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Normal blood pressure readings will fall below 120/80. Higher results over time can indicate hypertension. Elevated blood pressure is consistently just above the normal level -- anywhere between 120 and 129 for systolic pressure and less than 80 for diastolic pressure. People in this range are more likely to get heart disease than those with a lower reading.

What damage can high blood pressure (Hypertension) cause?

To get some idea of the scale of the problem that high blood pressure can cause, think about it this way. Every single blood vessel in your body, every area where blood is present is under increased pressure every second of every day, 24/7, 365 days a year. Every capillary, artery and vein is at risk of bursting whether you are at rest or active whilst the major organs of your body could be flooded with excess blood or just give up at any time.

Consequently, the simple answer to the question of what damage high blood pressure can cause is, everything. The following (scary) litany will give you some idea of the problems that high blood pressure can cause and why you should get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis.

High blood pressure is the number one cause of deaths from cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, with nearly 70% of people who suffer their first heart attack being a high blood pressure sufferer as well. The fact that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body means that over time, it will become thicker and stiffer, which often leads to an increasing degree of heart failure as your heart is far less capable of doing the job that it is supposed to do. There is an alternative scenario where your heart becomes enlarged because of the increased blood pressure. An enlarged heart is not capable of pumping blood as efficiently as it should do, meaning that you are once again at an increased risk of suffering a heart attack.

Strokes are the third most common cause of death. Uncontrolled blood pressure can result in damaged or narrow blood vessels in the brain, which in turn increases the risk of a blood vessel becoming blocked or bursting.

In this situation, restricting blood flow to a certain part of the brain can cause the cells of that particular area of your brain to cease functioning either temporarily or permanently (in effect, part of your brain dies and that carries a significant risk that you will die as well.)

If you suffer from persistent, severe headaches, this may be a sign of impending blood vessel failure in your head. Similarly, dizziness, blurred vision, feeling inextricably weak or numb or losing the ability to talk clearly could all be signs that a stroke caused by high blood pressure could be imminent.

Another problem to which high blood pressure can contribute is a form of dementia known as vascular dementia. This occurs when a certain portion of the brain is damaged because of erratic or irregular blood flow caused by high blood pressure which causes the sufferer memory loss, confusion and sometimes a loss of speech.

High blood pressure can cause kidney problems, or in some cases, pre-existing kidney damage can cause high blood pressure. However, whichever way this happens, the main problem is that kidney damage is less likely to lead to kidney failure and far more likely to lead to heart attacks and strokes.

This often happens because as your kidneys become less efficient, they are less able to filter and clean your blood, meaning that dirt and other possible blockages are left to flow around your body in the bloodstream.

Not only does high blood pressure have the potential to damage your heart, brain and kidneys, it can damage any area of your body where there are blood vessels. Hence, it is possible that high blood pressure can have an adverse effect on both your eyesight and your mobility.

If you have been established to have a high blood pressure problem, your eyes will often be investigated (whether any of these capillaries have expanded, burst or suffered any other damage) because the small blood vessels, the capillaries at the back of your eye are the only blood vessels which are visible.

And because high blood pressure makes your heart become thicker and less able to do its job properly, it is not uncommon for high blood pressure sufferers to experience swollen ankles and other swollen limb extremities.

This happens because your heart is less efficient than it was before you suffered a high blood pressure problem so that it is less capable of pushing blood around your body. Hence, blood starts to accumulate in your ankles and lower legs and whilst in the short term this may be nothing more than an unsightly inconvenience, it can lead to more serious problems over the longer term such as varicose veins, cellulitis and venous ulcers.

If you are a diabetes sufferer, high blood pressure can be a very serious problem indeed. As a diabetic, the risk of suffering heart problems, strokes and kidney disease are increased whilst having high blood pressure has the potential to exacerbate these problems still further.

Source: Department of Statistics, Malaysia, 2020

Natural ways to lowering your blood pressure

The majority of medical treatments that might be prescribed to combat hypertension do have potential side-effects. In most cases, these side-effects are likely to be relatively mild and temporary, but this fact is never a guaranteed given. Some people will suffer far more serious adverse side-effects whilst others will find that their side-effects linger considerably longer than expected.

The bottom line is, as with all chemical-based pharmaceuticals, there is always a risk of adverse side-effects ranging from extremely mild – almost unnoticeable – to very severe and those side-effects can be purely temporary, or they might last longer than you expected.

It is also extremely pertinent to repeat that none of these medical treatments for high blood pressure deal with the central problem, instead being focused on reducing the severity of the symptoms. Rather than just reducing the severity of the symptoms, it would in truth make far more sense to isolate and attack the root cause of your hypertension problem whilst reducing the severity of the symptoms at the same time totally naturally.

The first line of treatment for high blood pressure is to make healthy lifestyle changes as these changes can help you control the factors that cause hypertension. Here are some of the most common natural or home remedies:

You do not need a fancy, fashionable diet plan to lose weight. All you need to do is reduce your calories to below the level that you need according to your age, gender and lifestyle, and you will lose weight. The ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ or DASH Diet is a diet plan specifically formulated to reduce/ lower hypertension as it emphasizes on foods that are lower in sodium as well as foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium — nutrients that help lower blood pressure. The use of this diet could reduce blood pressure by a few points in only two weeks and reduce it eight to fourteen points over time.

Source: Ohio Health

If you seriously want to get rid of hypertension, you must lose weight. Losing weight is a simple matter of taking on board less energy than you need every day, with the energy in your food being measured in calories or kilo-calories. You need so much energy every day based on your age, gender, activity levels and current weight, and if you eat (and drink) less than you need, you will lose weight.

Exercise should form an integral part of any sensible weight loss program as well. Taking up exercise always accelerates the effectiveness of sticking to a weight loss diet plus taking no exercise is bad for your heart and your general health in any case. In addition to following the DASH diet, people with high blood pressure should follow an active lifestyle, including at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, or 40 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise three to four days a week if you have hypertension. Whilst one of the primary reasons that you’re doing exercise is to help accelerate your metabolism in an effort to shift some weight, it is also a fact that exercise helps to make your general lifestyle far healthier and more conducive to lower blood pressure. In order to keep your blood pressure levels low, a reasonable amount of exercise, two or three times a week is absolutely essential.

Stress is a factor that often contributes to hypertension problems, as tension naturally makes the heart pump more strongly. It is therefore essential that if you are a person who is naturally prone to stress or if you work or home environment is overly stressful, you will need to effectively combat stress (keep your stress levels down).

You should also avoid smoking completely as well, as tobacco speeds up the process of hardening the arteries and damages blood vessel walls as well. If you are a smoker who suffers hypertension, you therefore face a double hazard from cigarettes in terms of the damage you are doing to yourself.

Too much sodium encourages excess fluid retention which in turn leads to hypertension. Hence, you should reduce your sodium intake and the easiest way of doing so is to reduce the amount of salt you eat every day. One very obvious way of reducing the amount of salt that you consume every day is to make a concerted effort not to add salt to your food before consuming it.

There is no time better than the present, to start taking action.

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Ever wondered why the first thing that your doctor does every time you visit a doctor’s office or hospital, (regardless of the complaint that brought you there) is to take your blood pressure? There’s a reason why your blood pressure is taken. every single time.

Hypertension (HPT), or also known as High Blood Pressure (HBP), is a long-term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated and is a common condition in most countries, including Malaysia. High blood pressure is rightly known as “the silent killer” because it doesn't always have outward symptoms, meaning that you could have it for years and not know. It often carries no symptoms or warning signs but over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure can drastically become a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and aneurysm. According to a Harvard study, having hypertension can increase your risk of stroke by 220%. The older you are, the more likely you are to get it. Keeping blood pressure under control is vital for preserving health and reducing the risk of these dangerous conditions.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against the walls of your arteries. In simplistic terms, blood pressure is a measurement of the force with which your blood is pumped round your body. It is the pressure that your pumping blood places on the walls of your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart. When it's too high, your heart has to work harder. This can cause serious damage to your arteries. The higher the number, the harder your heart is having to work to pump blood around your body and the more likely it is that damage is being done to the heart muscle. Since all parts of your body rely on circulation, though, it’s not just your heart that high blood pressure can impact. If blood doesn’t flow easily, it can harm your arteries as well as vital organs such as the kidneys, eyes, and brain.

High blood pressure (or “hypertension”) has been shown to damage the tiny blood vessels in the parts of your brain responsible for cognition and memory, greatly increasing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease can also take an emotional toll, affecting your outlook and making you more susceptible to anxiety and depression. And just as blood pressure may have an impact your mood, the reverse can also be true:

Source: American Heart Association

Your exact blood pressure is measured by reference to two different factors. The first of these factors is the strength of each heartbeat, whilst the second is the resistance put up by the ‘tubes’ through which you blood passes, primarily your capillaries and arteries.

It is the arterioles, the tiny blood vessels that feed into the capillary network that regulate blood pressure more than any other part of your body. These arterioles expand and contract in rhythm with the beating of your heart as result of the muscular tissue in their walls. Hence, measuring blood pressure is in effect checking the strength or weakness of your heart.

Your blood pressure is measured by reference to two different numbers which represent the systolic and diastolic pressures.

  1. The higher number, or systolic blood pressure is a measurement of the highest pressure point which is recorded when the heart beats or contracts (is measured as your heart pumps blood into your arteries).
  2. The lower figure, the diastolic is a measurement of what is happening when your heart is at rest (relaxes between beats), effectively representing the low point of your blood pressure.

Generally, it is the diastolic pressure measurement which medical professionals pay most attention to, because if your diastolic pressure is too high, it suggests that your arteries and capillaries are under too much pressure even when your heart is at rest.

You have stage 1 high blood pressure if your systolic reading is between 130 and 139 or your diastolic is between 80 and 89. A reading of 140 or higher systolic or 90 or greater diastolic is stage 2 hypertension. You may not have symptoms. If your systolic is over 180 or your diastolic is above over 120, you may be having a hypertensive crisis, which can lead to a stroke, heart attack, or kidney damage. Rest for a few minutes and take your blood pressure again. If it's still that high, call 999. Symptoms include a severe headache, anxiety, and nosebleeds. You might feel short of breath or passing out.

Low blood pressure (known as “hypotension”) is a much less common problem than hypertension, but it can still significantly impact blood flow to the brain and increase your risk of shock, stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.

What are the symptoms?

One of the biggest problems for people who suffer high blood pressure is that a very significant percentage of them have no symptoms that might otherwise give them a clue that everything is not well. Some people do of course suffer symptoms that might give them an idea that they have a blood pressure problem. Given that high blood pressure naturally means that the pressure of blood being pumped around the body is too high, there are some conditions that might suggest a high blood pressure problem.

What causes hypertension or high blood pressure?

There’s no single cause of high blood pressure, but rather many contributing factors. Some are out of your control, such as age, race, gender, and family history - blood pressure tends to increase over the age of 70, affects more women than men over the age of 55, and is more common in African Americans than Caucasians, perhaps due to a genetic sensitivity to salt.

However, numerous other risk factors for hypertension are within your control, and it is a combination of these factors that most commonly causes high blood pressure. These factors include:

There are also specific substances that can raise your blood pressure, such as:

We shall learn more on the damages Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) cause plus more about how to lower your High Blood Pressure naturally in the next blog.

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