Know your blood pressure (BP) and enjoy normal BP for life!
1. Mechanism of the vital BP1-5: Each time our heart beats, it pumps oxygenated blood into the arteries when our blood pressure would be the highest and it is known as systolic pressure. When our heart is at rest between the beats, the blood pressure would fall which is called diastolic pressure. The body has mechanisms whereby the heart, veins, kidneys etc cooperate promptly to alter or maintain the blood pressure and blood flow as needed by the body. Without blood flow, the body would not get the oxygen it needs to survive.
Blood pressure is usually indicated as a number where systolic pressure is shown before or above the diastolic pressure. It is commonly understood that 120/80 (mm of Hg) is normal blood pressure. In medical parlance 119/79 or lower is normal blood pressure. 140/90 or higher is termed as high blood pressure, a condition known as hypertension. Systolic between 120 and 139 and diastolic between 80 and 89 are termed as pre-hypertension phase which means one may end up with high BP if one does not take steps to prevent it.
High blood pressure occurs when the force of the blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels is consistently high. It makes the heart work harder and puts it at risk of a stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, vision problems and even death if not detected early. It may cause cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Symptoms of high BP3-12: One of the dangerous aspects of high BP is that one may not be aware of having it. High blood pressure would produce no symptoms most of the time. One initial indicator could be dizziness when we put our head down. One may not have headache or nosebleeds as is generally believed. Waiting for a symptom or sign would be equal to taking a dangerous chance with life. One could have scary symptoms like severe headache, blurred vision, intense fatigue or confusion, shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, pounding in chest, neck, ears, or blood in the urine due to some underlying medical condition which may push the BP very high. Though it is labelled as a symptomless silent killer, hypertension can be prevented and treated.
3. Perceptible causes of high BP3-13: High BP may be believed to be a natural consequence of aging, but studies state that it results from years of consuming a diet rich in saturated animal products, oils, refined sugars, processed foods and salt. Cholesterol-containing plaque begins to line the walls of the arteries. Over a period of time, arteries become narrow and stiff owing to loss of their elasticity. This leads to abnormal rise in blood pressure.
High-starch foods including bread, pasta, corn, white rice and potato are known to elevate the insulin level. This leads to retention of sodium and elimination of magnesium from the body which in turn would constrict the blood vessels and raise the BP. Other factors are: elevated uric acid levels, poor nutrition in childhood, exposure to lead, constant air and noise pollution, alcohol, smoking, sleep disorders, and metabolic syndrome (which means that the person is already within the group of risk factors responsible for heart disease, diabetes and stroke (closely linked to overweight, obesity, and lack of physical activity). Other triggers could be persistent anxiety, stress and nervous tension. Sadly, this major factor has been ignored by most doctors in the past.
4. False high BP alarms3,11-16: Blood pressure reading can vary significantly from day to day, even from one hour to the next. So one need not panic if sometimes BP reading indicates high pressure. One should take a few moments to calm down or breathe deeply and relax before blood pressure is checked to prevent false reading. A second reading can be taken a little later to see if the BP has gone down. Nervousness, incorrect BP cuff size, and incorrect arm position (which should be at right angle to the body in case of manual BP instrument) can result in a ten percent higher reading, giving a false high BP alarm. It is ideal to measure blood pressure once on each arm. Studies have shown that significant difference between left and right arm pressure may indicate circulatory problems. There have been studies on the effect of different body positions on blood pressure14.
Significant health problems can occur only when the blood pressure remains consistently and chronically high, not otherwise. One should have had at least three elevated readings over a few weeks before one can truly be diagnosed with hypertension. But, during acute discomfort, any indication of high BP should be attended to immediately. One should be familiar with the norms for checking and monitoring blood pressure at home too16.
5. High BP cautions us3,13: High BP is a warning signal of diseased arteries or unhealthy blood vessel system and it should be heeded without delay. Since it is not a disease in itself and only an indicator of an underlying health issue, medications for high BP can at best superficially treat the symptoms giving a false sense of security while the disease may progress.
6. Subtler aspect of high BP17-18,41: Unlike an infection, which is an external invasion, chronic ailment like BP is created within the body. When every cell in the body is basically programmed for health, a question may arise as to why does body create an ailment. That means at a cellular level something fundamental has gone off balance. Since a problem has BECOME generated from within, THE solution would also lie within. Spiritual masters and scriptures indicate that there is a dimension of intelligence and competence within each one of us to repair the cells and regain health. It should be accessed through natural body-mind-breath energy methods, instead of becoming entirely dependent on chemical-based medications that may deplete the body of essential minerals. Sai vibrionics has helped many doctors reduce their patients’ dependence on BP medications by stabilizing blood sugar and lowering BP.
7. Low BP19-20: 90/60 or less is termed as low blood pressure/hypotension. Low pressure without symptoms or signs is not unhealthy. Some may have BP 90/50 in the normal course without any symptoms. But those with high BP conditions may develop symptoms of low BP even with a BP reading of 100/60. Unlike high BP, low BP is determined by signs of low blood flow and not by specific blood pressure number. When the flow of blood is too low to supply oxygen and nutrients to vital organs like brain, heart, and kidney, it may cause temporary or permanent damage.
8. Causes and symptoms of low BP19-20: One may have low BP after a spell of high fever, diarrhoea, or vomiting, excessive blood loss during menstruation or other conditions, which could be a temporary phase and should be handled appropriately. It is normal for blood pressure to vary depending on what work one is doing, level of stress one feels, climatic conditions, diet, and life style. If BP is found consistently low, the underlying cause needs to be ascertained. The possibilities could be genetic, old age, medication, dehydration, anaemia, poor diet, heart condition, neurological disorder, hormone problem, or any injury or shock.
Symptoms like light headedness, dizziness, fainting, general feeling of weakness or sickness, blurred vision, confusion, palpitations, unsteadiness, increased thirst, nausea on getting up or standing up or simply changing body position indicate that not enough blood and oxygen are reaching the brain and need immediate attention.
9. Keep BP normal, the natural way3,21-40:
(i) Avoid salt and salty foods (anything with high sodium)
Sodium is essential for balancing fluids in the body and for normal functioning of nerves and muscles. But, high sodium diet draws water into the blood stream that can increase the volume of blood and hence the blood pressure. Principal source of sodium is common salt which maybe present in excess in bread, pastry, cheese, fast food, sauce, salad dressing, condiments, pickles and cooked meals. One can get the requisite quantity of natural sodium from fruits, vegetables, dairy, and legumes without any fear of exceeding the limit.
(ii) Counter sodium with potassium
Potassium is found in coconut water, yogurt, citrus fruits, bananas, pomegranate, Indian gooseberry (amla), apricots, raisins, dates, prunes, leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peas, beans, and whole grain cereals. Foods rich in potassium lower the blood pressure by easing the tension in the blood vessel walls and by balancing sodium that automatically exits through urine. It also plays a key role in balancing all the important minerals linked to high blood pressure and reduces the risks of stroke, and heart and kidney problems.
(iii) Supplement with natural magnesium & calcium and vitamins B3, C, E, K, & D
Magnesium helps regulate practically most of the body systems including blood pressure, blood sugar and bone development. It is found in dark green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains and legumes. Calcium helps blood vessels to tighten and relax when needed to control blood pressure. It is found naturally in dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, almonds and seeds like sesame, chia, celery, and poppy.
Vitamin B3 found in green leafy vegetables and whole grains keeps the blood vessels strong and flexible, thus reducing the risk of heart attack. Vitamin C prevents the formation of plaque in arteries. It is abundant in fruits like banana, avocado, guava, melon, berries, citrus fruits and plums. Cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet red pepper are also rich in vitamin C. Vitamin E essential to keep the blood vessels healthy is found in nuts like almonds and hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, sweet potatoes, avocado, papaya and blueberries. Vitamin K1 responsible for healthy blood clotting is found in green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce and spring onion and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, and to some extent found in fermented dairy, prunes, cucumbers, sprouts, and dried basil. Vitamin K2 is produced from K1 by bacteria that line the gastro intestinal tract. K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place and thus optimizes bone density and prevents osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium in the body. It is ideal to get it from sunlight, the only natural source. According to a study done in India, the best time to expose oneself to sun is from 11am to 2pm when maximum vitamin D3 would get generated. One view is that 20 minutes of exposure during this time with bare arms, face and legs twice or thrice a week should suffice to provide healthy vitamin D levels. If you can’t get enough sunlight, supplements maybe the only way but this may create an increased demand for K2 in the body.
(iv) Avoid caffeine (as in coffee) in case of hypertension as it would stimulate the nervous system and release hormones such as adrenalin into the blood that would raise the heart rate as well as the blood pressure.
(v) Try simple home remedies
A spoonful of raw honey taken in warm water balances blood pressure. One glass of bottle gourd juice taken twice a day is claimed to cure high BP. According to ayurveda, ½ tsp of Cinnamon powder daily or a tsp ofcoriander seeds soaked overnight and taken each morning would help bring down blood pressure. Gentle massage on the spinal cord with ice cubes also helps in reducing the blood pressure. Pressing the tip of ring finger for a few minutes works as a first aid to reduce blood pressure.
(vi) BP care tips
- Stay hydrated and learn a breathing technique, yoga, meditation, etc. from reliable trained teachers to keep body-mind-breath balance. Also involve yourself in a group activity or a cherished hobby or selfless service to handle emotional stress. Keeping a focus on the ultimate purpose of life will help one to remain calm and tuned to life.
- Children who lose their cool while playing video games may develop hypertension in later years. Parents should divert them towards sports or physically active pursuits. Babies who are breastfed would have less chances of developing hypertension.
- Be wary of abnormal weight increase and family history of blood pressure and take due care.
In conclusion, the key lies in preventive measures42 through life style changes in tune with nature, appropriate diet of natural foods, and regular check-ups to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
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