Hypertension or high blood pressure is a risk factor which can increase the risk of developing a heart disease, stroke, and other serious conditions. Only in the U.S., more than 70 million adults are affected by hypertension, which means that 1 out of 3 adults is affected.
Do not forget to mention the fact that one-third of the Americans have prehypertension, a condition characterized by high blood pressure, but not yet HBP. This health problem costs the USA $46 billion a year, including the cost of health care services, treatment, and medications.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure refers to the increased blood pressure in the arteries usually caused by two main factors:
- The heart pumps blood too forcefully
- The smaller blood vessels of the body became narrow, thus causing the blood to exert more pressure
Causes of high blood pressure
The most common type of HBP is the Primary Hypertension. It is considered that genetic factors have a critical role in HBP including genes that affect blood pressure control and those that cause abnormalities of the sympathetic nervous system
Secondary Hypertension is a condition usually caused by an underlying medical condition or medications including:
- Endocrine disorders
- Diabetes type 1 and 2
- Birth control pills
- Birth defect in the aorta, (the main artery of the heart)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen (generic, Advil, Motrin), naproxen (generic, Aleve), and Aspirin
- Kidney disease
- Men over 45 and women over 55
- Family history
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Chronic stress
- Chronic alcohol use
- Physical inactivity
The harm in pharmaceutical treatment
There are many drugs which can be used for treating hypertension such as diuretics, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), beta blockers, Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARB), and -converting enzyme (ACE). Unfortunately, these drugs cause the individual to feel worse than the disease itself caused him to feel initially.
Treatment: Usually, these drugs are the first treatment prescribed in case of hypertension. They help the kidneys flush out excess water and salt in the body.
- Potassium-sparing diuretics – Amiloride (Midamor, generic), triamterene (Dyrenium, generic) and spironolactone (Aldactone, generic).
- Loop diuretics – ethacrynic acid (Edecrin, generic), furosemide (Lasix, generic), torsemide (Demadex, generic) and bumetanide (Bumex, generic).
- Thiazide diuretics – chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone, Clorpres), bendroflumethiazide (Naturetin), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), methyclothiazide (Enduran), indapamide (Lozol), and metolazone (Zaroxolyn)
Thiazide diuretics can lower the body’s potassium supply, thus increasing the risk for disturbances of heart rhythm. They are also related to elevated blood sugar levels, elevated uric acid levels, and erectile dysfunction.
- Urinary incontinence
- Depression and irritability
- Reduced sexual drive
Treatment: Beta blockers lower blood pressure levels and slow the heart rate.
Medication brands: acebutolol (Sectral), Propranolol (Inderal), nadolol (Corgard) atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), betaxolol (Kerlone), carteolol (Cartrol), timolol (Blocadren), pindolol (Visken), penbutolol (Levatol), carvedilol (Coreg), and nebivolol (Bystolic).
- They are not recommended for people with asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis because they can narrow bronchial airways
- When combined with a diuretic they increase the risk for diabetes
- Sudden withdrawals can increase blood pressure and heart rate, and lead to a heart attack or angina.
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Memory loss
- Reduced sexual drive
- Reduced exercising abilities
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Coldness in extremities (legs, arms, toes, and hands)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)
Treatment: They can reduce the overall workload of the heart and widen the blood vessels.
Medication brands: captopril (Capoten, generic), quinapril (Accupril, generic), enalapril (Vasotec, generic), perindopril (Aceon, generic), benazepril (Lotensin, generic), ramipril (Altace, generic), and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril, generic).
- Low blood pressure
- Unfit for pregnancy
- Irritating cough
Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBS)
Treatment: Just like in the case with ACE, they can lower blood pressure and widen blood vessels.
Medication brands: Losartan (Cozaar, Hyzaar, generic), candesartan (Atacand), telmisartan (Micardis), olmesartan (Benicar), valsartan (Diovan), eprosartan (Teveten), irbesartan (Avapro), and azilsartan (Edarbi).
- Raised potassium levels
- Nasal congestion
- Low blood pressure
- Unfit for pregnancy
Calcium-channel blockers (CCBS)
Treatment: They relax the blood vessels.
Medication brands: Diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), isradipine (DynaCirc), nicardipine (Cardene), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), nisoldipine (Sular), and nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia).
- Erectile dysfunction
- Food interactions
Herbs: The Natural Alternative to Treat High Blood Pressure
For many years, hawthorn was used in the treatment of heart disease. It has powerful antioxidant flavonoids which have the ability to improve blood glow, dilate the blood vessels, and protect them from damage.
Compared to the berries, the buds and leaves of this herb have higher amount of flavonoids. A study showed that individuals who took hawthorn extract for 16 weeks manage to lower the high blood pressure.
- Lime Blossom
This herb is extremely effective for treating anxiety. The flowers contain flavonoids, mucilage component, and volatile oil which work together to relieve inflammation. Linden works as a powerful sedative, astringent, antispasmodic and diuretic agent.
A number of studies proved that mistletoe can neutralize blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes, and can treat cardiovascular disease. It has the ability to relieve arthritic and rheumatic pain as well.
A study included two groups of male participants aged 30-65 years. The first group was given 250 ml of hibiscus tea while the second one was given only water. After some period of time, the first group experienced significant improvement in inflammation and blood pressure compared to the second one which consumed only water.
Many European countries use yarrow for it potent medicinal properties. It contains flavonoids which can relax the smooth muscles in the uterus and intestine and improve digestion. Its stems, leaves, and flowers are used for lowering blood pressure.
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