On this page:
- What Is High Blood Pressure (hypertension)?
- Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
- Risks of High Blood Pressure
- What do patients feel with high blood pressure?
- Which lifestyle modifications are beneficial in treating high blood pressure?
- Dietary supplements that help control high blood pressure
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher. Both numbers are important. Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime. The good news is that it can be treated and controlled.
High blood pressure is often called “silent killer" because it usually has no symptoms. Some people may not find out they have it until they have trouble with their heart, brain, or kidneys.
Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
- Genetic factors
- Excessive alcohol
- Birth control pills
- Pain relievers
Other underlying causes may include:
- Kidney diseases
- Adrenal diseases
- Abnormal blood vessels
- Eclampsia / Pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
- Thyroid diseases
Risks of High Blood Pressure
When high blood pressure is not found and treated, it can cause:
- The heart to get larger, which may lead to heart failure.
- Small bulges (aneurysms) to form in blood vessels. Common locations are the main artery from the heart (aorta), arteries in the brain, legs, and intestines, and the artery leading to the spleen.
- Blood vessels in the kidney to narrow, which may cause kidney failure.
- Arteries throughout the body to "harden" faster, especially those in the heart, brain, kidneys, and legs. This can cause a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, or amputation of part of the leg.
- Blood vessels in the eyes to burst or bleed, which may cause vision changes and can result in blindness.
What do patients feel with high blood pressure?
Uncomplicated high blood pressure usually occurs without any symptoms. Therefore, hypertension has been labeled "the silent killer." In other words, the disease can progress without symptoms (silently) to finally develop any one or more of the several potentially fatal complications of hypertension such as heart attacks or strokes. Some people with uncomplicated hypertension, however, may experience symptoms such as headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, and blurred vision.
Which lifestyle modifications are beneficial in treating high blood pressure?
Lifestyle modifications refer to certain specific recommendations for changes in habits, diet and exercise. These modifications can lower the blood pressure as well as improve a patient's response to blood pressure medications.
Alcohol. People who drink alcohol excessively (over two drinks per day) have a one and a half to two times increase in the prevalence of hypertension. The association between alcohol and high blood pressure is particularly noticeable when the alcohol intake exceeds 5 drinks per day.
Smoking. Although smoking increases the risk of vascular complications (for example, heart disease and stroke) in people who already have hypertension, it is not associated with an increase in the development of hypertension. Nevertheless, smoking a cigarette can repeatedly produce an immediate, temporary rise in the blood pressure of 5 to10 mm Hg.
Coffee. In one study, the caffeine consumed in 5 cups of coffee daily caused a mild increase in blood pressure in elderly people who already had hypertension, but not in those who had normal blood pressures. What's more, the combination of smoking and drinking coffee in persons with high blood pressure may increase the blood pressure more than coffee alone. Limiting caffeine intake and cigarette smoking in hypertensive individuals, therefore, help control high blood pressure.
Salt. The American Heart Association recommends that the consumption of dietary salt be less than 6 grams of salt per day in the general population and a lower level (for example, less than 4 grams) for people with hypertension. To achieve a diet containing less than 4 grams of salt, a person should not add salt to their food or cooking. Also, the amount of natural salt in the diet can be reasonably estimated from the labeling information provided with most purchased foods.
Obesity. Obesity is common among hypertensive patients, and its prevalence increases with age. In fact, obesity may be what determines the increased incidence of high blood pressure with age. Weight loss may help reverse problems related to obesity while also lowering the blood pressure. It has been estimated that the blood pressure can be decreased 0.32 mm Hg for every 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of weight lost down to ideal body weight for the individual.
Exercise. A regular exercise program may help lower blood pressure over the long term. For example, activities such as jogging, bicycle riding, or swimming for 30 to 45 minutes daily may ultimately lower blood pressure by as much as 5 to15 mm Hg. Moreover, there appears to be a relationship between the amount of exercise and the degree to which the blood pressure is lowered. Thus, the more you exercise (up to a point), the more you lower the blood pressure. The beneficial response of the blood pressure to exercise occurs only with aerobic (vigorous and sustained) exercise programs. Therefore, any exercise program must be recommended or approved by an individual's physician.
Dietary supplements that help control high blood pressure
nzpurehealth Omega-3 is sourced from pure New Zealand deep ocean cold-water fish. Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) promote heart health and balanced blood pressure.
Scientists made one of the first associations between omega-3s and human health while studying the Inuit (Eskimo) people of Greenland in the 1970s. As a group, the Inuit suffered far less from certain diseases (coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, psoriasis) than their European counterparts. Yet their diet was very high in fat from eating whale, seal, and salmon. Eventually researchers realized that these foods were all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which provided real disease-countering benefits.
In particular, omega-3s in fish oil or other forms may help to:
Improve heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to play a part in keeping cholesterol levels low, stabilizing irregular heart beat (arrhythmia), and reducing blood pressure. Researchers now believe that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3s, is particularly beneficial for protecting against heart and vessel disease, and for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. An excellent source of ALA is flaxseed oil, sold as both a liquid oil and a semisolid margarine-like spread.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also natural blood thinners, reducing the "stickiness" of blood cells (called platelet aggregation), which can lead to such complications as blood clots and stroke.
Reduce hypertension. Studies of large groups of people have found that the more omega-3 fatty acids people consume, the lower their overall blood pressure level is. This was the case with the Greenland Eskimos who ate a lot of oily, cold-water fish, for example.
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