Feeling the Pressure?
Our heart is such a powerful organ that it can pump up to five litres of blood every minute! This blood is circulated around the body through tiny blood vessels called arteries. To ensure that the blood circulates smoothly, the heart maintains a constant pressure that is determined by the amount of blood the it pumps and the amount of resistance to the blood flow in the arteries. When more blood is pumped by the heart into a narrower artery, the resulting condition is known as high blood pressure or hypertension.
The exact causes of hypertension are unknown. However several environmental factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, excessive intake of fried foods, lack of exercise and stress, along with genetic reasons can cause hypertension.
Ayurveda states that hypertension is caused as a result of the accumulation of toxins in our tissues due to regular consumption of fried, fermented and junk foods, which block our arteries. This causes dosha imbalance, further lowering our natural resistance and immunity.
One reason why hypertension is considered to be a life threatening disease is because many people with high blood pressure have no visible signs or symptoms of it, even if the pressure reaches dangerously high levels. So it is recommended that people get screened at regular intervals to detect it in the earlier stages.
Hypertension is classified into two types. The first type is known as primary or essential hypertension and it does not have any identifiable causes. Diet and lifestyle factors like obesity, stress and lack of exercise are also linked to essential hypertension. This type of hypertension tends to gradually increase over the years.
Secondary hypertension is a condition where the direct cause can be identified. The cause can be any underlying disease such as kidney disease, cancer or diabetes. In some women, the usage of oral contraceptive pills, specifically those containing estrogen, can lead to higher blood pressure as these medicines constrict blood vessels. Additionally, pregnancy may also cause high blood pressure in some women.
Symptoms include headaches, neck pain when you wake up, dizziness, frequent urination, tiredness, palpitations, anxiety and breathing problems.
If hypertension is not managed by taking the right medication and controlling your diet, it can lead to debilitating complications such as:
Heart attack or stroke: Constant high pressure in the arteries can cause them to harden and thicken, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis, which can cause a heart attack or a stroke.
Eye damage: High blood pressure can weaken or narrow the blood vessels in the eye, leading to a permanent loss of vision.
Metabolic syndrome: This is a cluster of many conditions which include diabetes, high cholesterol, larger waist circumference etc. If a person suffers from hypertension, there are greater risks of developing diabetes and other heart diseases.
Diet modifications and lifestyle changes can be used to control high blood pressure. Avoiding sour, fermented and spicy foods is a good start to tackling this problem.
Home remedies to reduce blood pressure:
Drinking a glass of white pumpkin juice on an empty stomach every day can help improve blood circulation and regulate blood pressure.
Brahmi and sarpagandha are excellent ayurvedic herbs that help reduce blood pressure and normalise its levels.
Marma massage: Apply pure cow ghee on both temples and gently massage them for a minute. This can help reduce stress, anxiety and hypertension.
Hypertension is directly responsible for 57 percent of all deaths caused by stroke and 24 percent of all deaths caused by coronary heart disease in India. Therefore, it is not a disease that can be treated once and then forgotten. Patients need to manage it continuously with the help of medication, diet control and lifestyle changes. Regular exercising (walking for at least 30 minutes or any other form of cardio) will go a long way towards managing high blood pressure. Adopting these healthy habits will help you keep hypertension under control.