Hypertension is a condition that is characterized by an increase in the blood pressure in the arteries that distribute blood throughout the body. In simple terms the excess pressure placed by the blood vessels on the arteries will block the latter, making it difficult for the blood to flow from the heart to the major organs and tissues in the body and vice versa.
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to potential life threatening conditions like strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, loss of vision and brain damage etc.
Types of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension can be classified into two broad categories which include:
Primary Hypertension: which usually occur as a result of genetic traits combined with environmental factors.
Secondary Hypertension: which usually occur due to identifiable causes like renal disease, obesity, hyperthyroidism, hyperthyroidism and sleep apnea etc.
Common Causes for High Blood Pressure
Hypertension in individuals is usually caused by conditions like obesity, kidney diseases, abnormal blood vessels, thyroid deficiencies, adrenal diseases and eclampsia (in pregnant woman) etc.
Factors like old age, genetic traits, lack of physical exercises, increased intake of sodium aka salt, use of birth control pills, frequent use of pain relievers and excess alcohol consumption etc. can also lead to hypertension in the long run.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is often called a ‘silent killer’ because it does not cause any potential symptoms. In fact, many individuals suffering from high blood pressure hardly experience any symptoms until the condition becomes serious.
Nevertheless, there are some telltale signs that can help identify the possible threat of high blood pressure in an individual. These include frequent headaches, breathlessness, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sleep apnea, insomnia, excessive sweating, epistaxis (nose bleeding) and blurred vision etc.
Effective Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Hypertension can be effectively controlled with a few home remedies, the most common of which are given below.
The seeds of this fruit contain cucurbocitrin, a compound that can help widen the blood vessels. This would reduce the pressure placed on the arteries to a great extent. Cucurbocitrin can also improve kidney function, thereby reducing hypertension caused by kidney diseases.
Dry watermelon seeds nicely and crush them to form a powder. Add two teaspoons of the powder to a cup of water and boil the mixture nicely. Steep the solution for an hour, strain it and then drink at least half a cup of it regularly (at least 3 times a day).
Garlic can help reduce hypertension and its related symptoms to an extent. The best option would be to consume it raw (at least a few cloves) and then drink some water.
Do this first thing in the morning to control hypertension effectively. Alternatively, you can pound the garlic and mix it with water to form a paste that you can gulp down at regular intervals throughout the day.
Honey and Onion Juice
Honey is known to be an effective antioxidant that can cleanse the body off impurities and harmful organisms that can contribute to hypertension. You can either consume it with ginger juice or onion juice for desirable results.
Accordingly, add a few drops of onion to a tablespoon of either onion or ginger juice. Drink at least 2 tablespoons of this remedy every day to keep hypertension and its associated symptoms at bay.
Curry leaves can help reduce hypertension and control its symptoms to an extent. Extract the juice of a few curry leaves and mix it in a cup of water to make a solution. Drink this solution on an empty stomach every morning for desirable results.
Individuals with hypertension can get relief from the condition by eating brown rice (preferably boiled rice) every day. Brown rice contains certain compounds that can have a soothing effect on the brain, thereby reducing nervousness and the high blood pressure levels associated with it. Brown rice also contains calcium which is considered to be a nutrient the body needs to combat hypertension.
Bananas contain high amounts of potassium which can help lower hypertension and provide relief from its symptoms. Bananas are also cholesterol free and can reduce your sodium intake to a great extent.
Try eating at least 2 bananas every day for desirable results. Other alternatives (for potassium rich foods) you can try out include raisins, spinach, oranges, dried apricots and sweet potatoes.
Drinking plenty of coconut water along with normal water on a regular basis can help control hypertension and its symptoms. Regular intake of coconut water can in fact reduce hypertension quickly and effectively.
Along with drinking coconut water on a daily basis, you can opt to substitute the cooking oil you normally use with coconut oil. Doing so would reduce hypertension as well as your cholesterol levels to a great extent.
Certain substances present in cayenne pepper can aid in the smooth flow of blood throughout the body by stopping the accumulation of blood platelets in the blood vessel. This in turn would prevent the formation of blood clots that can increase the pressure of the blood vessels on the arteries.
A pinch of cayenne pepper every day is all that is needed to reduce hypertension to an extent. Accordingly, you can opt to add it to the dishes you cook or sprinkle some of it on a salad.
Dietary Considerations of Hypertension
Individuals with hypertension are required to follow what is called the ‘DASH’ diet which focuses on increasing the intake of certain foods and decreasing the intake of certain others in order to keep hypertension and its related symptoms under control.
The DASH (short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) requires an individual to cut down on the intake of total fat and saturated fat, and replace them instead with low fat dairy products, vegetables and fruits. The diet recommends substituting red meats, sweets, sugary foods and salty foods with fish, nuts, whole grain products and poultry etc.
An appropriate DASH diet would essentially consist of foods rich in nutrients like calcium, potassium, magnesium, proteins and fiber. It would also need to take two essential pointers into consideration. These include:
Reduced Sodium Intake
Eating too much salt (aka sodium) can lead to water retention wherein the sodium you intake would be mixed with the blood (causing an increase in blood volume) that is then circulated around your body using additional force and pressure, leading to hypertension.
Reducing sodium intake can therefore, help reduce the workload and pressure of the blood vessels, thereby reducing hypertension and offering relief from its symptoms.
Increased Potassium Intake
The sodium and potassium levels in the body determine the blood pressure levels. Potassium can effectively balance out the sodium levels in the body, thereby reducing water retention and hypertension.
Many individuals tend to take less amounts of potassium in their daily diet. When combined with high sodium levels, this literally means there is not enough potassium to negate the effects of the excess sodium on the blood capillaries. Eating a diet rich in potassium however, can help prevent this from happening. Opt for foods rich in potassium like bananas, oranges, baked potatoes, dark leafy vegetables, fish, yogurt and mushrooms etc.
Note: Too much potassium can be detrimental for your health as well. So make it a point to stick to natural foods that contain potassium instead of opting for potassium supplements that cause side effects. It is also considered wise to let your doctor know about this beforehand.
Increased Calcium Intake
Calcium is essential for the heart to maintain proper rhythm and function. Calcium also plays an important role in maintaining the sodium-water balance in the kidneys. Therefore, eating foods rich in calcium can help reduce hypertension caused by heart or kidney related conditions.
Excellent natural sources of calcium include low fat milk, cheese, almonds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, yogurt and green leafy vegetables etc.
Exercises for Hypertension
A regular 30 minute workout routine on a daily basis can do wonders for the body, and can effectively reduce hypertension by at least 4 mm Hg. So make it a point to opt for simple exercises that would help reduce high blood pressure, and let you lose weight in the process.
You can opt for exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and cardiovascular workouts for maximum benefits.
Other Preventive Measures
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can place extra strain on the blood vessels and contribute to an increase in the blood pressure levels. So limit alcohol consumption to a minimum to thwart the issue.
Avoid Smoking and Other Tobacco Related Products
The nicotine content in tobacco products can cause an increase in the blood pressure levels by at least 10 mm Hg. And this is for every single hour that you smoke. So make it a point to curb your smoking habits to a minimum in order to keep your blood pressure levels normal at all times of the day.