People these days tend to live longer but, it is a blessing if your life is healthy. Here, we have discussed how to beat high blood pressure that leads to hypertension. Also, how to take the least required medicine to keep healthy and wisely follow alternative methods.
What is Meant by Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is measured using the blood pressure instrument showing Systolic/top and Diastolic/bottom numbers. The Systolic number refers to highest pressure caused when it forces the blood into arteries. These arteries carry oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body through circulation. The Diastolic number refers to the pressure when the heart rests between heartbeats. During this time, the blood flows back to the heart and it gets oxygen.
Regularly, you should get your blood pressure checked. Ensure your Systolic and Diastolic readings are within the normal range. Consult the chart to understand any abnormal readings:
- Normal Systolic blood pressure: Below 120
- Elevated reading: 120-129
- Hypertension Stage 1: 130-139
- Hypertension Stage 2: 140 or more
- Hypertension Crisis: 180 or more — Call for medical help at 911.
To be on the safe side, if your reading is over 120 consult your doctor for caution or prevention. If you wait too long, you might notice one or more symptoms of high blood pressure.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
- Breathing problems
- Chest pain
- Confusion and Fatigue
- Heartbeat not regular
- Pounding of ears, chest, and neck
- Blood in urine
- Vision problems
There are two broad categories of hypertension – hypertensive urgency and hypertensive emergency. Patients with hypertensive urgency have high blood pressure (over 180/110) but, no organ damage. They are treated with medicine for reducing high blood pressure.
Patients with hypertensive emergency get very high blood pressure along with organ damage. They have to be treated with intravenous blood pressure medicine in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
Types of Hypertension
- Secondary Hypertension:
About 10% of people get secondary hypertension caused due to some other illness or reason. After they are cured of the other issue, automatically, their hypertension turns normal. Causes of secondary hypertension are as follows:
- Addiction to alcohol
- Adrenal glands tumors
- Kidney ailments
- Narrow of aorta causing high blood pressure
- Sleep Apnea
- Thyroid Dysfunction
- Usage of birth control pills
- Rest 90% people suffering from hypertension get it due to permanent or conditional factors. Permanent factors include age, genetics, gender, history and race. With age, the arteries in the body thicken and lose elasticity and cause high blood pressure. Genetics depends on the hereditary factors passed down from previous generations like in family history. Gender shows men are more prone to high blood pressure than women are. However, one should also consider the age and ethnicity. This leads to a discussion on racism where African-Americans have more high blood pressure than Caucasians.
Conditional factors include no exercise, obesity, sodium-intake, alcohol, birth-control pills, and drugs. These conditional factors can be modified or stopped to revert to normal blood pressure. For instance, those leading sedentary lifestyle can reduce high blood pressure by exercising. Obese people (over 30% normal body weights) can reduce their weight to 15% their normal weight and reduce high blood pressure. Abstain from taking table salt or sodium that retains body fluids thereby reducing high blood pressure. Consuming excessive alcohol drinks causes high blood pressure. Women using oral contraceptives sometimes get a high blood pressure. Usage of certain drugs such as diet supplements, anti-allergic pills and amphetamines (stimulants) increase blood pressure.
- Malignant Hypertension:
Malignant hypertension is rare and only 1% of people get it. The patient has the high blood pressure of over 180/120 along with damaged organs. Malignant Hypertension is common amongst African-Americans and people belonging to the poor economic background. This hypertension is caused amongst those with little or no proper health care. The patients get it from taking birth control pills, MAOIs and using Cocaine. The patients of malignant hypertension are always treated as a hypertensive emergency. They are prone to illnesses including adrenal gland tumor, kidney ailments, spinal cord illness and scleroderma.
If you have a high blood pressure reading over 130 or notice any above symptoms, then consult the doctor. The sooner you get treated for hypertension the better for you.
When you meet the health professional, list all medicine you take including the prescribed and non-prescribed ones. Also, add herbal, diet supplements, birth control since you could be suffering from secondary hypertension without realizing it.
Complications of High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
When you do not treat high blood pressure or hypertension, you end up with the following illnesses:
- Atherosclerosis: During circulation, arteries carry oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. With age, arteries become hard due to plaque build-up, especially amongst smokers. Hence, the quantity of blood flowing through them get reduced. This condition is called atherosclerosis that puts excessive pressure and causes blockages. Often, oxygenated blood cannot reach the heart causing angina, coronary illnesses, heart attack, and stroke.
- Stroke: Research studies have confirmed that 80% people can save themselves from getting a stroke. These people kept normal blood pressure of less than 120/80, thereby reducing the risk of getting a stroke caused due to hypertension.
- Heart Disease: Heart disease is found in people with high blood pressure or hypertension. The ailments include ischemic heart, heart failure, and thickening of left ventricular heart muscles. Medically, heart failure occurs with reduced heart pumping because of less elasticity of heart muscles. The blood flows through all chambers of the heart inefficiently causing high heart pressure. Yet, the heart cannot pump the oxygenated blood and nutrients to other parts of the body. The heart holds more blood and with time its muscle walls weaken. At the same time, the kidney stops functioning properly. The sodium retains excess body fluid in arms, legs, feet and other parts. As a result, the patent gets congestive heart failure.
A patient can also get heart failure caused by hardening of the left ventricular heart muscle. There is less relaxation between the heart beats. Hence, the heart gets filled up with more than enough blood required for the entire body. This occurs especially while the patient is exercising. The body retains fluids and at the same time the heart rate increases.
- Kidney Disease: Hypertension damages blood vessels and filters of the kidney that cannot function normally. Kidney ailment symptoms include difficulties in urination, frequent urination at night, fluid retention in lower legs. Laboratory tests confirm the presence of serum creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and proteinuria in urine samples. Thereafter, patients have to undergo dialysis (blood cleaning process) or kidney transplantation at later stage.
- Eye Disease: High blood pressure or hypertension can damage minute blood vessels in the retina of the eyes. The retina is present in the back of the eye where the images get focused. The eye ailment is known as hypertensive retinopathy. During the eye exam, the doctor can diagnose to see the eyeball using ophthalmoscope. If left untreated, the person can get headaches and serious vision problems.
- Diabetes: Diabetics also have high blood pressure from high blood glucose circulating through their system and heart. Also, hypertension in diabetics causes retinopathy, kidney failure and heart ailments. Medicine namely Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE) and Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARB) reduce high blood pressure. But, the medicine prevents and slows down kidney ailments in diabetics.
- Pre-Eclampsia and Eclampsia: Pre-Eclampsia occurs 20 weeks after pregnancy and Eclampsia occurs in women with pre-eclampsia before or soon after delivery. Women with Preeclampsia and Eclampsia suffer from seizures and high blood pressure. As a result, the fetus does not get an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients from the mother through the placenta.
- Metabolic Syndrome: Combination of several illnesses is referred to as metabolic syndrome. Also known as syndrome X or dysmetabolic syndrome. According to the AHA guidelines, the Metabolic Syndrome is detected using the following symptoms:
- Abdominal obesity – Circumferences in men (over 102 cm/ 40 inches) Women (over 88 cm/35 inches).
- Blood pressure over 130/85. Intake of medication for high blood pressure.
- Fasting blood glucose (over 100 mg/dl)
- Good cholesterol or HDL in men (lower than 40mg/dl) and in women (less than 50mg/dl).
- Serum triglycerides (over 150 mg/dl or above). Intake of medicine for increasing triglycerides.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Men’s penis has two adjacent chambers (corpora cavernosal) covered with thin sheaths. These chambers are full of small arteries, veins, muscle, and open spaces. Below corpora cavernosal, there is another chamber (corpus spongiosum) center of which urine and semen flow. The brain signals control both processes – urination and erection. When any man gets excited, the penis nerves relax and arteries dilate causing blood flow and erection. At the end of excitement, smooth muscles contract, veins release pressure and penis becomes flaccid. These are in case of healthy and normal men. However, men with erectile dysfunction cannot have a natural sexual life. Hypertension causes erectile dysfunction in men. Even the medicine prescribed for high blood pressure is known to cause erectile dysfunction. Other medicine including diuretics or water pills that remove excess body fluid also cause erectile dysfunction. Hence, if you face sexual problems, you should talk to your doctor who can reduce the dosage. The diuretics reduce the blood flow into the penis causing erectile dysfunction. In addition, diuretic medicine reduces zinc necessary for testosterone synthesis. Commonly used high blood pressure medicine called Beta-blockers reduces nerve impulses for erection.
Processes followed after detecting High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
- Regularly monitor blood pressure
- Gauge any damage to any vital organ
- Examination of the eyes for bleeding and swelling
- Testing of the presence of blood in urine
- Medicine prescribed to take
Side Effects of Medicine for High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
Doctors prescribe known medicine to control high blood pressure or hypertension. However, if you have personal interests, then you should talk to your doctor and seek advice.
- Before planning on getting pregnant, women must talk about taking ACE inhibitors and/or ARBs. The mentioned medicine cause harm to the pregnant woman and developing fetus.
- Diabetics should inform the doctor about taking insulin. This is because the prescribed medicine for high blood pressure or hypertension should be compatible. The doctor also has to decide on the most appropriate diuretics.
- Educate yourself reading about the medicine prescribed to find all possible side effects. In most cases, the side effects are mild and can be ignored.
- Recalled medicine was often prescribed for reducing high blood pressure. These included Losartan, Irbesartan, and Valsartan. However, the FDA recalled Valsartan because it contained 320 mg of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) or N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA). This industrial chemical causes cancer, damages liver and blood cells in the human body.
In today’s society, you are expected to be actively involved in society and home. Yet, everyone was not made to cope with the stressful life causing high blood pressure and hypertension. You can cure yourself following the various suggestions discussed below:
- Reduce Stress: Walk away from your daily chores to spend the time to understand your existence in life. Spend quality time in knowing who you are. You can practice various methods of meditation, yoga and other spiritual enlightenment.
- Lose Weight: High blood pressure is due to your high body weight. Hence, losing any kilos or pounds would automatically reduce your blood pressure. Your heart would pump much fewer volumes of blood to all parts of your body. Just reducing the kilogram/pound showing on the scale is not enough. Your circumference of the waistline or visceral fat is equally important for high blood pressure. This region comprises of your abdominal organs. Ideally, men should maintain waistline of fewer than 40 inches. Meanwhile, women should maintain waistline of fewer than 35 inches.
- Exercise: You should exercise regularly to maintain your Body Mass Index (BMI) lower than over-weight or obesity. Regularly, you should be physically active for at least 30-60 minutes. Exercises such as walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, and rowing are workouts for the entire body. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends you to work on muscle strengthening at least twice per week. Common muscle-strengthening exercises include lift-weights, push-ups, and others to get lean muscles.
- Abstain from taking Sodium/Salt: Salt or Sodium ions retain body fluids. As a result, there is increased high blood pressure. According to AHA, you should not consume salt more than 1,500 mg-2,300 mg per day. Hence, you should not consume preserved food, canned food, processed food, and fast food. These foods tend to be loaded with unacceptable amounts of salts.
- Quit Smoking: After finishing your cigarette, the high blood pressure gets increased and remains so for many minutes. Heavy smokers have their peaked high blood pressure for several hours. Hence, smokers are at higher risks for heart attacks, stroke and more. Even secondary smokers living within the close proximity of heavy smokers are not spared.
- Drink Less Alcohol: Health reports suggest that moderate drinking is good for the health especially for the heart. The AHA says men can drink 2 glasses while women drink 1 glass of wine per day. Yet, excessive drinking of alcohol causes severe health problems including high blood pressure or hypertension.
- Eat as per the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH): People following the DASH have reduced their systolic blood pressure number by 8-14 mm Hg. The DASH diet is recommended to people with high blood pressure and hypertension.
Details of the DASH Diet are described as follows:
- Green Leafy Vegetables: Arugula, Beet greens, Collard greens, Kale, Romaine lettuce, Spinach, Swiss chard and Turnip greens contain high potassium. Potassium helps in removing the sodium from the body during urination. As a result, the body fluids from the body are also removed reducing high blood pressure and hypertension. Always consume fresh vegetables or frozen ones. Avoid canned vegetables because most preservatives used contain harmful sodium salts.
- Red Beets: Red beets are rich in nitric oxide help in opening blood vessels for easy blood flow. Consuming red beets help in naturally reducing high blood pressure and hypertension within 24 hours. You can consume red beet in many ways including uncooked raw and cooked red beets. You can make juice, roast, and stir-fry, make chips and add to stews.
- Bananas: Bananas, rich in potassium, help in removing sodium from the body. You can eat bananas as snacks or add a few slices of it to your cereal/oatmeal.
- Pomegranates: Pomegranates fruits can be eaten as raw fruit or made into morning juice. Drinking daily one cup of pomegranate juice for one month reduces high blood pressure. It is best to make the juice at home instead of purchasing readymade from a store. This is because commercial juice contains added sugar making it unhealthy.
- Berries: Berries (especially blueberries) have flavonoids preventing hypertension and reduce high blood pressure. You can always add berries (strawberries, raspberries, and others) to your breakfast cereal and dessert. Addition to fresh berries, you can consume frozen ones too. They are equally healthy.
- Pistachios: Pistachios reduce high blood pressure as per research studies. Pistachios allow free blood flow through the blood vessels including the peripheral vascular system. It reduces the high blood pressure and enhances heart rate. Pistachios can be added to salads, eaten as snacks.
- Seeds: Seeds (Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Squash) contain potassium, magnesium and other minerals. Eating unsalted seeds as snacks help in reducing hypertension.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is rich in high fiber, low fat and low sodium and it makes a good breakfast. Oatmeal is easy to prepare and it helps in reducing high blood pressure or hypertension. You can prepare oatmeal as follows. Soak half-cup of oats in half-cup of nut milk and let them sit through the night. In the morning, add berries, fruits, granola, honey and cinnamon to taste.
- Skim Milk and Yogurt: Both have no fat content but, are rich in calcium required for healthy bones and teeth. Also, calcium reduces high blood pressure and hypertension. You may opt for milk or yogurt as per your taste and mood. According to the AHA report, the women who consumed over 5 helpings of yogurt reduced high blood pressure by 20%. You can add almonds, fruits, granola to your yogurt to make it healthy for your heart too.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil contains polyphenols and it is the best oil that fights inflammation compounds. It reduces high blood pressure. Instead of consuming butter, salad dressing, and other cooking oil, you can safely use Olive oil 2-3 times a day.
- Garlic: Garlic increases nitric oxide in the body causing dilation of arteries and openings. Hence, garlic reduces hypertension.
- Herbs: Salt is harmful and salt-free food can be very tasteless. Hence, it is advisable to prepare foods with healthy green or dried herbs for flavoring foods. You can always add green herbs (Basil, Coriander, Thyme, Rosemary) and spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves).
- Fish (omega-3 fatty acids): Fishes (Salmon, Mackerel and Tuna) are in general good sources of lean proteins. Also, most of these fishes are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This chemical reduces high blood pressure, hypertension, inflammation and triglycerides. Fishes like Trout also have high amounts of vitamin D that helps in reducing high blood pressure.
- Dark Chocolate: Research studies (2015) proved eating 100 gm of dark chocolate per day reduces risks for cardiovascular disease. Dark chocolates contain 60% solid cocoa but have less sugar than ordinary chocolate.
Going through the above article, you know about high blood pressure, hypertension and medicine. You also know that most medicine have mild to complex side effects. You can ask your health professional and try out one or more alternate medical suggestions. Users and scientist have reported the DASH diet works perfectly so it is worth trying.