Hypertension, or high blood pressure, comes in stages that correspond with your blood reading number. Stage 1, or mild hypertension, is defined as a blood pressure reading of 130–139 over 80–89. If your blood pressure measures between this range, your doctor may express some concern and suggest lifestyle changes and medications to reduce your blood pressure.
To obtain an accurate blood pressure reading, your doctor will use an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring gauge. Your reading will be measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and consists of a systolic number (the top one) and a diastolic number (the bottom one).
Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure at which blood is hitting your arteries as the blood is pumped from your heart. Diastolic is the pressure of the blood returning to the heart. Generally, a reading of 120/80 mm/Hg is considered healthy.
You may think the lower the numbers, the healthier you are, but this is wrong. Even low blood pressure can lead to health complications.
One blood pressure reading does offer insight into your health but isn’t enough to determine your heart disease risk. Your doctor will take several readings and may even request you monitor your blood pressure at home to obtain an average.
Hypertension at any stage is known as the silent killer because it usually doesn’t present symptoms. It can go undetected until a heart-related event occurs. Unless you have your blood pressure checked regularly, you may be living with undiagnosed stage 1 hypertension for years and it could progress.
Mild hypertension can easily be reversed, so having it go undetected puts you at a very serious risk for health complications as it could progress to irreversible hypertension.
If symptoms do arise, they may consist of headaches, shortness of breath, dizzy spells, and more frequent nosebleeds.
One study revealed that patients with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) may be more inclined to have mild pulmonary hypertension. Hyperthyroidism has a significant impact on cardiovascular health including raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart failure.
The researchers wrote, “Recent studies have demonstrated a high prevalence of [pulmonary hypertension] in patients with hyperthyroidism, and the reversal of [pulmonary hypertension] after successful treatment to achieve a euthyroid state [normal thyroid function]. In observational studies, the prevalence of [pulmonary hypertension] in patients with hyperthyroidism was shown to vary between 35 percent and 47 percent.”
The study included 129 patients with hyperthyroidism, 37 with hypothyroidism, and 38 controls. The researchers examined the link between pulmonary hypertension and other parameters like shortness of breath throughout daily activities.
The findings uncovered pulmonary hypertension among 35 percent of patients with Grave’s disease, 36 percent of toxic multinodular goiter patients, 35 percent with hypothyroidism, and five percent of the controls.
The researchers concluded, “Mild [pulmonary hypertension] is present in a significant proportion of patients with hyperthyroidism, regardless of [its cause]. PVR appears to be the main cause of [pulmonary hypertension] in patients with hyperthyroidism, and neither autoimmunity nor thyroid hormones are associated with [pulmonary hypertension] in these patients. Mild dyspnea during daily activities in patients with hyperthyroidism may be related to [pulmonary hypertension]; however, severe dyspnea requires further evaluation.”
As mentioned, because stage 1 hypertension is reversible, diet and natural remedies can go a long way in managing and treating it.
The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet is the best dietary intervention to reduce hypertension at any level. The diet focuses on a lifelong approach to eating healthily to maintain healthy blood pressure readings. The diet focuses on reducing sodium intake along with consuming a variety of foods that further work to reduce your blood pressure.
In the DASH diet, the consumption of grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, lean meats like poultry and fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fats and oils are encouraged. The diet also doesn’t restrict the consumption of sweets but does recommend that you eat them less than five times a week.
As for coffee consumption, is it still unclear how caffeine affects blood pressure, but it is known that caffeine can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure. If you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, then you may choose to omit it from your diet or reduce your intake.
Also read: 21 foods that raise blood pressure level
When it comes to natural remedies, exercise is an important aspect of reducing blood pressure. This is because regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight while being overweight can trigger high blood pressure. Exercise makes the cardiovascular system stronger and work more efficiently and is also a natural stress reliever, which is an important aspect of reducing blood pressure.
One study also uncovered the benefits of acupuncture in reducing blood pressure. The research findings uncovered that patients with hypertension saw drops in their readings that lasted up to a month and a half after being treated with acupuncture.
Researcher Dr. John Longhurst explained, “By using Western scientific rigor to validate an ancient Eastern therapy, we feel we have integrated Chinese and Western medicine and provided a beneficial guideline for treating a disease that affects millions in the U.S.”
The electroacupuncture was administered along points of the forearm and lower leg. Dr. Longhurt concluded, “Because electroacupuncture decreases both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, this therapy may decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients.”
Another study looked at the effects of transcendental meditation on blood pressure. Transcendental meditation — a type of meditation that avoids distracting thoughts and promotes a state of relaxed awareness — was found to help reduce blood pressure number readings more so than other relaxation and meditation forms.
Dr. James Anderson of the study explained, “The magnitude of the changes in blood pressure with the transcendental meditation technique are at least as great as the changes found with major changes in diet or exercise that doctors often recommend. Yet the transcendental meditation technique does not require changes in lifestyle. Thus many patients with mild hypertension or prehypertension may be able to avoid the need to take blood pressure medications — all of which have adverse side effects. Individuals with more severe forms of hypertension may be able to reduce the number or dosages of their BP medications under the guidance of their doctor.”
As you can see, there is much research to support natural remedies and dietary interventions as a means of reducing blood pressure. Stage 1 hypertension is reversible as long as you take action to reduce your numbers. Speaking with your doctor can set you on the right track to reduce your risk of a cardiovascular event.
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