High blood pressure is often called the ‘silent killer’ as it may take years or decades to kill. It is also known as hypertension. It has the effect of putting tension on the arteries and ultimately will destroy the internal organs of the body especially the heart (cardiac disease) itself, kidneys (renal) and even brain damage through strokes.
Systolic and diastolic pressures
Blood pressure is measured by calculating by measurement the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure. What is the difference? Systolic pressure is high pressure tension in the arteries. The main arteries that carry blood from the heart to all organs of the body are measured systolically.
Systolic pressure should be in the range of 100 -140 systolic and 60 -90 diastolic. In crisis hypertension it’s in the range greater than 100 systolic and 110 diastolic. Diastolic is measured as the pressure flow into the heart.
Body mass index (BMI)
Body Mass Index (BMI) is also important in controlling hypertension. Typically it should be around 20-25 KG m2.
Causes of high blood pressure
The causes are many but a little improvement in all areas helps to reduce or even remove this risk. The causes can be put into several categories. Diet, lifestyle and exercise are the areas that can most influence the incidence of high blood pressure.
Salt is an important part of the toxic mix to increase blood pressure. It is obvious and also hidden in many foods. Salt and sugar are added to improve the flavor and in some cases help towards an addiction of certain fast foods.
When is the last time a fast food restaurant asked if you want salt on your fries? It goes on without any question. When you read the labels of many foods salt is there or by its Latin name Sodium Chloride. Salt should not be more than 6G of sodium chloride each day.This is difficult to measure if you are not preparing the food so the safe answer is to ignore the salt cruet on the table.Also, actively read labels or dietary advice when it’s available on the salt content.
Alcohol has a big bearing on raising blood pressure. Alcohol for women should be less than 2 units a day and for men less than 3 units a day.
Sedentary lifestyle including low levels of exercise or in simple terms less than 10,000 steps a day are risk factors for hypertension.
And smokers have another reason to quit as smokers are prone to higher blood pressure.
Finally being obese and not eating a balanced diet all contribute to the ‘silent killer’. Low calcium is seen as a regular feature within people suffering high blood pressure, which again are a feature of a diet not balanced and a shortage of milk and dairy products. Eating 5 vegetables or fruits a day help reduce hypertension.
The main symptoms are headaches, vertigo, light headedness, tinnitus (buzzing in the ear) and often fainting for no apparent reason.
As a silent killer, a hypertensive patient may not immediately recognize the symptoms of high blood pressure and may result to complications to other systems in the body.
Cure and prevention
There are many medicines that can be prescribed by doctors and many will prescribe a diuretic to reduce salt and water in the body plus beta blockers, aspirin and lipids.
But a doctor should evaluate and prescribe. DASH is the mantra for the best care of yourself (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension).
You can get your measurement on risk by going to www.heart.org/beatyourrisk/en_usa.
There are natural ways like fruit juices that help lower blood pressure. For example, blueberry and beet juice contain nitrates that delay the progress of hypertension or the development of cardiac disorders.
Hypertension awareness and proper diet
Japan historically has had much less heart disease or hypertension than the USA. The reasons are mainly down to diet.
The Japanese typically will eat lower levels of protein and vastly more fish which is rich in Omega 3 and other fish oils. The use of soya and green tea is much higher also in Japan.
Up to 20 years ago the incidence of heart problems was very low and the younger generation with a diet of more protein, more alcohol and more fast food are the primary causes. Interestingly stress is not a major part of hypertension or the associated issues of organ failure or strokes.
In parts of Japan away from the urban centers the incidence of hypertension is still low.
But, it still remains the number 2 killer in Japan. Heart surgery and procedures such as by-pass heart surgery are relatively new procedures in Japan. Up to now it has been with coronary angioplasty which is a procedure where a thin tube is passed through an artery and into the heart to clear blockages to allow better flow and a lowering of the blood pressure.
In the USA 80% of the population that have hypertension or high blood pressure are aware but 20% are totally unaware. Only 48% of this number really has hypertension under control.
Many patients diagnosed with hypertension can lower the risk of heart attack and other complications by proper diet and hypertension management.