Abbigail Langstone- Wring. BSc FETC MAR FHT MCThA.
It would seem I have reached an age when nearly every friend or colleague I bump into ( not literally, I hasten to add ) is taking some form of medication following a diagnosis of high blood pressure. An example being a friend being recently diagnosed with high blood pressure and given medication by her GP after suffering 3 years of extreme stress.
Semi-retired she took on the role of carer to her elderly terminally ill father at his home. That in itself provided a host of challenging issues, not least of all the frustration of trying to engage and negotiate with social services and care agencies. In the same period of time extensive repair work was needed to her home that involved an insurance claim. Anybody that has had any form of dealings with insurance companies through making a claim will sympathize with her over that situation. Suffice to say that the helpful and friendly attitude portrayed in insurance company adverts on TV rarely reflect reality. Having listened to her story, I wondered if the prolonged level of stress she had suffered had played a role in the development of her diagnosis. If this was the case what early interventions could I as a Complementary Therapist have offered.
Experts agree that the primary cause of hypertension is closely linked to diet and lifestyle. Poor or inappropriate diet, lack of exercise, smoking and stress are factors that often require a change in behaviour. To successfully achieve any form of change, identification of the underlying cause will need to be addressed. Counselling (talking through problems) Clinical Reflexology (relaxation of the nervous systems) Nutrition ( food intolerance testing ) and Homoeopathy ( remedies to support the emotional and physical body ) may prove supportive whilst the process of change is taking place.
Other issues that can affect blood pressure may be linked to kidney problems, hormonal imbalances especially adrenal gland malfunction. In some cases pregnancy may be responsible for rises in blood pressure. It is useful to note that the natural process of aging may affect blood pressure alongside genetic predisposition as hypertension can run in families. In which case early recognition of symptoms is important and can go unnoticed until a critical point is reached.
Severe hypertension may result in sleepiness, confusion, headache, nausea and vomiting. The following brief description will help illustrate how blood pressure is measured. As blood is pumped through the arteries, circulating the body, it exerts pressure on the arterial wall. The pressure exerted by this contraction is the systolic pressure. Between heartbeats the heart relaxes and the pressure drops, this lower measurement is the diastolic pressure. Normal blood pressure readings are 120 (systolic)/80 (diastolic) Hypertension is when this pressure is above a normal level. Putting the circulatory system under strain and indicating risk of stroke or heart attack.
Levels of blood pressure readings can be divided thus :-
Prehypertension 120–139/ 80-89
Borderline 120-160 /90-94
Mild 140-160 /95-104
Moderate 140-180 / 105-114
Severe 160 +/ 115+
Returning to my friend and her high blood pressure my advice would have been to talk through worries with a friend or professional counsellor.
Manage stress by putting in place coping strategies.
These might include learning relaxation techniques such as mindfulness.
Exercise can be an excellent de- stressor but should be appropriate (consult your GP before embarking on a fitness regime) According to medical advice regular aerobic exercise is extremely important to cardio-vascular health.
Diet has a direct effect on blood pressure. Obesity and excess alcohol are two components that need to be addressed. Achieving ideal body weight is the most important recommendation for reducing hypertension even a moderate weight loss will positively affect blood pressure.Reducing salt, sugar and saturated fats are well documented factors to consider when trying to reduce weight. Food intolerances in some people have the ability to affect weight and blood pressure. Stimulants such as Tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar and especially chemical food additives( E621 )are often recommended to be avoided. ©AW/2017