What if I told you that a health condition affects about 72 million — or one out of every three — American adults under old guidelines? And what if I told you that under new guidelines, that number will rise to about 103 Americans? I’m talking about a highly common, yet preventable, condition called high blood pressure, also known as hypertension — which is why you need to pay attention if you have high blood pressure symptoms. (1)
High blood pressure (HBP) isn’t just a problem in and of itself, but it also leads to other dangerous health conditions, including stroke, heart attack, chronic heart failure and kidney disease.
Did you know that most people with high blood pressure or hypertension have no symptoms, even when their blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels? In fact, about many U.S. adults with high blood pressure still doesn’t know they have it. Scary, I know.
The good news is that even mainstream medicine will agree with me when I say that diet and exercise are the most important tools for preventing and treating high blood pressure naturally and successfully.
What is high blood pressure exactly? It’s a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels and arteries at higher than normal pressures.
Hypertension costs the U.S. $46 billion each year, which includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat high blood pressure symptoms and missed days of work — a number that’s expected to rise with the American Heart Association releasing new standards for what constitutes high blood pressure. Standard medical treatment for elevated blood pressure is to prescribe dangerous beta blockers, ACE inhibitor drugs and diuretics, along with convincing the patient to restrict salt in the diet. Although these things can help, they don’t get to the root of the problem and can actually cause more problems. We’ve been encouraged to fear salt when it comes to our health, but this recommendation of extreme salt reduction for high blood pressure symptoms remains controversial, questionable and even destructive for good reason. (2)
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure happens when this force is too high. Scary, but true: Most people who have this condition display zero signs or high blood pressure symptoms, even when their blood pressure readings are at dangerously high levels.
When blood pressure is measured, there are two numbers that result, which measures two different pressures. The top number is systolic pressure, the blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. The second or bottom number is diastolic pressure, the blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.
Under the previous guidelines, blood pressure ranges include: (3)
However, now there are new guidelines lowering the threshold of what’s considered high blood pressure. The American Heart Association has now lowered stage 1 high blood pressure from 140/90 to 130/80. What does this mean? It means “that 46 percent of U.S. adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive.” (4) That’s not all: (5)
Under the guidelines, formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double.
The new guidelines from the American Heart Association are as follows:
Frequently, there are no high blood pressure symptoms as blood pressure increases, but some warning signs for very high blood pressure can include chest pains, confusion, headaches, ear noise or buzzing, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, tiredness or vision changes.
When high blood pressure symptoms do develop, it’s normally because the condition has progressed to a dangerous point. This is called hypertensive crisis which means a systolic/top number higher than 180 OR diastolic/bottom number higher than 110.
Hypertensive crisis is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Emergency medical treatment is needed. At this point symptoms are usually present including:
At the age of 50, total life expectancy is about five years longer for people with normal blood pressure than for those who have hypertension. That’s just another worthwhile reason to get your high blood pressure symptoms under control and keep them under control.
Also keep in mind that the readings above are intended for normal adults over 18 years old. If you have diabetes, kidney disease or a short-term serious illness your readings will be interpreted differently. If you have diabetes (another very common problem) or chronic kidney disease then high blood pressure is defined as 130/80 or higher.
Knowing what triggers high blood pressure can help you prevent or reverse it. Like with most other chronic diseases, the reason someone develops HBP has to do with several factors.
HBP seems to run in families, but it’s also highly dependent upon the type of lifestyle someone leads. Women are at an increased risk when taking control pills, during pregnancy, or if taking hormone therapy medications to control menopause symptoms. Obesity or being overweight increases the odds because this puts more pressure on the heart and arteries.
Men and women are equally likely to develop HBP during their lifetimes, but interestingly men are more likely when they’re younger. Before turning 45, men are more likely to have HBP than women but then this flips after age 65, when women’s risk becomes higher than men’s. When children younger than 10 years old have HBP it’s usually a side effect of another condition. This can include a kidney problem, medication use or type 1 diabetes.
High blood pressure has a real laundry list of risk factors. The good news is that the majority of these hypertension risk factors are well within your control. They include: (6)
High blood pressure is most prevalent in the adult population, but children are also at risk. Sometimes children can experience high blood pressure symptoms that are caused by problems with the heart or kidneys.
However, more and more children who experience high blood pressure are dealing with this chronic issue at a way too young age because of poor lifestyle habits. When I say poor lifestyle habits, I’m referring to an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise, which both directly relate to the increase in childhood obesity and childhood hypertension.
More than 360,000 American deaths in 2013 included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. That equates to a highly disturbing and concerning nearly 1,000 deaths each day.
High blood pressure increases your risk for dangerous health conditions, such as: (7)
Risk of both low blood pressure and high blood pressure normally increases with age due in part to normal changes during aging. Here are how low and high blood pressure stack up.
Frequently, there are no high blood pressure symptoms as blood pressure increases. Some warning signs for very high blood pressure, however, can include:
Here are some more alarming facts about high blood pressure and high blood pressure symptoms:
How can you tell if you have low blood pressure, high blood pressure or normal blood pressure?
Here are some stats on low blood pressure:
As long as you don’t experience symptoms of low blood pressure, there is no need for concern. Most doctors consider chronically low blood pressure dangerous only if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms, such as:
Low blood pressure can occur with:
With two thirds of the population clinically having hypertension or prehypertension, this is a health issue that needs attention and fast. I’m happy to say you can start improving your blood pressure symptoms easily and naturally today with the recommendations below.
One of the best natural remedies for high blood pressure is an improved diet.
Foods to Avoid that Make High Blood Pressure Symptoms Worse
Foods to Eat that Help Heal High Blood Pressure Symptoms
The mineral magnesium is great because it helps relax your blood vessels and can have an immediate impact on naturally lowering blood pressure (and many people have a magnesium deficiency, which plays in to high blood pressure). To start, 500 milligrams daily before bed is a great dose to address your blood pressure issues.
One of the main causes of high blood pressure is inflammation in the arteries over time. Study after study has shown consuming fish oil, which is high in EPA and DHA forms of omega-3 fatty acids, reduces inflammation of the body, which is why fish oil benefits heart health. Taking a high-quality, 1,000-milligram fish oil dose every single day with your meals is one of the best natural ways to lower blood pressure.
Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an antioxidant critical for supporting heart health, and it’s crucial if you’ve ever been on blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medication. About 200 to 300 milligrams of CoQ10 per day is a great, natural remedy for high blood pressure.
Available in powder form, consumption of cocoa increases your intake of flavonols, which help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Cocoa is also a natural vasodilator, which means it increases nitric oxide in the blood and widen blood vessels.
Garlic is another natural vasodilator, and if you can’t get enough of it in your diet, then it’s readily available as a supplement in liquid or pill form. A 2016 study showed that aged garlic reduces peripheral and central blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension. It also has the potential to improve arterial stiffness, inflammation and other cardiovascular markers in patients with elevated levels. (10)
Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. Ideally, you should engage in some form of physical activity and/or exercise for at least 20 minutes per day to unlock the benefits of exercise. Children and adolescents should get one hour of physical activity every day. (11)
Yet another reason to reduce stress is its ability to raise blood pressure. But don’t relax by eating more or using tobacco or alcohol. These activities only increase the problem.
For high blood pressure symptoms and good health in general, it’s a great idea to practice daily relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, healing prayer and/or meditation. These natural stress relievers help you relax and reduce your blood pressure.
Essential oils can lower blood pressure by dilating arteries, acting as antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress and by decreasing emotional stress. The best choices when it comes to lowering high blood pressure include neroli, lavender, ylang ylang, sweet marjoram, clary sage and frankincense. You can use these oils in a diffuser. You can also include a few drops in a neutral carrier oil or lotion and massage the mixture on your body.
Blood pressure levels tend to go up as someone get’s older, which is why prevention, early detection and management through a healthy lifestyle are so crucial for lowering blood pressure. Remember that you likely won’t have any noticeable signs or symptom of high blood pressure, so you can’t just assume that everything is normal and okay because you don’t feel any differently.
If you’re at a high risk for various forms of heart disease, make sure to have your pressure checked professionally at least once every six to 12 months. If your blood pressure is normal, great — you can work on keeping it that way as you get older! But if it’s high, you’ll need to make some changes and work with your doctor to manage the condition, possibly by changing your medications and helping you lose weight. (12) Keep in mind that HBP is a chronic disease and ultimately needs lifelong treatment, so support is helpful to make it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle plan.
If you already have high blood pressure, some evidence shows that measuring levels at home can help you manage symptoms better. This will give you an early warning sign if you start to see numbers creep up slowly. You’ll also be able to monitor how you react to different meals, circumstances, sleep routines, exercises, etc. (13)
You can buy several different types of home blood pressure monitors without a prescription from pharmacies or online. If you feel more comfortable visiting your doctor regularly or working with a nurse to control your blood pressure, the same benefits apply. Research suggests people who have some kind of ongoing support from their doctor or health clinic improve blood pressure better than without support.
Want to know how to control your blood pressure without the need for medications? The first step is looking at your diet. Your diet is one of, if not the most, important piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling your blood pressure naturally. People with high blood pressure tend to eat an unhealthy diet that’s low in nutrients, electrolytes (especially low levels of potassium), antioxidants and fiber.
Sodium, alcohol, refined grains, sugar and trans-fats can all raise inflammation that makes it more likely you’ll develop HBP. Center your diet around unprocessed, whole foods as much as possible− especially fresh veggies, fruit, healthy fats and “clean and lean” protein. Your doctor might recommend you follow The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) which includes the high fiber foods above and limits alcohol and sodium (salt). It’s rich in essential nutrients, protein, and fiber but encourages you to choose unprocessed, low-sodium and no-added-salt foods.
Smoking damages your blood vessels and raises the risk for various heart problems. It will also worsen complications and make it harder to reverse the problem. The U.S National Library of Medicine offers resources to help you quit, such as links to join online or in-person support groups offered in many hospitals, workplaces, and community centers for free.
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