Blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of the body’s arteries, the major blood vessels in the body. Hypertension is when blood pressure is too high. Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart contracts or beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats.
Hypertension is diagnosed if, when it is measured on two different days, the systolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥90 mmHg.
Blood pressure measurements are categorized as follows:
- Normal: systolic less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
- Elevated: systolic between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
- Stage 1: systolic between 130-139 mm Hg or diastolic between 80-89 mm Hg
- Stage 2: systolic at least 140 mm Hg or diastolic at least 90 mm H
Types of hypertension
There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary high blood pressure.
Primary Hypertension (also known as Essential Hypertension): For almost 90% of the patients, the cause of this Hypertension is unknown. Your doctor will diagnose this Hypertension type after analyzing your blood pressure after three or four visits. People who suffer from this Hypertension type show no significant symptoms. However, a few patients do show the below signs:
- Frequent headaches
Secondary Hypertension: This Hypertension type occurs when there is an abnormality in the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys.
Some common causes of this Hypertension include:
- Abnormalities or tumors of the adrenal glands
- Hormonal imbalances
- Excessive salt or alcohol intake
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Kidney disease
- Certain defects you’re born with (congenital) in blood vessels
- Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
- Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines
Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people won’t experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.
Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Visual changes
- Blood in the urine
High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:
- Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases as your age. Until about age 64, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
- Family history: High blood pressure tends to run in families.
- Being overweight or obese: The more weight, the more blood needs to supply oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. As the amount of blood blow through the blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on the artery walls.
- Not being physically active: People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher the heart rate, the harder the heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on the arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.
- Using tobacco: Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise the blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of the artery walls. This can cause the arteries to narrow and increase the risk of heart disease. Second-hand smoke also can increase the heart disease risk.
- Too much salt (sodium): Too much sodium in your diet can cause the body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
- Too little potassium: Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in the cells. A proper balance of potassium is critical for good heart health. If don’t get enough potassium in diet, or lose too much potassium due to dehydration or other health conditions, sodium can build up in the blood.
- Drinking too much alcohol: Over time, heavy drinking can damage the heart. Having more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men may affect the blood pressure. If drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
- Stress: High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. Stress-related habits such as eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol can lead to further increases in blood pressure.
- Certain chronic conditions: Certain chronic conditions also may increase the risk of high blood pressure, including kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.
- Pregnancy: Sometimes pregnancy contributes to high blood pressure as well.
Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children may be at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can contribute to high blood pressure.
The excessive pressure on the artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels as well as your organs. The higher the blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications including:
- Heart attack or stroke: High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.
- Aneurysm: Increased blood pressure can cause the blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.
- Heart failure: To pump blood against the higher pressure in the vessels, the heart has to work harder. This causes the walls of the heart’s pumping chamber to thicken (left ventricular hypertrophy). Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure.
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys: This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.
- Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes: This can result in vision loss.
- Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome is a group of disorders of the body’s metabolism, including increased waist size, high triglycerides, decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), high blood pressure and high insulin levels. These conditions make more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Trouble with memory or understanding: Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect the ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.
- Dementia: Narrowed or blocked arteries can limit blood flow to the brain, leading to a certain type of dementia (vascular dementia). A stroke that interrupts blood flow to the brain also can cause vascular dementia.
Doctors recommend blood pressure is kept below 140/90 measured in the clinic, or 135/85 measured at home. A slightly higher level is acceptable for people over 80. If you have diabetes, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease, the blood pressure should be lower than this – ideally less than 130/80.
Also need some tests to see if high blood pressure is affecting the rest of your body. These may include:
- Urine test: proteins in urine may be the first sign of damage to kidneys
- Blood test: To check cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as the condition of kidneys
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): A test that measures the electrical activity of heart to check for signs of heart enlargement or other damage
- Echocardiogram: This is a test that uses ultrasound waves to provide pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers so the pumping action of the heart can be studied and measurement of the chambers and wall thickness of the heart can be made.
The homeopathic system carries a good scope in managing high blood pressure. Homeopathic medicines work particularly well for those who have recently been diagnosed with hypertension and have not yet become dependent on any other medication for it. People with chronic high blood pressure and those who are using allopathic medicines for a long time can also use homeopathic medicines. Initially, it is advisable to continue allopathic medication along with homeopathic medicines, and slowly transition into homeopathy for holistic treatment.
Homeopathic medicines to treat high blood pressure are made of natural substances and can be used by people of all age groups without any side effects. For best results, proper lifestyle measures should be adopted along with homeopathic treatment for high blood pressure.
Aconitum Napellus is a medicine for high blood pressure along with anxiety and restlessness. The affected person often experiences a sudden fear of death. Other accompanying symptoms include palpitations, a pressure in the left side of the chest, sensation of weight under the breastbone and oppression of the chest. Pain in the heart extending to the left shoulder is also present.
Allium Sativum is a medicine for high blood pressure with high cholesterol levels. This medicine helps in reducing cholesterol levels as well as lowering the blood pressure. Other symptoms include a pain in the chest that prevents sleep and leads to palpitations.
Amylenum Nitrosum is a medicine for high blood pressure when constricted sensation around the heart is the main symptom. Along with constriction, aching in the heart is also present. A sensation of swelling in the chest, fluttering in the heart and intensified beating of the heart are the other symptoms that indicate the need for this medicine.
Baryta Mur is a medicine for high blood pressure with high systolic reading and a low diastolic reading. The arteriosclerotic (abnormal thickening and hardening of artery walls) changes in the arteries are the main symptom, along with vertigo, irregular heartbeats and a heated sensation in the upper part of the chest.
Crataegus Oxyacantha is a medicine used to help lower the blood pressure by dissolving the calcareous deposits in the arteries. Symptoms indicative of this medicine include pain in the region of the heart, oppression of chest, accelerated pulse and irregular pulse. Other symptoms include anxiety and cardiac dyspnea.
Glonoinum is a medicine for high blood pressure accompanied by headaches. The headache feels intense, congestive, throbbing, and bursting in nature. Other symptoms include strong palpitations, dyspnoea, heat in the face and cardiac pains radiating to other parts. Exertion leading to rush of blood to the heart and fainting spells is another feature that indicates the need for this remedy. Glonoinum is also indicated for nephritis (kidney inflammation) with high blood pressure.
Kali Phos for high blood pressure is used when stress and worry are the main cause of high blood pressure. The symptoms include palpitations from slight motion, shortness of breath, and irregular pulse, along with both mental and physical fatigue.
Latrodectus Mactans is a medicine for high blood pressure with marked heart pains. The heart pain extends to the shoulder or arm and fingers. There may be numbness of the upper limb, suffocation, restlessness, and extreme weakness.
Nux Vomica for high blood pressure is useful medicine for young people who adopt sedentary modern lifestyle habits. These lifestyle habits include smoking, alcohol consumption, sedentary routine, a lack of exercise, etc. These factors predispose a person towards blood pressure.
Tabacum Nicotiana is a medicine for high blood pressure used in cases where the person has a habit of taking tobacco. Symptoms include palpitations (especially while lying on the left side), oppression in the chest and a rapid pulse. Other symptoms include pain between shoulders, inability to take a deep breath and twisting sensation around the heart.
Strophanthus Hispidus is a medicine for high blood pressure in elderly due to arteriosclerosis (hardening, thickening, and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls). Strong palpitations that get worse upon emotional release and exercise are noted. The symptoms include constriction behind breastbone, difficult breathing, alternating rapid and slow pulse.
Lachesis is perhaps one of the most leading homeopathic remedies in controlling high levels of blood pressure. Lachesis may be given when there is marked restlessness physically as well as mentally. Another striking feature for prescribing Lachesis is that, anything tight around the neck like closed collars, neck ties or tight necklaces are unbearable. Even tight clothes are unbearable. Feel better by loosening the belts or by wearing loose clothes. Lachesis may be given in high blood pressure in women who are in their menopausal age or post menopause.
Natrum Mur is one of the most indicated remedies in cases of high blood pressure which occur due to a prolonged intake of high levels of salty things. Due to this, there may be swelling of the feet in the mornings. Natrum Mur may be given in cases where there is an unusual fatigue specially in the mornings. Though there is a restriction for excess salt intake, it is seen that there is an unusual craving for salty things like pickles, papads etc. There may be a sense of tightness around the chest region and palpitations on slightest exertion. Natrum Mur may be given inn high blood pressure associated with hyperthyroidism and goiter. There is extreme sensitiveness to any external stimuli like sounds, smells or lights. Natrum Mur may also relieve the headaches due to high blood pressure.
Belladona is known for its efficacy in treating high blood pressure and shows remarkable improvement in individuals having an accelerated pulse rate, dilated pupils, and flushed face.
It helps to reduce blood pressure by keeping the arteries soft.
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.
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.