About 75 million American adults (~32%) have high blood pressure – that’s 1 in every 3 adults. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the pressure of your blood against your arterial walls. The more blood your heart pumps and the more narrow your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Over time, hypertension can damage blood vessels leading to a stroke, heart attack or other health threats.
Hypertension usually develops over time and when uncontrolled can put you at serious health risks. Hypertension generally affects everyone at some point, generally over the age of 40 years old. With sustained high blood pressure, our blood vessels weaken and loses elasticity which can cause a stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, and other life-threatening disease.
For some people, there are minimal symptoms, even if blood pressure readings are high. Some people experience headaches, shoulder tightness, difficulty sleeping, nose bleeds, chest oppression, and shortness of breath. These symptoms usually don’t occur until blood pressure readings are dangerously high. Even so, you should never wait until your blood pressure readings are high before you seek care and management.
Make sure you measure your blood pressure regularly. Be especially mindful if you have a family history of hypertension and heart disease as genetic factors can raise your chances of developing the disease. Consult your doctor if you have a health concern or develop any symptoms.
Types of Hypertension
Primary (essential) hypertension
There is no known cause for primary hypertension. Generally this type of hypertension develops over time. Most cases of hypertension are classified as primary hypertension. Risk factors for primary hypertension include genetic factors, being overweight, lack of exercise, and stress. Primary hypertension can begin at any age but most often occurs around middle age.
Secondary hypertension usually arises due to an underlying condition like kidney disease, thyroid problems, adrenal tumors, or congenital defects. The rise in blood pressure is usually very sudden and causes higher blood pressure readings than primary hypertension. Long term use of medication can also cause secondary hypertension.
Age – Risk of hypertension increases as we age. The odds are higher in men and women generally develop the disease after 65
Genetic factors – family history of the disease will increases your chances of developing the disease
Race – Common in the African American population
Tobacco use – Chemicals found in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls, causing the arterial walls to become narrow thus increasing blood pressure
Alcohol consumption – Overconsumption of alcohol damages the heart increasing your risk of hypertension
Lack of physical activity – A sedentary lifestyle will increase your heart rate, the harder your heart has to work to contract and pump blood, increasing the pressure within the arterial walls
Stress – High stress levels will temporarily increase blood pressure
Too much salt intake – Increased salt intake will lead to fluid retention, which increases blood pressure
Blood Pressure Range
Normal blood pressure: It’s normal if your readings are below 120/80 mmHg
Elevated blood pressure: Systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 129 mmHg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mmHg
Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic pressure ranging from 130 to 139 mmHg or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89 mmHg
Stage 2 hypertension: Systolic pressure of 140 mmHg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 mmHg or higher. This is a more serious form of hypertension and immediate care and control is required to reduce the risk of developing life-threatening disease
Lifestyle changes to control hypertension include:
Eating a well-balanced heart healthy diet
Limiting alcohol consumption
Weight management or lose weight if you’re obese
Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control high blood pressure. Your doctor may prescribe the following antihypertension medications:
Beta-blockers – Reduces the workload of your heart and widens your blood vessels, causing your heart to beat slower
Calcium channel blockers – Helps relax the muscle of your blood vessels
Diuretics – Also called water pills. Helps the body eliminate water and sodium thus reducing blood volume
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors – Helps block the body’s natural chemical formation that narrows blood vessels
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) – Helps block the action not the chemical formation that narrows blood vessels
Renin inhibitors - Slows down the production of renin, an enzyme produced by your kidneys that starts a chain of chemical steps that increases blood pressure
Herbs that may help lower blood pressure:
Blood pressure control and treatment is extremely important to ensure you reduce risks of developing life-threatening disease or accident. It is important you consult your doctor if you have hypertension. Monitor your blood pressure at home to make sure it is under management and control.
Natural supplements offers a promising way to help lower blood pressure while eliminating the side effects of antihypertension medications. Ancient Wellness’ Cardiovascular Wellness contains a potent blend of 23 herbal extracts that helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Scientific findings show that a key ingredient Uncaria Vine (Cat’s Claw – Gou Teng) contains alkaloid and hirustine, which acts as a calcium channel blocker, lowering blood pressure by relaxing the muscle of your blood vessels. In the scope of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncaria Vine drains liver heat, calms the liver, and pacifies liver yang with symptoms of hypertension, headaches, dizziness, irritability, and red eyes.
It is never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes to protect your health. Eating a balanced healthy diet and being physically active are primary lines of defense against hypertension and its many complications.
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