Understanding High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is one of the most common cardiovascular dysfunctions of our society. One in every six Americans now suffer from it. Sustained hypertension can lead to cardiovascular, cerebrovascular (stroke related diseases) and renal conditions.

Hypertension is defined as persistently high blood pressure, in adults, when the systolic pressure, the first number, is greater than 140mmHg and diastolic pressure, or the second or lower figure is greater than 90mmHg. Systolic pressure is the measurement of the intensity at which the heart works and diastolic pressure measures the heart at rest. Physicians will become concerned over the diastolic pressure being high before they become concerned over a high systolic pressure. In lay terms, if the pressure inside the heart is high in a resting state, the heart will be working very hard to pump blood in a working state, this in turn causes even higher pressure inside the heart during the working state.

A high systolic pressure, not accompanied by a high diastolic pressure, is usually not of concern and is actually considered normal. High systolic pressure can be brought on by simple exercise, mental or emotional stress and pain. When one returns to a resting state, the blood pressure will very quickly return to normal.

There are essentially two types of hypertension. Essential hypertension accounts for 95 percent of all hypertension cases and although the etiology of it is unknown, we can most likely attribute several factors to its cause­­ such as carrying too much weight, diet, smoking, heredity, stress and sustained aggressive emotions like anger, fear or panic. Secondary hypertension is a symptom of other more serious dysfunctions, such as kidney disease or vascular disease of the kidney.

Signs and symptoms of essential hypertension include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations of the heart, nosebleeds and a fast heart rate. If you have these symptoms and are concerned about your blood pressure, check with your health care provider and by all means and have your blood pressure checked regularly.

You may need medication to gain control over your hypertension. If so, this is one area you should NOT argue with your doctor. Sustained hypertension­­ even if you are lucky enough not to have a stroke or heart attack­­ will make your blood vessels and your body old before its time.

A clean diet including healthy servings of fruits and vegetables, raw or stemmed, is important. The vitamins and minerals will help cleanse and keep fluid retention at a minimum. Drink plenty of fresh clean water; bottled is always preferable.

From the herbal kingdom, utilize cayenne, chamomile, fennel, parsley and hawthorn berries. Primrose or flax seed oil are also beneficial.

Massage has also been proven to lower blood pressure by inducing the relaxation response. It also helps blood flow by reducing resistance in the peripheral vascular system (all the smaller blood vessels and capillaries.)

High blood pressure, controlled, does not have to rule your life. No, most of us do not like to take medication. But this is one you shouldn't play around with. Work towards improving diet, weight loss if needed and relaxation. Given time and these measures, you and your doctor may find you may eventually not need that medication.

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online October 9, 1997
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