Did you know that high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can cause headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, nosebleeds, and/or ringing in the ears in some people; however, others with the same condition may have no symptoms at all? It’s true! Here’s what you should know…
WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
High blood pressure can be a silent, yet deadly condition that is estimated to affect 1 in 3 Americans. If left untreated, hypertension can cause heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction and many other health problems.
Hypertension occurs when there is chronic increased pressure on the walls of the arteries. This constant force can damage the inner lining of arteries, also known as the endothelium, which plays a crucial role in maintaining microcirculation throughout the body.
WHAT TYPES OF HYPERTENSION ARE THERE?
Hypertension is classified into two categories: Essential (Primary) and Secondary. Essential hypertension accounts for 95% of the hypertensive cases and its cause is unknown. Secondary hypertension makes up the remaining 5% of cases, and its cause can be linked back to another issue like kidney problems, thyroid problems, obstructive sleep apnea and numerous other health issues.
HOW CAN ONE IMPROVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Now that you know what hypertension is and how it impacts the body, let’s look at ways to achieve healthy blood pressure levels.
First things first, invest in a good home blood pressure monitor and then check and record your daily blood pressure readings. Fortunately, there are numerous apps available for you to log your readings. In addition, there is also an app that monitors your blood pressure using only your smart phone. No cuff needed.
Blood Pressure Readings
- Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80 mm Hg
- Prehypertension: 120-139/80-89 mm Hg
- Stage 1 Hypertension: 140 – 159/90-99 mm Hg
- Stage 2 Hypertension: 160+/100+ mm Hg
Supplement with magnesium, specifically magnesium glycinate and/or magnesium taurate. Glycine and taurine are amino acids that have affinities for the nervous system (i.e. brain and nerves) and the heart, respectively. Magnesium is an amazing mineral that is involved in over 300 enzymatic activities throughout the body, and helps dilate blood vessels, hence decreasing pressure on the arterial walls.
Eat, live, and breathe garlic. Make this food a part of your daily diet, because its active ingredient, allicin, supports healthy blood pressure levels. Whether it is freshly crushed, powdered or encapsulated, garlic has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels, support healthy blood glucose levels, and work to balance your natural gut flora, by possessing natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Consume beets. More research is demonstrating the amazing effects beets have on the body’s production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a potent molecule that greatly affects the dilation of blood vessels, hence lowering one’s blood pressure. In addition, to further increase the effectiveness of beets: after consumption, expose yourself to natural sunlight.
Manage stress well. Learning to handle the stressors in life, good or bad, is key to achieving proper blood pressure levels. Stress can cause your blood pressure to increase, rather quickly; however, stress reduction techniques can impact blood pressure levels just as quickly. Learning proper breathing techniques like abdominal breathing techniques can greatly impact your life. Abdominal breathing can be done at anytime or any place, and is easy to learn. For those of us who need visual cues, consider purchasing a personal Heart Math sensor, which is a based on heart rate variability (HRV). HRV allows you to synchronize your breathing and heart rhythms, as well as self-monitor your response to stress.
Lastly, do not forget the time-honored and tested principles that remain true as two of the tenets of health:
- Exercise regularly and
- Get adequate sleep.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “What is High Blood Pressure?” http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp. Accessed May 25, 2015.
Carretero O. and Oparil, S. “Essential Hypertension.” Circulation. 2000; 101: 329-335.
Liu D, Fernandez BO, Hamilton A et al. J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jan 20.
by Blake Gordon, ND*. Blake is available for consultation at Peoples Westlake.
*Naturopathic doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.