High blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of those things that you couldn’t know about until reliable ways to measure it came along. Even then, it was a while before enough readings had been taken and collated for statistical analysis to begin. When I started in practice, the recommended blood pressure was 120/80, which was the average for people in their twenties. It was recognised that it tends to rise with age, but doctors would still recommend medication if your blood pressure was much above that. Nowadays, interestingly, ‘normal’ is seen as around 140/90.

The point is that if there is an average figure – for anything at all – there will be a lot of people who are above or below that average. That’s not a problem, it’s just normal distribution. Statistically, you have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke if your blood pressure is high, but for you as an individual it might be perfectly fine and healthy. The measurement only has meaning if you look at it in combination with a lot of other factors. Does it stay high all the time, or only go up when you’ve exercised or are feeling stressed? Is your blood cholesterol high as well? Are you overweight? How much do you exercise? Do you eat a lot of salt or drink a lot of coffee? Do you smoke? And so on and so forth.

It’s always worth looking at diet and lifestyle, whether or not you take medication. We know that a Mediterranean style diet, with plenty of fish, olive oil, legumes and vegetables, together with moderate exercise, is the best way to keep your blood pressure at its optimum (whatever that may be). Stress management can help, too. And herbs like Yarrow, Hawthorn, Mistletoe, Limeflowers and many others, depending on your constitution and total health picture, can help to keep you well. But if you simply take the beta blockers and the statins, or whatever else you are prescribed, and don’t address the reasons why your blood pressure is higher than it should be, you may be storing up problems for later in life.

 

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