What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (also commonly known as Hypertension) is often called the "silent killer", as many people can live for years with this dangerous condition without ever experiencing a single symptom. High blood pressure is estimated to affect 1 in 3 American adults. Once the condition arises, it is usually a life-long problem that needs to be treated and managed carefully.
Blood pressure is defined as the force that the blood exerts on the veins and arteries as it circulates through the body. In a healthy individual, blood pressure should be around 120/80 mmHg, although this reading does fluctuate from day to day and person to person. Blood pressure that consistently measures 140/90 mmHg or higher is thus considered high blood pressure. If left uncontrolled, it may increase your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack, kidney failure or stroke.
Two types of high blood pressure have been identified:
- Primary high blood pressure, in which no underlying cause is known
- Secondary blood pressure, which occurs as a result of another medical condition, or caused by certain medications.
Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
A doctor will be able to determine whether or not you have high blood pressure, so be sure to receive regular health screenings to promptly detect and treat any problems. As blood pressure does fluctuate, one high blood pressure reading does not necessarily mean you have hypertension. Repeated readings of high pressure may lead to a diagnosis.
While extensive tests are not usually needed to determine high blood pressure, your physician may recommend further tests to determine whether there is an underlying cause for the elevated blood pressure and to determine if any damage to organs has occurred as a result.
What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
What makes high blood pressure so dangerous is that most people do not experience any symptoms, even when blood pressure readings are dangerously high. However, some people may notice one or two of the following if their levels are consistently raised:
- Blurred vision
- Increased nosebleeds
These symptoms are not always present and could be indicative of a number of different health concerns. It is thus important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
For most people, the cause remains unknown, making primary blood pressure the more prevalent of the two.
While it is not entirely known why primary high blood pressure occurs, research is ongoing and a number of factors have been implicated. Since high blood pressure often runs in families, a strong genetic component has been indicated.
Other risk factors for high blood pressure include smoking, alcoholism, and high salt intake, being overweight, lack of exercise, and high levels of stress.
Some conditions known to cause secondary hypertension are:
- Diabetic nephropathy
- Kidney disease
- Cushing's syndrome
- Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism
- Arteriosclerosis (a thickening, hardening and narrowing of the walls of the arteries)
- Underlying heart conditions
- Sleep apnea
- Pregnancy, especially in cases of Pre-eclampsia
- Side-effects of certain medications or supplements
Help for High Blood Pressure
While high blood pressure can be a potentially life-threatening condition, it can be successfully managed through the correct medical treatment and positive life-style changes. Treatment often includes prescription medication, natural remedies, or a combination of both.
Whatever you decide, it is important to adopt a holistic approach to your health and include life-style changes into your treatment program.
There are a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies that are well known for their ability to control high blood pressure with great success. Unlike conventional medicines, which do not always address the root cause, natural remedies can do this without the risk of side effects or addiction.
In keeping with a holistic approach to health, Naturopaths recognize that high blood pressure may be a sign or symptom of imbalance in the body and thus recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and natural remedies to remove the causes of the high blood pressure, rather than simply just treating the symptoms.
Remember to always source your natural remedies from a reputable company in order to ensure safety, efficacy, and correct therapeutic dosage.
Note: Do not make changes to your prescription medication without first consulting your doctor.
Conventional Medication for High Blood Pressure
A vast number of different prescription medications are available to help reduce high blood pressure. These include vasodilators, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics, and calcium channel blockers to name a few.
Each of these drugs has a different effect and they tend to work differently for different people. For this reason, you may find that you have to try out a few combinations until you find the one that works best for you.
Examples of medication that your doctor may prescribe are: enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), atenolol (Tenormin), and furosemide (Lasix). Like many synthetic drugs, anti-hypertensive medication has a risk of causing side effects which will differ between individuals and medications.
Side-effects can be distressing or uncomfortable and may include dizziness, nausea, stomach problems, fatigue, impotence, insomnia, loss of appetite, low blood pressure and others. Always speak to your doctor if you are having problems.
By simply adjusting your life-style, you can help to lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of complications. Choose healthier habits such as a heart healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and a reduced salt intake.
Try to stop smoking in a natural manner and reduce alcohol and caffeine intake to a minimum. Losing weight is many times advised.
For some individuals, life-style changes are enough to reduce blood pressure levels back to normal, and for others they are an essential step towards treatment along-side medication.
More information on High Blood Pressure
Can High Blood Pressure Cause Other Disorders?
High blood pressure is a serious condition that can cause extensive damage to the heart, blood vessels, and other organs in the body. If left untreated, high blood pressure could result in the following conditions:
Tips for Coping with High Blood Pressure
- Take responsibility for your health and make the necessary changes. Sadly, it often takes a scary diagnosis to force us to make positive life changes so use this as an opportunity! Adopt healthy life-style habits by exercising, learning to relax, and eating healthily and if you do smoke, now is a great time to quit smoking naturally! Not only will these changes help to lower blood pressure, they will increase your energy levels, boost immunity and help you to feel 10 years younger!
- If you are struggling to adopt a healthy eating plan, or have difficulty losing weight then consider seeking professional assistance from a nutritionist, fitness trainer, or support group.
- Learn to relax, slow down and manage your stress levels. Stress is a huge influencing factor in high blood pressure so try to reduce stress levels and learn to relax! Try listening to calming music, meditation, yoga, or connecting with nature on a quiet forest walk to escape from the stresses of daily life.
- Address other health complaints such as insomnia or constipation as soon as they arise as these can contribute to increased blood pressure.
- Keep track of your blood pressure by learning to take your own blood pressure at home or having it regularly checked by a health care professional. Try keeping a log of your measurements after each check-up and slowly work towards your goals by noticing what works and what doesn’t.
- If on medication, it’s always a good idea to keep a list of what you are taking on you incase of an emergency. Also be sure to refill your blood pressure medicines and take them as directed by your physician.