Hypertension (high blood pressure), is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is constantly high.
Blood pressure is measured in mm Hg. Systolic blood pressure refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart. Diastolic blood pressure refers to your blood pressure when your heart is between beats.
Understanding blood pressure readings
There are four blood pressure levels, low, normal, slightly high and high:
- Low - 90/60mm Hg
- Normal - 120/80mm Hg
- Slightly high - 140/90mm Hg
- High - 190/100mm Hg
Symptoms of hypertension include a high blood pressure of more than 140/90mmHg, stress, red eyes, headaches and light headedness. Hypertension can cause cardiovascular diseases (heart disease).
Causes of hypertension
The ancient Chinese knew the causes of hypertension for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese medicine the causes are excessive heat, stress and anxiety. An active, overly stressed mind can cause hypertension as the mind is housed in the blood in Chinese medicine theory.
In western medicine, the causes of hypertension are:
- Age - the risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you get older
- A family history of high blood pressure
- Being of African or Caribbean origin
- a high amount of salt in your diet
- A lack of exercise
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol
- Sleep deprivation
Acupuncture for hypertension
Most people with hypertension take antihypertensive medication but these have side effects.
The ancient Chinese have been able to treat hypertension for centuries. Acupuncture treatment uses specific points on the body to control blood pressure by reducing stress and anxiety thereby reducing hypertension without side effects. It can also reduce the frequency of headaches.
Research using controlled trial have shown that the effects of acupuncture significantly reduced high blood pressure in the treatment group when compared to the control group. Medical acupuncture was not used.
Changes to lifestyle and diet must also be made to combat hypertension, for example, exercising (cardio and yoga), practising mindfulness, reducing consumption of alcohol, red meat and salt.
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