Hypertension (high blood pressure) has become a serious health concern all over the world. More than 70 million Americans suffer from it at the moment, which is about 1 in every 3 people. Only half of these people treat the disease, while the other half is in a potentially fatal situation. A third of the American population is suffering from pre-hypertension, which is another big problem that can be prevented easily. High blood pressure costs the USA $46 billion per year, which includes missed days of work, medications and different treatments. According to statistics, hypertension caused 1000 deaths per day in 2013!
High blood pressure – what is it?
High blood pressure is the name for a condition which occurs due to elevated blood pressure in the arteries. This can either occur due to the heart pumping blood with too much force, or due to narrowed arteries. Blood pressure is actually the force the heart pumps blood throughout the body with. It is determined by the amount of blood pumped, the force the heart uses and the flexibility of the arteries. Our body is pretty durable and can withstand high blood pressure for some time, but if the problem goes on for more than a few months, it can damage the arteries in your body and result in potentially fatal conditions.
The main causes of high blood pressure
According to research, genetics do play a part in Primary Hypertension, which occurs when there’s no specific cause. Secondary Hypertension on the other hand, is usually caused by medications taken for kidney disease, diabetes, endocrine disorders and cardiovascular problems.
Here’s a list of the main risk factors for hypertension:
- Family history of hypertension
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Alcohol abuse
- Chronic stress
- Physical inactivity
- Consuming foods rich in sodium
- Potassium deficiency
In general, doctors prescribe diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers and other types of drugs against high blood pressure, but some of these drugs can actually worsen the condition of the patient.
Diuretics work by removing the excess liquids from the body and reducing the pressure in the blood vessels. They are usually the first medication prescribed for high blood pressure. There are 3 types of diuretics – look diuretics (Edecrin, Bumex, Lasix), potassium-sparing diuretics (Dyrenium, Aldactone, Midamor) and thiazide diuretics (HydroDiuril, Diuril, Lozol).
The look and thiazide diuretics can lower the body’s potassium levels and raise the risk of cardiovascular problems. Thiazide diuretics can also raise your glucose levels and the risk of diabetes as well. These medications can cause side-effects such as low libido, irritability, depression, fatigue, urinary incontinence, etc.
Beta-blockers aim to lower the heart rate, in that way reducing high blood pressure. The most common brands are Kerlone, Inderal, Sectral, Bystolic, Visken and Coreg. However, they have a variety of side-effects. For example, they can cause a sudden increase in heart rate which can lead to a heart attack. Some beta-blockers can narrow down the bronchial airways, which makes them unfit for people suffering from emphysema or asthma. If combined with diuretics, beta-blockers significantly raise the risk of diabetes.
These pills have been associated with lethargy, memory loss, dizziness, fatigue, low sex drive and cold arms and legs.
The ACE inhibitor drugs dilate the blood vessels and allow proper blood flow, which helps the heart relax. The most popular brands are Capoten, Zestril, Accupril, Lotensin, Altace and Vasotec.
Some of the side-effects of these drugs include reduced potassium retention in the kidneys, allergic reactions and granulocytopenia, a severe reduction of white blood cells which makes the person prone to infections. ACE inhibitors have also been associated with coughs, low blood pressure and are unfit for pregnant women.
The so-called CCBs work by relaxing the blood vessels. The most common brands are Cardene, Plendil, Adalat, Norvasc and DynaCirc.
These drugs have been associated with side-effects such as gingivitis, skin rashes, swelling in the feet, constipation, fatigue and food intolerance.
Luckily, high blood pressure can also be treated naturally. Here are the herbs which can help:
Hawthorn has been used against heart problems for a long time. The herb grows in the form of a shrub in small red, pink and white clusters. The berries sprout after the flowers and contain flavonoids which can dilate the blood vessels and improve your blood flow, protecting the blood vessels from damage. The leaves and buds have even more flavonoids than the other parts. According to research, taking hawthorn extract every day can reduce your high blood pressure in 16 weeks.
Linden is a flower that grows on lime trees which has been used in the form of tea in the past to treat anxiety. These flowers contain antioxidants, volatile oils and mucilage compounds that can reduce inflammation in the blood vessels. They also contain tannins which have astringent and diuretic properties.
Yarrow is a popular folk remedy that has been used against high blood pressure for centuries. It contains certain chemicals and flavonoids that can improve digestion and relax the muscles in your uterus and intestines. All the parts of the herb can be used to brew tea which can lower your blood pressure.
Mistletoe can reduce high blood pressure and regulate your blood sugar levels, while also soothing inflammation in your joints. Although the berries are poisonous, the leaves have powerful healing effects.
According to one study, drinking 250 ml. of hibiscus tea per day can lower your blood pressure better than medications. The scientist involved in it hope that the study will be a base for a future potential cure for the often fatal condition.
Here’s how to prepare a simple herbal blend that can lower your blood pressure:
- 2 parts yarrow
- 2 parts hawthorn
- 2 parts lime blossom
- 1 part mistletoe
Boil a pot of water and add the herbs, then let it steep for a while before drinking it. Regular consumption of this herbal blend will lower your blood pressure and normalize it after a while. In this way, it will reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular problems.