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Blood pressure is the force of the flowing blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Blood pressure along with body temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate are called the vital signs of the body and are measurements of the most basic functions of the body. This pressure that ushers the blood to flow throughout the circulatory system is vital or else no oxygen or nutrients would be carried to the tissues and organs of the body. Blood pressure is obtained through an instrument called sphygmomanometer. The reading is shown as two numbers. Here the higher or the first of the two is called systolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills these arteries with blood. The lower or the second number is called the diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. 120/80mmHg (systolic/diastolic) is considered as the optimal blood pressure.

High blood pressure or hypertension is called when systolic pressure is 130 and above and diastolic pressure is above 80mmhg. Hypertensive crisis is when systolic blood pressure is above 180mmHg and diastolic blood pressure is over 120 mmHg. It indicates medical emergency and the person should be immediately taken to the nearest hospital.

Causes of Hypertension

Often the cause of hypertension goes undetected and is known as primary or essential hypertension. Primary hypertension develops gradually over many years. At other times high blood pressure is due to an underlying condition or disease and is known as secondary hypertension. Usually, secondary hypertension appears suddenly and is more severe than primary hypertension.
Secondary hypertension can arise from the following causes:

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Kidney disorders
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Congenital defects in blood vessels
  • Certain medication like birth control pills, decongestants, over the counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs like cocaine and amphetamines.

Risk factors for high blood pressure are as follows:

  • AGE- Chances to develop high blood pressure increase age. Till the age of 64 years high blood pressure is more common in men.
  • RACE- Africans tend to develop high blood pressure at an earlier age than whites. They also tend to suffer from serious complications such as cardiac and kidney disorders due to high blood pressure.
  • FAMILY HISTORY- Hypertension tends to run in families.
  • BEING OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE- With the increase in weight more volume of blood is required to be circulated to the tissues to supply them with oxygen and nutrients. More the volume of blood being circulated in the blood vessels more the pressure exerted on the artery walls.
  • PHYSICAL INACTIVITY- It is seen that physically inactive people tend to have a higher heart rate. Higher the heart rate, harder the heart must work with each contraction and stronger the pressure on the artery. Also, physical inactivity contributes to weight gain that can, in turn, lead to hypertension.
  • TOBACCO- Tobacco smoking or chewing immediately raise the blood pressure transiently. Also chemicals in tobacco can damage the walls of the arteries making them narrow and in turn this leads to high blood pressure. Passive smoking can be equally injurious to cardiac health as active smoking.
  • EXCESS SALT IN DIET- Too much salt/ sodium in diet leads to water retention in body which leads to high blood pressure.
  • LESS POTASSIUM IN DIET- Less potassium intake causes too much sodium to accumulate in the blood leading to high BP.
  • EXCESS ALCOHOL INTAKE- More than one drink a day i.e 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounce of 80-proof liquor for women and two drinks a day for men can lead to hypertension.
  • STRESS- High levels of stress directly lead to temporary high blood pressure. Also to deal with stress a person can take up unhealthy activities like drinking excess alcohol, overeating and smoking that may add to high blood pressure.
  • PREGNANCY- Sometimes pregnancy contributes to hypertension.

Signs and symptoms of hypertension

Most people with high blood pressure are without any symptoms. They usually do not show any symptoms until high blood pressure reaches severe or crisis stage. Some people may have the following symptoms:
– Headaches
– Shortness of breath
– Nosebleed

As hypertension does not usually have any symptoms so it is advised that healthy adults aged over 40 yrs must get their blood pressure checked once every 5 yrs and those who are at increased risk of high blood pressure must get their blood pressure checked at least once every year. Also one high reading is not enough to diagnose as high blood pressure. To confirm the diagnosis, at least three elevated readings (made at different times while one is resting comfortably for at least five minutes) are considered.

Complications of hypertension

  • High blood pressure eventually damages the blood vessels and organs of the body. Prolonged unnoticed hypertension would damage the body more.
  • The complications due to high blood pressure are:
  • Heart Attack or Stroke- High blood pressure causes thickening of arteries that can lead to heart attack or stroke.
  • Aneurysm- High blood pressure can cause arterial wall to become weak and bulge forming an aneurysm. If this aneurysm ruptures it can be life threatening.
  • Heart Failure- To pump blood against high resistance of the blood vessels, the heart has to work harder and eventually may find it difficult to meet the body’s need leading to heart failure.
  • Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in kidneys.
  • Narrowed or damaged blood vessels in the eyes leading to vision loss.
  • Metabolic Syndrome- It is a cluster of disorder of the metabolism of the body and includes high blood pressure, high insulin, low HDL cholesterol or the good cholesterol of the body, high triglycerides and increased waist circumference. It can eventually lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Memory issues
  • Dementia- Narrowed arteries with lower the blood supply to brain leading to dementia.

Management of hypertension

Lifestyle changes help prevent hypertension. This includes the following:

  • Eat healthy food- Try to follow DASH diet i.e Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension which focuses on fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, poultry, whole grains and fish.
  • Less salt intake in diet- Try to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300mg / day or less.
  • Maintain healthy weight- It is seen that one can lower the blood pressure by 1 mmHg for each kilogram of weight lost.
  • Increase physical activity- Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of active aerobic exercises.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke- To avoid injury and in turn build up of plaque in the arteries quit smoking
  • Manage stress- Practice techniques like meditation, deep breathing or muscle relaxation, follow regular physical activity and get adequate sleep to manage stress effectively.
  • Control blood pressure during pregnancy.

Homeopathic treatment for Hypertension

Although lifestyle changes go a long way to control hypertension but sometimes just lifestyle changes are not enough and medication are required to lower high blood pressure.
Homeopathy provides safe and effective treatment for hypertension. The best hypertension remedy in homeopathy is the one most similar to disease manifestation. For this symptoms belonging to both the mental and physical sphere are elicited by a trained homeopathic physician. However for patients who are already on antihypertensives it is best not to take anyone off the drugs immediately. Instead to begin with suitable homeopathic medicine must be given simultaneously to reduce the blood pressure to a level where the allopathic medicines can then be reduced or stopped.
Commonly indicated hypertension medicine names are as follows:-
Lachesis- It is indicated for high blood pressure in personalities who are loquacious, desire alcohol and wake up heavy headed in the morning and also after a nap. They tend to lose control and become jealous and envious. Their systolic and diastolic blood pressure is very high. They also tend to have thrombosis in veins of the left leg.

Lycopodium Clavatum- They tend to have diastolic blood pressure raised more than the systolic blood pressure, which is indicative of kidneys being involved. In addition they are seen to have tendency for indigestion that aggravates between 4-8pm. Craving for sweet and warm things is also common in people that require lycopodium.

Aurum Metallicum- It is a wonderful medicine for blood pressure when the cardiac muscles are under strain leading to even the presence of murmurs. There are distressing palpitations. As a person there is tendency for depression with lack of self worth and suicidal tendency.

Convallaria Majalis– It helps to reduce blood pressure by keeping the arteries soft.

Crataegus- Helps to control blood pressure by removing the plaques built up in the arterial lining.

Digitalis- It is used to treat hypertension when the heart has slowed considerably leading to bradycardia or if the heart beat is irregular with missed beats.