A Unique Approach for Controlling High Blood Pressure
Imagine that you are working on a crossword puzzle and only 5 to 10% of the pieces fit. The rest don’t match. This is the way with high blood pressure. In 90 to 95% of the cases, the cause is unknown.
The known causes include:
- Coronary heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Kidney malfunction
Other known causes include various hormone imbalances in thyroid, parathyroid, and insulin levels.
Many drugs including oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory agents, nasal decongestants, and cocaine cause high blood pressure.
If you are diagnosed with hypertension your doctors most likely will try to find these obvious causes for your condition. They will administer a battery of specific tests to measure the level of functioning for each possible cause. A positive finding on anyone of these tests pinpoints your case as falling into the 5 to 10% category.
What about the other 95%? Here we are looking at contributing factors that not necessarily are the direct cause for your hypertension. We can lump most of these in the general category of “lifestyle.” Let’s take a few examples:
- Exercise: We know that exercise raises blood pressure temporarily, but then lowers it when the exercise is completed. To be useful and provide lasting benefit, exercise must be done each day, even if it is just walking for 15 to 20 minutes. A good way to promote regular exercise is to join an exercise class. You will be prompted to get up and out at a specific time and follow the instructor’s routine. You will also be able to socialize with other members of the group and share new ideas.
- Diet: Diet is essential to maintaining healthy blood pressure. When it comes to preventing hypertension, the intake of potassium and calcium in measured amounts will aid in regulating blood pressure. Salt intake is to be lowered to 2400 milligrams per day. Some doctors will recommend that you go on a salt-free diet. However, this can have dangerous side effects. Our bodies are electrical with our heart generating 2.4 watts of electricity. Salt is essential for the electrolytes that maintain this electrical circuit. A completely salt-free diet can cause dizziness, fatigue, and loss of energy. Often you need to go to the emergency room for treatment. What is the first thing they give you? It is a saline intravenous drip-salt. Your electrolytes start to function again and you feel better and are sent home. On the way out the door, the doctor says: “Don’t forget you are on a salt-free diet.” and the cycle starts all over again. Limit alcohol consumption and stop smoking. Limit your stress level. Avoid saturated fats.
Not all medical conditions are strictly physical. We must examine the interaction of mind and body in our search for the other 95% of unknown causes for hypertension. Let us examine some non-medical practices that will lower blood pressure.
- Deep Breathing: A controlled study was conducted on a large Japanese population using two groups, one that performed deep breathing and the other did not. Results indicated statistically that deep breathing does lower blood pressure. Deep breathing exercises are easy to do. Breathe in for 6 seconds, hold that breath for the count of 18 and exhale for 12 seconds. Do this 10 times each day.
- Meditation: Dr. James W. Anderson, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, conducted a study of subjects using meditation. His findings showed a decrease of 4.7 mm systolic blood pressure and 3.2 mm diastolic blood pressure. Here again the practice is simple. You can sit and visualize a peaceful scene or just sit quietly for fifteen minutes twice a day. One direct and measurable effect is that meditation lowers your brain waves into the Alpha State. These slower brain waves will help to lower stress and relax your normal body functions. With repetition, you will be able to lower your brain waves at will. Try this exercise. Go into a drug store and test your blood pressure. Let’s say your reading is 135 over 90. Now relax, quiet your mind, and focus. Do the test again. While the collar on your arm is tightening and loosening, meditate on your perfect blood pressure. This reading will probably show 125 over 70. The key is to quiet the mind and focus.
About the Author
Donna Shannon conducts workshops on Mind and Body in the United States and Canada. She believes that both the mind and body promote healthy well being. She often writes about what causes high blood pressure and tips on controlling it at eHealthMD.