What is Blood pressure? We will primarily look at its effects.
The pressure exerted by blood against the sides of the blood vessels as it moves through the circulatory system is called blood pressure. The thought of blood pressure elicits nothing but the fear & the horror of diseases, but in reality, blood pressure itself is not a disease. It is merely a normal phenomenon of the body.
Effects of Hypertension on the Body
HTN silently keeps damaging the body before symptoms of any disease can be seen. Which is why it is called the “silent killer”. Untreated HTN may cause severe damage and even death, but if precautions are taken, this depressing future may be avoided. That is, proper treatment and lifestyle changes can drastically change one’s life for the better.
Effects on Arteries:
Arteries are strong, flexible, and elastic and its inner lining is naturally smooth for the effective flow of the blood. But when blood pressure increases, the cells of the inner lining gets damaged due to increased pressure. This enables the fats from the body to easily get into the bloodstream. This sort of phenomena may cause many problems such as angina, heart failure, stroke, blocked arteries, etc. In extreme cases, aneurysms may also occur. If the aneurysms break, it can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.
Effects on the Heart:
The most problems are caused by the heart because it is the job of the heart to circulate blood throughout the whole body. So, due to an imbalance in the pressure of the blood in various vessels throughout the body, the main action of the heart may be hampered. High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder than is necessary which results in the left ventricle of the heart to thicken. As a result, the heart’s ability to pump blood diminishes and causes heart failure, heart attack and sudden cardiac death may occur. Basically what happens is that, over time, the high blood pressure leads to the weakening of the heart and may lead to harrowing cases of heart disorders.
Effects on the Brain:
Just like the heart, the brain functioning depends on the nourishing blood supply to help it work efficiently. High blood pressure hampers this smooth process indefinitely and creates several problems. Blood pressure may cause atherosclerosis or a blood clot which may disrupt the blood supply to the brain. This causes a ministroke, a transient ischemic attack. This attack is often times a warning for a full blown stroke which occurs when part of the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. High blood pressure does this basically by forming the blood clots to the arteries leading to the brain. Now all of this may result in dementia, which is a brain disease that hampers thinking, speaking, reasoning, memory, vision, and movement. It may also result in Mild cognitive impairment with age.
Effects on the Kidney:
The kidney is a very important organ of the human body. It regulates body liquids by filtering excess fluid and waste from the blood. But this process depends on healthy blood vessels which can easily be injured by high blood pressure leading to several kinds of kidney diseases. Having diabetes at this situation worsens the state of the person.
High blood pressure is actually the most common cause of kidney failure. That is because it can damage both the large arteries leading to the kidneys and the tiny blood vessels within the kidneys, both of which are necessary to effectively filter waste from the body. It can cause glomerulosclerosis, which is basically scarring in the blood vessels of the kidney. Moreover, kidney aneurysms may also form, which if ruptured may cause life-threatening internal bleeding.
Effects on the Eyes:
The vessels supplying blood to the eyes are tiny and delicate and are easily damaged by high blood pressure. Damage to the blood vessels leading to the retina is called the retinopathy. This condition may lead to bleeding, blurred vision, and even complete loss of vision. When this happens, fluid may build up under the retina, a condition called the choroidopathy, causing scarring and distorted vision. Moreover, if the eye is deprived of too much blood due to blocked arteries, it may even cause nerve damage, a condition termed as optic neuropathy.
Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension:
Low Blood Pressure (LBP) or Hypotension is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as blood is pumped out of the heart. It is basically the opposite of Hypertension and so, unlike Hypertension, it steadily lessens. Similar to Hypertension, Hypotension does not show many symptoms and so it isn’t considered a cause of concern unless the blood pressure gets too low and noticeable symptoms are shown.
Excessive low blood pressure is not welcomed
While Hypertension has been shown to cause many of the underlying diseases, Hypotension is not. Instead of considering it as a disease, it is rather considered as a psychological state. Physicians and doctors believe that it may be caused by shock, but they are not certain.
In contrary, low blood pressure is considered a sign of good health and fitness for people who regularly exercise and are in their top physical condition. But excessive low blood pressure is not welcomed because it is accompanied by dizziness and fainting, which are sure indicators of heart, endocrine or neurological disorders. Severe lessening of the blood pressure may also deprive the brain of oxygen and nutrients leading to a life-threatening condition called “shock”.
Indicators of Low Blood Pressure:
The basic symptoms or signs of low blood pressure are lightheadedness and dizziness. In a case of severe low blood pressure, fainting and even seizures may occur. Hypotension is considered when the systolic and diastolic blood pressure drops down to 90 mm Hg and 60 mm Hg respectively. But in reality, low blood pressure is not considered unless the actual symptoms start to show.
Low blood pressure is associated with certain symptoms
Low blood pressure is associated with certain symptoms, many of which are just effects of Hypotension. Some of the more harrowing symptoms are given below-
101 F fever or higher
Cough with sputum
Temporary blurry vision
Connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, etc
There are many other symptoms of Low blood pressure, but most of them are associated with “shock’ rather than Hypotension.
Causes of Low Blood Pressure:
The most common cause of low blood pressure is hypovolemia which is basically the decrease of blood volume in the body. Hypovolemia is often induced by excessive use of diuretics and can result from hemorrhage, insufficient fluid intake, or excessive fluid losses from diarrhea or vomiting. Low blood pressure may also cause heat strokes owing to the body having enough fluids but not enough to retain electrolytes. Some indicators are light-headedness, dark colored urine, and absence of perspiration.
Sometimes it is seen that due to an excessive or chronic use of alpha blockers and beta blockers, low blood pressure arises. The weird thing is that, beta blockers can create hypotension by not only slowing the heart rate but also by decreasing the pumping ability of the heart muscles. Now this sort of cardiac output despite the normal heart rate may lead to large myocardial infarction, heart valve problems, severe congestive heart failure, extremely low heart rate (bradycardia), etc. which may rapidly progress to cardiogenic shocks. Arrhythmias may also result from this sort of mechanism.
Low blood pressure causes numerous diseases
Low blood pressure causes numerous diseases and may result in numerous diseases such as low heart rate (bradycardia), heart valve problems, heart attack and even heart failure. These conditions may cause low blood pressure because they make it difficult for arteries to circulate blood throughout the entire body.
Another condition which interrupts the process of blood circulation is vasodilation
Another condition which interrupts the process of blood circulation is vasodilation. This may be caused by decreased sympathetic nervous system output or increased parasympathetic activity occurring as a consequence of injury to the brain or spinal cord or of dysautonomia which is an intrinsic abnormality in autonomic system functioning. In cases like these, yoga, meditation, and other mental-physiological exercises have shown to reduce the hypotensive effects.
Measuring Blood Pressure:
Since blood pressure is such a big problem especially when it comes to figuring out underlying causes of diseases and treating them, it is advisable that you do regular check-ups to avoid being taken by surprise. It is not wise to treat a problem like blood pressure casually because it can be considered as a matter of life and death.
A sphygmomanometer is used to measure arterial pressure
Generally, a sphygmomanometer is used to measure arterial pressure. It uses the height of a column of mercury to reflect the circulating pressure. The pressure values are dependent on millimeters in mercury. Nowadays aneroid and electronic devices are used to measure a patient’s level of pressure. These do not require any mercury. Each heartbeat contains a systolic and a diastolic pressure respectively. Systolic pressure is the maximum pressure in the arteries whereas diastolic pressure refers to the minimum pressure. Systolic pressure occurs when the ventricles contract and diastolic pressure occurs when it dilates and lets blood fill them.
Pressures are rarely static and may undergo natural variations throughout the day
An average adult may have a blood pressure of 180/90 mm Hg, but these pressures are rarely static and may undergo natural variations throughout the day. They generally change in response to stress, nutritional factors, drugs, disease, exercise, etc. when these variations spike up and down excessively, it becomes a cause of concern. Because, if it spikes up too much, it becomes Hypertension and if it reduces too much it is called Hypotension.
There are two ways in which Blood Pressure can be measured. These are noninvasive and invasive.
Noninvasive measurements are quicker and much simpler than invasive measurements. These methods are less painful and less unpleasant for the patients, but it yields results of somewhat lower accuracy than the invasive procedures. They are used for routine examinations and monitoring rather than for invasive medical procedures. The noninvasive routines include palpations, the auscultatory method, the oscillometric method, continuous noninvasive techniques (CNAP), the Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) principle, ambulatory methods and white-coat hypertension methods.
Invasive techniques requires that you accurately measure the arterial blood pressure.
While noninvasive measurement methods are suitable for regular check-ups and home monitoring, invasive techniques requires that you accurately measure the arterial blood pressure. These methods include direct measurement of arterial pressure through a cannula needle in the artery. The cannula needs to be connected to a sterile, fluid-filled system is connected to an electronic pressure transducing machine. The nature of this process is that it measures beat-by-beat and displays it in the form of a graphical wave.
Patients require constant monitoring
One of the disadvantages of this method is that it is sometimes associated with complications such as thrombosis, infection, and bleeding. As a result, patients require constant monitoring because if the cannula gets detached, severe bleeding may occur. There are different kinds of invasive vascular pressure monitors including single pressure, dual pressure, and multi-parameter (i.e. pressure / temperature). These invasive techniques are regularly used for human and veterinary intensive care medicine, anesthesiology, and also for research purposes.
Natural Remedies for Blood Pressure:
There are quite a number of factors that contribute to elevated blood pressure. If it isn’t checked, it could result in fatal consequences owing to the risk it poses to major diseases. However, there is another way through which blood pressure related problems can easily be avoided. This can be done through a healthy lifestyle and regular check-ups.
There are many options for a natural diet which can help to keep blood pressure at bay, but it is recommended that everything be double checked by a physician first. Having said all this, there are some of the herbs, vegetables, fruits, and remedies that can be consumed to help keep a balanced blood pressure. The primary means now is
Diet and Weight Loss:
Being overweight is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure because it increases pressure on the artery walls. If proper diet and weight loss techniques are followed, the healthy body may help reduce high blood pressure. In addition to dieting and eating healthy, exercising have been shown to be an effective remedy.
Physicians recommend that we take vegetable juices, especially of the green leafy vegetables
Physicians recommend that we take vegetable juices, especially of the green leafy vegetables. These vegetables can increase the amount of folic acid in the body, a type of B vitamin that helps lower blood pressure. Vegetables have also been shown to reduce the elevated homocysteine levels. Eating dark leafy vegetables is recommended because they are high in potassium. An analysis of five different trials has shown that potassium supplementation resulted in a large reduction in systolic blood pressure compared to a control with a mean difference 11.2 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (5.0 mm hg).
A 2012 meta-analysis suggested that supplements consisting of mineral magnesium helped lower blood pressure by 2-3mmHg for diastolic blood pressure and 3-4mmHg for systolic blood pressure. This remedy is recommended for people who are deficient in magnesium in addition to having high blood pressure. For people with preeclampsia and eclampsia in pregnancy, intravenous magnesium sulfate is recommended.
Vitamin D is mostly found in the sunlight and sunbathing is recommended as the only way of acquiring it. But that is not entirely true. Vitamin D is naturally found in fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil. Limited research shows that blood pressure is often elevated when there is reduced exposure to vitamin D. These researches were done during the winter or at some distances from the equator to get effective results. The difference in systolic blood pressure was seen to be around 5mmHg.
Reduced Sodium Intake:
As it was discussed above, too much sodium intake is detrimental to your health because it is difficult for the kidney to filter it. As a result, it leads to fluid retention which results elevate blood pressure. It is said that 60% of people with essential hypertension may be able to reduce their blood pressure to some level if they reduce their sodium intake. In this case, potassium can also be taken because low potassium may raise sodium level in cells. Sodium and potassium balance will balance each other.
So this is basically we need to know and understand about blood pressure. It can be controlled and lowered.
Check out these helpful books from Amram Adam (available on Amazon)
This will be of interest What is high blood pressure and what causes it?
This will be of interest 27 foods that help lower blood pressure. You can control it.
This will be of interest Paleo diet benefits. Recipes for beginners and cookbook