High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects around 70 million adults only in the United States, that is, every 1 of every three Americans. Even quite common, this condition can be controlled, but you need to know its warning signs and treat it adequately, on time.
Hypertension may also lead to numerous other serious health conditions, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney diseases and chronic heart failure.
In most cases, people with high blood pressure experience no symptoms, even when their blood pressure readings reach excessively high levels. The terrifying reality is that one of five adults in the United States with hypertension is not aware of it.
However, fortunately, numerous experts claim that a healthy diet and regular exercise you can effectively prevent and treat high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is, in fact, a common disease in which the blood flows through arteries and blood vessels at a higher pressure than normally.
The costs of hypertension in the U.S. are $46 billion annually, which include medications, health care services, and missed days of work. The standard medical treatment for this disease includes recommendations for a reduced amount of salt in food, diuretics, the harmful beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitor drugs.
These provide some relief, but they do not treat the cause of the problem, and may even cause other health issues. For instance, the advised extreme salt reduction in order to treat the symptoms of hypertension remains questionable, controversial, and even destructive.
Namely, blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries when the heart blood, and when it is too high, it leads to hypertension. However, most of the patients who suffer from hypertension experience do signs or symptoms, even when their blood pressure readings are at extremely elevated levels.
The measurement of blood pressure shows two numbers, showing two distinct pressures. The first number shows the systolic pressure, or the blood pressure during the heart beating while pumping blood. The second number shows the diastolic pressure, which is the blood pressure between heartbeats, when the heart is resting.
Below are the ranges of blood pressure:
- 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
In most cases, the patient experiences no symptoms when the blood pressure raises. Yet, some common warning signs are confusion, chest pains, headaches, irregular heartbeat, vision issues, ear noise or buzzing, fatigue or nosebleeds.
It is of high importance to control blood pressure levels and react on time as soon as you experience some of the symptoms of hypertension. One reason for this is the following: at the age of 50, total life expectancy is 5 years longer for people with normal blood pressure than for those with high blood pressure.
Furthermore, over 360,000 of people in America died in 2013 due to hypertension as a major or contributing cause. This is approximately 1,000 deaths on a daily basis, which makes hypertension an alarming and severe health issue that requires a serious treatment and prevention.
Also, it may raise the risk of numerous other health conditions, like:
- Chronic heart failure: Studies indicate that 7 of every 10 people with chronic heart failure have elevated blood pressure levels.
- Metabolic syndrome: The hypertension symptoms elevate the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of three or more of these health conditions: high blood sugar, abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Eye problems: Vision loss can be caused by narrowed, thickened, or torn blood vessels in the eyes, due to high blood pressure.
- Aneurysm: High blood pressure can lead to bulged or weakened blood vessels, leading to an aneurysm, which in case it ruptures, can cause death.
- First heart attack: Approximately 1 of every 10 people who experience their first heart attack have increased blood pressure.
- First stroke: About 8 of every 10 people experiencing their first stroke have hypertension.
- Memory issues: High blood pressure may impede the ability to learn, think, and remember, memorize and understand concepts.
High Blood Pressure vs. Low Blood Pressure
Aging, along with its other normal changes it causes, leads to an increased risk of both, low and high blood pressure.
As we mentioned earlier, these are the values that determine the boundaries low blood pressure, high blood pressure and normal blood pressure:
- Low blood pressure or hypotension: Lower than 90/60
- 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
High Blood Pressure
Here are some of the most important facts concerning hypertension and its symptoms:
- About 70 million American adults (29 percent), or 1of every 3, suffer from hypertension.
- Only about half (52 percent) of people with this disease maintain it under control.
- Around 1 of 3 adults in the U.S. has prehypertension, or blood pressure levels which are higher than normal, but yet not in the range of hypertension.
- The cost of this disease on an annual basis is $46 billion in America, which involves the medications for the treatment, health care services, and missed days of work.
In most cases, as the blood pressure levels are elevated, the person does not experience any specific warning signs. However, some of the most common symptoms include:
- irregular heartbeat
- ear noise or buzzing
- vision changes
- chest pains
Low Blood Pressure
Here are some of the most prominent facts related to low blood pressure:
- Chronic low blood pressure which causes no symptoms is not serious in most cases.
- In most cases, the person experiences a sudden drop in the blood pressure as soon the person stands up from a lying position or vice versa. Moreover, another low blood pressure type occurs in the case a person stands for a long time, and it is known as mediated hypotension.
- Around 10-20% of people over age 65 suffer from postural hypotension.
- The issue should concern you if the blood pressure drops suddenly, as then the brain is deprived of a proper supply of blood, and may cause lightheadedness and dizziness.
- Aging prevents the proper blood flow to the heart muscle and the brain, which leads to an accumulation of plaque in the blood vessels.
The situation is far from serious if you do not experience symptoms of low blood pressure. According to numerous doctors, it would be dangerous only when the chronically low blood pressure levels cause noticeable symptoms, like:
- lack of concentration
- rapid, shallow breathing
- blurred vision
- dehydration and unusual thirst
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- cold, clammy, pale skin
- fainting (called syncope)
Moreover, this health condition can occur with:
- Endocrine problems
- Neurally mediated hypotension
- Severe infection (septic shock)
- Allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) — The symptoms include hives, breathing problems, itching, a sudden, dramatic fall in blood pressure and a swollen throat. It is an occasionally fatal allergic reaction that happens in people who are highly sensitive to wasp or bee stings, foods like peanuts, or drugs such as penicillin.
- Certain medications, like diuretics and other drugs prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure; drugs for Parkinson’s disease; tricyclic antidepressants; heart medications like beta blockers; drugs for erectile dysfunction, especially in combination with nitroglycerin; alcohol and narcotics. Moreover, it may also be caused by other prescription and over-the-counter drugs if combined with HBP medications.
- Prolonged bed rest
- Decreases in blood volume
- Nutritional deficiencies — A deficiency in folic acid and the essential vitamins B12 may lead to anemia and anemia symptoms, which in turn cause low blood pressure.
- Heart problems
Diet in case of High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Regarding the fact that 2/3 of the population suffers from hypertension or prehypertension, we must agree that it is a serious and common health condition that needs full attention immediately. One of the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure is undoubtedly a healthy diet.
These are the foods that aggravate the symptoms of high blood pressure and should be avoided:
- Sugar — The increased amounts of sugar worse the condition in case of high blood pressure. According to numerous studies, sugar intake may be even more threatening than salt in case of hypertension.
- Trans fats and omega-6 fats — They can be found in conventional meats and packaged foods, and trigger inflammation and increase blood pressure.
- Alcohol — It increases the blood pressure and narrows arteries, so it should be consumed moderately. This means a drink on a daily basis for healthy women and men older than 65, and up to 2drinks for men younger than 65.
- High-sodium foods — You can freely use high-quality salts, but avoid canned and high-sodium processed foods.
- Caffeine — Excessive amounts of caffeine may increase blood pressure, so in the case of hypertension, you should reduce the daily consumption of coffee and drinks that are rich in caffeine, in order to prevent caffeine overdose and increasing of blood pressure.
Foods that treat the symptoms of high blood pressure:
- Omega-3 rich foods – You should eat omega-3 foods like wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, chia seeds and flaxseeds in order to reduce inflammation.
- High-fiber foods — Your diet should be based on unprocessed foods rich in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, seeds and beans.
- Mediterranean diet —It is beneficial in the case of high blood pressure, as it is rich in seafood, fruits, vegetables, and healthy omega-3 fat oils. It includes lots of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and wild-caught fish (especially salmon), which naturally reduce the high blood pressure.
- Tea — Especially white tea, as it significantly improves the function of the arteries and thins the blood. Its regular consumption several times during the day will lower the blood pressure and prevent other serious health issues, like stroke.
- Dark chocolate — Try to find a dark chocolate that includes at least 200 milligrams of cocoa phenols, which lower blood pressure.
- High-potassium foods — The American Heart Association, suggested a diet high in potassium to be a crucial part of controlling blood pressure as it alleviates the negative effects of sodium on the body. Such foods are melons, bananas, coconut water, and avocados.
- Apple cider vinegar — It is abundant in potassium, it naturally reduces blood pressure and alkalizes the body.
Moreover, supplementation can be extremely beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure. These are the most important supplements:
Magnesium naturally reduces blood pressure and relaxes the blood vessels. You should take 500 milligrams before bed on a daily basis in the beginning.
- Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an essential antioxidant which promotes heart health and is crucial in case you take or have taken, cholesterol or blood pressure -lowering drugs. In order to naturally reduce blood pressure, you should take 200 to 300 milligrams a day.
- Fish Oil
Inflammation in the arteries can be one of the major causes of high blood pressure. Numerous studies have shown that the consumption of fish oil, which is rich in EPA and DHA forms of omega-3 fatty acids, alleviates inflammation of the body, and thus promotes heart health. In order to naturally lower blood pressure, you should take 1,000-milligram fish oil dose on a daily basis.
It is a natural vasodilator, meaning that it raises the amounts of nitric oxide in the blood and widen blood vessels. You can also take it in the form of supplements, in a pill or liquid form.
According to a study conducted in 2016, aged garlic lowers peripheral and central blood pressure in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. Moreover, it also helps in the case of inflammation, arterial stiffness, and other cardiovascular markers in people with high levels.
It can be taken as a powder, and thus raises the amounts of flavonols, which reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Cocoa also acts as a vasodilator.
Here are the most effective natural ways to treat hypertension:
- Essential Oils
Essential oils reduce emotional stress, have strong antioxidant properties and thus reduce oxidative stress and dilate arteries, so they effectively lower blood pressure. The best essential oils for this cause include lavender, neroli, ylang, clary sage, frankincense and sweet marjoram. You can add a few drops of the essential oil to your lotion of carrier oil and massage your body, or use them in a diffuser.
- Reduce Stress
Stress raises blood pressure, so you should practice regular relaxation methods like meditation, deep breathing, walks in nature, healing prayer and the like, which will help you relax, calm and reduce blood pressure.
- Physical Activity and Exercise
Exercise and regular physical activity can help you lose excess weight and reduce blood pressure. For best results, engage in some physical activity and/or exercise for at least 20 minutes every day, while adolescents and children should regularly get an hour of physical activity.
Risk Factors and main causes of hypertension
Hypertension is most prevalent in adults, but this does not mean that children are not at risk. They may suffer from hypertension symptoms caused by kidney or heart issues. However, nowadays, children who struggle with high blood pressure are dealing with it too young, due to poor lifestyle routines, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, which lead to children hypertension and obesity.
High blood pressure can be a result of numerous risk factors, but fortunately, most of them can be controlled. These include:
- Family history — It may often be an issue which runs in families.
- Age — Hypertension increases with age, and it is most common in men through the age of 45. Women most often develop it after the age of 65.
- Excess body weight — The higher the body weight, the more blood is required in order to provide nutrients and oxygen to the tissues. The pressure on the artery walls and the blood pressure increase with the volume of blood circulated through the blood vessels.
- Race — It is particularly common among African-Americans and is earlier developed than in Caucasians. African-Americans who suffer from hypertension more commonly experience serious complications, like kidney failure, stroke, and heart attacks.
- Tobacco use — Smoking or chewing tobacco immediately increase blood pressure temporarily. The chemicals included in tobacco cause damage to the lining of your artery walls, which leads to narrowing of the arteries and thus to hypertension, Also, hypertension can also be caused by secondhand smoke.
- Physically inactivity — Individuals who are physically inactive are more prone to high heart rates. The higher the heart rate, the stronger the force on arteries and the harder the heart needs to work with every contraction. Moreover, the risk of obesity is increased with the lack of exercise and physical activity, which cause sedentary lifestyle which can be especially harmful.
- Excessive use of alcohol — Excessive alcohol use damages the heart health over time. The blood pressure is negatively influenced by more than 2 drinks daily for men and more than 1 drink in case of women.
- Potassium deficiency — This important mineral balances the amount of sodium of the cells in the body, which means that its deficiency leads to sodium buildup in the blood stream.
- Stress — High levels of stress can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure.
- Pregnancy — It may contribute to hypertension at times.
- Certain chronic conditions — Some chronic conditions like sleep apnea, diabetes and kidney disease may raise the risk of hypertension.
- Sodium-rich diet — Excessive amounts of sodium or salt in the diet leads to fluid retention which raises blood pressure.
Important facts about High Blood Pressure
- Hypertension raises the risk for other serious health issues, like stroke, heart attack, chronic heart failure, metabolic syndrome, memory issues and aneurysm, and eye problems.
- One of 5 adults in America who suffers from hypertension is not aware of it, as it can show no symptoms, even when it has reached seriously high levels.
- It affects about 70 million adults in the United States, or one of every three American adults. Moreover, 1 out of 3 adults who do not have it is on the edge of developing it.
- Diastolic blood pressure is when the heart is resting between beats while systolic blood pressure is when the heart beats while pumping blood.
- Foods that need to be avoided in the case of high blood pressure include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, trans fats and omega-6 fats, high-sodium foods. On the other hand, foods that help in this case include high-potassium foods, Mediterranean diet foods, omega-3 foods, high-fiber foods, dark chocolate, tea, and apple cider vinegar. Also, the use of supplements and the necessary lifestyle changes can help a lot in the treatment of hypertension.
- As the blood pressure rises, it may often not cause any high blood pressure symptoms, but some frequent warning signs are vision changes, nosebleeds, chest pains, headaches, confusion, ear noise or buzzing, tiredness, or irregular heartbeat.