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Hypertension is called as High BP or high blood pressure in layman language. It is a condition where the blood flows through your blood vessels with a greater force than normal.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg.
Stages of Hypertension
Depending on your blood pressure readings, you can determine which stage of hypertension you’re suffering from:
- Pre-Hypertension – Systolic:120-139 mmHg, Diastolic: 80-89 mmHg. It can be managed by lifestyle modifications alone, no need of medications.
- Hypertension – Systolic:140-159 mmHg, Diastolic: 90-99 mmHg. It requires lifestyle modifications along with medicine.
- Severe Hypertension – Systolic>160 mmHg, Diastolic>100 mmHg. It needs rigorous treatment with combination of medicines along with lifestyle modifications.
Causes of Hypertension
- There is no definite cause for primary hypertension. It gradually develops as the age progresses due to unhealthy food habits like eating too much salt, preserved, canned foods, deep fried oily foods, stress, obesity, lack of physical exercise, hereditary reasons, drug abuse, using tobacco, alcohol and smoking.
- Secondary hypertension is caused due to underlying medical conditions and medications. It includes thyroid and kidney problems, sleep apnea, congenital defective blood vessels, tumors in the adrenal gland. Medications include birth control pills, painkillers, decongestants etc. can also cause hypertension.
Studies show increase in prevalence of hypertension among Indians in recent years. Data shows in urban populations that are exposed to stress of modernisation, the hypertension prevalence rates have more than doubled in the last 30 years. On the other hand, in rural populations there is only a small increase.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension
The most dangerous aspect of hypertension is that you may not know that you are suffering from it. Hence, it is also called as ‘the silent killer’. Initially, there are no symptoms and going for regular checkups is the only way to identify high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is extremely high you may notice the following symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Visual disturbance
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
- Bleeding nose
- Blood in urine
- Anxiety, confusion
Complications of Hypertension
If you fail to identify that you are suffering with hypertension or if you are not attempting to manage it by proper medication and lifestyle changes you may face the following complications:
- Kidney failure
- Heart attacks
- In a pregnant women high blood pressure may lead to preeclampsia,a very dangerous condition affecting both mother and baby.
- Loss of vision
- Trouble in memory and understanding
Management of Hypertension
Both lifestyle changes and medications play an equal role in management of hypertension.
Recommended Lifestyle Changes:
- If you are obese, reduce your weight
- Reduce the amount of salt intake in your diet
- Eat freshly prepared food, avoid preserved or canned food, pickles, sauces as they may contain sodium
- Minimise the intake of sea foods
- Restrict alcohol and smoking
- Avoid deep fried, oily food stuffs
- Include more vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy products
- Regular exercise like brisk walking, aerobics, yoga, etc at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week
- Avoid working hard under the hot sun
- Relax yourself by meditation, slow and deep breathing exercises
- Have sound sleep of 7-8 hours a day
- Go for regular checkups rather than just monitoring at home
Allopathic Medicines and Possible Side Effects:
Modern allopathic medicines include diuretics, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, Vasodilators, etc. These drugs are selected according to your age, stage of hypertension and other associated complications. These drugs may have side effects like:
- Increased urinary frequency
- Weakness, cramps in legs
- Erection problem in men
- Very rarely gout
- Sleep disturbance
- Dry cough
- Oedema in legs
Natural Remedies for Hypertension:
Natural remedies such as diet, exercise, herbs, meditation and yoga, which has no side effects, may be quite sufficient to manage hypertension. However, severe hypertension requires physician’s supervision. If you are already under medication, try ayurvedic remedies with your doctor’s knowledge. Later gradually you can reduce the dosage of your allopathic medicines.
Ayurvedic Remedies for Hypertension
- Mix ½ tsp of gokshuradi churna in 1 glass of milk , ½ glass of water and boil till it reduced to 1 glass. Drink this before going to bed.
- Boil 1 tablespoon of dashamoola churna in 1 liter of water and keep drinking this water instead of normal water.
- Mix punarnava, vidari, hawthorn berry in 1:1:2 ratio. Boil ½ tsp of this mixture in 1 glass of water and twice a day.
- Mix jatamamsi, musta, tagara in 2:2:1 ratio. Steep ½ tsp of this mixture in a glass of hot water for 10 minutes and drink twice daily.
- Shankhapushpi, Brahmi, Arjuna, punarnava, ashwagandha, sarpagandha churna’s are very effective in hypertension.
- Other formulations include dashamoola kashayam, punarnavadi kashayam, gokshuradi guggulu, punarnavadi guggulu, prabhakara vati, manasamitra vati, chandraprabha vati, etc.
- Ayurvedic therapies like abhyanga, shirodhara, shiropichu,thalam are very beneficial.
Home Remedies for Hypertension
- Add 1 teaspoon of honey in 1 glass of boiled and cooled water. Drink it in the early morning regularly. This helps to reduce cholesterol, maintains vasodilation, thus regulates blood pressure.
- Drink watermelon juice with pinch of cardamom and coriander powder. This will act as natural diuretic.
- Accompany your meals with cucumber.
- Prepare moong dal soup with pinch of turmeric,cumin seeds and coriander. Drink this regularly before dinner.
- Drink freshly prepared peach juice with pinch of cardamom and 1 tsp of coriander powder daily twice a day.
- Soak 1 or 2 rudraksha beads in a glass of water overnight and drink in early morning.
- Include more garlic and ginger in your cooking.
- Boil 1 tsp of coriander seeds in 1 glass of water and drink instead of normal tea.It is a good diuretic.
Yogasanas for Hypertension
- Ardhakati chakrasana, Trikonasana, Vikasasana, Garudasana, Bhujangasana, Vakrasana, Gomukhasana, Ustrasana, Savasana. In severe hypertension all asanas are contraindicated.
- Pranayama like Nadi suddhi, Sitali, Sitkari, Sadanta, Bhramari are very effective in managing hypertension.
- Practise deep relaxation regularly. Savasana is the effective way for relaxation. Lie flat on your back with arms by your sides, breathing slowly and deeply. Observe the flow of your breath and your abdomen movements. As you inhale your abdomen should bulge out, as you exhale it should sink in. You will notice that after each inhalation and exhalation there will be a quick pause. In that pause, stay quiet for few seconds. This practice will bring you deep relaxation. Practice this for 15 minutes daily.
Hypertension is a life threatening disease and will lead to serious complications if you do not take steps to bring down your high blood pressure. It is wise to practice all remedies under the guidance of an expert.
This article was written by Dr. Revathi Sundaramurthy. Please feel free to share your experiences or ask questions in the comments below.