High blood pressure or hypertension is a common health issue affecting both men and women. It occurs when blood flows through the arteries with higher than normal pressure. The total costs of this condition including medical treatments, health care and days off work reach nearly $46 billion annually. Patients with hypertension also have to use dangerous beta-blockers and ACE inhibitor drugs and diuretics. Aside from this, they have to significantly cut down their salt intake and make other necessary dietary changes.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure often goes undetected owing to the fact that it doesn’t give any warning signs, even when at a dangerously high level. However, headaches, chest pains, vision changes, tiredness, nosebleeds, ear noise or buzzing, and confusion can sometimes accompany this condition. Research has shown that on the average, people with hypertension live five years less than people with normal blood pressure.
The two different types of blood pressures include:
- Systolic – blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood, and
- Diastolic – the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.
Blood pressure ranges include:
- Normal: lower than 120/80
- Prehypertension: 120–139/80–89
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140–159/90–99
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above/100 and above
Complications from high blood pressure
High blood pressure can be the main or contributing cause of death in many patients. Moreover, it triggers other serious health issues, including:
- Chronic heart failure:High blood pressure accounts for 70% of cases of chronic heart failure.
- Memory issues as: Hypertension seriously affects cognitive abilities, such as remembering, learning, and reasoning.
- Eye problems: It can also affect vision causing thickened, narrowed and torn blood vessels in the eyes.
- Aneurism: High blood pressure weakens blood vessels and leads to their bulging.
- First stroke – 70% people are affected with hypertension when they have their first heart attack.
- Metabolic syndrome: High blood pressure is also linked to high triglyceride levels, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure or low HDL (good) cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure vs. Low Blood Pressure
As with many other conditions, the risk of high blood pressure as well as low blood pressure increases with age.
High blood Pressure
The warning signs of high blood pressure include:
- Fatigue, headaches, chest pain, confusion, vision changes, nosebleed, ear noise or buzzing, irregular heartbeat etc.
Low Blood Pressure
- Blood flow to heart muscle and brain declines with age as a result of plague build up in the blood vessels.
- Low blood pressure leads to lightheadedness and dizziness because there’s reduced blood supply to the brain.
- 10% – 20% of people over 65 suffer from postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension, which is a sudden drop of blood pressure. It appears when you suddenly rise from a sitting position. On the other hand, neural hypotension is a type of low blood pressure that occurs when standing for a long time.
- In general, chronic low blood pressure with no symptoms is not serious.
Low blood pressure is usually given medical attention if it leads to the following:
- Dehydration and unusual thirst
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fainting (or syncope)
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Lack of concentration
- Blurred vision
Low blood pressure can occur with:
- Diuretics and other drugs for hypertension, beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, Parkinson’s disease drugs, erectile dysfunction drugs in combination with nitroglycerin, narcotics and alcohol
- Drop in blood volume
- Prolonged bed rest
- Severe infection (septic shock)
- Heart problems
- Endocrine problems
- Neural hypotension
- Allergic reaction – anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening allergic reaction in people who are hypersensitive to certain foods such as peanuts, or drugs such as penicillin or to bee or wasp stings. Symptoms include swollen throat, itching, hives, breathing problems and a sudden drastic drop in blood pressure.
- Nutritional deficiencies – anemia, for instance, is triggered by lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid. It cal also result in hypotension.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms Diet
High blood pressure, on the other hand, requires serious medical attention and necessary lifestyle changes including diet and physical activity.
Foods to Avoid
- Sugar – Excessive sugar intake can be as dangerous as high salt intake when it comes to hypertension.
- High sodium foods – Processed and canned foods with high sodium content should be avoided as much as possible.
- Alcohol – Alcohol consumption also increases blood pressure because it narrows the arteries.
- Caffeine – High caffeine intake increases blood pressure.
- Tran’s fats and omega 6-fats – Ready-made food and processed meats also increase inflammation and blood pressure.
Foods that Help Reduce High Blood Pressure Symptoms
- High-fiber food – Diet with foods high in fiber such as vegetables, seeds and fruits.
- Tea – Regular consumption of white tea several times a day every day is highly recommended because this tea thins blood and strengthens arterial walls, thus regulating blood pressure and preventing stroke.
- Omega-3 rich foods – Foods rich in omega-3 including wild-caught salmon, flaxseeds and chia seeds and grass-fed beef are highly beneficial for reducing high blood pressure.
- High-potassium foods – Potassium is extremely important for controlling blood pressure because it neutralizes the negative effects of sodium. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, avocados, coconut and melons.
- Dark chocolate – It contains a minimum of 200 milligrams of cocoa phenols, which can also reduce blood pressure.
- Mediterranean diet – Diet comprising seafood, vegetables, fruits and healthy omega-3 fatty acids is highly beneficial for keeping high blood pressure under control.
- Apple cider vinegar – This common kitchen ingredient is high in potassium, which maintains the alkalinity in the body and it reduces blood pressure naturally.
Supplements for High Blood Pressure
Regular consumption of cocoa increases your intake of flavonols, which reduce blood pressure and improves blood flow to the heart and brain. It’s also a natural vasodilator, meaning it increases nitric oxide in blood and it widens blood vessels.
- Fish oil
Regular intake of fish oil, which is abundant in EPA and DHA forms of omega-3 fatty acids, is extremely efficient in reducing inflammation, according to a number of studies. If suffering from high blood pressure, take 1,000 milligrams fish oil on a regular daily basis along with meals.
If you can’t consume enough through food, you can take garlic supplements, which are available in pill and liquid form. This is another powerful vasodilator which reduces peripheral and central blood pressure.
- Coenzyme Q10
This powerful antioxidant promotes heart health, and also lowers cholesterol levels. When taken in doses of 200 to 300 milligrams a day, it effectively reduces high blood pressure.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for heart health. For one thing, it naturally lowers blood pressure fast because it relaxes the blood vessels. Take 500 milligrams every day before going to bed.
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
- Essential oils
Essential oils are particularly beneficial for reducing blood pressure as well as emotional stress. They relax and dilate arteries and act as antioxidants which neutralize oxidative stress. Sweet marjoram, neroli ylan ylang, frankincense, and lavender essential oils are especially beneficial.
- Regular exercise
Regular exercise of at least 20 minutes a day is essential for maintaining healthy weight and reducing blood pressure.
- 3. Reduce stress
Excessive exposure to stress is directly linked to high blood pressure. If you reduce your exposure to stress, your blood pressure will normalize instantly. Smoking, alcohol consumption and overeating should also be avoided. On the other hand, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and healing prayer are strongly recommended.
High Blood Pressure Risk Factors & Root Causes
Lack of physical activity leads to higher heart rates, which means the heart has to work harder with each contraction. It also leads to obesity.
African-Americans develop high blood pressure at an earlier age than Caucasians. They are also more susceptible to stroke, kidney failure and heart attack.
- Tobacco use
Smoking increases blood pressure levels and the chemical substances in tobacco damage the arterial wall lining, thus causing narrowing of the arteries.
High stress causes short-term blood pressure rise.
- Too much alcohol
Excessive alcohol intake (this includes more than 2 drinks a day) negative affects blood pressure levels.
Blood pressure increases with age, but it’s more prevalent in men before 45 and in women after 65.
Pregnancy can also trigger high blood pressure.
- Being overweight
Greater body weight requires more blood for oxygen and nutrient supply to the body tissues. This in turn increases blood pressure.
- Potassium deficiency
As mentioned earlier, potassium balances sodium content in the cells. If there’s lack of potassium, sodium can build up in your blood stream.
- Certain chronic conditions
Sleep apnea, kidney disease, as well as diabetes can also put you at a higher risk of hypertension.
- Too much sodium in your diet
Sodium retains fluid, which consequently increases blood pressure. The same applies to children, who can also experience high blood pressure at a young age owing to poor dietary habits.
- Systolic blood pressure – the heart beats while pumping blood.
- Diastolic blood pressure – the heart is at rest between beats.
- Foods to avoid – sugar, sodium, alcohol, trans fats and omega-6 fats, sugar.
- Foods to eat – high-potassium foods, apple cider vinegar, tea and dark chocolate, high-fiber foods, omega-3 foods, Mediterranean diet.
- High blood pressure affects about 70 million U.S. adults, which is one in three American adults.
- The warning signs of very high blood pressure include chest pain, ear noise or buzzing, confusion, headaches, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, tiredness, or vision changes.