Complementary Medicine - Cam
About This Condition
Beat hypertension—Lower your blood pressure with simple lifestyle changes to protect yourself from this hidden health problem. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading for more in-depth, fully referenced information.
These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading for more in-depth, fully referenced information.
About This Condition
Approximately 90% of people with high blood pressure have “essential” or “idiopathic” hypertension, for which the cause is poorly understood. The terms “hypertension” and “high blood pressure” as used here refer only to this most common form and not to pregnancy-induced hypertension or hypertension clearly linked to a known cause, such as Cushing’s syndrome, pheochromocytoma, or kidney disease. Hypertension must always be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Extremely high blood pressure (malignant hypertension) or rapidly worsening hypertension (accelerated hypertension) almost always requires treatment with conventional medicine. People with mild to moderate high blood pressure should work with a doctor before attempting to use the information contained here, as blood pressure requires monitoring and in some cases the use of blood pressure-lowering drugs.
As with conventional drugs, the use of natural substances sometimes controls blood pressure if taken consistently but does not lead to a cure for high blood pressure. Thus, someone whose blood pressure is successfully reduced by weight loss , avoidance of salt, and increased intake of fruits and vegetables would need to maintain these changes permanently in order to retain control of blood pressure. Left untreated, hypertension significantly increases the risk of stroke and heart disease .
Essential hypertension is usually without symptoms until complications develop. The symptoms of complications depend on the organs involved.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Smoking is particularly injurious for people with hypertension.1 The combination of hypertension and smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease –related sickness and death. All people with high blood pressure need to quit smoking.
Consumption of more than about three alcoholic beverages per day appears to increase blood pressure.2 Whether one or two drinks per day meaningfully increases blood pressure remains unclear.
Daily exercise can lower blood pressure significantly.3 A 12-week program of Chinese T’ai Chi was reported to be almost as effective as aerobic exercise in lowering blood pressure.4 Progressive resistance exercise (e.g., weight lifting) also appears to help reduce blood pressure.5 At the same time, blood pressure has been known to increase significantly during the act of lifting heavy weights; for this reason, people with sharply elevated blood pressure, especially those with cardiovascular disease, should approach heavy strenuous resistance exercise with caution. In general, people over 40 years of age should consult with their doctors before starting any exercise regimen.
Most people with high blood pressure are overweight. Weight loss lowers blood pressure significantly in those who are both overweight and hypertensive.6 In fact, reducing body weight by as little as ten pounds can lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure.7 Weight loss appears to have a stronger blood pressure-lowering effect than dietary salt restriction.8
A specific chiropractic adjustment has been shown to produce a sustained reduction in blood pressure that was equivalent to that produced by two blood pressure-lowering medications.9
Anxiety in men (but not women) has been linked to development of hypertension.10 Several research groups have also shown a relationship between job strain and high blood pressure in men.11 , 12 , 13 Some researchers have tied blood pressure specifically to suppressed aggression.14
Although some kind of relationship between stress and high blood pressure appears to exist, the effects of treatment for stress remain controversial. An analysis of 26 trials reported that reductions in blood pressure caused by biofeedback or meditation were no greater than those seen with placebo.15 Though some stress management interventions have not been helpful in reducing blood pressure,16 , 17 those trials that have reported promising effects have used combinations of yoga , biofeedback, and/or meditation.18 , 19 , 20 Some doctors continue to recommend a variety of stress-reducing measures, sometimes tailoring them to the needs and preferences of the person seeking help.
Preliminary laboratory studies in animals21 and humans22 , 23 , 24 suggest that acupuncture may help regulate blood pressure. Most,25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 but not all,31 preliminary trials also suggest that acupuncture may be an effective way to lower blood pressure. Whether blood pressure goes back up after acupuncture is discontinued remains an unsettled question.
Auricular (ear) acupressure has been reported to be an effective treatment for hypertension,32 , 33 , 34 though in one case the improvement was not significantly better than use of traditional herbal medicines.35
Spinal manipulation may lower blood pressure (at least temporarily) in healthy people, according to most preliminary36 , 37 , 38 and controlled39 trials. However, some research suggests the effect is no better than the blood pressure-lowering effect of sham (“fake”) manipulation.40 In hypertensive people, temporary decreases in blood pressure have also been reported after spinal manipulation.41 , 42 , 43 However, most,44 , 45 , 46 but not all,47 trials suggest that manipulation produces only short-term decreases in blood pressure in hypertensive people.
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
What Are Star Ratings?
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
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Last Review: 02-05-2013
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