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Blood Pressure Balance

High blood pressure is a common condition that can stress the heart and lead to heart disease. It can be caused by a variety of conditions. Almost 90% of all people with high blood pressure, have idiopathic, also called ‘essential hypertension’ and the cause is not well understood.

There are a variety of pharmaceuticals that are often prescribed for high blood pressure. Each class has a particular mechanism of action:

Diuretics (water pills) – reduces the amount of fluid in the blood vessels

Beta-blockers make the heart beat at a slower rate and with less force

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (also called ACE inhibitors) relax the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (also called ARBs) work in about the same way as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.

Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels by stopping calcium from entering cells

As with all pharmaceuticals, these treatments may have side effects, that can interfere with quality of life, and which should be reported to your physician.

Common side effects include:

  • Cough
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Erection problems
  • Feeling nervous
  • Feeling tired, weak, drowsy, or a lack of energy
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Weight loss or gain without trying

Never discontinue use of any medication without discussing with your physician. However, blood pressure can often be lowered through diet and lifestyle modifications. You can partner with your doctor and tell him or her that you will be making lifestyle changes and you would like them to monitor your progress and suggest how you decrease the dosage appropriately.

Here are some interventions that have been shown to naturally lower blood pressure.

moderate exercise for high blood pressureExercise. Daily exercise has been shown in many scientific studies to significantly lower blood pressure. One study found that low impact exercise, such as Tai Chi, worked almost as effectively as aerobic exercise in reducing blood pressure.

Weight resistance training can also be helpful, as well as something as simple as a daily half hour brisk walk! Although its not a good idea to ‘over exercise’ such as lifting heavy weights, when you are not used to doing so, moderate exercise is a real plus in any health and wellness endeavor, and also acts as a mood elevator.

Cut out Wheat Products and refined sugar. Excess sugar consumption leads to insulin resistance, which is directly linked to high blood pressure. One of the easiest ways to stop eating sugar is to eliminate ALL WHEAT PRODUCTS- such as bread, bagels, breakfast cereals and pasta. Many people with high blood pressure actually eat these kinds of foods many times a day at every meal! In fact, eating high sugar wheat products is often an addiction. Write a list of all the foods you eat in one day, and see how often it includes wheat. Eliminate all of those foods, and substitute rice cakes or RyVita crackers it you want something to munch on. Limit wheat consumption to once a week. You may find your blood pressure is much more controllable, and this one action often has the desired side effect of lopping off extra body fat!

Magnesium. Sugar interferes with the ability of magnesium to properly nourish cells, which is essential for the normal relaxation of blood vessels, which controls blood pressure. Cutting out sugar and supplementing with foods high in magnesium, such as KALE and other dark green leafy vegetables can help. You also may choose to use a magnesium supplement. Read labels carefully!

Magnesium oxide is not a good choice, and is included in many low quality commercial vitamin pills. A good choice is magnesium glycinate, which can help support the availability of magnesium which can normalize blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure.

Garlic and onions. Both of these foods are in the same plant family, (Allium genus), and have a variety of healthy effects. They can lower cholesterol levels, especially LDL (bad cholesterol) and help balance blood pressure. They contain natural components that can reduce inflammation and prevent the sticking together of blood platelets following high-fat meals that may lead to clotting. In addition they can help the body get rid of invading organisms that can cause a cold or flu!

Hawthorn. Hawthorn (Crataegus species) is a member of the rose family, with an extensive history of use as a natural medicine to support a healthy heart and to normalize blood pressure. Both the berries- similar to crab apples – and the leaves of hawthorn have been shown to decrease hardening of the arteries and to help improve blood flow by dilating and relaxing blood vessels.

Hibiscus . Hibiscus grows in many areas and is quite prolific in Florida. It’s easy to just pick a hibiscus flower, cut it up, and place it in a cup. Pour on boiled water and let it sit for 5 min and drink. Be sure the flowers have not recently been sprayed with toxic chemicals! Scientific studies have shown that hibiscus can significantly help to bring blood pressure into balance, and also tastes tangy and delicious!

Image Credit:
Hibiscus sabdariffa by Invertzoo [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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