What is hypertension or high blood pressure?
The circulatory system is responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients, this process is carried out through a complex network formed by capillaries, veins and arteries distributed throughout the body.
For this to happen the heart, the motor that pumps the blood, must contract and expand rhythmically, this movement is called the heartbeat.
With each beat the amount of blood pumped from the heart to the arteries exerts a pressure and distinguishes between systolic pressure when this happens, and diastolic pressure as the resting point the heart has between beats.
In order to measure an individual’s blood pressure, diastolic and systolic pressure values need to be obtained from him, and according to this a reading can be made that provides information about the patient’s condition.
There are some established parameters within which they are distinguished:
- Normal blood pressure: 120/80
- Prehypertension: between 120/80 and 140/90
- High blood pressure: + 140/90 or more
These values may vary depending on age (increases with age), gender (usually women have lower values than men), or the physical activity being developed (during sleep the values are lower).
For the heart having hypertension is just as dangerous a problem as having too much cholesterol or addiction to tobacco, and can cause strokes, heart failure and death.
Factors that cause hypertension
Blood pressure may be affected by changes related to body function caused by genetic or environmental factors.
- Genetic factors. Hypertension is hereditary, this conclusion has been reached after many genes and related mutations have been identified, although this only occurs in less than 3% of cases.
New research suggests that certain changes that occur during fetal development also later influence an individual’s blood pressure.
- Environmental factors. Among which we find the main causes detailed below:
- Unhealthy lifestyle. Eating high-sodium diets, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and not engaging in any physical activity makes an individual prone to hypertension.
- Overweight and Obesity. The heart of a person who suffers from either of these conditions is forced to make an overexertion that increases the pressure exerted by the flow of blood in the blood vessels.
- Medications. Hormone, asthma, or cold treatments can change the way your body regulates the amount of salt and fluid in your body. They can also stimulate the contraction of blood vessels.
- Other diseases. Tumors, sleep apnea, problems with the thyroid glands, or chronic kidney disease can also affect the functioning of the circulatory system and the body as a whole.
This disease usually does not show symptoms until it is already in a severe, chronic state. Under these conditions, when an individual suffers for a long time this condition is prone to develop different complications. Some of them are detailed below:
- Aneurysms: These are bumps that develop abnormally on the walls of the arteries. They can grow for years without causing discomfort until they burst, blocking blood flow. Symptoms vary depending on where the aneurysm occurs.
- Chronic Kidney Disease: Occurs with narrowing of the blood vessels of the kidneys causing kidney failure.
- Cognitive changes: In the long term, high blood pressure causes damage such as lack of concentration and memory loss.
- Eye Injuries: The affected individual may suffer blindness or vision changes if the blood vessels in the eyes burst or bleed.
- Heart Attack: Occurs when the oxygen-laden blood supply to the heart is blocked, manifested by severe chest pain, general physical discomfort and stiffness, and shortness of breath.
- Heart Failure: Occurs when the heart does not pump enough blood to the body. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, tiredness, swelling in the lower limbs of the body.
- Peripheral arterial disease: It occurs when fat deposits accumulate in the arteries of the legs that hinder the circulation of blood causing cramps, heaviness, pain or numbness in legs, feet and buttocks.
- Stroke: Occurs when the brain does not receive the necessary amount of oxygen-charged blood, resulting in weakness, paralysis, difficulty speaking and seeing.
The treatment of hypertension varies depending on the cause that caused it, but basically in all cases what is applied is treatment through specific drugs and a change of life to a healthier model that includes practices such as:
- Eat healthy foods. Those with a high salt and sodium content, red meat, palm and coconut oil, drinks with excess sugar or artificial sweeteners are discouraged.
- Increase physical activity: Aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, running) is recommended for at least 20 minutes a day, preferably in open spaces, which will help oxygenate the body properly.
- Controlling weight: Keeping overweight and obesity at bay is an important point, for this you have to take into account the I.M.C. (body mass index), which can be obtained using a calculator like this. The results may be in between:
-18.5: Low weight
18.5/24.9: Healthy Weight
Another indicator of being overweight is the size of the waist circumference, which should be around 88.9 cm for women and 101.6 cm for men. If these values are exceeded, there is a risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Limiting alcohol consumption: In addition to increasing blood pressure, alcohol also increases the amount of calories, which can lead to being overweight.
- Managing stress: Maintaining a good attitude to the stress of daily living will help reduce blood pressure. For this, it is recommended to practice sports, meditation and other activities that contribute to wellness.
Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure
As explained above, blood pressure is directly influenced by how the kidneys work and how they process the salt and sodium we consume.
Therefore, in order to avoid high blood pressure problems, it is important to eat food that facilitates their elimination and avoids the retention of liquids.
Below is a list of natural foods and home remedies that will help control high blood pressure:
- Garlic: Dilates the arteries and prevents the formation of thrombus. Eat raw at least once a day.
- Lemon and parsley: The combination of both ingredients has great diuretic power. The preparation is very simple, just liquefy a lemon (including the peel) with a handful of parsley.
Another option is to drink the juice of a lemon mixed with half a glass of warm water. In both cases it is recommended to do it on an empty stomach.
- Oats: High in soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, which helps stabilize blood pressure. It is recommended to take as part of breakfast mixed with fresh fruit and honey.
- Banana: Contains a high level of potassium, necessary for proper kidney function, it is recommended to eat this fruit at least once a day.
- Yogurt: Contains calcium and probiotics that help improve the absorption of nutrients, so it is recommended to take it regularly. Preferably if it is natural, without any additives.
- Omega 3: Helps maintain the elasticity and strength of blood vessels, can be found in foods such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and salmon.