If you or someone you love is battling high blood pressure, then you already know how challenging that fight can be.

After all, some 70 million Americans are struggling to control hypertension, often with medications. In many cases, those drugs may not even be necessary, and I'll tell you why in a moment.

But first, I'd like to point out an interesting new study that shows just how important it is to keep your blood pressure under control, especially as you age. This study found that elderly people who suffer from hypertension have trouble thinking straight when their blood pressure spikes.

Researchers from North Carolina State University tracked 36 older people, average age of 73, for two months. Twice a day, their blood pressure readings were taken, and they were given cognitive tests to measure things like pattern recognition, problem solving, and thinking ability.

Those who suffered from hypertension did worse on the test on days when their blood pressure spiked, showing that the condition – or perhaps the stress caused by it – impaired their ability to reason and think clearly.

On the other hand, the researchers found that those with normal blood pressure levels did just fine on their tests, even when their blood pressure rose.

The results were published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, and show how the risks of hypertension go far beyond heart attack and stroke, and how the condition plays a tremendous role in the everyday quality of life. Previous studies have linked hypertension to dementia, and others have associated high blood pressure with diminished cognitive performance.

Many people have a hard time keeping their high blood pressure under control because they don't know what's causing it. A lot of docs don't know either, so they just end up prescribing diuretics or beta blockers and hoping for the best.

But that's a lot like walking down a mountain trail blindfolded, simply because you think you know where it leads. I happen to live in a place with a lot of those trails, and I can tell you – they're plenty difficult even when you can see where you're going.

The fact is, hypertension can be caused by any of a number of things. And if you don't find the reason before you choose the treatment, you may as well keep that blindfold on as you tumble downhill.

In my experience, high blood pressure is often caused by a deficiency of key nutrients. Phenylalanine is a typical culprit, but there are others as well. The upside is that these deficiencies can be corrected, no beta blockers – or blindfold – necessary.

If you are having problems with your blood pressure, be sure to read the May issue of Health Revelations. I'll have much more on the subject there, as well as a detailed list of key nutrients that can help you take control of your hypertension.

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