Managing High Blood Pressure With & Without Prescriptions
Now that you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure,
Your doctor may prescribe medication and encourage specific lifestyle changes. Blood pressure medication has improved and saved the lives of countless hypertension sufferers with life-threatening conditions, but they are not without substantial drawbacks. Side effects range from mildly annoying to completely debilitating. You may have heard of people struggling to live with both high blood pressure and its treatment. Some side effects are rare and not everyone suffers severely, different people experience them differently. To complicate matters, many cases of hypertension require multiple medications, compounding the potential side effects. Few, however, escape them altogether.
While side effects usually appear quickly, more severe consequences may take years to develop. Beta-blockers are a good case in point. For decades they served as the front-line drug in the fight against hypertension. Literally millions upon millions of people have been prescribed them. But in 2006 beta-blockers were withdrawn for this use in the U.K. after new studies showed that they actually increase the risk of heart attack and stroke (compared to other blood pressure drugs). Worse still, beta-blockers have been shown to increase the risk of diabetes by up to 50% and are blamed for 8000 needless cases of diabetes a year in the U.K. alone. You can read about these side effects in the article “Prescription Medication & Their Side Effects”.
So, if you're unhappy with the side effects of your current medication, or prefer to supplement the medication or manage your high blood pressure with a natural treatment, what are your choices? And, if you are a member of the aging population that naturally experiences a slight elevation in blood pressure, one of the millions with moderate or borderline hypertension, or someone who could be better helped through a healthier lifestyle and effective herbal remedies, what are your choices? Not surprisingly, there is a lot of interest in alternative treatments for high blood pressure. Many use an all-natural approach that combines healthy, natural lifestyle and diet, suitable exercise, weight control and stress management with natural, effective, side-effect free herbal remedies. Consult your physician on what to include in naturally managing your high blood pressure and whether to supplement it with medication.
How do you embark on this all natural approach? For starters, include natural diuretics such as garlic, brown rice, watermelon, parsley and lemon in your diet, reduce stress wherever possible, eat healthy foods such as salmon, fish, and avoid chicken or duck skin and egg yolk. Stay away from fried and junk food, high sodium food and food high in saturated fats as they tend to increase the cholesterol levels. Minimize salt in your cooking, e.g., use low sodium soy sauce, and minimize use of frozen foods and processed foods as they are rich in sodium. Drink lots of water to get rid of salt. Doing mild, appropriate exercise on a routine basis is also part of the natural treatment for hypertension. Physical activities improve blood circulation, thereby increasing the oxygen and nutrient supply to the body organs, and help weight control, another necessity for reducing blood pressure problems. For additional diet, exercise and lifestyle improvement suggestions, see the articles "Taking Control of Your High Blood Pressure, Diet and Exercise for High Blood Pressure."
The Side Effect Risks that Come with Prescription Medication
Even though diuretics are more commonly prescribed to help alleviate water retention build up, they are nonetheless often prescribed to treat high blood pressure. Diuretics help the kidneys to filter sodium and water through urination, which in turn reduces water from the blood vessels around the heart, which ultimately reduces pressure around the heart. Doctors often prescribe this form of medication when a patient is first diagnosed with high blood pressure, as relieving water build up around the heart may be the solution. Diuretic medication therapy is considered an initial treatment recommendation. If there is still high blood pressure after a course of diuretics, your doctor will prescribe something else.
ACE Inhibitors, also known as Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, is a hormonal approach. ACE inhibitors narrow hormones that block constricting blood vessels, reducing the pressure, thereby helping to draw out extra sodium and water through urination, much like diuretics. Doctors often use ACE inhibitors in conjunction with diuretics to combat high blood pressure.
Beta blockers are used to reduce heartbeats. By reducing heartbeats, beta-blockers help lower high blood pressure. Throughout the entire body beta receptor stimulation often leads to increased blood pressure. Beta blockers lower the risk of high blood pressure’s most feared repercussions such as heart failure, heart disease and/or stroke.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers, also referred to as CCBs or calcium antagonists, lowers blood pressure by thwarting calcium’s entrance into the blood stream. Stopping calcium from entering the blood stream helps to keep blood vessels from narrowing. Normally CCBs are used in conjunction with other high blood pressure medications as opposed to a sole solution.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers, also referred to as ARBs, lowers blood pressure using a hormonal approach, similar to how ACE inhibitors work. However, because of the sometime harsh side effects of ACE inhibitors, ARBs are used instead as a more mild medication therapy. ARBs are sometimes used alone but are normally prescribed along with other high blood pressure medications for a more powerful effect.
Alpha blockers, similar to beta blockers, are prescribed to alleviate the muscles constricting blood vessels by keeping them open, making it easier for the blood to flow throughout the body, reducing blood pressure.
People who take Diuretics can be almost sure of having increased thirst and urination, but that is only natural since the diuretic is made to alleviate water retention that the body tends to hold. With all the urination, potassium is lost, which is why it is important to replace potassium intake with either bananas or a potassium pill that your doctor can prescribe in conjunction with the diuretic.
The side effects of ACE Inhibitors include dry cough and swelling and even, in some cases, increased reaction to different stimuli due to an allergic reaction.
The side effects of Beta Blockers include dizziness, constipation, nausea and headache. But it should be noted that not everyone experiences the same side effects. If you are taking beta blockers you may experience only constipation and headache or just some light headedness. It depends on the individual, the age, gender and what kind of physical condition the patient is in.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers, also referred to as ARBs, have similar side effects like beta blockers, although instead of constipation being a problem, diarrhea may become problematic. There can however be the same dizziness, nausea and/or headache. ARBs are not recommended for women who are pregnant. The side effects from Alpha-Blockers include dizziness, nausea, weight gain and tiredness or weakness.
Calcium Channel Blockers have very few side effects, which is why doctors like to prescribe this form of therapy to combat high blood pressure.
It should be noted that the above information is only for a quick reference. For more information on the above medications and their side effects, please talk with your Doctor and, as always, tell your Doctor if you are pregnant before taking any medication that is unrelated to pregnancy.
Most everyone has heard about hypertension or high blood pressure. If you do not have it,
If you have no idea what your ideal blood pressure should be, remember the numbers 120 over 80, as that is the optimum level. Any variation of that number, such as 130 through 139 over 85 through 89 is still considered normal but with those numbers your doctor will probably tell you that you are on the border, often referred to as "pre-hypertensive."
If one of your close relatives such as a parent, sibling(s), grandparent(s), aunt(s) and/or uncle(s) has or has had high blood pressure, your risk for developing it is increased. If you are not sure, ask a family member who in the family, if ever, had been stricken by heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, diabetes or any other major medical complication. Chances are they too had high blood pressure, which means your chance of acquiring it goes up, as medical histories are known to repeat.
Age and gender are also factors contributing to high blood pressure. Statistics show that beginning at age 65, women are at higher risk than men. Younger men, however, under age 45, are significantly more affected by high blood pressure than women in that same age group.
If your doctor tells you that you are “pre-hypertensive,” that should be like a huge stop sign. Stop and think. This is the time to take stock of your life, your daily routine and habits because, at this point, you are at risk. Talk to your doctor as he or she can best help you with starting a new lifestyle regimen by offering suggestions. Your primary care physician knows your strengths and your weaknesses and your limitations, if any. In any case, a hypertension diagnosis should always be treated with respect.
Once you have learned that your blood pressure is out of control it is time to begin monitoring your daily activities and your blood pressure numbers. The best preventive care that you can do for yourself is to learn about high blood pressure and the factors that put you at risk.
When you come home after work,
Over time, you will have cut back on your alcohol consumption and it won’t seem like a sacrifice.
But now that you have to embark on a high blood pressure treatment plan, it is time you went to the grocery store. Buy some fruit—even if you do not like fruits or vegetables—surely there is something in the produce department that captures your attention. Soy, oatmeal, avocados, berries, legumes (kidney and black beans), almonds, walnuts, spinach, olive oil and salmon are good for your heart and blood pressure and anti-cancer. If you love french fries, you obviously like potatoes, so buy a few potatoes. When you get home, bake them in an oven and keep them in the refrigerator so you can grab one to take to work with you. A baked potato, a can of low sodium soup and an apple make a well-rounded healthy meal that don’t cost a bundle and they are easy to gather early in the morning on your way out the door.
You have one of those jobs where you sit all day. When you break for lunch try eating a healthy salad without mayonnaise or a heavy dressing instead of double patties and cheese on a bun or fries; drink green tea with a slice of lemon instead of coffee; avoid smoking and second-hand smoke; and go easy on the salt. On your break, take a short walk around or outside the office instead of snacking or smoking.
Eliminate or reduce the sources of stress in your life. Make a special effort to reduce or eliminate the sources of stress in your personal, family and work life. Listen and empathize more to your friends and significant other; changing or compromising your ways a little may go a long way; worry less about your savings by giving up the daily Starbucks, going to the golf range twice a week instead of everyday, buying generics instead of name brands and used instead of new whenever you can buy used. You could also try taking less stressful assignments and enlist the help of others at work.
And exercise whenever you can. The benefits of exercise are cumulative. You can get the same benefit from biking two hours in a single day as you do two hours over a week. Exercise makes you feel positive, happy and healthy.
More people than you might think are constantly searching for alternative methods to treat their health conditions. Maybe they believe a complete approach to health is more dependent on practicing preventive health care than reliance on circumstantial health care when one is ill. If you desire to work at lowering your high blood pressure the natural or holistic way,
Potassium is an important nutrient for the body, especially for the maintenance of healthy blood pressure. Everyone needs potassium as it placates the muscles, causing steady, undisturbed contractions. Potassium is also instrumental in removing waste from the body.
If your blood pressure is in the higher number zone, potassium can help lower it, and if it is already where it should be potassium will help keep it there. Bananas are a great source of potassium.
Magnesium has many essential roles, including: the storage, transfer and use of energy; protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism; maintenance of normal cell membrane function; and the regulation of parathyroid hormone secretion. It also lowers blood pressure and heart beat, modulates blood vessel resistance, strengthens bones and facilitates a healthy immune system. You can find magnesium in a lot of foods such as fish, namely tuna and halibut; fruits such as artichokes and figs; whole grains—any foods made with whole wheat flour, brown rice or barley; prune juice; yogurt; nuts; and legumes.
Garlic One of the more common nutrients that has received a lot of hype in the past for helping to lower and maintain optimum blood pressure levels. Garlic helps to lower cholesterol and has been proven to naturally lower high blood pressure. If garlic breath is an issue, try a garlic supplement.
L-arginine is a little known amino acid that helps the body produce nitric acid. Nitric acid is conducive to lowering blood pressure. L-arginine can be found in meat, peanuts, soy and wheat products. Taken in moderation on a daily basis, L-arginine, which, like garlic comes in a supplement form, can reduce blood pressure and is also known to help lower cholesterol.
The wonders of vinegar: Did you know that apple cider vinegar is one of the best nutritional products on the market for reducing high blood pressure? Apple cider vinegar is chock full of vitamins and nutrients that are considered helpful for lowering high blood pressure because it includes many vitamins such as A, B1, B2 & B6, C and E, in addition to potassium, magnesium, above, as useful natural nutrients for lowering and maintaining optimum blood pressure.
But diet may not be enough—exercise should be incorporated into your daily health regimen. This does not mean you have to run on the treadmill for an hour every day. If you are just starting out on an exercise regimen and want to slowly build up to a more strenuous work out, start slow. There are many kinds of exercise that will not only help you stay in shape but will also lower your blood pressure in ways that do not tax your body too strenuously
Walking- Anyone who is just starting an exercise regimen can incorporate walking more into their activities of daily living. Anyone can walk around a little more, e.g., use the steps, walk during breaks at work, and to the television to change the channel or volume, perform simple chores more often like dusting and running the sweeper. For a start, try walking at a brisk pace 30 minutes a day five days a week.
Swimming- This low-impact activity encourages muscle use, thereby burning calories, and since the body is supported by the water, swimming provides a good workout without stress to limbs or muscles. Swimming is highly encouraged for those healthy enough to swim, as it is an optimal source for both exercise and blood pressure control.
Yoga is an excellent exercise choice for those healthy enough to participate. It is a mind and body exercise that helps improve balance and mobility while building muscle strength. Yoga also helps to lower blood pressure.
Pilates is also low impact, although a bit more strenuous than yoga. Pilates is for the person who wants to build core strength, flexibility and endurance. Much like yoga, the exercises consist of low repetition stretching and controlled movement, along with measured and timely breaths. Not only is Pilates excellent for a maintaining controlled blood pressure it also helps to alleviate back pain.
Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese practice that has grown by leaps and bounds in popularity in the west these past few years, uses fluid body movements to strengthen muscles and relieve stress. Regular Tai Chi exercise will improve balance, posture, strength and flexibility and will assuredly help to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
Keep in mind that there is no one type of exercise better than the next. It is up to you and your doctor to determine what kind of physical program you are fit enough to try. The doctor’s advice is very important before choosing an exercise program that suits your needs and in evaluating its results for you.