Blood pressure (BP), sometimes referred to as arterial blood pressure, is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels, and is one of the principal vital signs. When used without further specification, "blood pressure" usually refers to the arterial pressure of the systemic circulation. During each heartbeat, blood pressure varies between a maximum (systolic) and a minimum (diastolic) pressure. The blood pressure in the circulation is principally due to the pumping action of the heart. Differences in mean blood pressure are responsible for blood flow from one location to another in the circulation. The rate of mean blood flow depends on the resistance to flow presented by the blood vessels. Mean blood pressure decreases as the circulating blood moves away from the heart through arteries and capillaries due to viscous losses of energy. Mean blood pressure drops over the whole circulation, although most of the fall occurs along the small arteries and arterioles. Gravity affects blood pressure via hydrostatic forces (e.g., during standing) and valves in veins, breathing, and pumping from contraction of skeletal muscles also influence blood pressure in veins.
The measurement blood pressure without further specification usually refers to the systemic arterial pressure measured at a person's upper arm and is a measure of the pressure in the brachial artery, major artery in the upper arm. A personís blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over diastolic pressure and is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg), for example 140/90.
There must be a sensible hope despite the information that high blood pressure may be stealthily involved in the following:
Raised coronary heart problems
Risk of congestive heart failure
Increased risk of strokes
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms and high blood pressure often is labeled "the silent killer." People who have high blood pressure typically don't know it until their blood pressure is measured.
Sometimes people with markedly elevated blood pressure may develop:
nausea and vomiting, and
chest pain and shortness of breath.
People often do not seek medical care until they have symptoms arising from the organ damage caused by chronic (ongoing, long-term) high blood pressure. The following types of organ damage are commonly seen in chronic high blood pressure:
Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
Eye damage with progressive vision loss
Peripheral arterial disease causing leg pain with walking (claudication)
Outpouchings of the aorta, called aneurysms
About 1% of people with high blood pressure do not seek medical care until the high blood pressure is very severe, a condition known as malignant hypertension.
In malignant hypertension, the diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) often exceeds 140 mm Hg.
Malignant hypertension may be associated with headache, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and stroke like symptoms
Malignant hypertension requires emergency intervention and lowering of blood pressure to prevent brain hemorrhage or stroke.
It is of utmost importance to realize that high blood pressure can be unrecognized for years, causing no symptoms but causing progressive damage to the heart, other organs, and blood vessels.
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes and natural remedies may help to control high blood pressure, but your doctor may also recommend medication to lower high blood pressure. It is important to work with your doctor, because untreated high blood pressure may damage organs in the body and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, kidney disease, and vision loss. See a drawing of a hypertensive heart.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
There is some evidence that the supplement CoQ10 may help to reduce high blood pressure. A 12 week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 83 people with systolic hypertension examined the effect of CoQ10 supplements (60 mg twice daily). After the 12 weeks, there was a mean reduction in systolic blood pressure of 17.8 mm Hg in the Coq10-treated group.
Another study conducted at the University of Western Australia looked at the effect of CoQ10 on blood pressure and glycemic control in 74 people with type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 100mg CoQ10 twice daily, 200mg of the drug fenfibrate, both, or neither for 12 weeks.
CoQ10 significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure(mean reduction 6.1 mm Hg and 2.9 mm Hg respectively). There was also a reduction in HbA1C, a marker for long-term glycemic control.
In a meta-analysis of seven randomized controlled trials of garlic supplements, three trials showed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and four in diastolic blood pressure. Researchers concluded that garlic powder supplement may be of clinical use in patients with mild high blood pressure.
Garlic supplements should only be used under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Garlic can thin the blood (reduce the ability of blood to clot) similar to aspirin. Garlic may interact with many drugs and supplements such as the prescription drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) or Trental (pentoxifylline), aspirin, vitamin E, gingko. It is usually recommended that people taking garlic stop in the weeks before and after any type of surgery.
The herb hawthorn is often used by traditional herbal practitioners for high blood pressure.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted by researchers in Reading, UK, 79 patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive either 1200 mg of hawthorn extract a day or placebo for 16 weeks. Medication for high blood pressure was used by 71 percent of the patients.
At the end of the 16 weeks, patients taking the hawthorn supplement had a significant reduction in mean diastolic blood pressure (2.6 mm Hg). No herb-drug interactions were reported.
Preliminary studies suggest that fish oil may have a modest effect on high blood pressure. Although fish oil supplements often contain both DHA (docohexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), there is some evidence that DHA is the ingredient that lowers high blood pressure. Learn more about fish oil.
Folate is a B vitamin necessary for formation of red blood cells. It may help to lower high blood pressure in some people, possibly by reducing elevated homocysteine levels.
One small study of 24 cigarette smokers found that four weeks of folic acid supplementation significantly lowered blood pressure. Learn more about folic acid.