What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force at which blood pumps from the heart into the walls of the arteries. When your heart beats each time, it pumps out blood into the arteries. When blood pressure is high (hypertension), the blood moves through the arteries more forcefully where the heart is forced to exert more pressure to pump the blood and that can lead to chronic conditions like heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, eye damage, brain damage, kidney problems, and others. A number of experts say that by following healthy lifestyle habits, medication, and Ayurvedic herbs, we can manage the disease easily.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the most common health conditions, about one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. Your blood pressure is determined by how much blood your heart is pumping, and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be.
Blood Pressure Readings
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A normal blood pressure reading of a healthy adult individual is less than 120/80 mm Hg. The top number that represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats is called Systolic blood pressure. The bottom number that represents the pressure in your blood vessels between beats when your heart is resting is called Diastolic blood pressure. Blood pressure that is 130/80 mm Hg or more is considered high. If your numbers are above normal but under 130/80 mm Hg, you fall into the category of elevated blood pressure (between 120 and 129 mm Hg and your diastolic pressure is less than 80 mm Hg). This shows that you’re at risk for developing high blood pressure.
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Symptoms of High Blood Pressure/ Hypertension
Most of the people suffering from high blood pressure will not experience any symptoms or signs until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of developing serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can consult your doctor to control it.
Symptoms of severe hypertension include:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Fatigue and weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Visual disturbances
The best way to know if you have blood pressure is to get regular blood pressure check-ups. If you have a family history of heart disease or have risk factors for developing the condition, then it is recommended that you have your blood pressure checked twice a year.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
There are two types of high blood pressure:
Primary hypertension or essential hypertension: This is the most common type of high blood pressure, which tends to develop gradually over many years without an identifiable cause. 85-90 percent of people have this type of high blood pressure. Primary hypertension can result from multiple factors:
- Environmental factors, such as stress and lack of exercise
- Unhealthy lifestyle and diet
- Family history
- Certain physical changes occurring in your body leads to hypertension
Secondary Hypertension is a complication of another health problem caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. Various conditions that can lead to secondary hypertension include:
- Kidney abnormalities
- Congenital heart defects
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Thyroid disorder
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Certain medications including birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs may cause secondary hypertension.
- Various illicit drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines, can also increase blood pressure.
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Complications of High Blood Pressure
Uncontrolled High Blood pressure can lead to various complications. Excessive pressure on the artery walls can damage your blood vessel and other vital organs.
The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater will be the complications that include:
- Heart attack– High blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack or other complications.
- Stroke – A blocked or ruptured blood vessel in the brain can lead to stroke.
- Aneurysm. Due to high blood pressure, blood vessels become enlarged and bulged and they may burst to cause hemorrhagic stroke.
- Hypertensive retinopathies in the eye can result in vision loss.
- Heart Failure. Heart failure does not mean that your heart stops working, but it means that your heart is not supplying enough blood to the rest of the body. Due to high blood pressure, the heart muscle may thicken and your heart can become enlarged so that it has to work harder to pump blood—that’s heart failure.
- Kidney failure
- Metabolic syndrome is a group of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high insulin levels.
- Dementia – Cognitive impairment and dementia are more common in people who have high blood pressure.
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Treatment for High Blood Pressure
A number of factors help your doctor determine the best treatment option for you. These factors include which type of hypertension you have and what causes have been identified. Everyone with high blood pressure is advised to make healthy lifestyle changes. A number of experts say that ayurvedic treatment for high blood pressure is an effective way to manage the disease.
Ayurvedic treatment for High Blood Pressure
Ayurveda, the ancient science, treats the root cause of the problem and helps to maintain a healthy body in a natural way. According to Ayurveda, imbalance of any of the three doshas (Vata, pitta, and Kapha dosha) leads to health problems. In Ayurveda hypertension is called “Rakta cappa vridhi”. The vitiation of Vata and pitta doshas are the main cause of hypertension. Hypertension can be treated with herbal medicines that balance the aggravated Vata and pitta dosha and stabilize blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry is one of the most ancient Indian medicinal herbs in Ayurveda with multiple health benefits. It is a rich source of adaptogens, that has a calming effect on the mind and relieve from anxiety and stress. Also, it can help to boost your immunity. Stress is the major cause of hypertension and taking ashwagandha powder may keep your blood pressure level in control.
Mix 1 teaspoon of ashwagandha powder in a glass of warm water and drink it early morning on an empty stomach. You should always consult your physician before starting any new supplement when you have specific health conditions.
Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Holy Basil which is also called tulsi in Ayurveda, has been used for centuries in India. It has several health benefits in reducing stress, anxiety, blood pressure, arthritis, and others. Basil leaves is high in eugenol; a compound that may help reduce blood pressure by acting as a natural calcium channel blocker. Calcium channel blockers obstruct the flow of calcium into the heart and arterial cells, allowing the blood vessels to relax.
Since Tulsi is caffeine-free, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend drinking holy basil daily as tea using leaves or dried leaf powder. 2–3 teaspoons of holy basil in a cup of boiling water and letting it steep for 5–6 minutes. Tulsi tea calms the nervous and endocrine systems at the end of the day. Because of its bitterness and spicy flavor, it’s also available in supplement pill and tincture form. Usage of Holy Basil Essential Oil in inhaler and diffuser blends helps to relieve anxiety and stress.
Terminalia Arjuna or Arjuna
The bark of Terminalia arjuna has been used in India for more than 3000 years, mainly as a heart remedy. The bark has various medicinal properties like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. It strengthens and tones the heart muscles and helps in the proper functioning of the heart. Arjuna tree also has strong anti-hypertensive properties and helps in controlling hypertension and reduces the accumulation of plaque in the blood vessels.
It is available in powdered form and consumes on an empty stomach for best results. Drink Arjuna Tea one cup once daily using bark or bark powder.
Triphala is an ancient herbal preparation used in Ayurvedic treatments. It’s a combination of three dried herbs: Indian gooseberry (Emblica Officinalis), black myrobalan (Terminalia Chebula), Belleric Myrobalan (Terminalia Bellirica). Triphala may have various health benefits such as improving digestive and oral health, supporting skin healing, helps in arthritis, diabetes, stress, and anxiety, also act as a natural immunity booster. It has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the strain on the blood vessels and help to regulate high blood pressure. It also contains powerful antioxidants that maintain a healthy heart and stable respiratory functions as well.
Consuming a glass of Triphala juice or 2 Tbsp. Triphala powder every day is effective for high BP and high cholesterol patients. Always check with your doctor or health care provider before consuming supplements.
Hawthorn berry has been used as an herbal remedy for diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. It is also used to treat both low blood pressure and high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and high cholesterol. Due to its antioxidant flavonoids and other nutrients, hawthorn berries may help promote blood flow and help protect blood vessels making blood pressure in control.
Amla or Indian Gooseberry (Emblica Officinalis)
Amla is one of the most potent ayurvedic herb for blood pressure. It is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which helps to reduce high blood pressure by acting as a vasodilator, or by widening the blood vessels. This property of amla makes it beneficial for diabetic patients and also boosts immunity levels to stop flare-ups of Seborrheic dermatitis. The amino acids and antioxidants present in amla, aids in the overall functioning of the heart, as well as respiratory illness like asthma. According to Ayurveda, amla juice is known to balance all three doshas- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
You can consume amla raw, juiced, or even powdered. Take around 20 ml of juice with a pinch of turmeric powder and black pepper on an empty stomach for best results.
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Natural and Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure
- Regular physical exercise: Exercising 30 to 40 minutes a day is important for overall health. Exercise can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure naturally, decreases your risk of diabetes and other types of heart disease. Examples of suitable activities are walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming. Meditation and certain yoga asanas (Pranayam) can also help you beat hypertension and help reduce stress levels.
- Reduce sodium or salt intake. cut your salt intake to 2-3g a day to help decrease the risk of hypertension and related health problems. When you eat too much sodium, your body starts to retain fluid results in a sharp rise in blood pressure. Avoid eating bakery foods, restaurant food, or pre-packaged foods, as they use very high salt.
- Eat more potassium-rich foods. It will help your kidneys remove extra sodium from your body through urine and also eases pressure on your blood vessels. Foods that are high in potassium include Banana, Guava, Amla, Avocado, Fig, sweet potato, green leafy vegetables. Consume tender coconut water which is rich in high potassium levels. Diets rich in potassium may be harmful to individuals with kidney disorders, so consult your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
- Consume foods rich in magnesium. The mineral that helps blood vessels relax. You can incorporate magnesium into your daily diet by consuming vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat, badam (20g), and whole grains.
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you’re overweight or obese can help lower your blood pressure.
- Limit Alcohol and stop smoking or tobacco.
- Consume food rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds, walnuts, and fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies) or you can find fish oil in dietary supplement form (1000mg fish oil) may help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower triglycerides.
- Consume more carrots, tomatoes, drumsticks, pomegranates, sesame, ginger, garlic, beetroot, red cabbage, watermelon, apple, buttermilk, cinnamon, oats, ragi to beat hypertension.
- Make sure to get good sleep. People who experience sleep deprivation, have an increased risk of high blood pressure. Sleeping for 6-7 hours a day helps your body control the hormones required to regulate stress and metabolism.
The best way to manage high blood pressure is through a combination of the right medications, a healthy diet, regular physical exercise, and engaging in healthy lifestyle habits. Through a heart-healthy diet, you can reduce your risks for hypertension and promote overall good health.
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