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What if we told you that a health condition affects about 72 million — or 1 out of every 3 — American adults under old guidelines? And, what if we told you that under new guidelines that number will rise to about 103 million Americans?

We’re talking about a highly common, yet preventable, condition called high blood pressure, also known as hypertension — which is why you need to pay attention if you have high blood pressure symptoms.

High blood pressure (HBP) isn’t just a problem in and of itself, but it also leads to other dangerous health conditions, including stroke, heart attack, chronic heart failure and kidney disease.

Did you know that most people with high blood pressure or hypertension have no symptoms, even when their blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels? In fact, about many U.S. adults with high blood pressure still doesn’t know they have it. Scary, we know.

The good news is that even mainstream medicine will agree with us when we say that lifestyle factors such as stress management, diet, and exercise are the most important tools for preventing and treating high blood pressure naturally and successfully.

Under the guidelines, formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure happens when this force is too high. Scary, but true: Most people who have this condition display zero signs or high blood pressure symptoms, even when their blood pressure readings are at dangerously high levels.

The new blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association are as follows:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
  • Elevated: Systolic between 120–129 and diastolic less than 80;
  • Stage 1: Systolic between 130–139 or diastolic between 80–89;
  • Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
  • Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.

The top number is systolic pressure, the blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. The second or bottom number is diastolic pressure, the blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.

Frequently, there are no high blood pressure symptoms as blood pressure increases, but some warning signs for very high blood pressure can include chest pains, confusion, headaches, ear noise or buzzing, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, tiredness or vision changes.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

 

Knowing what triggers high blood pressure can help you prevent or reverse it. Like with most other chronic diseases, the reason someone develops HBP has to do with several factors.

HBP seems to be highly dependent upon the type of lifestyle someone leads – which can develop based on family patterns. Women are at an increased risk when taking birth control pills, during pregnancy, or if taking hormone therapy medications to control menopause symptoms. Obesity or being overweight increases the odds because this puts more pressure on the heart and arteries.

High blood pressure has a real laundry list of risk factors. The good news is that the majority of these hypertension risk factors are well within your control. They include:

  • Age — High blood pressure risk increases as age increases. It’s more common in men through the age of 45. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
  • Family “history” — High blood pressure tends to run in families based on lifestyle factors.
  • Race — High blood pressure is especially common among African-Americans and often develops at an earlier age than it does in Caucasians. Serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, are more common among African-Americans suffering from high blood pressure.
  • Being overweight — The higher your body weight, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls and your blood pressure.
  • Not being physically active — People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity and exercise also increases the risk of being overweight, which are some of the reasons a sedentary lifestyle is dangerous.
  • Tobacco use — Whether it’s smoking or chewing tobacco, both immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily. Additionally, the chemicals in tobacco damage the lining of your artery walls, which causes your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure. Secondhand smoke can also raise your blood pressure.
  • Too much alcohol — Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women may affect blood pressure negatively.
  • Too much unnatural sodium in your diet — Too much salt or sodium in your diet causes your body to retain more fluid, which increases blood pressure.
  • Too little potassium in your diet — Potassium is a mineral that helps balance the sodium content of your body’s cells. If you don’t consume enough potassium or retain enough potassium, you can accumulate too much sodium in your blood stream. That’s one reason why you want to avoid low potassium.
  • Stress — High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.
  • Certain chronic conditions — Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.
  • Pregnancy — Sometimes pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is most prevalent in the adult population, but children are also at risk. Sometimes children can experience high blood pressure symptoms that are caused by problems with the heart or kidneys.

However, more and more children who experience high blood pressure are dealing with this chronic issue at a way too young age because of  poor lifestyle habits. When we say poor lifestyle habits, we’re referring to an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise, which both directly relate to the increase in childhood obesity and childhood hypertension.

Take Action: What You Can Do to Reverse High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Eat Well!

  • High-potassium foods — According to the American Heart Association, a diet rich in potassium is an important part of controlling blood pressure because it lessens any negative effects of sodium on the body. Potassium balances the effect of sodium and helps lower blood pressure. Potassium-rich foods include things like coconut water, melons, avocados and bananas.
  • High-fiber foods — Unprocessed foods high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, seeds and beans, should be the basis of any healthy diet, especially one looking to lower blood pressure readings.
  • Omega-3 rich foods – Consume omega-3 foods like grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, chia seeds and flaxseeds to reduce inflammation.
  • Apple cider vinegar — Apple cider vinegar is naturally very high in potassium. It also helps to keep the body alkaline, which can help naturally lower your blood pressure. Make your own “shot” or use apple cider vinegar in your salad dressings!
  • Tea — White tea in particular can actually thin the blood and drastically improve artery function. Drinking white tea several times a day on a consistent basis can actually lower the pressure of your blood and protect the body against one of its common health enemies, stroke. This only works when you drink the tea every day, a couple of times a day.
  • Dark chocolate —  Look for a dark chocolate that contains at least 200 milligrams of cocoa phenols, which can reduce blood pressure, is low in processed sugars & fats.

Supplement When Needed!

1. Magnesium

The mineral magnesium is great because it helps relax your blood vessels and can have an immediate impact on naturally lowering blood pressure (and many people have a magnesium deficiency, which plays in to high blood pressure). To start, talk with a provider to address the type & amount of magnesium for your blood pressure issues.

2. Fish Oil

One of the main causes of high blood pressure is inflammation in the arteries over time. Study after study has shown consuming fish oil, which is high in EPA and DHA forms of omega-3 fatty acids, reduces inflammation of the body, which is why fish oil benefits heart health. Taking a high-quality, fish oil dose every single day with your meals is one of the best natural ways to lower blood pressure.

3. Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an antioxidant critical for supporting heart health, and it’s crucial if you’ve ever been on blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medication. Talk to a provider to determine the amount of CoQ10 per day you need for a great, natural remedy for high blood pressure.

4. Cocoa

Available in powder form, consumption of cocoa increases your intake of flavanols, which help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Cocoa is also a natural vasodilator, which means it increases nitric oxide in the blood and widen blood vessels.

5. Garlic

Garlic is another natural vasodilator, and if you can’t get enough of it in your diet, then it’s readily available as a whole food supplement in liquid or pill form. A 2016 study showed that aged garlic reduces peripheral and central blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension. It also has the potential to improve arterial stiffness, inflammation and other cardiovascular markers in patients with elevated levels.

Natural Lifestyle Remedies

1. Increase Physical Activity and Exercise

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. Ideally, you should engage in some form of physical activity and/or exercise for at least 20 minutes per day to unlock the benefits of exercise. Children and adolescents should aim to get one hour of physical activity every day. Walking, gardening, swimming, playing, hiking, etc. are all great, fun ways to get in physical exercise & improve your heart health!

2. Reduce Stress

Yet another reason to reduce stress is its ability to raise blood pressure. But don’t relax by relying on physical substances such as eating more or using tobacco or alcohol. These activities only increase the problem.

For high blood pressure symptoms and good health in general, it’s a great idea to practice daily relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, healing prayer and/or meditation, painting/coloring, etc. These natural stress relievers help you relax and reduce your blood pressure.

3. Essential Oils

Essential oils can lower blood pressure by dilating arteries, acting as antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress and by decreasing emotional stress. The best choices when it comes to lowering high blood pressure include neroli, lavender, ylang ylang, sweet marjoram, clary sage and frankincense. You can use these oils in a diffuser. You can also include a few drops in a neutral carrier oil or lotion and massage the mixture on your body – talk with a provider or an Apothecarist to ensure no medical implications apply to you.

4. Keep Up with Chiropractor Visits

Blood pressure levels tend to go up with age of life & stress levels, which is why prevention, early detection and management through a healthy lifestyle are so crucial for lowering blood pressure. Remember that you likely won’t have any noticeable signs or symptom of high blood pressure, so you can’t just assume that everything is normal and okay because you don’t feel any differently.

If you’re at a high risk for various forms of heart disease, make sure to have your pressure checked professionally at least once every month. If your blood pressure is normal, great — you can work on keeping it that way as you get older! But if it’s high, you’ll need to make some changes and work with your doctor to manage the condition, possibly by changing your diet and helping you lose weight. Keep in mind that HBP is a chronic disease and ultimately needs lifelong treatment, so support is helpful to make it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle plan!

5. Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Want to know how to control your blood pressure without the need for medications? The first step is looking at your diet. Your diet is one of, if not the most, important piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling your blood pressure naturally. People with high blood pressure tend to eat an unhealthy diet that’s low in nutrients, electrolytes (especially low levels of potassium), antioxidants and fiber.

Sodium, alcohol, refined grains, sugar and trans-fats can all raise inflammation that makes it more likely you’ll develop HBP. Center your diet around unprocessed, whole foods as much as possible− especially fresh, local, organic veggies, fruit, healthy fats and “clean” protein. Your doctor might recommend you follow The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) which includes the high fiber foods above and limits alcohol and unnatural sodium (table salt). It’s rich in essential nutrients, protein, and fiber but encourages you to choose unprocessed, low-sodium and no-added-salt foods.

7. Quit Smoking

Smoking damages your blood vessels and raises the risk for various heart problems. It will also worsen complications and make it harder to reverse the problem. The U.S National Library of Medicine offers resources to help you quit, such as links to join online or in-person support groups offered in many hospitals, workplaces, and community centers for free.

Further Actions May Be Needed:

One out of  5 U.S. adults with high blood pressure still doesn’t know he or she has it, as people can experience no high blood pressure symptoms despite having even dangerously high levels. If you know you have high blood pressure, immediate action may be necessary. It is important to be reactive as well as proactive while pursuing natural ways to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

In-depth testing

In-depth testing with functional ranges may be necessary to get to the root of your abnormal blood pressure. If you are still dealing with high blood pressure after trying to modify your lifestyle, try in-depth testing to uncover what else could be going on.

Get a support system

Change can be difficult and uncomfortable. You are 99% more likely to succeed if you have a support system to guide you, accompany you, and encourage you throughout your healing journey.

Schedule with a provider

Whether you are in Cape Girardeau or need to schedule a telehealth appointment, our providers have the tools, experience, and compassion necessary to guide you to the correct healing pathways!

 

Resources & Further Reading:

https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2017/11/08/11/47/mon-5pm-bp-guideline-aha-2017

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/healthy_living.htm

https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Potassium-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp#.VthuQJMrKRt

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26869811

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/10898603

http://u.s%20national%20library%20of%20medicine/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/11/13/blood-pressure-of-130-is-the-new-high-according-to-first-update-of-guidelines-in-14-years/

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