What to Do If Blood Pressure Is High?

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When your blood pressure raises higher than normal, this can be harmful to the blood flow of your cardiovascular system if left untreated. If your blood flow is affected or doesn’t run as well as it should, this would have an effect to the nutrients and oxygen supply to the cells /tissues of your body. So, it is important to control blood pressure at its normal levels. But when it is high, what you should do?

What is the target?

Since most cases of hypertension (high blood pressure) is closely associated with diet and lifestyles, once it backs to normal, this doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Still, a balanced diet and lifestyle changes are required to help keep it off in long term.

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Before starting your plan, you need to know the goal of your treatment How far you should decrease the level of your high blood pressure?

Normal blood pressure is around 120 mm Hg for systolic pressure and 80 mm Hg for diastolic pressure – or we can say 120 /80 mm Hg. But some experts recommend keeping lower than 115 /75 mm Hg for best result in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

When you check it with a pressure-measuring gauge & an inflatable arm cuff, there are two different numbers you will find – the top and bottom numbers. The top number is medically called as systolic number. And the bottom number is called diastolic.

What do the numbers of blood pressure mean?

Systolic number that you get from a blood pressure monitor describes the pressure inside the blood vessels (especially your arteries) when your heart beats (when pumping the blood). Therefore, it is usually higher than diastolic number.

Diastolic number describes the pressure inside your arteries when you heart is not beating, between beats. In general, systolic and diastolic pressure is given in mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).

The range of blood pressure is categorized into 4 major groups: level II and I hypertension, pre-hypertension, and normal.

Level II of hypertension

This level is the most dangerous level in which your systolic pressure is higher than 160 mm Hg, and higher than 100 mm Hg for diastolic pressure.

Having level II of hypertension could be a warning signal of serious health condition and must be treated promptly. Typically, lifestyle approaches is not enough to deal with – medical intervention is often involved.

Level I of hypertension

Your blood pressure is categorized into level I of hypertension if your systolic pressure ranges from 140 mm Hg to 159 mm Hg. And from 90 mm Hg to 99 mm Hg for diastolic pressure [1]!

Pre-hypertension

This category is the level between normal and level I of hypertension. It is a condition when your systolic pressure is about 120 – 139 mm Hg, and about 80 – 89 mm Hg for diastolic pressure.

Normal level

As mentioned before, the good /normal levels of systolic pressure are about 120-115 mm Hg or lower. And about 80 – 75 mm Hg or lower for diastolic pressure!

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What to do if your blood pressure is high?

If you develop secondary hypertension, lifestyle approaches or home remedies alone are usually not enough, depending on several factors such as how well the underlying cause is managed. Secondary hypertension is usually caused by certain health problem (e.g. kidney disease and diabetes complication). A number of tests are required to find out the exact cause of the problem [2].

But most cases of hypertension are essential hypertension (this type is closely influenced by diet and lifestyle factors) [3]. In many cases, essential hypertension only requires a few lifestyle approaches to deal with, though medications are also required in some cases.

High blood pressure medications

When it is too high (level I and level II hypertension), you need to make it back to normal as soon as possible and therefore medical intervention is usually needed.

Sometimes due to certain reasons, doctors prescribe medicines for any stages of hypertension. Below are some of the common ones.

  1. Diuretics. This medicine can help the kidneys in removing water and sodium (salt) from the body. The decreased salt will lower blood pressure. Diuretics are usually the first line of medicine prescribed by doctor to treat hypertension. These include Lozol, Dyrenium, Hygroton and Thalitone.
  2. Beta blockers. This kind of medicine decreases the heartbeats of the heart. The decreased heartbeats can help prevent the heart from pumping harder than usual, decreasing pressure inside the arteries. Tenormin, Inderal, Cartrol, and Blocadren are some examples of beta blockers.
  3. ACE inhibitors. They prevent the body in making hormone called angiotensin II. This hormone can trigger the body to tighten the blood vessels. The decline of this hormone will help relax the blood vessels. Monopril, Capoten, Univasc, Prinivil and Zestril are some examples of ACE inhibitors.
  4. Alpha-blockers. They work almost similar to ACE inhibitors. They decrease the nerve impulses that ask the blood vessels to tighten, causing blood vessels relaxed. These include Minipress, Hytrin, and Cardura.
  5. Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs) or also often called as ‘calcium antagonist’. These include Sular, Norvasc, Plendil, DynaCirc, Cardene, and Adalat. They slow the heart rates.
  6. ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers). They are another choice to help make the arteries remain relaxed. For examples; Teveten, Diovan, Avapro, and Atacand.
  7. Other medicines may include direct vasodilators, direct renin inhibitors, and peripheral-acting adrenergic blockers – these medicines have the same goal to make the artery walls remain relaxed – and central agonists that targets the brain’s receptors to lower high blood pressure.

How does your GP /doctor determine which one of those medicines that work best? There are several factors to consider, these include:

  1. The key of the reason ‘cause’ behind your hypertension.
  2. The level of your high blood pressure levels.
  3. The respond of your body to medicines.

Moreover, if you have other certain health conditions, this may also factor into the decision.

Stress management

Though it’s still not clear for the answer of how stress affects and increases the blood pressure, but many studies have confirmed that uncontrolled stress is linked with higher risk of heart disease, heart-beats problem, and hypertension.

Sometime stress is inevitable condition – you may not be able to prevent it, but you can control it. Learn more on how to control and manage stress in here!

DASH diet

DASH diet (the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is typically low in salt, saturated fats, and cholesterol – on the other hand it is high in fiber and eating more whole foods instead of processed foods. It can be combined with TLC diet (a diet that is specially designed to help lower cholesterol).

For more detailed information about foods to eat and avoid lower cholesterol and treat hypertension, here is helpful guide!

Keep active to get plenty of physical activity

Becoming sedentary, an inactive individual would be bad for your cardiovascular system. Therefore, it’s important to have regular exercise – even though when your level is normal. Regular exercise can help lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and stabilize your heart-rates.

Furthermore, regular exercise is also vital to help maintain your weight. If you are overweight or obese, this can worsen your hypertension.

If you are older than 30, your exercise is not enough with only cardio exercises – strength training is needed to help your weight control.

Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid smoking!

Many studies found that the habit of drinking alcohol too much can have contribution in increasing blood pressure and cholesterol. For this reason, it’s important to drink it moderately (not more than one drink /day for women – and not more than 2 drinks for men).

How about cigarette smoking? We know well that it is bad for your entire health – even second hand smoke also has bad effect. Tobacco not only has contribution to cause a spike in blood pressure, but also it hurts the blood vessel walls and increases your risk of getting atherosclerosis.

So if you are a smoker, quitting would help a lot to treat your hypertension.

Are there any supplements that work?

Hypertension is a common condition affecting anyone, though it’s more common in elderly people. Therefore, alternative treatments (including supplements) are overwhelming out there.

Certain natural ingredients may help soothe the level. But it’s also important to choose the right one! Even some may cause negative reactions, which could be counterproductive for your blood pressure control. That’s why, ask your doctor first!

There are some supplements to choose from. Here are a few of them:

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