d

Find the silence
   which contains thought.
       --Hakuin       

    

High Blood Pressure,
aka Hypertension

The “Silent Killer!”

  • Hypertension (HTN) is the #1 risk factor for Cardio-Vascular Disease in the US. 25% of all adults in the US have HTN, and even those who are medicated, do not have theirs adequately under control. It affects Black Americans more than White, the poor more than the wealthy, elderly more than the young and young men more than women until they hit menopause.
  • 85-90% of all Hypertension cases are Essential or Primary Hypertension, meaning the disease is not connected to any other disease. The remaining cases are considered Secondary Hypertension, meaning they are related to other disease factors like kidney disorders.
  • HTN is largely symptom-free! Possible symptoms include: a morning headache in the back of your head, frequent night-time urination, dizziness, facial flushing, fatigue, nose bleeds, nervousness and palpitations. But most of these are when the HTN has affected other organs in later stages of the disease.
  • Accurate blood pressure readings should be averaged over at least 2 readings on 2 separate days to avoid any extenuating circumstances like White Coat Hypertension (nervousness in the presence of your doctor). Optimal levels are less than 120/80, Normal is considered less than 130/85; high-normal is 130-130/85-89 and should be monitored closely; HTN is over 140/90 and requires therapeutic intervention.


“How could I have known?”

  • Common risk factors include: Age (blood vessels often lose their elasticity and the heart then has to worker harder as we age); Race (the “salt-thrifty gene” of Black-Americans); obesity (especially around the middle),; high-fat high-salt intake; no exercise; excessive alcohol intake; smoking; family history; diabetes and insulin-resistance (which increases Sympathetic nervous activity, ie Fight or Flight).
  • Different Patterns
    - Liver Yang Rising: This is an excess condition of too much energy rising to the head leading to dizziness, headache, red face, tinnitus, easily angered, and a bitter taste in the mouth. This largely comes from Liver Qi Stagnation due to our highly stressful lifestyles. Avoid spicy, heavy and fried foods, alcohol, coffee and other stimulants. Target cooling foods like decaf green tea, green veggies, sea weeds and algaes; moderate exercise, regular sleep, and decrease stress.
    - Phlegm-Fire Harassing the Heart: This is also an excess condition similar to the one above, but presents with chest tightness, nausea and vomiting, profuse phlegm, low appetite, and palpitations. Here, people tend to be overweight and have poor eating and exercise habits. Avoid fried, greasy, heavy foods, coffee, alcohol, dairy and soy products. Target: moderate exercise, smaller frequent meals, improve bowel functioning.
    - Liver-Kidney Yin Deficiency: Over time and lifestyle choices, we can lose the yin, or the cooling moistening element in our body, making our tissues including our blood vessels less pliable and elastic, leading to increased peripheral vascular resistance. And as the yin weakens, the yang, or the rising warming element, is relatively greater and rises up to the head creating HTN. Symptoms include: dizziness, tinnitus, blurred vision, insomnia, memory loss, palpitations, dry eyes and mouth, low back and knee pain, facial flushing in the afternoon, irregular periods, and seminal emission. Avoid spicy hot foods, alcohol, & coffee. Target: restorative exercise, better sleep, rich-colored root veggies and other Fall foods.
    - Perimenopausal HTN: This is a combination of Yin Deficiency and Yang Rising but with more heat leading to night sweats and hot flashes. Avoid all the heating foods listed above and target the Yin nourishing foods.
    - Blood Stagnation in the Chest:This can be from a history of heart attacks or Coronary Heart Disease, where Qi and Blood circulation is still impaired. Symptoms include: dizziness, headaches, fixed points of pain in the chest, dark complexion, spider nevi, and age spots. Avoid cold foods like iced drinks, dairy and raw veggies. Target moderate exercise, warming spices but not spicy hot, seafood, turmeric and cayenne.
    - Turbid Phlegm Obstructing the Chest: People tend to be overweight or have a history of Congestive Heart Failure. Symptoms include: foggy or heavy headedness, chest oppression, nausea, poor appetite, fatigue, somnolence, phlegm and drool. Same food advice as Phlegm-Fire above, but incorporate more ginger in your diet.
    - Qi & Yin Deficiency: This is an overall weakened constitution. HTN symptoms are worse with exertion, The same Yin Deficiency symptoms as above plus fatigue, weakness, spontaneous sweating or shortness of breath on exertion. Target small, simple and frequent meals, root veggies, cooked versus raw veggies, and get more sleep.
    - Yin and Yang Deficiency: This is common in elderly men. Similar to the Perimenopausal HTN, but here there are more cold symptoms and poor fluid metabolism: leg edema, impotence, decreased libido, seminal emission, or frequent night-time urination. Same food advice as Qi & Yin deficiency, but add warming spices like cinnamon, cayenne and pepper to your diet.

"What can I do about this?"

  • Consult your Physician! If your blood pressure is under 140/90, lifestyle modifications are the first course of action--exercise and diet changes. If it is higher than that, then your doctor will recommend one or more medications.
  • Nutrition: Decrease intake of high-fat foods, increase fruits and veggies, whole grains and lower cholesterol proteins like poultry and fish. Onions, garlic, and Hawthorne Fruit help lower Bp; Co-Enzyme Q10 and Essential Fatty Acids lower Bp and improve heart function and circulation, respectively; Lecithin can emulsify fat, improve Liver function and lower Bp; Vitamin C can improve adrenal function helping your better deal with stress; a good Food-Based Multi-Vitamin and Mineral is always a good choice regardless; Calcium and Magnesium as low levels of them have been associated with HTN.
  • Acupuncture and Chinese Medicinal Herbs: Whether you are on medications or not, Chinese Medicine can be very effective in lowering your blood pressure and maintaining it at a reasonable level. The key is determining what your pattern of imbalance is. The more specific we are in diagnosing you, the more effective we can be treating not just the cause of your HTN but also preventing further complications or a progression of your condition.

 

© Jordan Hoffman, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The information presented here is not medical advice, is not intended as medical advice, and is intended to provide only general, non-specific information related to Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture and is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. You should consult a licensed health practitioner before using any of this information.

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This site and any articles on this site are not medical advice and are not intended as medical advice and are intended to provide only general, non-specific information related to Chinese Medicine and acupuncture and are not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. You should consult a licensed health practitioner before using any of the information on this site and any articles.