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Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure (hypertension) is a worrying condition that causes many patients to visit our clinic.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers.  The “systolic” (usually the higher number) and “diastolic” (lower number).  The systolic is the force at which blood is pumped around your body by the heart and the diastolic refers to the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessels.

Experiencing these symptoms?

  • Fatigue
  • Severe headache
  • Breathlessness
  • Pounding in the neck, chest or ears
  • Dizziness
  • Hot, red skin (especially in the face and neck)
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure is a worrying condition that causes many patients to visit our clinic.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers.  The “systolic” (usually the higher number) and “diastolic” (lower number).  The systolic is the force at which blood is pumped around your body by the heart and the diastolic refers to the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessels.

Systolic pressure increases with age, due to the arteries becoming less flexible; however an approximate blood pressure reading for a healthy adult should be around 120/80 mm Hg. (Porth, 2011)

When blood pressure is high (hypertension), it means that the pressure of the blood being pumped through the arteries is higher than it should be. Without treatment, the constant increased pressure is more than the circulatory system is able to support, and eventually, hypertension can cause irreparable damage to the heart, brain, kidneys and other vital organs. (Khan Academy, 2017, p. www.khanacademy.org/science/health-and-medicine/circulatory-system-diseases/hypertension/a/what-is-hypertension)

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure may present the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Severe headache
  • Breathlessness
  • Pounding in the neck, chest or ears
  • Dizziness
  • Hot, red skin (especially in the face and neck)

Not everyone with hypertension gets symptoms and for many it can be asymptomatic – so a person could go for years without knowing that they are suffering with this condition. (NHS, 2016)

The only way to ensure that you are not suffering from high blood pressure is to have regular blood pressure checks.  Your GP or nurse may offer this service, or your local pharmacy.

Patients who come to see us at the Natural Health Clinic have their blood pressure and pulse monitored by us at each visit.  Not only does it allow us to check for blood pressure that is too high – or low, but also to feel the subtleties, sensations, qualities and structure of the radial artery in both wrists – all of which gives valuable information.

What causes high blood pressure?

As with many conditions, some people can have the potential for high blood pressure and only need a small trigger to cause an escalation.  Often it is a combination of situations, such as

  • Carrying excess weight
  • Lifestyle choices (too much alcohol, refined carbohydrates, sugar and/or salt)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Poor or disturbed sleep
  • Stressful situations

Hypertension can also be due to an underlying health condition, including

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid / hormonal conditions
  • Lupus

Some individuals may react to medications that can temporarily increase blood pressure; such as

  • certain cough and cold remedies (particularly if they contain ephedrine / pseudoephedrine)
  • steroids
  • the contraceptive pill
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)– such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • some selective serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI) antidepressants(eg: venlafaxine)
  • some recreational drugs – such as cocaine and amphetamines

If your blood pressure does increase due to these medications, it is likely that it will return to normal once the medication is withdrawn; however, this is something that should be done under the guidance of your GP.

Treating high blood pressure

We frequently support patients with high blood pressure in our Natural Health Clinic.  Addressing the underlying cause is essential, rather than just forcing the blood pressure to lower.

Initial support is usually to make Lifestyle changes, which can make a big difference; addressing stress issues, reducing sugar, fat, salt and increasing fruit, grains and vegetables – plus introducing a minimum of 30 minutes gentle exercise a day – together with herbal medicine that supports the organs and vascular system can reduce Blood Pressure to within a healthy range. 

If lifestyle changes aren’t adequate to reduce your Blood Pressure, or you are considered at high risk (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases), then other options are available.

Patients will often come to see us because they are taking medications from their GP for high blood pressure, which produce unpleasant side effects.  As qualified Medical herbalists, we can safely prescribe herbal medicine alongside medicine from your GP – which may be a good option to help with side effects. 

When we work alongside prescribed medication, it is preferable that we are able to have honest and open dialogue with your GP; however, the final decision on this is yours as we only contact your GP with your consent.

References

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