Understanding Your High Blood Pressure Reading
The upper or first number in a blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure and the lower or second number is called the diastolic pressure. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg.
Pre-hypertension: Prehypertension is the systolic pressure that is between 120 to 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89.
Stage 1: hypertension is systolic pressure between 140 to 159 or diastolic pressure between 90 and 99.
Stage 2: hypertension is systolic pressure higher than 160 or a diastolic pressure of 100 or higher.
What are the symptoms of High blood pressure?
High blood pressure usually does not cause any symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms associated with high blood pressure can include:
- Dizziness or dizzy spells
What causes high blood pressure?
In most cases of high blood pressure, the American Heart Association says there is no one identifiable cause. High blood pressure is usually a combination of factors, such as:
The greater your body mass, the more pressure there is on your artery walls. That is because more blood is produced to supply oxygen and nutrients to tissues in your body.
Lack of physical activity tends to increase heart rate, which forces your heart to work harder with each contraction.
Chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco can damage artery walls.
Excessive sodium in the diet can result in fluid retention and high blood pressure, especially in people sensitive to sodium.
Low potassium can result in elevated sodium in cells, because of the two balance one another.
Stress can raise blood pressure.
Excessive drinking can increase your chances of developing heart disease.
The risk of high blood pressure increases, as you get older.
High blood pressure often runs in families.
Other Underlying Conditions that can cause high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Kidney Disease
- Hormonal disorders
- Thyroid disease
- Adrenal gland disease
Use of certain drugs (oral contraceptives, or herbs such as licorice). This type of high blood pressure is called secondary hypertension.
What can you do to help control your high blood pressure?
Lifestyle changes and natural remedies may help to control high blood pressure, but your doctor may also recommend medication to lower high blood pressure. It is important to work with your doctor, because untreated high blood pressure may damage organs in the body and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, kidney disease, and vision loss.
Vitamins that help lower high blood pressure:
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – There is some evidence that the supplement CoQ10 may help to reduce high blood pressure.
Garlic – Garlic can create a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and in diastolic blood pressure. Hawthorn – traditional herbal practitioners for high blood pressure often use the herb hawthorn.
Fish oil – Preliminary studies suggest that fish oil may have a modest effect on high blood pressure. Although fish oil supplements often contain both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), there is some evidence that DHA is the ingredient that lowers high blood pressure.
Folic acid – Folate is a B vitamin necessary for the formation of red blood cells. It may help to lower high blood pressure in some people, possibly by reducing elevated homocysteine levels.
Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium – Calcium supplementation appears to have a modest but statistically significant reduction in systolic blood pressure Potassium– Potassium can reduce systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Magnesium-Magnesium significantly reduces diastolic blood pressure.
Other ways to help lower your high Blood Pressure
Mind-Body Interventions – Mind-body interventions, particularly autogenic training, biofeedback, and yoga, can reduce high blood pressure compared with placebo. Autogenic Training-Autogenic training is a technique used for stress reduction and relaxation. It involves a series of sessions in which people learn how to control breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. People learn six exercises that each involves a certain posture (e.g. reclining in a chair), concentration without a goal, imagination, and verbal cues.
It requires regular practice. Biofeedback-Biofeedback is a technique in which people learn how to gain control over internal body processes that normally occur against your will. For example, blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and skin temperature.
Biofeedback is mainly used for high blood pressure, migraine, tension headache, chronic pain, and urinary incontinence. Of the different types of biofeedback, thermal feedback (which measures skin temperature) and electrodermal activity feedback (which uses a probe that responds to sweat) may be more effective than direct blood pressure feedback or electromyography (EMG), which measures muscle tension. Yoga-Studies have found that yoga could help lower blood pressure.
Aerobic Exercise – Aerobic exercise is an important part of the natural approach to lower high blood pressure. A meta-analysis of 105 trials involving a total of 6805 participants found that aerobic exercise was associated with a mean reduction in systolic blood pressure with reductions in diastolic blood pressure too. Remember, people with high blood pressure should speak with their doctor first before embarking on a new exercise program. Your health is in your hands, so make wise chooses and consult your doctors for advice and any questions you have about high blood pressure.