What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood Pressure is the term used to describe the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries. If your blood pressure is high over a long period of time, it can be very damaging to your body and cause a variety of serious conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke or kidney disease.
What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Unfortunately, there are not many signs of high blood pressure; therefore it is important to have it regularly checked by your doctor. Some people with high blood pressure will experience dizziness, headaches and more frequent nosebleeds. However these symptoms do not normally manifest until your blood pressure levels are already dangerously high. Due to this, it is a good idea to have your levels checked at least once every two years from the age of 18 onwards.
What are the Causes of High Blood Pressure?
For the majority of people that have high blood pressure, there will be no identifiable cause. It will most likely have built up gradually over time. However, in a number of cases, an underlying condition may be the cause. Some such conditions include kidney or thyroid problems, congenital defects in the blood vessels, medications such as the contraceptive pill and alcohol abuse.
Traditional Treatments for High Blood Pressure
There are many medications that are prescribed for high blood pressure. The type of medication your doctor prescribes will depend largely on your age and your blood pressure level. Examples of some medications that your doctor might recommend include:
- Beta Blockers – help reduce workload on your heart
- Thiazide Diuretics – help eliminate sodium and water from kidneys which reduces blood volume
- Calcium Channel Blockers – relax blood vessel muscles
- Renin Inhibitors – slows production of renin which increases blood pressure
Lifestyle changes are also extremely important when it comes to lowering blood pressure. Depending on your lifestyle, you may be advised to change your diet to reduce salt levels, exercise more regularly, quit smoking and lose weight.
Alternative/Complementary Treatments for High Blood Pressure
New research has found that acupuncture can help to reduce blood pressure levels. When combined with medication, the results found that a significant improvement was recorded in patients. Other relaxation techniques such as meditation and muscle relaxation can also be beneficial. Some herbs that can help lower blood pressure include basil, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic and lavender. Research on this is limited, but some people have reported an improvement after adding these herbs to their diet.