying of cardiovascular disease over 10 to 15 years of follow-up, as described in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009. To reverse the ratio, choose foods with a high proportion of potassium to sodium.

The power of potassium

Most people eat too much sodium and not enough potassium. To counteract this trend, try eating more foods with a high potassium-to-sodium ratio.


Potassium-to-sodium ratio


422 to 1

Black beans, cooked without salt

305 to 1


232 to 1

Grapefruit juice

126 to 1

Peanuts, dry roasted, no salt

93 to 1

Peanuts, dry roasted, with salt

0.8 to 1


69 to 1


68 to 1

Baked potato, plain, with skin

54 to 1

Fast-food French fries

2.5 to 1

Peanut butter, without salt

42 to 1

Peanut butter, with salt

1.4 to 1

Brussels sprouts, steamed

35 to 1

Applesauce (jar), no salt

31 to 1

Applesauce (jar), with salt

2.2 to 1

Oatmeal, regular

18 to 1

Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal

0.5 to 1


17 to 1

Halibut, baked

8 to 1

Spinach, boiled

7 to 1

Salmon, baked

6 to 1

Salmon, canned

0.8 to 1

V8, low-sodium

6 to 1

V8, regular

1 to 1

Carrots, raw

5 to 1

Milk, 1%

3 to 1


0.9 to 1

Marinara sauce, prepared

0.8 to 1

Pork and beans, canned

0.7 to 1

Fast-food cheeseburger

0.4 to 1

French bread

0.2 to 1


0.1 to 1

The following reviews have been left for this report. Log in and leave a review of your own.

Looking at the table of contents, and the DASH diet reference, it seems to me much of the content would be found on the website of the National Institute of Health for free. Marsha Lomis
I may have missed it, but find no reference to potassium salt substitutes and wondered why there were no comments about this.
The script is an excellent review about this illness which I can 100 % back up. I was and I still am a healthy person of 73 years but suffered a set back by expiriencing last year an AION on my left eye loosing my left eye vision. The reason was given to me as a changing high blood pressure but measuring it for 3 month twice a day I never exceeded 130/ 80
I haven't purchased this either, but am guessing, based on the table of contents, that this is another "cut out the salt" tome. The 2011 meta-study, looking at seven of the best studies and led by Rod Taylor, a statistician at the University of Exeter, UK, found "no statistically significant difference in the subjects' rates of heart disease compared with rates in people who didn't reduce their salt intake. Furthermore, a low-salt diet was not linked to reduced death rates in people with normal blood pressure or high blood pressure. "In one trial in heart-failure patients, we rather worryingly found that reductions in salt increased risk of death". The "reasons" given, that after all these years, the effect of cutting out salt can't be shown to reduce mortality would be funny were the topic not so serious. What I suspect you won't find in this report is mention of the effect on carbohydrates on blood pressure. Carbs raise insulin and insulin tells the kidneys to retain sodium. High serum sodium, as opposed to just high sodium intake, does raise blood volume and that does raise blood pressure. So, the "special section" on cutting back on salt and the section on drugs seem to me headed in the wrong direction.

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