According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and only half of them have their blood pressure under control.1 However, under controversial new guidelines released in November 2017, which advised that high blood pressure should be treated at 130/80 rather than 140/90, nearly 50 percent of Americans would technically be suffering from high blood pressure.2
When your blood pressure is not controlled it may lead to other health conditions, such as cognitive decline, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. On a global scale, more than 1 billion people suffer from hypertension3 and that number has nearly doubled in the past four decades.4 Nearly 13 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributed to high blood pressure.
The rising numbers of people suffering from hypertension was not lost on the pharmaceutical industry. An increasing number of drugs have been developed in the past decade to control blood pressure, but they come with a laundry list of side effects and negative health problems of their own.
Instead, consider a significant number of natural options, including eliminating lifestyle choices that trigger hypertension and choosing alternative treatments that reduce your blood pressure. One of the easiest and best smelling is using essential oils.
Blood Pressure and What it Means
To fully understand why your choices increase or decrease your blood pressure, it’s helpful to understand how your blood pressure is measured and how it affects your body.
The traditional method of measuring your blood pressure was developed in 1881 and refined in 1905 when Russian surgeon Dr. Nikolai Korotkoff discovered the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements.5 Today, sphygmomanometers measure the difference between the appearance and disappearance of sounds in your arteries, called Korotkoff sounds.
The appearance of the sound, your systolic number, represents the highest pressure through which your blood is pumped, while the disappearance of the sound, your diastolic number, is the lowest pressure needed by your heart to push blood through your arteries. In many instances, your blood pressure measurement may not be accurate, based on your body position, cuff size, activity level and consumption of caffeine, nicotine or alcohol.
Hypertension is called the “silent killer” as it may cause few or no symptoms and can quietly damage your blood vessels and organs for years without your knowledge. The added pressure needed by your heart to push blood through your vessels increases your risk of congestive heart failure.6 Coronary artery disease and an enlarged heart are two other heart conditions that may result from chronic hypertension.
High blood pressure also damages the cells lining your arteries, which may result in narrowed and less elastic arterial walls. This change raises your blood pressure further and reduces blood flow to your organs, increasing your risk of damage to your eyes, kidneys and brain. Reduced blood flow to your brain may lead to transient ischemic attacks (mini-stroke), stroke, cognitive impairment or dementia.
What Triggers Hig Blood Pressure?
There is no one lifestyle choice that triggers all hypertension. A combination of a number of reversible choices you make may put you at risk. Hypertension that isn’t obviously associated with a cause, such as a medical condition or medication, is referred to as essential or primary hypertension.
It’s estimated that as much as 95 percent of hypertension is essential hypertension. However, just because a known medical condition or medication is not responsible does not mean there isn’t a known cause for the condition. A number of contributing factors have been identified for high blood pressure, including but not limited to:
Insulin and leptin resistance causes your blood pressure to increase7
Elevated uric acid levels are associated with rising blood pressure; any program you adopt to address your hypertension needs to normalize your uric acid levels as well8,9
Poor nutrition in childhood has been shown to raise the risk of high blood pressure in adulthood;10 consuming an excess of sugar is also linked to high blood pressure11
Lead exposure has been associated with cardiovascular disease and hypertension12
Air and noise pollution affects blood pressure; air pollution triggers an inflammatory response while noise pollution has an adverse effect on your nervous and hormonal systems.
By using natural options to address hypertension and any underlying medical condition you may realistically be able to reduce your dependence on medication. Lifestyle choices that are known to increase your blood pressure include smoking and alcohol use. Obesitymay also play a role.13
However, while many believe that your blood pressure will increase with age related to a decrease in arterial elasticity that is concurrent with advancing age, the truth is that this reduction in elasticity is often associated with insulin resistance, rising blood sugar and inflammation. Each of these conditions is associated with eating a diet high in net carbohydrates and refined sugars.