Heart disease is one of the major causes of death and chronic illness. Don’t wait any longer, because now is the time to prevent the silent internal damage that wreaks havoc, ending in heart attack, stroke or other chronic disease.
High Blood Pressure Defined
Hypertension is the result of persistent high arterial blood pressure which may cause damage to the vessels of the arteries and blood vessels of the heart, brain, kidneys, and the eyes. No one wants to loose function of these vital organs, making it imperative that we understand blood pressure and what happens when blood pressure runs high. High blood pressure harms the entire circulatory system since it impairs circulation and the ability of blood to travel from the heart to the major organs. Multiple blood pressure readings must be taken to establish and average blood pressure per individual and then analyzed by a physician to determine if there is organic hypertension.
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure of blood against the walls of the arteries. It is dependent upon the action of the heart, the elasticity of the artery walls and the volume and thickness of the blood. The blood pressure readings are a ratio of the maximum or systolic pressure (as the heart pushes the blood out to the body) written over the minimum or diastolic pressure (as the heart begins to fill with blood).
Blood Pressure Readings
- Normal: 120/80
- Pre-hypertension: 120-139/80-89
- Stage 1 Hypertension: 140-159/90-99 (medical urgency)
- Stage 2 Hypertension: 160+/100+ (medical emergency)
What Causes High Blood Pressure
Modern life styles tend to increase blood pressure causing hypertension. Some of the known factors include a high salt intake, alcohol intake and obesity. Genetic factors may also influence this disease. Primary hypertension is the most common type and it generally is improved by a healthier life style, and medication when needed. Secondary hypertension is the result of a disorder or abnormality of the kidney, adrenal gland or other vital organ. This less common type of hypertension is often treated surgically. Hypertension may also occur in pregnancy and require special attention.
How High Blood Pressure Affects Your Body
- Blood Vessels – Increase in arterial blood pressure can change and damage the inside artery wall. The wall may become thicker while the space which transports the blood becomes smaller (vascular hypertrophy). A fatty build up, also called plaque, and develops in the damaged arterial wall, clogging the flow of the blood throughout the artery (atherosclerosis- hardening of the arteries). Blood clots may form more easily and become dangerous if dislodged. Under increasing blood pressure, a weakening of the artery wall may balloon out (aneurysm) and break, causing blood loss, tissue damage and even death.
- Brain – Hypertension is the major cause of stroke. The harmful effects of hypertension in the brain may be caused by blood clots stopping blood flow to parts of the brain. Aneurysms may burst under increasing pressure causing hemorrhage and damage to the brain tissue.
- Eyes – A thorough eye examination by a physician may lead to the diagnosis of hypertension. This can be determined by the vascular changes in the back of the eye (retina)
- Kidneys – The kidneys are easily damaged by hypertension. In addition, many kidney diseases cause hypertension. Increased blood pressure disrupts the kidneys’ ability to regulate salt and water balance in the body which can make hypertension worse.
- Heart – Hypertension can cause serious health problems to this vital organ. Increased resistance in the arteries, due to stiffness and narrowing of the vessels causes the left heart to work harder pumping against a higher pressure (vascular hypertrophy). The left ventricle may become enlarged and unable to respond to this pressure increase. In addition, the heart muscle may suffer from decreased blood flow due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) of the small arteries of the heart.
7 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
- Maintain a healthy body composition
- Reduce dietary salt intake
- Increase fiber and decrease fat in your diet
- Discontinue smoking or don’t start
- Avoid excess alcohol
- Get regular physical activity (cardiovascular activity 150 minutes a week)
- Develop a stress management protocol (breathing techniques, yoga etc.)
Uncontrolled blood pressure leads to heart attack and or stroke. Heart attacks are debilitating and often life destroying. If we let blood pressure go untreated we increase our risk for heart attack and stroke. Knowing that we have power to change blood pressure with our lifestyle it pays to look at other ways we can prevent a life destroying event. Schedule an appointment at the Functional Medical Institute so we can help you get your blood pressure under control.