Aetiology of hypertension and alternative treatment
Apart from not drinking water, some have taken to drinking other fluids like carbonated and sweetened soft drinks, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as replacement for water. All these drinks and beverages act as diuretics (increase urine formation) in the body, especially at the cellular level. Water is in a class of its own and has absolutely no substitute. Not drinking sufficient water and drinking other diuresis-causing beverages leads to dehydration. There is no reservoir in the body for water storage and so water must continually be replenished by drinking in order to prevent this dehydration. If this is not done, dehydration gets worse and a lot of dire consequences will begin to manifest.
One of the manifestations of dehydration is high blood pressure (hypertension) and I will now describe how this comes about. In a state of dehydration, there is usually accumulation of toxic, acidic wastes in and around the cells because the circulation of blood slows down as a result of poor filtration and movement of wastes from the intracellular compartment to the extracellular.
Secondly, due to water insufficiency, the body goes into a rationing mode to ensure that water gets to the five vital organs in the body which can hardly do without sufficient water. These organs are: the brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. In this process, water is redistributed from less vital parts of the body like the bones, muscles, joints and the skin to the vital organs. The mechanism of redistribution is a complex one which I will not go into for obvious reasons.
However, suffice to say that histamine is the forerunner hormone that is released when the body is dehydrated. Histamine causes the release of certain other hormones and neurotransmitters which act on the capillaries to constrict them, thereby reducing the quantity of blood and water passing through them.
Thirdly, is the role of cholesterol. Under normal circumstances, water acts as an adhesive that binds the individual cells together. When the body goes into the rationing mode as a result of dehydration, this function of water is taken over by cholesterol. The liver is signalled by the brain to produce more cholesterol which is deposited in the spaces between the cells in the capillary bed, found extensively in the muscles. The action of cholesterol at this time is to bind the cells together and block the cellular spaces through which water passes into the cells. This is to further reduce the quantity of water going into the cells so as to have more to supply to the vital organs. As more and more cholesterol is produced and released into the circulation, more of it gets deposited between the cells until this cholesterol plugs begin to protrude into the lumen of the capillaries and arterioles.
Eventually, these deposits of cholesterol sticking into the lumen of the blood vessels join together to form plaques. Two things have happened here by the introduction of cholesterol due to dehydration. Firstly, there is a lot of cholesterol in circulation as the liver is programmed to produce more cholesterol. This is termed HYPERCHOLESTEROLAEMIA. In other words, hypercholesterolaemia is caused by dehydration.
Secondly, we find that the plaques deposited in the inner aspect of the wall of the blood vessel is also due to the cholesterol plugs deposited in the walls of the blood vessels to prevent water from entering the cells. These plaques initially reduce the lumen of the blood vessels and as time goes on, they occlude the lumen completely and depending on the vessels involved, they can either cause a heart attack or stroke.
Now, to the issue of hypertension, I have made mention of three mechanisms already by which the heart begins to pump blood with greater force. These mechanisms are: the increased viscosity of the blood as a result of waste accumulation, vasoconstriction of the capillaries and the cholesterol plugs which prevent water from leaving the blood at the capillary bed in the muscles.
All these lead to what Medical Science refers to as Peripheral Vascular Resistance. The heart interpretes this resistance as a partial block to the free flow of blood somewhere in the circulation, which has to be dislodged. In an effort to dislodge this ‘block’ the heart begins to increase the force with which it pumps. This increased force is what is referred to as Hypertension.
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