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
- 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
“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
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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