One of the most widespread epidemics in the United States is high blood pressure (HBP). The American Heart Association calls it a silent killer. It has this reputation because there are rarely any warning signs of high blood pressure. It is also incredibly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure.
This accounts for more than one third of the entire United States population. HBP can lead to various forms of heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, claiming over 600,000 lives every year. If gone untreated, it can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, vision loss, and sexual dysfunction.
The best way to know if you are suffering from HBP is getting tested. Blood pressure is tested using a machine known as a sphygmomanometer. A sphygmomanometer is a fancy name for the inflatable ring that wraps the arm and has a pressure gauge. These devices are sold for at home use and can be found in drug stores, where they can be used for free.
Blood pressure refers to the pressure along the inside of your blood vessels. It is measured in mmHg and includes 2 numbers associated with it. The top number, or systolic pressure, is based on pressure within the arteries whenever your heart decides to beat and is the larger of the two, the bottom number, or diastolic number, is when their is pressure between heartbeats in your arteries. Based on these numbers you can determine whether or not you have high blood pressure, which can help determine if you have high BP or not.
If your systolic blood pressure approaches 180 mmHg you should immediately call 911 as you are at a very high risk or heart attack or failure. Similarly, if your systolic blood pressure dips below 90 mmHg you are also at risk or severe health problems.
In the modern world, it is often difficult to take proper care of oneself. The stress from work may affect your overall health and at the same time make it difficult to prepare proper meals for oneself. It is also straightforward to lead a sedentary lifestyle of watching TV and spending time online. All of these things may put you at risk for developing HBP. In addition to stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise, other factors that may contribute to the cause of high blood pressure include
As previously stated, there are not usually clear warning signs related to HBP. People with it may not notice any symptoms and feel completely fine. In cases of extremely HBP, known as a hypertensive crisis, you may experience nosebleeds or headaches, but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have high blood pressure. Other symptoms related to HBP may include, blood spots in the eyes, facial flushing, and dizziness. It is important to note that these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have hypertension, these symptoms can arise from many conditions.
The first thing to do if you think you may be suffering from high blood pressure is to talk to your doctor. Clinical tests are the crucial for accurately determining what your blood pressure is. Your doctor can give you information and resources on how to manage and lower your blood pressure. If you have normal blood pressure, it is still a good idea to take steps towards maintaining a healthy heart. As a person grows older, their risk of HBP rises. Taking steps now may help prevent high blood pressure later in life. The American Heart Association recommends taking the following steps towards maintaining a healthy heart and low blood pressure.
Eat a well-balanced, low-salt diet – Diet plays a large part in maintaining a healthy heart and healthy blood pressure. Consuming high levels of salt may cause your body to retain extra water that can increase the pressure within your blood pressure. Processed foods should be avoided as they often contain high levels of sodium and other preservatives that can be harmful to your blood pressure. Foods that may help maintain or reduce your blood pressure include leafy greens, berries, beets, oatmeal, and fish. It has also been found that foods high in potassium help fight against hypertension.
Limit alcohol – Drinking alcohol in excess temporarily raises your blood pressure, while repeated binge drinking can lead to an overall increase in blood pressure. If you are a heavy drinker it is recommended that you cut back on alcohol consumption slowly over time, as quitting cold turkey can lead to a drastic increase in blood pressure. If you are going to drink, it is recommended that you keep it limited to two drinks a day.
Enjoy regular physical activity – One of the best ways to lower your blood pressure is to lose weight. Doctors recommend getting about 30 minutes of exercise a day. It has been found that regular exercise can lower blood pressure by 4 mmHg to 9 mmHg. The more you exercise the stronger your heart becomes which allows it to pump more blood with less effort.
Manage stress – The world shows no signs of slowing down or becoming less stressful anytime soon. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your stress levels and take steps to reduce it as much as possible. Some of these steps can include working out, meditating, and taking up relaxing hobbies. The link between stress and hypertension is still being studied, but one thing that is certain is that stress leads to things such as poor diet and lack of exercise that have been directly linked to high blood pressure.
Quit smoking – According to the American Heart Association, smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Every time you smoke there is a slight increase in your blood pressure. Furthermore, smoking leads to a build of a plaque in your arteries, which has been linked to high blood pressure. The exact extent that smoking has on hypertension is still being studied.
Recent studies have also shown that Cannabidiol (CBD) a compound found in cannabis can also help in lower blood pressure.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound found in cannabis. Along with the compound THC, CBD is the most commonly occurring compound in marijuana. While THC gets you high and has intoxicating effects, CBD does not. THC interacts directly with neurotransmitters in the body’s endocannabinoid system, while CBD indirectly affects signaling through the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Some speculate that this distinction between directly and indirectly affecting endocannabinoid receptors is why THC gets you high and CBD does not.
In addition to being non-intoxicating, CBD has many potential medical applications, including pain management, appetite stimulant, and anti-convulsant. One of these applications is lowering blood pressure. CBD comes in a wide variety of forms, including extracts such as oils and tinctures, as well as a straight flower that has been cultivated to have high levels of CBD and low levels of THC.
A recent 2017 study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation and titled “A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study” looks at how CBD works to lower blood pressure. The article begins by describing how animal studies have shown evidence that CBD reduces cardiovascular reaction to stress. An interesting result, as for years people have talked out how weed will “chill you out,” now science is proving that cannabis does “chill you out.” It is important to point out that these tests did not involve smoking weed, and rather used 600 mg of pure CBD. Smoking is not advised for a healthy heart.
The article goes on to present the results of the several tests conducted and concludes that CBD does, in fact, lower blood pressure. The study states “We found that resting blood pressure was lower after subjects had taken CBD and that CBD blunted the blood pressure response to stress.” A clear and direct conclusion was established that CBD does, in fact, lower blood pressure, and does not have the adverse side effects of many other blood pressure medications. Unfortunately for countless patients, the legal status of marijuana makes it so they cannot utilize the health benefits of CBD. Things have been changing in recent years, but we need to make sure that all people are allowed to reap the benefits of CBD.