We all know someone with high blood pressure. If we ourselves do not suffer from it, then chances are we know a relative or friend who has been diagnosed with the condition. It is so common, we might begin to think that high blood pressure is “normal” for a person over a certain age and that the only treatment option is prescription medication.
In this article, we explore high blood pressure and question whether chiropractic care in conjunction with conventional medical care, can improve this life-threatening condition.
High Blood Pressure epidemic
High blood pressure plagues many people across the world. Statistics from the CDC suggests that 1 out of every 3 Americans suffer from high blood pressure or “hypertension”. Pharmaceutical companies manufacture large amounts of hypertension pills to supply patients according to their needs.
In the United States alone, a statistic by the CDC concluded that in 2011, America spent over 40 billion US Dollars in chronic medications to treat high blood pressure. While there are pharmaceutical options to treat this health issue, hypertensive patients can greatly benefit from chiropractic to regulate blood pressure.
In South Africa and according to Health24 about 35% of South Africans older than 15 years can develop hypertension. Some countries have already successfully managed to reduce salt and sugar levels in foods and South Africa is also trying to implement these healthy changes within the local food manufacturing and processing industries.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure or hypotension is the condition where the body’s ability to maintain regular blood pressure levels is near impossible without the aid of suitable drugs to help. When the heart beats, it exerts a force that helps blood to travel through the blood vessels, achieving blood circulation.
It is the pressure measured by which blood pushes against artery walls as blood is transported through your body. However, when this pressure is too high or too low, it can cause serious health concerns.
How would I tell if I have high blood pressure?
This is a very important question to ask yourself, as levels should be maintained for the good health of your body. High blood pressure causes strokes and heart attacks as it increases the chances of heart disease. It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly as this is the only way to really tell whether it’s healthy or not.
High blood pressure isn’t easy to diagnose without a physical check at your GP. Unlike low blood pressure that shows signs of fatigue, breathlessness, weakness, dizziness, nausea, depression, and a change in sight to name a few.
However, patients with the following symptoms were diagnosed with high blood pressure:
- Painful headaches
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeats
- A sensation of your heart beating loudly in your chest
- Sometimes difficulty breathing
High blood pressure is normal at certain times when engaging in certain activities such as smoking, having a beverage or eating for that matter. However, sustained high blood pressure reading can cause server health problems to the patient.
What do the measurements mean?
A healthy blood pressure will be between 90 and 120 systolic (top number on the Sphygmomanometer) and the systolic reading (the bottom number on the Sphygmomanometer) should read between 60 and no more than 80.
Pre-high blood pressure reads between 130 diastolic over 140 systolic, while high blood pressure reads between 150 and more for systolic, and the diastolic reading between 90, and 100, even more. These high blood pressure numbers require immediate emergency attention for the patient.
Why is high blood pressure so dangerous?
High blood pressure is damaging to the body and the damage can continue for many years before signs start showing. For this reason, it’s also notoriously known as “the silent killer”. As we’ve mentioned before, high blood pressure can cause potential fatalities if left untreated.
The high force makes it hard for the heart and arteries to function properly; instead, it pushes the heart muscle, arteries, and ventricle to work even more than it’s supposed to.
The strain exerted on the heart causes health concerns such as hardening of the arteries or “atherosclerosis”. This occurs due to plaque build-up as a result of an increase in bad cholesterol.
With arteries narrowing due to the plaque build-up, it can lead to strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks. Some patients may also suffer from an aneurysm due to the blood’s forced pressure through narrowed arteries. Aneurysms are extremely dangerous and can rupture at any moment. Patients undergoing surgery to have it removed are at high risk of death.
An enlarged heart can also result in certain patients because of the effects of high blood pressure on their bodies over a number of years.
Who is at an increased risk of hypertension?
- Certain chronic health conditions
- Pregnant women (hormonal changes)
- Patients who consume more alcohol
- Patients who aren’t active
- The use of recreational drugs
- Patients who suffer from diabetes
- Patients who suffer from high cholesterol
Treatment options for hypertension
Maintaining a healthy homeostatic balance is what the body strives to achieve. However, when the patient suffers from high blood pressure or low blood pressure for that matter, it throws this rhythm of balance off.
Patients that have this imbalance are often treated with prescription medication.
High blood pressure medication usually consists of a diuretic, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitor, calcium channel blocker, anti-hypersensitive pills, and a Vasolidator. Each of these drugs plays a specific role in monitoring and maintaining good blood pressure.
Many patients who suffer from hypertension if the condition is severe, surgery may be required to improve the condition. The patient may need surgery for a stent to be inserted into the narrowing arteries in order to keep it open. After the procedure is completed, the doctor then prescribes chronic medication to the patient, including aspirins and an additional anticoagulant to prevent clotting.
The alternative medical treatment of chiropractic care can help reduce high blood pressure without the need to use chronic medication.
While we don’t encourage patients to get off their medication, unless cleared to do so by their general practitioner or cardiac specialist, we do advise that chiropractic can help naturally reduce blood pressure.
Chiropractors regularly treat patients with high blood pressure with spinal adjustments to the vertebrae. Adjusting the vertebrae clears the blockages allowing efficient function of the nervous system.
Prevention is one of the best ways to avoid high blood pressure. The following are some tips on how to maintain balance and relax.
Sometimes avoiding stress just seems too impossible to be realistic. People are often worried about things linked to finances, family, and work to name a few. This can raise the body’s blood pressure and narrow arteries by releasing stress hormones as a means of helping the body to cope with the stressful situation. If stress dominates the lifestyle of a patient, then there ought to be some changes to help improve the situation.
Meditation, yoga and Thai Chi
To train your body to take a breath and relax, implementing techniques such as yoga, meditation, and Thai Chi will improve and help regulate the pressure of the blood. All of these three incorporates breathing and getting the body’s energy to flow properly, improving blood circulation, while causing the body to relax.
Change your diet
Eat healthy meals each day, rich in fruit and vegetables, and ensuring that the sodium intake is less and controlled. Patients should also make sure that they manage cholesterol levels; this includes foods that are rich in fat like red meat and saturated fats.
Not everyone enjoys exercising, but incorporating a short brisk walk every day, or thrice a week will go a long way to improving your condition.
Cigarettes are one of the biggest causes of high blood pressure. Patients who smoked all their lives often stand a higher chance of developing high blood pressure.
A reduction in the intake of alcohol on a daily basis can reduce the chances of developing hypertension.
Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle as best as you can. This includes changing your diet to a healthier, nutritious one and doing plenty of exercises to keep your heart fit. If you live a stressful lifestyle then it’s imperative that you make the time to relax, whether that is taking part in your favourite pastime or taking the time to focus on your breathing.
Visiting your professional chiropractor will also help manage blood pressure levels in the body and keep it from spiking out of control.
This is one of the reasons chiropractic is sought after as a complementary treatment for various health conditions, including hypertension.