Dr. Mark Houston

on Managing High Blood Pressure
Author and director of Hypertension Institute at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville

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Exclusive Interview

Dr. Mark Houston on Hypertension

Mark Houston, M.D., is the co-author with Barry Fox, Ph.D., and Nadine Taylor, M.S., R.D., of What Your Doctor Does Not Tell You About Hypertension: The Revolutionary Nutrition and Lifestyle Program to Help Fight High Blood Pressure. He is currently the director of the Hypertension Institute at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, and is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Society of Hypertension and the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. Here, Houston lists some essentials you need to know about managing your high blood pressure.

What can happen if high blood pressure isn't treated?

The most common problems that occur over time are stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. In addition, loss of vision may occur, rupture of large arteries with bleeding and generalized atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries and blockages in the arteries)

What are three things most people DON'T know about high blood pressure?

1. They do not realize that it may not have any symptoms until it is very elevated or causes one of the complications such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.
2. They do not realize that there are many lifestyle changes such as diet, proper nutrition, exercise, weight loss and nutritional supplements that may lower blood pressure if it is not too severe and allow them to avoid medications.
3. They do not realize that many of the new blood pressure medications are much better than they were in the past. These new medications have minimal side effects and are very effective in reducing the blood pressure.

What are the most effective things people with high blood pressure can do at home to help manage their condition?

Eat less salt (sodium), take in more potassium and magnesium. They can increase the number of fruits and vegetables to about 10 servings per day, avoid foods with high sodium content and not use the salt shaker.

Also, increasing the amount of cold-water fish in the diet, like salmon, tuna, cod and herring, is healthy. Eating high quality protein that is organic and lean is also good. Increasing olive-oil products and nuts in the diet and reducing trans fats and saturated fats is good. Reducing sugars, refined carbohydrates and sweets as well as increasing fiber with oat bran, vegetables and whole grain cereal will lower blood pressure.

They should get close to their ideal body weight. They should exercise about 60 minutes per day, and include both aerobic and anerobic exercise. In addition, [everyone] should try to get eight hours of sleep per night, relax and reduce stress, avoid all tobacco products and limit alcohol to less than one glass of wine or a single beer per day. They should avoid caffeine, which will increase blood pressure, increase heart rate and stiffen the arteries.

What is the most important thing for patients to know about treating high blood pressure?

Patients should remember that high blood pressure is genetic (inherited) in 90% of cases. If one or both parents have high blood pressure, the risk for getting it is about 50-80%. High blood pressure is a "silent killer" in that there are no symptoms until a cardiovascular event happens such as a stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. High blood pressure is treatable with both lifestyle changes and medications. Once treated to a normal blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg, then their risk of having a complication is as low as that of someone who does not have high blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked at least twice per year by a qualified health-care professional and seek immediate treatment if your blood pressure increases.


What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

That God is always with me and the change will be for the better.

The best thing about change is...

...that I will grow in mind, body and spirit. And, I'll always move forward. If I stay still, I actually move backward.

What is the best change you have ever made?

Starting the Hypertension Institute at Saint Thomas Hospital.

For more information on Dr. Houston, visit


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I am starting Dr. Houston's modified DASH diet, VasoGuard therapy and an intensified exercise regimen today. This is my last hope.I am a female non-smoker, non-drinker, BMI 25, exercise regularly and eat healthy, but still developed HT at age 46. I am on perindopril 4mg/day. BP not well controlled. Refuse to go on more meds. I was just diagnosed with high cholesterol as well. I have a horrific family history of HT,lipid disorders and death of MI and stroke at a young age. Wish me luck!

  • By Leeu28
  • on 7/21/10 1:57 PM EST

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About: Hypertension: The Revolutionary Nutrition and Lifestyle Program to Help Fight High Blood Pressure


Readers will learn about Dr. Houston's own successful all-natural formula for treating high blood pressure, which attacks hypertension from many angles. ...