Do You Know About Hypertension?
Do you know the Western definition of normal blood pressure? In fact, the standard for each country is different.
Previously, the American College of Cardiology stated that systolic blood pressure above 140 mm Hg, and diastolic blood pressure above 100 mm Hg was considered high blood pressure, but in 2017 they changed their definition so that systolic pressure above 130 mm Hg, and diastolic blood pressure above 80 mm Hg became the standard for high blood pressure.
In a still earlier period, high blood pressure was defined as systolic blood pressure above 170 mm Hg.
What do all these different and shifting parameters imply?
It reveals that the standard of blood pressure is defined by people and not by some divine, universal authority on high. In fact, these broad standards are unreasonable because they do not consider the age, gender, occupation, height, and weight of the individual.
That the blood pressure of a 70 year-old man and a 10 year-old girl should be both systolic 120 mm Hg and diastolic 80 mm Hg is simply unreasonable. As the elasticity blood vessels declines with age, blood pressure will naturally be higher for the elderly. This is a reasonable and natural phenomenon.
Therefore, blood pressure should not have a single standard which is applied to everyone. When functioning properly, our bodies will automatically adjust the blood pressure that suits our physical constitution and activity level, so if you don’t feel any discomfort in your head, such as dizziness or light-headedness, there is no need to worry about your blood pressure.
But if there are frequent episodes of discomfort in the head, like headaches or dizziness, this indicates there is a problem in some aspects of the body. When this occurs, we should discover where the problem is. This is our responsibility as a therapist of Chinese Medicine. If you feel uncomfortable and come to us, we have to figure out what’s wrong inside your body and provide solutions.
Do you know how high blood pressure is formed?
Our heart beats unceasingly and sends blood to the whole body. After the heart pumps out each heartbeat of blood, the blood immediately enters the aorta. The aorta transports the blood by continuously expanding and contracting.
From the aorta, the blood will be sent to the arteries and capillaries and circulated throughout all parts of the body. In the human body, the blood has greater difficulty reaching some parts of body, especially the extremities: the top of the head, the fingertips, and the point farthest from the heart, the toes.
Our body's blood flow is the same as that of a river. In the upstream headwaters of a river, the water flows very fast and clear with no siltation. But in the downstream sections of the river, the water flows more slowly and sediment begins to accumulate.
Similarly, when the viscosity of the blood increases, the blood flow grows slower, and plaque and other obstructions are deposited on the blood vessel walls. Over time, blood flow becomes ever slower, but the body resists this restriction of blood flow, because every cell in the body needs the nutrients transported by blood, and only with sufficient nutrients can cellular metabolism continue.
When the blood flow becomes slower, the extremities –the brain, hands and feet– will all produce warning signs. For example, one’s hands will feel numb or painful, and one’s head will experience pain or dizziness. If blood flow is seriously restricted, the organs, muscles, and cells of whole body issue an alert: "I need nutrients! Send me nutrients quickly!”
So when our body finds that blood flow becomes restricted, it has to increase the blood pressure. It is very taxing on the body to raise the blood pressure. At this time, the kidneys must continue to secrete hormones to contract muscle tissue and increase blood pressure, in order to restore blood flow to normal, and to ensure that the limbs and extremities have enough nutrients.
Hence there are usually a series of interconnected and natural reasons for elevated blood pressure.
And so when your doctor diagnoses you with high blood pressure, they will prescribe pills to lower your blood pressure. If you take these pills to reduce your blood pressure, what will happen?
First, the kidneys will suffer, because the kidneys have spent a great deal of effort to raise the blood pressure, by taking pills to lower the blood pressure, this works against the function of the kidneys.
Therefore, if antihypertensive drugs are taken for a long time, the kidneys will become stressed, and may impact kidney function to the point that you will need to undergo dialysis. Once you start kidney dialysis, a large amount of nutrients is discharged through dialysis and thus cannot be recycled by the body. This means the kidneys will be deprived of nutrients and become even weaker.
When the kidneys become weaker, their function is further impaired, so you become increasingly dependent upon dialysis. As this cycle intensifies, there is no way to restore normal kidney function.
So do you think taking pills to lower blood pressure is a good idea?
Of course not!
What can you do?
Now you have a better choice: acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Many patients with high blood pressure are also accompanied by elevated cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood (hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia). This is because excessive cholesterol and lipid levels cause the blood to become more viscous, so the flow of blood will become slower. Eventually this restriction of blood flow will lead to elevated blood pressure.
People with high blood pressure must exercise every day, eat fewer dairy products, meat, and greasy foods. We have effective Chinese medicines to improve blood circulation, and acupuncture can also be used.
Some people have problems or blockages in their neck which make it more difficult for the heart to supply blood to the head. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help the Qi inside meridians in the neck flow smoothly, which in turn will help reduce your blood pressure.