Why should you know how to lower high blood pressure?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about one billion people are hypertensive globally. What’s more, about 7.5 million deaths annually have it as the cause.
That isn’t even the worst of the statistics, though. What is most worrying is that there are 40% more victims of this condition every year. Overtaking even HIV-AIDS.
Indeed, hypertension is becoming the health curse of the 21st Century.
But what is high blood pressure or hypertension?
Mayo Clinic, a US medical research group, has defined it as ‘the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.”
In measurable terms, that would be above 140 systolic and 90 diastolic mmHg (we will explain what that is in a moment).
In this article, we are providing answers to some of the questions that are critical to you knowing know how to lower high blood pressure. Thus avoiding being part of the worrying statistics.
How to read blood pressure
Measuring blood pressure has two values; systolic and the diastolic. The systolic is the measurement when the heart contracts to pump blood.
Simply put, systolic is pressure when the heart is ‘at work’.
Diastolic, on the other hand, is the measurement when the heart is at rest or relaxed, and is, therefore, lower.
Blood pressure is written as systolic pressure over diastolic. Thus it usually appears as systolic/diastolic (for example 150/85).
The unit for these measurements is mmHg. Mm stands for millimeters and Hg for mercury. Thus, for example, you would have 150/85 mmHg.
What is Considered as High Blood Pressure?
You happen to take a friend to the hospital for moral support, and you decide to take a test while you waited for your friend to receive treatment. Does a result of 142/90 mmHg mean you are hypertensive?
Not really, even though that is in the region of danger. Before a doctor confirms a diagnosis, your elevated pressure must be persistent over time. You must undergo several tests over that time.
This consistency is important because varied reasons can cause an elevated pressure in your bloodstreams at one time or another. For instance, if you are nervous or you are from a workout, your blood pressure is typically elevated.
So, you shouldn’t panic if you have an elevated pressure with a single testing.
What is the Normal Blood Pressure Range?
Hypertension, like many other conditions, can be classified into different categories. And that depends on the level of elevation of the pressure above the normal.
A measurement of below 120 in systolic and 80 diastolic (120/80 mmHg) is what falls under normal. If those figures are anywhere from 120 to 139 and 80 to 89, respectively, then that falls into the pre-hypertension category.
A pre-hypertensive individual has elevated pressure but not enough to be in the hypertension group. This should be a warning since pre-hypertension shows you are at high risk of progressing to hypertension.
Then there is the stage 1. Its measurements range from 140 to 159 in systolic and 90 to 99 in diastolic. This is a category of sickness.
The worst case should be over 160 in systolic and over 100 in diastolic. And that is the stage 2.
Having stated that, any measurement above 120/80 mmHg is of concern and you should consult a doctor.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
There is no known specific cause of hypertension. The exact cause is still a mystery to doctors and health experts. However, they’ve zeroed in on various risk factors. They include the following:
- Advanced in age
As we advance in age, our blood vessels lose elasticity, and with it the ability to pulsate blood. This results in an increase in your blood’s pressure.
Old age causes such a huge increase of the force in our bloodstreams such that the normal blood pressure range for people above the age of 60 is actually 150/90 mmHg and even higher.
Unhealthy diet increases the risk. Especially Diets that is rich in saturated fats. Also, a high level of sodium is a major contributor.
Then there is the excessive consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking. These cause cardiovascular problems and hypertension is one of them.
Stressful situations lead to the release of several hormones. Some of these hormones can increase your blood pressure. In the long term, however, it is not, necessarily, stress that is the cause, but the unhealthy way in which we deal with stress such as resorting to binge eating.
Our genes can also be the culprits. If there is a history of hypertension in your family, then you stand a higher risk of becoming a victim.
It is important to note however that even when this is the case, you can still minimize your chances by working on those factors you can control.
- Obesity and overweight
Obesity and overweight lead to thinner blood vessels due to accumulating of fats in them.
- Physical inactivity
A sedentary lifestyle predisposes you to obesity and overweight and therefore to hypertension. Physical activity, on the contrary, can be used to reverse your blood pressure.
What are the High Blood Pressure Symptoms?
Signs and symptoms usually appear when your blood pressure is elevated to a level that is life threatening. Some common symptoms include:
- Severe headaches
- Nausea ad vomiting
- Shortness of breath
However, these signs are not limited to hypertension and may be symptoms of other conditions instead. It is, therefore, imperative to seek medical advice when you experience them.
Treatment of Hypertension
There are generally two methods of treating this condition, and they are normally used together for the best outcomes. These two methods are drugs/medication and lifestyle changes.
However, a lifestyle change is the most effective method. This involves making changes in the diet such as lowering fat consumption as well as exercising.
Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
There are several natural and effective methods of lowering blood pressure. These methods are applicable even for people with pre-hypertension. Natural remedies focus on strategic lifestyle changes.
The most effective methods of these are dietary changes, weight control, and physical activity. Dietary modification is fundamental because the effects are direct.
A decrease in weight of as little as 10 pounds is enough to cause a significant drop in the blood pressure hence the use of weight loss as a remedy. As for exercise, 30 minutes to 1 hour is sufficient to put your health back in shape.
It is, however, important to note that intensive exercise should be avoided by hypertensive individuals. You should consult a doctor before you begin an exercise regime.
Diet for high blood pressure
As mentioned before dietary consumption affects blood pressure. Since a bad diet can make your blood pressure to rise, a good diet can do the opposite. You should focus more on fats.
Avoid saturated fats. This is found in high quantities in baked products such as cakes and cookies. Also, dairy products especially whole milk and cream, as well as lard and meat, are sources.
Practical ways to avoid saturated fats include:
- Consume lean instead of fatty meat.
- Take skimmed instead of whole milk.
- Cut on baked foods such as biscuits and cakes
While salt is an important element of diet, high amounts of sodium in it cause retention of fluid in the body. This, in turn, has a blood pressure elevating effect.
Therefore, hypertensive individuals should avoid excessive consumption of salt. Also, most processed foods, particularly canned foods, usually have a high sodium quantity. And thus you should limit their consumption as well.
Coffee and blood pressure
Coffee contains a chemical substance known as caffeine. After its consumption, a significant increase in your blood pressure can be observed.
Nevertheless, this increase is usually short lived. However, caution should still be taken with caffeinated beverages. This is especially for people who are hypertensive.
Vitamins for High Blood Pressure Reduction
Vitamin E is one of the most important vitamins when it comes to blood pressure reduction. Vitamin E plays a role in the efficiency of oxygen usage in the muscles of the heart.
This results in an overall reduction in the effort used by the heart, and consequentially lowered pressure.
Foods to Reduce Blood Pressure
There are various home remedies. Most of them come in the form of food. One of the most used is garlic. Garlic contains ingredients that relax the blood vessels improving blood circulation and lowering your pressure naturally.
Another natural cure is tilapia. Tilapia is a nutrient rich fish. It contains high amounts of potassium which helps in balancing out sodium which as mentioned before is an enemy when it comes to your blood pressure.
Bananas are also great for hypertensive individuals for the same reason as tilapia since they are also rich in potassium.
Another natural source of healing is kales. With low calories and high antioxidants, this is the vegetable to cure you. It also contains an anti-inflammatory fatty acid which is a great alternative to the harmful saturated fatty acids.
Herbs for High Blood Pressure
With the wide variety of medical purposes associated with herbs, it’s no surprise that there are some specific herbs known to have blood pressure lowering capabilities.
These incredible herbs include:
Basil: not only does this herb produce a divine smell but it can also lower your blood pressure temporarily.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is also another spice found in a typical kitchen that can work to add flavor to your food while lowering blood pressure. Unlike basil, long-term use of cinnamon has a long-term blood pressure lowering effect.
Ginger: is there any condition that ginger does not help in? If there is, your blood pressure is not one of them. Ginger relaxes blood vessels easing blood circulation.
Orthostatic Blood Pressure
Orthostatic blood pressure (when one is standing up) is different, usually lower than when one is seated or lying down.
The phenomenon known as orthostatic hypotension is characterized by a decrease in blood pressure by 20/10 mmHg immediately when someone stands up from a sitting or lying position.
This happens to many of us at one time or the other. It generally does not require medical attention. The most common symptoms are a feeling of light-headedness and dizziness.
Severe cases of orthostatic hypotension are on the other hand candidates for medical attention.
Pregnancy Blood Pressure
Pregnancy is one of the most amazing experiences in a woman’s life. However, some medical complications can seek to dull the happiness of this experience. High blood pressure is one of them.
This is especially true when the problem persists past a period of 20 weeks of pregnancy. At this stage, it can be life threatening.
Your blood pressure can increase during pregnancy leading to preterm or caesarean delivery.
To prevent this, maintain a healthy weight with a BMI of between 18.5 To 24.9kg/m2. Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking as well.
Regular antenatal clinic visits are highly recommended throughout pregnancy. This is because the clinician can identify the risk factors in time, including elevated pressure, and thus offer appropriate treatment.
Also, doctors know best how to deal with hypertension during pregnancy.
Other Issues in High Blood Pressure
Stress ad high blood pressure
As mentioned before, stress is a risk factor for high blood pressure. Stress does not directly increase your odds of developing high blood pressure in itself.
Actually, the methods of stress relief are the problem. For instance, excessive eating to deal with stress leads to obesity which in turn leads to blood pressure elevation.
Other risks habits are alcoholism and smoking. These are usually masquerading as coping mechanisms for stress. But they end up opening the way for a rise in your blood pressure.
However, stress does cause an increase in your blood pressure albeit a temporary increase. In summary, stress is bad news and should be avoided.
Next time you are stressed, how about you hit the gym instead of drowning your sorrows in a can of ice-cream.
Aspirin and high blood pressure.
This pill is a controversial drug when it comes to high blood pressure. Although it is a common and effective analgesic, hypertensive individuals should use it with caution.
Aspirin especially taken at night can help lower blood pressure. However, it also increases the odds of clotting and bleeding into internal organs. So, if you are hypertensive and you want to use this drug, first talk to your doctor about it.
There are many organizations that have come up with hypertension guidelines. These guidelines are instrumental for health workers, and even the common folk in the handling of hypertension.
These guidelines provide detailed directions for the management of hypertension from diagnosis to treatment. This includes the treatment options, the physical activity level, weight control, recommended salt and fat quantities in the diet, and much more.
Some of the guidelines include the Heart Foundation, World Health Organization and the America Society of Hypertension guidelines.
While it is rampant, knowing how to lower high blood pressure is the sure way to keep healthy.
Medication can be used, but there are plenty of natural ways to control blood pressure including weight management, physical activity, and dietary modifications.
Medication and diet are commonly combined for optimum results. There are many foods that are associated with blood lowering benefits such as garlic, kales, and tilapia.
Other foods like caffeine should be avoided. All in all, high blood pressure is a very manageable condition where affected individuals can go about their daily activities like everyone else.