Do you know if your blood pressure is too high, or too low or is it just right? It is often hard to tell as there as there are no specific symptoms to watch out for.
Blood pressure is a measure of the amount of force exerted on your artery walls by your heart pumping blood around your body. It is naturally higher during exercise but if it is high when you are at rest then your heart is being overworked and you are putting a lot of stress on your blood vessels which will make you more vulnerable to having a heart attack or stroke in the long term.
Your blood pressure is considered too high if your systolic pressure (the pressure when your heart pumps blood to your body) is greater than 140mm Hg and when your diastolic pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart is filling up) is greater than 90 mm Hg.
High blood pressure is more common in men as compared to women before the age of 50 years old and 1 in 7 Australians have high blood pressure (or hypertension). It is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that can contribute to this but it is essentially a warning sign that something in your lifestyle needs to change.
Some factors that contribute to hypertension include:
- Chronic stress
- A diet high in processed foods (as these generally contain too much poor quality salt and trans fats)
- Consuming too much alcohol
- Not exercising enough
- Some medications
Leading a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to both treat and prevent hypertension, and most diseases to be honest. 40% of people can successfully lower their blood pressure just by making adjustments to their lifestyle. The others need some extra support and clinical evidence shows a potentially positive effect with treatments such as acupuncture and Chinese medicine. A meta-analysis of randomised sham-controlled clinical trials (Li 2014) showed that Acupuncture plus medication is superior to just taking medication alone.
So take a look at the factors that contribute to hypertension and see what changes you can make in your life. Most of these factors contribute to ill health in general so making changes will help you feel better at so many levels. Nearly half of people aged 50 or older take at least five drugs or supplements on a typical day so if you can make some lifestyle changes then you may not need to spend the rest of your life popping pills with unpleasant side effects.
Often the best first step is to start introducing some exercise into your daily routine. Make the time to get out into nature and have a swim at the beach or a walk around the park. With the weather starting to warm up this will be easier to do. Getting some exercise will encourage you to breath more deeply and help shift you out of stress mode as well as helping you to lose weight.
The next step is to start eating real FOOD (Fresh vegetables and fruit, Occasional meat, Omega-3 fatty acids, Drink plenty of fresh water) and cut out the CRAP (Carbonated drinks, Refined sugars, Artificial sweeteners, Processed food). Nourishing your body will help you have more energy to do the things you want to do as well as cope with the things you don’t want to do. You will also notice your weight begin to drop.
These two step alone already address most of the issues related to high blood pressure and as you start to feel better, less stressed and more energised it will become easier to cut back on alcohol and smoking which will help you feel even more amazing.
If you need help with any of these steps, then see your local Chinese medicine practitioner. As noted above acupuncture can help you lower your blood pressure. It can also help lower your stress levels. It is beneficial to rebalance your metabolism, help you lose weight and help lift your energy levels. Acupuncture can also help you quit smoking and detox from any substance abuse. Ideally 2-3 treatments per week for a month can give you lasting results but even treatments once per week over 2-3 months can be extremely beneficial.
What if you have low blood pressure or hypotension? Low blood pressure can contribute to feelings of dizziness, weakness, fatigue, or fainting.
Some factors that contribute to hypotension include:
- Blood loss
- Some medications
Once again you can help yourself by eating well to support your body in replenishing its blood supply and drinking enough to stay well hydrated. Acupuncture can help support you through your pregnancy or help bring you back into balance if you have a regular heavy menstrual cycle or have just had surgery.
Whether your blood pressure is too high or too low you can make a change and change your life.
Your feedback and questions are always welcome so please leave a comment below.
For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Tania Grasseschi (Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Wholefood counselling). Tania is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (AHPRA registered) in Kingsford and is a Contract Academic at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Sydney campus.