What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure
What causes high blood pressure? Do you have HBP? How do you know if you have it or not? High blood pressure (HBP) happens when your heart has to use excessive force, or pressure, to pump your blood through your veins and arteries. HBP greatly increases your risk of having a stroke or heart attack so it's very dangerous if left untreated. So what causes high blood pressure? There are many factors that can cause HBP. Some you can't control, but others you can. This page focuses on the causes of high blood pressure that you can control. Don't let high blood pressure wreck your health.
What Is High Blood Pressure (HPB)?
What is it, why do I have it, and what can I do about it?
In general, optimum blood pressure is considered to be between 110/65 (110 systolic/65 diastolic) and 120/80. Blood pressure readings between 120/80 and 140/90 are considered to be "high normal" and can probably be managed with simple adjustments to your diet and activity. Any blood pressure level above 140/90 is considered to be dangerously high and requires medical attention - in other words, make an appointment to see your doctor NOW! If your blood pressure level is between 140/90 and 159/99, you have what is known as Stage 1, or mild hypertension. You "may" be able to get it under control by losing weight, exercising more, and changing your diet but you will probably require medication and you definitely need to consult with your doctor. Blood pressure levels between 160/100 and 179/109 are considered Stage 2, or moderate hypertension. If your blood pressure is in this range you will probably need to do a number of things to get it under control, including taking blood pressure medicine. Blood pressure of 180/110 or above is Stage 3, or severe hypertension. If you are in this range, STOP READING RIGHT NOW AND CALL YOUR DOCTOR.. Severe hypertension is called "severe" for a very good reason - it puts you at a very high risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and death. Sound scary? It is - but it can be controlled with proper medical treatment and management.
Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
If you do, are you able to control it?
Do you have high blood pressure?
High Blood Pressure Rule Number 1:
Listen to your doctor
If you have high blood pressure, the most important thing you can do is listen to your doctor!!! This means taking any medicines prescribed to control your blood pressure and cholesterol even if they're "too expensive." I pay $95 a month for medicine and I figure it's a heck of a lot cheaper than an ambulance ride and a few days in a cardiac ICU. I'm all for natural healing methods (that's what this article is about after all) but when it comes to treating high blood pressure, they should only be tried under a doctor's (as in Licensed MD) supervision.
Rule Number 2:
The life-saving importance of monitoring your blood pressure
If you have HBP, monitoring your blood pressure is very important - even if you are on medication to manage it. Medicine doesn't work 100% of the time as I found out earlier this year. When I checked my pressure one morning it was 210/102. I thought it was a fluke so I checked it again and it was the same. I decided to do some conscious breathing exercises and relax for about 30 minutes to see if I could bring it down. When I checked it again, it had actually gone up a little. I decided to have my wife drive me to urgent care. When I got to urgent care it was up to 225/110 and they told me to go to the hospital. By the time I got to the hospital, my blood pressure was up to 245/140 - the diastolic number was higher than what the systolic number should normally be. The gave me a shot of something to bring it down and let me go home after monitoring me for a couple of hours. I was told I was lucky I didn't have a stroke - and if I hadn't been checking my blood pressure at home I very well could have.
Rule Number 3:
Don't worry about things you CAN'T control
There are many things that can contribute to high blood pressure. Some of them you can control and others you can't. One thing you can control is stress, so don't stress out worrying about the things you can't control. You can't control your age, family history, or genetics, so let them go. Worrying about them will do you absolutely no good and in fact will probably make things worse by increasing your stress level. When it comes to worrying about HBP causes you can't control, "Just Say No."
Rule Number 4:
Take ownership of the things you CAN control
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, what can you worry about? Worry - better, work on - the causes of high blood pressure you can control. Trust me, there are quite a few. For example: being overweight, lack of physical activity, too much salt, too much alcohol, smoking, and stress are all causes of HBP that you have lots of control over. By taking control of the HBP factors that you can control, you may be able to reduce or eliminate your need for medicine to control your high blood pressure (but see Rule Number 1).
Taking ownership of your blood pressure
Controlling what you can control
If you have high blood pressure, chances are some of the reasons are beyond your control. However, the chances are also good that some of the factors involved in your diagnosis are with in your control. So what do you do? Worry about what you can't control or work on what you can control? I think it's more productive to work on what you can control. When I had my last doctor appointment I almost panicked when I saw my blood pressure reading (I think the doctor almost panicked too). I hadn't been following the "take your medicine" part of Rule Number 1 and it showed. In fact it was so high I'm not going to post it in case my wife sees this. I decided right then that I want to live long enough to see my 5 year old son grow up. I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home and got my prescriptions filled. When I got home I dusted off all the books I'd bought over the years and promptly forgot. As of January 25, 2011 I am taking ownership of my blood pressure. Here are the areas I found needing work (except for smoking) after a self evaluation. If you have high blood pressure, maybe you'll find the results useful.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure. If you have 3 or 4 drinks a day, your blood pressure will be slightly higher (2 to 4 points systolic and 1 to 2 points diastolic) than if you didn't drink at all. If you are a heavy drinker, your blood pressure may go up much more - 5 to 6 points systolic and 2 to 4 points diastolic. No one knows exactly why alcohol causes high blood pressure (there are many theories though). What's not in question is the fact that excessive alcohol consumption increases blood pressure (in addition to causing other health problems). The kicker is that moderate consumption of alcohol seems to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and heart health. If you are currently drinking too much, moderating your alcohol consumption will help lower your blood pressure. "Don't drink to much. Then again, don't drink too little." When it comes to HBP and alcohol, the key is moderation, not complete abstinence.
When you're in a stressful situation your body releases a surge of hormones that make your heart beat faster and your blood vessels constrict which causes your blood pressure to rise. There's no proof these temporary blood pressure spikes lead to long term high blood pressure, but if you get severely stressed often - like every day or even several times every day - these "temporary spikes" in your blood pressure can cause just as much damage to your heart and blood vessels as chronic high blood pressure. If you already have chronic high blood pressure these spikes are even more dangerous - they could push your blood pressure over the edge and trigger a heart attack or stroke.
Learn to manage stress and control your anger
Stress and anger control issues can lead to serious health problems including triggering a heart attack or stroke. You can't eliminate stress from your life, but you can learn how to manage it. Even though it's over 20 years old, Is It Worth Dying For?: How To Make Stress Work For You - Not Against You is still the best book available on managing and dealing with stress. If you're having trouble dealing with anger, Anger Is a Choice by Tim LaHaye and Bob Phillips is the best book I've read on anger management (just be aware it's written from a Christian perspective).
One of the leading cause of high blood pressure is being overweight. Why does being overweight cause high blood pressure? Like all the cells in your body, fat cells require blood. The more fat cells you have, the more blood your body needs to keep the fat cells supplied. This increased blood volume takes more pressure to push through your veins, hence more fat cells = higher blood pressure. If you are overweight and you have high blood pressure, one of the most important things you can do to help lower your blood pressure is lose weight. It will also have other health benefits, so lets get to it.
Taking control of your weight
The key to healthy weight loss is to adopt a healthy, low fat, balanced, and sensible diet. Many fad diets or "diet du jour" are unhealthy, unsustainable, or both. Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease presents a diet and eating plan that is the only system clinically proven to help reverse heart disease without medication or surgery. Eat More, Weigh Less (also by Dr. Ornish) gives more information on diet and eating, and his Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish: 150 Easy, Low-Fat, High-Flavor Recipes has even more healthy but tasty recipes.
A diet high in salt (sodium) can cause high blood pressure in some people. Others eat a diet high in sodium and never develop high blood pressure. Part of the reason may be potassium. If you foods with a lot of sodium, you need to eat other foods high in potassium to balance it out. There are 2 problems with this approach. First, many people don't eat the foods that are high in potassium. The second problem is that a diet high in potassium causes problems for people with heart disease. Since you may already have heart disease if you have high blood pressure, you should consult your doctor before greatly increasing your potassium intake. Most of us are probably better off just restricting our sodium intake.
Low Sodium Recipes for High Blood Pressure
Great taste without all that salt...
As a confirmed salt addict, I know how boring food can taste without a healthy dash of salt (and maybe some butter too). It's possible to acquire a taste for foods cooked with little or no salt but it takes time and it's easier if you use alternate flavorings. The American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook offers a complete guide to low sodium cooking and includes many recipes that taste great without using a lot of salt. It's a "life saver" if you're going through salt withdrawal.
Do you get enough exercise?
Why inactivity can cause high blood pressure
The primary reason that a lack of exercise contributes to high blood pressure is that inactivity causes your heart rate to increase while pumping a smaller volume of blood with each beat. Since it is pumping less blood with each beat, it has to pump it at a higher pressure in order for the blood to complete its path through your veins. Conversely if you exercise on a regular basis, over time your heart will start to pump at a lower rate but at a higher volume per beat. Exercise also improves other risk factors of high blood pressure and heart disease, including the strength of your heart and cardiovascular system, circulation, and helps your body use oxygen better. If you're not exercising you need to start NOW.
The Exercise Two-fer
It actually works TWO ways to lower your HBP...
Regular exercise actually helps reduce high blood pressure in two different ways... First, exercise causes endothelial cells along the inner lining of your blood vessels to release nitric oxide. This opens up your blood vessels, reducing the resistance to blood flow, which in turn lowers your blood pressure. The second way exercise helps lower HBP is by lowering stress, which is another major cause of the condition. And just to put some icing on the cake, regular exercise has also been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels.
Hey, Couch Potato!!! - Get OFF the couch and step AWAY from the remote...
IMPORTANT: If you have high blood pressure or heart disease you should not start an exercise program without consulting you doctor. Once that's taken care of if needed, one of the best things you can do for your blood pressure and overall health is start an exercise program. I prefer low impact forms of exercise like walking or bicycle riding that get me out of the house and into sunshine and fresh air. When it's too cold outside or I absolutely need a video game fix with my exercise I use my . It's actually a lot of fun - even my kids love it. Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board