What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body.
However, problems can occur if our blood pressure is too high or too low.
How does blood pressure work?
As your heart beats, it pumps your blood round your body so that your muscles can get all the energy and oxygen they need. To do this, your heart pushes your blood through a network of blood vessels called arteries. As the blood travels through the arteries it pushes against the sides of these blood vessels and the strength of this pushing is called your blood pressure.
As your heart squeezes and pushes your blood through your arteries, your blood pressure goes up. As your heart relaxes, your blood pressure goes down. So, with each heartbeat, your blood pressure will rise to a maximum level and then fall to a minimum level.
When you have your blood pressure taken, the result is given as two numbers – the maximum and minimum levels. This is shown as one number over another, for example:
You would hear this reading said as “110 over 80”.The first or top number is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart is squeezing. This is called your systolic blood pressure level. The second or bottom number is the lowest level of your blood pressure when your heart is relaxing. This is called your diastolic pressure.
Why is blood pressure important?
Blood pressure is important because the higher your blood pressure is, the higher your risk of health problems in the future.
If your blood pressure is high, it is putting extra strain on your arteries and on your heart. Over time, this strain can cause the arteries to become to become thicker and less flexible, or to become weaker.
If your arteries become thicker and less flexible, they will become more narrow, making them more likely to become clogged up. If an artery becomes completely clogged up (known as a clot), this can lead to a heart attack, a stroke, kidney disease or dementia.
More rarely, if an artery has become weakened, the extra strain may eventually lead to the artery bursting. This may also cause a heart attack or stroke.
What is high blood pressure?
To have high blood pressure, your blood pressure must be consistently equal to or higher than 140/90mmHg over a number of weeks (if you have diabetes or kidney problems a lower level might be used).
It is worth knowing that you can have high blood pressure if just one of your numbers is consistently higher than it should be. In other words you may be told you have high blood pressure if your maximum or top number (systolic pressure) is consistently equal to or higher than 140 even if your minimum or lower number (diastolic pressure) never reaches 90 and vice versa.
High blood pressure is never diagnosed after just one reading. This is because there can be many reasons why you could have a one-off raised reading. For example, you might have a slightly raised blood pressure because you were feeling tense, had recently had some tea, coffee or cola, or you had been rushing around. Your doctor will usually be looking for a series of high readings, taken over a period of weeks, unless your blood pressure is particularly high to begin with in which case you will receive treatment immediately.
Many people ask if their age makes a difference in the levels used to diagnose high blood pressure. The answer is no: 140/90mmHg is the benchmark for everyone, regardless of whether they are 19 or 89 years old.
What is low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure is defined as having a blood pressure that is below 90/60mmHg.
Blood pressure can vary over a wide range. For instance, when the heart is pushing the blood round the body, your blood pressure can reach a top or maximum (systolic) level of anywhere between 90 to 240 mmHg and, when your heart is relaxing, your blood pressure can fall to a bottom or minimum (diastolic) level of between 40 to 160 mmHg.
About a hundred years ago it was first recognised that high blood pressure was a major cause of strokes and heart attacks. At this time, it was also thought that low blood pressure was a major cause of depression and tiredness.
This fall in blood pressure on standing is likely to cause symptoms of fainting and/or dizziness.
Normally, when you stand up blood tends to pool in the veins in your legs. This is stopped by nerves, which contract the veins in your legs ensuring that enough blood returns to your heart and that there is no reduction in the amount of blood that your heart pumps. This maintains the blood supply to your brain.
However, if there is pooling of blood in your veins, less blood returns to your heart and less is pumped out which means a reduction in the amount of blood going to your brain. This causes symptoms of dizziness and some people may faint. This is exactly what happens to guards on parade when they faint because they have been standing in one position for too long. You can mimic this effect when you squat down for a while, for instance when looking at books on a low shelf, and then stand up suddenly.
Therefore, if you have a low blood pressure and you also have symptoms of dizziness or faintness when standing up suddenly you should have your blood pressure checked by your doctor, both when you are lying down and when you then stand up. This drop in blood pressure when you stand up is called postural hypotension.
What is normal blood pressure?
Blood pressure usually ranges between 90 to 250 for the top or maximum number (systolic) and 60 to 140 for the bottom or minimum number (diastolic).
Because the risk of heart attack and stroke goes up as a person’s blood pressure rises, it is best to try to lower your blood pressure even if you don’t have high blood pressure. For example someone with a blood pressure of 135/85 is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the future as someone with a blood pressure of 115/75. So, the lower you can get your blood pressure now, the better.
What the different blood pressure readings mean
- Less than 120 over 80: Your blood pressure is normal and healthy. Follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it at this level.
- Between 120 over 80 and 140 over 90: Your blood pressure is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it. Make healthy changes to your lifestyle.
- 140 over 90 or higher (over a number of weeks): You have high blood pressure. Change your lifestyle – see your doctor or nurse and take any medicines they may give you.
can we find out if blood pressure is okay? Won’t we feel different if we have high blood pressure?
Unfortunately, most people don’t feel any different when they have high blood pressure. Although many people think that high blood pressure will give you headaches or dizziness, the truth is that very few people with high blood pressure ever experience these problems. The only way to know is to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
The best to way to look at having a regular blood pressure check is to think of it as part of an MOT for your body. Your blood pressure numbers should be something you know in the same way that you know how much you weigh or how tall you are.
Knowing your blood pressure levels, or as the Blood Pressure Association says “Knowing your Numbers” is a key way to having long and healthy life.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR LOW &
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Salt water helps treat low blood pressure because the sodium in salt increases blood pressure. Do not overdo this remedy though, as excess salt can prove to be unhealthy. Simply mix one-half teaspoon of salt in a glass of water and drink it. You can also drink sports beverages.
Having a cup of strong coffee, hot chocolate, cola, or any caffeinated beverage can also temporarily increase your blood pressure. If you frequently suffer from low blood pressure, drink a cup of coffee in the morning or have it along with meals, especially when dealing with orthostatic hypotension. But, do not make it a habit because the long-term effects of caffeine are not clear.
Raisins are a traditional Ayurvedic remedy that is considered excellent for treating hypotension naturally.
- Soak 30 to 40 raisins in a cup of water overnight.
- Eat them in the morning, one at a time, on an empty stomach. You can also drink the water in which the raisins were soaked.
- Follow this remedy for a few weeks or even a month.
You can take about four to five almonds, 10 to 15 black currants, and 15 to 20 peanuts along with a glass of milk.
Holy basil is beneficial for low blood pressure because it is rich in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and pantothenic acid. Furthermore, it helps balance the mind and reduces stress.
- Extract the juice of 10 to 15 basil leaves.
- Add one teaspoon of honey to it.
- Drink this juice daily on an empty stomach.
You can also chew four to five basil leaves daily in the morning.
Licorice root is another popular home remedy for normalizing low blood pressure caused by low levels of cortisol. It blocks the enzyme that breaks down cortisol and supports healthy adrenalin function. It is also effective in curing chronic fatigue syndrome.
- You can prepare licorice tea by steeping one teaspoon of this herb (dried or powdered) in a cup of boiling water for about five minutes. You can take it daily for a few days.
- Alternatively, you can take about 400-500 mg of licorice root capsules for a few days.
Raw beetroot juice is helpful in dealing with high as well as low blood pressure. For hypotension, drink a cup of beetroot juice twice daily for about one week. Other natural fruit juices are also considered helpful in this regard.
Almonds and Milk
This is another traditional home remedy for low blood pressure.
- Soak five to six almonds in water overnight.
- In the morning, peel off the skin and grind the almonds into a smooth paste.
- Finally, boil the paste in a cup of milk. Drink a cup of this every morning.
Rosemary is believed to be useful in normalizing low blood pressure because it stimulates the central nervous system and improves circulation. Take up to 10 ml of rosemary tincture per day. Having freshly prepared infusion with this herb or adding it to your foods is also useful. Furthermore, you can simply add three to four drops of rosemary essential oil in your diffuser for aromatherapy benefits.
Starting your day with fresh carrot juice mixed with a little honey is an easy way to treat low blood pressure.
- Take a glass of carrot juice.
- Mix two tablespoons of honey in it.
- Drink it twice daily (on an empty stomach in the morning and in the evening).
Lemon juice is highly effective in treating high blood pressure, but it can also be used for low blood pressure, especially when it is caused by dehydration. In such cases, you can drink some lemon juice mixed with a little salt and sugar. It helps energize your body by stimulating the liver function and aiding in digestion. A glass of sugarcane juice mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice and salt is also useful.
Along with these home remedies, get regular, mild exercise to promote blood flow. Avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting, though. Also, consult your doctor to check if any of your prescription medications are causing the problem.
Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious health problem that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or above is considered high.
Common causes or contributing factors of hypertension are obesity, genetic factors, excessive drinking, high salt intake, lack of aerobic exercise, stress, birth control pills, pain relievers, kidney disease, and adrenal disease.
Lemons help keep blood vessels soft and pliable and by removing any rigidity, high blood pressure will be reduced. In addition, you can help lower your chance of heart failure by consuming lemon juice regularly, due to its vitamin C content. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals.
Simply drink a cup of warm water with the juice from half a lemon added to it each morning on an empty stomach. For best results, do not add salt or sugar.
Watermelon seeds contain a compound called cucurbocitrin, which helps widen the blood capillaries. At the same time, it also helps improve kidney functioning. This in turn reduces blood pressure levels and also helps a lot with arthritis.
Also, a 2010 Florida State pilot study found that watermelon can help lower blood pressure due to its vasodilatory effect.
- Grind equal quantities of dried watermelon seeds and poppy seeds (khus khus). Take one teaspoon of this mixture in the morning on an empty stomach and again in the evening.
- Alternatively, add two teaspoons of gently crushed, dried watermelon seeds to one cup of boiled water. Steep it for about an hour, then strain it. Take four tablespoons of this water at regular intervals throughout the day.
Several studies have demonstrated blood pressure lowering effects of garlic. Both raw and cooked garlic help control high blood pressure and at the same time reduce cholesterol levels. Garlic helps relax blood vessels by stimulating the production of nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide.
- Eat one or two crushed garlic cloves daily. You can simply crush them with your hands. Crushing garlic cloves creates hydrogen sulfide, a compound that promotes good blood flow, removes gas and reduces the pressure on the heart. If you do not like eating raw garlic or if it causes a burning sensation, then take it along with a cup of milk.
- You can also mix five or six drops of garlic juice in four teaspoons of water and take it twice a day.
Bananas are one fruit that people with high blood pressure can eat regularly to control it. Bananas are a rich source of potassium, which lessens the effect of sodium.
So, try to eat one or two bananas daily. Along with bananas, you can try dried apricots, raisins, currants, orange juice, spinach, zucchini, baked sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and winter squash.
The high level of the phytochemical 3-N-butylphthalide present in celery greatly helps control high blood pressure. Phthalides help relax the muscles in and around arterial walls, thereby creating more space and allowing the blood to flow in without difficulty.
At the same time, it can help reduce the stress hormones that constrict blood vessels, which contributes to high blood pressure.
Try to eat one stalk of celery along with a glass of water daily. If you prefer, you can munch on celery throughout the day.
People with high blood pressure must keep their bodies well hydrated. It is a good idea to drink eight to 10 glasses of water daily. Coconut water is particularly beneficial for lowering blood pressure. Coconut water, being rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamin C can help decrease systolic blood pressure. Along with coconut water, you can also use coconut oil when cooking.
Those suffering from mild hypertension will benefit from eating cayenne pepper. It helps smooth blood flow by preventing platelets from clumping together and accumulating in the blood.
You can add some cayenne pepper to fruit or vegetable salad, or add a pinch to a bowl of soup. Because cayenne pepper is quite spicy, you only need to use a little bit.
Onions have also been found to lower your blood pressure due to the presence of an antioxidant flavonol called quercetin.
- Try to eat one medium-sized, raw onion daily.
- You can also mix one-half teaspoon each of onion juice and honey and take it twice a day for one to two weeks.
Honey can reduce pressure from the heart and it also has a calming effect on blood vessels, hence it can be helpful in reducing high blood pressure.
- Eat two teaspoons of honey on a empty stomach each morning.
- You can also mix one teaspoon each of honey and ginger juice with two teaspoons of cumin seed powder. Eat it twice a day.
- Another effective remedy is to mix basil juice and honey in equal amounts and have it on an empty stomach daily.
Fenugreek seeds are an effective ingredient for lowering high blood pressure due to their high potassium and dietary fiber content.
- Boil one to two teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in water for about two minutes, and then strain it.
- Put the seeds in a blender and mix it into a paste.
- Eat this paste twice a day, once in the morning on an empty stomach and once in the evening. Follow this remedy for two to three months to notice a significant improvement in your blood pressure level.
NOTE: PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS VERY IMPORTANT & ESSENTIAL TO FOLLOW YOUR DOCTOR’S MEDICATION, AND REGULAR CHECKUPS.
“Knowing your Numbers” is a key way to having long and healthy life.
NEVER FORGET HEALTH IS WEALTH