Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries at its highest level (when your heart beats) and its lowest level (when your heart relaxes between beats). A normal blood pressure for adults is 120/80. High blood pressure is a sustained blood pressure of 140/90 or above.
High blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. It can also cause heart and kidney disease, and is closely linked to some forms of dementia. In the UK, about half of people over 65, and about a quarter of middle aged adults have high blood pressure. It is also more common in people from African-Caribbean origin or from the Indian sub-continent.
There are often no symptoms in hypertension. But warning signs can include headaches, sweating, rapid pulse, shortness of breath and visual disturbance. If you suspect you have high blood pressure or there is a family history of the disease make sure you consult your doctor. For moderate/severe hypertension the treatment usually involves prescription drugs. If the hypertension is borderline /mild, then a combination of natural remedies and lifestyle and diet changes can be very effective:
- Learn to relax: stress is a common factor in high blood pressure. Therefore stress reduction techniques such as meditation and gentle exercise are beneficial.
- Reduce your salt intake: salt (sodium) makes your body retain water which increases the volume of blood in your arteries —this in turn increases blood pressure. An adult should eat no more than 6g of salt a day. Try a low sodium salt substitute and always check food labels.
- Eating more fruit and vegetables has been proven to help lower blood pressure. They also contain potassium, which helps to balance excess salt. You can also take a potassium supplement.
- Take more aerobic exercise: walking, jogging and swimming help strengthen your heart and improve blood flow.
- Garlic: taken raw or as a supplement, it has cholesterol lowering properties and a mild blood thinning effect which in turn helps reduce blood pressure.
- Hawthorn: This berry is rich in flavonoid antioxidants and has been shown to relax/dilate arteries and improves coronary blood flow. It also acts as a mild diuretic which reduces blood volume.
- Fish oil: helps reduce bad cholesterol and platelet aggregation (ie: thins the blood and makes it less sticky). It also helps relax blood vessels.
In short, there is a lot you can do to maintain a healthy blood pressure including taking more exercise, improving your diet and taking natural remedies. We have a wide array of supplements and foods to help you take control of your health.