High blood pressure is a subject that comes up regularly because it is so common, even in quite young people. It is sometimes referred to as 'the silent killer' as it can creep up on you without you being aware of it. It's considered to be a significant factor in increasing the risk of disability or death due to heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.
It is also generally considered to be a disease in its own right, but that is nonsense! Blood pressure is a SYMPTOM of a serious underlying problem. It must be addressed if you want to avoid the slippery slope down to poor health and ultimately death. (Sorry about being a little melodramatic, but it's so true).
Generally when someone finds out that they have high excessive blood pressure they take the advice given by most Doctors and accept a prescription for antihypertensive medication. But, are these medicines the best solution, or will they just speed up your slide down the 'slippery slope'?
Let's first review a few facts...
According to the New England Journal of medicine (August 2001) approximately 27% of the adult population of America has high blood pressure or hypertension. This amounts to around 43 million Americans. Of these it is estimated that 23.4 million take antihypertensive medications. What is interesting is that only 42.9% get their blood pressure down to acceptable levels, (but, at a cost to their overall health).
What constitutes high blood pressure or hypertension?
Hypertension is considered to have two levels or stages. Stage 1 hypertension refers to blood pressure of 140//90 mm Hg and above. Stage 2 hypertension is when blood pressure exceeds 160/100 mm.
The first number is your systolic pressure and the second number is diastolic. Systolic pressure is the pressure which is exerted on your arteries when your heart is contracting. In other words, forcing blood out of the heart chambers into your arteries. The diastolic pressure is the pressure exerted on your arteries whilst your heart is resting between beats and being refilled with blood.
Optimal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80. Even in someone with optimal blood pressure it can fluctuate during the day depending upon activity. However, if your systolic pressure is consistently 140 or more then you would be considered to have high blood pressure with all the attendant risks.
Because you can have high blood pressure without any outward symptoms it makes sense to have a regular check up with your doctor so you can have it measured.
Factors that determine blood pressure
The obvious one is the heart. The harder your heart has to work to push the blood through your arteries and capillaries the greater the pressure it has to exert and thus the higher your blood pressure will be.
Your arteries and capillaries have to be in top condition to minimize the effort your heart has to exert to maintain the circulation. Unfortunately, in most people their arteries and capillaries are not in top condition. There is usually plaque present which cause the arteries and capillaries to 'harden' and narrow.
Your arteries need to be resilient or elastic in order to allow blood to be easily pushed through them. If your arteries are lined with a plaque they lose that elasticity or resilience. This combined with the layer of plaque creates significant restrictions and requires your heart to exert more pressure to get the blood through them. It's a bit like if you are watering the garden and someone partially stands on the hose! You then need to turn the tap on further to apply additional pressure to maintain the flow of water out the other end.
This is the cause of 'normal' high blood pressure. Where the real danger comes about for those people who have elevated blood pressure is when it is combined with the hormone epinephrine also known as adrenaline. This hormone is released during periods of high stress and accounts for a large proportion of fatalities through heart attack and strokes.
What short term exertion can do...
At the latter part of last year my cousin and his wife were on a holiday in the South Island of New Zealand in their motor home. His wife started getting some severe chest pains and my cousin Ron become really concerned for her well being and felt he needed to call for help. But they were in a remote mountainous area and they were on the fringe of cell phone range. However he figured that if he climbed to the top of a bluff above the road with his cell phone he could get cell phone reception.
He stopped the vehicle and scrambled up the hill and out of view. But... he never came back! The exertion triggered of a massive heart attack and he died on the top of the bluff.
This is a graphic example of high blood pressure. He was only 62 years old. Just as a side note, he had been a heavy smoker all his life but in spite of that he had kept reasonably fit and was always slim. He gave up smoking a year previously but substituted the cigarettes for candy. As a result his weight increased significantly and his health deteriorated. A word of warning! If you are a smoker and you give up, for heavens sake don't fill the 'gap' with sweets or candy's. They will kill you quicker than smoking will!
How do you control blood pressure?
Firstly, let's have a brief look at the medication used to lower blood pressure. It is usually in the form of beta-blockers or diuretics. They can be effective in treating the symptoms on a little under half the people who use them. But they do come at a price however. That price could be fatigue, impotence, and a number of other side effects including depression. In fact, a computer survey of Medicare patients using beta-blockers revealed that one in four of them were also prescribed anti depressant drugs.
This is why taking medication for hypertension can potentially be the start of the 'slippery slope' that I referred to earlier. Even for those people who successfully lower their blood pressure through drugs and they seem to be 'fine' in reality they are not because the underlying problem still remains.
Therefore in my opinion if you suffer from high blood pressure and whether you are on blood pressure medication or not you should make every effort to cure yourself naturally and if on drugs wean yourself off them. Whilst you are taking the appropriate measures to reduce your blood pressure naturally make sure you have regular check ups and let your Doctor know what you are doing so that your medication can be progressively adjusted.
Some quick tips...
If you are overweight... reduce it. Remember that as you add fat to your body you are also increasing the overall volume of blood that your body must carry and thus increase the work that your heart has to do in order to exert the pressure to ensure that it all circulates. Get some exercise. If you currently don't get any, start doing some, no matter how minimal it may be initially. Be careful not to overdo it!
Remember my cousin! Avoid trans and hydrogenated fats and oils. Avoid smoking as this will contribute to narrowing the arteries. Supplement correctly. Shortages of essential nutrients and antioxidants have cause negative flow on effects within your body which will impact on the health of your arteries and thus your blood pressure. Try to reduce any stress in your life. If you are not overweight take ALL sugars out of your diet. Take a quality fish oil supplement. EPA and DHA in fish oil have been proven to be very beneficial in reducing blood pressure.
It is important to understand that blood pressure is a SYMPTOM of an underlying condition and not a disease. It is possible to beat it naturally. It is essential that you do so if you want to avoid all the negative flow on effects that will flow from this symptom.
In good health.