High blood pressure is a serious condition that should be treated as early as possible. If high blood pressure is suspected, a blood pressure measurement should be carried out immediately. This can either be carried out directly at the doctor's or at home, following a training course.
In this article we clarify the most important questions about high blood pressure and present information and methods worth knowing for naturally lowering blood pressure.
the essentials in brief
- In the case of high blood pressure, technically hypertension or arterial hypertension, the blood pressure values are too high over a longer period of time. High blood pressure is generally diagnosed when the blood pressure at rest is 140/90mmHg.
- The four most common triggers for high blood pressure are hereditary factors, too little exercise, an unhealthy diet, obesity and stress.
- High blood pressure can overload the heart and damage vital organs such as the heart, coronary arteries, brain, kidneys and blood vessels. High blood pressure is often associated with diseases such as stroke or heart attack.
Definition: What is high blood pressure?
In medical parlance, high blood pressure means arterial hypertension. This is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases, affecting more than half of all people >50 in Germany. High blood pressure is one of the most widespread cardiovascular risk factors. A resting blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg is referred to as a hypertensive blood pressure situation (1).
The disease often progresses without symptoms, so that early detection by the patient is often difficult. (Image Source: Jesse Orrico / Unsplash)
A distinction is made between primary and secondary arterial hypertension. In most cases, it is primary hypotension, also known as essential hypertension. The percentage is 95% (2).
An organic cause is not recognizable in this case. The actual cause is determined by various factors and is often unclear. Possible factors are, on the one hand, obesity and insufficient exercise, which promote aging of the vessels; on the other hand, baroreflex mechanisms, natriuretic peptides or osmotically inactive sodium storage can also have an influence (2,3).
Secondary or non-essential hypertension is present in 5% of cases. In contrast to essential hypertension, the causes are identifiable. These are organic diseases that become noticeable through high blood pressure. A distinction is made between renal and endocrine hypertension (2,3).
Background: What you should know about high blood pressure
In the following section we answer the most frequently asked questions about high blood pressure. Here are some of the best ways to naturally lower blood pressure.
How does high blood pressure arise?
High blood pressure can have various causes, although the physical causes cannot be clearly determined. However, there are a number of factors that promote high blood pressure. These include hereditary factors on the one hand and personal lifestyle on the other. Studies and investigations as a result are mainly about four factors that make up the lifestyle and can cause arterial hypertension. (3):
- Too little movement
- unhealthy diet
The change in lifestyle can lead to prevention or lowering of blood pressure. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle should be implemented as early as possible in order to prevent not only high blood pressure but also dangerous secondary diseases such as a stroke or heart attack.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can manifest itself in different ways. The most common symptoms are listed below (4):
- inner restlessness and nervousness
- sleep disorders
- hot flashes
- potency problems
- reddening of the face
Arterial hypertension is often not recognized until late, since the signs of high blood pressure are usually not noticed immediately or are not directly associated with high blood pressure. Older people in particular should pay attention to the symptoms listed and consult a doctor if necessary (4).
How can blood pressure be measured?
When measuring blood pressure correctly, it is important to note that blood pressure can change over the course of the day. Therefore, the blood pressure measurement should take place on several consecutive days, but at least three measurements on two different days. Certain factors such as stress, nervousness, pain, cold or heat or physical exertion can also affect blood pressure and affect it in the short term. Therefore, blood pressure should be measured at rest (3,5).
In some cases, the doctor carries out a 24-hour blood pressure measurement in order to get a complete overview of the blood pressure values and to be able to assess the exact severity of the disease.
The 24-hour blood pressure measurement, also called long-term RR, is carried out, among other things, to rule out what is known as white coat hypertension, also known as nervous hypertension. This is high blood pressure that only occurs in connection with a clinical visit or a measurement in the doctor's office (1).
Blood pressure is usually measured on the arm. A doctor can do this, but you can also do it yourself at home. (Image Source: 123rf / Aekkarak Thongjiew)
Blood pressure is measured on the upper arm, making sure that it is at heart level. The patient should sit still for a few minutes before the blood pressure is measured. The blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff in the initial measurement on both arms. These are two measurements that are carried out with a break of 1 to 2 minutes. The self-measurement can be carried out digitally or manually after training and at home (1,3,5).
From which blood pressure values does high blood pressure exist?
The blood pressure values are composed of two values, the systolic and the diastolic value. The systolic blood pressure measures the pressure of the blood on the vessels. The heart muscle contracts and pumps the oxygen-rich blood into the vessels. The diastolic blood pressure then measures the pressure of the blood on the vessels. This causes the heart muscle to relax (5).
The systolic pressure is higher than the diastolic pressure (5). The unit "mmHg" stands for "millimeters of mercury". The systolic value comes before the diastolic value. Normal blood pressure is a systolic value of less than 140 mmHg and a diastolic value of less than 90 mmHg.
High blood pressure starts at a value of 140/90 mmHg. The systolic blood pressure is 140 mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure is 90 mmHg (5).
The following table (1) shows the limit values according to the ESC guidelines 2018 (6). It should be noted that the values relate to Europe and that in some cases the target blood pressure values differ from the target blood pressure values specified by the American professional associations ACC/AHA (1).
|Optimal||lower than 120/80 mmHg|
|Normal||lower than 130/85 mmHg|
|high normal||130/85 - 139/89 mmHg|
|Hypertension grade I||140/90 - 159/99 mmHg|
|Hypertension grade II||160/100 - 179/109 mmHg|
|Hypertension grade III||180/110 mmHg or higher|
|Isolated systolic hypertension||140 mmHg systolic or greater, greater than 90 mmHg diastolic|
|Hypertensive crisis||higher than 180/120 mmHg|
|Hypertensive Emergency||higher than 230/120 mmHg or any elevated value with life-threatening organ damage|
|Malignant hypertension||Diastolic RR greater than 120 mmHg|
In the US, high blood pressure is defined as 120-129 mmHg systolic and lower than 80 mmHg diastolic. Arterial hypertension already exists at blood pressure values of 130 to 139 mmHg systolic or 80 to 89 mmHg diastolic (1).
Is high blood pressure dangerous?
The level of blood pressure is caused by the pressure of the blood within the blood vessels and the vascular resistance. With every heartbeat, the blood is pumped into the vessels of the circulatory system and thus distributed throughout the body. The force with which the blood is pumped into the blood vessels creates pressure that affects the walls of the vessels.
The vessels resist this pressure and thus exert external pressure on the transported blood. According to this, blood pressure arises from the connection between the internal pressure on the vessel walls and the external pressure of the vessels (4,5).
High blood pressure causes long-term damage to the blood vessels and puts an excessive strain on the heart. Long-term high blood pressure can result in heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia or coronary artery disease. Timely treatment of high blood pressure can also reduce the risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack (4).
The two most common complications of high blood pressure are heart attacks and strokes.
The consequences of high blood pressure can affect and damage vital organs in the long term. The heart, the coronary arteries, the brain, the kidneys and the blood vessels are particularly affected. High blood pressure can therefore be a precursor to life-threatening diseases. It is therefore important to lower blood pressure to a normal value and to monitor blood pressure regularly (3).
What treatment options are there for high blood pressure?
In arterial hypertension, the blood pressure is lowered back to a normal value. This also reduces the symptoms caused by high blood pressure and reduces the risk of a secondary disease (4).
In general, it is important to lower blood pressure to below 140/90 mmHg and, if necessary, to below 130/80 mmHg. This can be achieved through non-drug measures, i.e. lifestyle changes, or drug-based antihypertensive therapy.
Non-drug measures include medical information about reducing alcohol and salt consumption, a Mediterranean diet, not smoking, exercise and weight reduction, as well as regular self-measurements and reliable documentation of blood pressure values by the patient (1).
Drug antihypertensive therapy is based on the following five drugs, whereby the concomitant symptoms of arterial hypertension must be taken into account when selecting the drugs (1).
- ACE inhibitors
- calcium antagonists
- beta blockers
Which of these medications is an option should be discussed with a doctor, since the treatment can be based not only on the blood pressure value, but also on the individual side effects and can have negative effects if used incorrectly or in combination.
What role does diet and lifestyle play in high blood pressure?
Patients with high blood pressure are referred to as hypertensive in technical terminology. In addition to antihypertensive medication, every hypertensive patient should definitely strive for a healthy lifestyle (3).
A healthy lifestyle is considered the most important and effective remedy for high blood pressure and is recommended for hypertensive patients with mild hypertension as well as for hypertensive patients with severe hypertension. In the best case, the blood pressure values drop to a normal value. Otherwise, a healthy lifestyle can reduce the patient's need to take antihypertensive medication (3).
A healthy lifestyle includes the following aspects (3):
- Normal weight through a healthy diet and regular physical activity
- low to moderate alcohol consumption and no smoking
- relaxation and rest breaks
Even if it is difficult to change your usual lifestyle at first, these recommendations should be taken seriously and integrated into everyday life in the long term. Changing habits takes time, patience, and repetition. Even small changes can have a big impact if repeated on a daily basis. Such as half an hour of sport, yoga or meditation to relax.
Which home remedies help with high blood pressure?
In addition to foods that lower blood pressure, there are also home remedies and dietary supplements that can lower blood pressure. These should be discussed with the doctor treating you before taking or using them. The most well-known home remedies include garlic, hibiscus tea, hawthorn, cardamom and pomegranate juice. The most well-known supplements for lowering blood pressure are omega-3 fatty acids, L-arginine, and vitamin D (8).
Lower high blood pressure naturally: The best proven methods
Below we share the top proven methods that are proven to help lower blood pressure naturally . Depending on whether the arterial hypertension is mild or severe, these methods can help bring blood pressure down to normal levels or reduce the need for medication to lower blood pressure.
The methods presented should be integrated into everyday life as completely and consistently as possible in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle and thus lower blood pressure.
Regular exercise doesn't just mean sport. Daily walks or cycling to work can also have a positive effect. Sports that activate the cardiovascular system include hiking, cycling, swimming and Nordic walking. Regular exercise or physical activity is important. The Professional Association of German Internists e. V. recommends exercising for 30 minutes at least two to three times a week. (4.7).
Pay attention to a healthy diet
Diet can be a key factor in lowering blood pressure. There is no need to adhere to a restrictive diet. It is usually enough to pay attention to a healthy diet. The Mediterranean cuisine is particularly suitable as it consists mostly of fresh vegetables, fruit, high-quality vegetable oils, fish but little meat, little salt but more fresh Mediterranean herbs, garlic, nuts and seeds.
Of particular note are the following tips for a healthy, blood pressure-lowering diet (8):
- consume lots of fruit and vegetables, fish and very little meat
- little salt
- avoid alcohol as much as possible
- replace animal fats with high-quality, cold-pressed, vegetable oils
- less dairy and less carbohydrates
The menu should be based on fresh vegetables, fruit and nuts, as these contain valuable minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Prepared meals, meat, preserves and bread, on the other hand, should be avoided as they contain a lot of sodium chloride and therefore salt and increase blood pressure (8). A vegetarian or vegan diet may also be recommended (12).
maintain personal relationships
Maintaining personal relationships and togetherness is one of the natural ways to lower blood pressure. Blood pressure can be lowered by the release of oxytocin, which is released during physical touch and sex. The so-called cuddle hormone lowers the cortisone level in the blood and thus also the blood pressure (7).
Stress is one of the four main factors that promote arterial hypertension.
The effects of stress are responsible for many mental and physical illnesses. Therefore, stress should be reduced, especially if you have high blood pressure. Various relaxation techniques , such as yoga, tai chi or meditation, help to reduce your own stress levels. It is also important not to exceed your own resilience and to take a break from time to time (7).
Massages for relaxation
Massages help to relax and thus lower blood pressure. Some massages can also support the circulation. Not every form of massage is recommended for high blood pressure or heart problems. However, you can't go wrong with a so-called hand or foot reflex zone massage. This form of massage calms and relaxes the body and can easily be integrated into everyday life (8).
yoga and meditation
Which relaxation exercise is ultimately effective depends on personal preferences. The recommendation is try it out. Yoga and meditation exercises are known to have a relaxing effect on the body and thus help to reduce stress. Breathing exercises activate the blood circulation and ensure that the blood is supplied with additional oxygen (10).
A relaxed lifestyle has a positive effect on body and soul and can help to lower blood pressure in the long term. (Image Source: Simon Migaj / Unsplash)
Particularly gentle yoga exercises represent gentle circulatory training, which can lead to the regulation of blood pressure. It is important to ensure that the head is not placed below the heart during a yoga exercise, as this can have a counterproductive effect on blood pressure. Exercises such as downward facing dog, headstand, or shoulderstand should be interchanged with other exercises for high blood pressure (10).
Strengthen life energy with Qi gong
Qigong is a Far Eastern sport and represents a combination of breathing, movement and meditation exercises. It is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Qi is equated with life energy, which should flow freely through concentrated, precise movements and focused breathing. The movements unite with the inner peace and thus form Yin and Yang (9).
A distinction is made between two types. The silent Qi gong or also called Jing Gong or Jinggong, and the moving Qi gong, which is also called Dong Gong or Donggong. Quiet Qi gong is directed more inwards and shows hardly any movements towards the outside. The focus is on breathing and imagination. Moving Qi gong is characterized by external movements (9).
High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced through a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Regular exercise, a healthy, Mediterranean diet, little stress, little or no alcohol consumption and not smoking play a major role.
High blood pressure often leads to comorbidities and, if left untreated, to serious secondary diseases that can damage important organs. With timely treatment or lowering of blood pressure, diseases such as strokes and heart attacks can be prevented. It is therefore advisable to monitor possible symptoms and to check blood pressure at an early stage.
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