What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure measures how strongly blood presses against the walls of your arteries (large blood vessels) as it is pumped around your body by your heart. If this pressure is too high it puts a strain on your arteries and your heart, which makes it more likely that you will suffer a heart attack, a stroke or kidney disease.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and it is recorded as two figures:
- Systolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out
- Diastolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart rests in between beats
For example, if your GP says your blood pressure is "140 over 90", or 140/90mmHg, it means you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.
You are said to have high blood pressure (medically known as hypertension) if readings on separate occasions consistently show your blood pressure to be 140/90mmHg or higher.
A blood pressure reading below 130/80mmHg is considered to be normal.
What causes high blood pressure?
Your chances of having high blood pressure increase as you get older. There is often no clear cause of high blood pressure but you are at increased risk if you:
- Are stressed
- Are overweight
- Have a relative with high blood pressure
- Are of African or Caribbean descent
- Don't eat enough fruit and vegetables
- Eat a lot of process food
- Eat a lot of salt
- Eat a lot of sugar
- Don't do enough exercise
- Drink a lot of coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- Drink a lot of alcohol
- Are over 65
Conventional treatment for high blood pressure?
- You will receive advice about
- Losing excess weight
- Stopping smoking
- Taking of regular exercise
- Reducing salt intake
- Reducing alcohol consumption
If your blood pressure is above a certain level NICE guidelines recommend:
In hypertensive patients aged 55 and over, or patients of African or Caribbean descent of any age, first choice of initial therapy should be either a calcium channel blocker or a thiazide-type diuretic.
- In hypertensive patients younger than 55, first choice initial therapy should be an ACE inhibitor (or an Angiotensin receptor blocker if an ACE inhibitor is not tolerated).
- If initial therapy was with a calcium channel blocker or thiazide-type diuretic and a second drug is required, add an ACE inhibitor (or an Angiotensin receptor blocker if an ACE inhibitor is not tolerated). If initial therapy was with an ACE inhibitor, add a calcium channel blocker or a thiazide-type diuretic.
- If treatment with three drugs is required, the combination of ACE inhibitor (or an Angiotensin receptor blocker if an ACE inhibitor is not tolerated), calcium channel blocker and thiazide-type diuretic should be used.
The decision not to recommend Beta-blockers for first line therapy is based on evidence that suggests that they perform less well than other drugs, particularly in the elderly, and the increasing evidence that the most frequently used Beta-blockers at usual doses carries an unacceptable risk of provoking type 2 diabetes. The guideline also makes recommendations beyond a 3-drug combination, where, although the evidence is less certain, the GDG took into account existing guidelines and constructed recommendations most compatible with current good practice.
How I treat high blood pressure
I generally start by taking your blood pressure, so we can keep a record of treatment progress, and hopefully track a reduction, over time.
Kinesiology for high blood pressure (HBP)
I will muscle test for homocysteine and cholesterol, most commonly present with cardiovascular problems.
Homocysteine is an amino acid made in our bodies, from protein we consume. It is regulated by enzymes which need certain vitamins to work. If these are not present homocysteine accumulates in the blood. High blood levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for stroke and neuro-degenerative diseases including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
If homocysteine is present, I will test supplements to resolve the homocysteine (to aid methylation).
Acupuncture for high blood pressure
I will take your pulse, look at your tongue, and use your medical history to determine the Chinese Medical diagnosis for you - it varies from person to person. Commonly the Kidney energy and Liver energy are implicated in HBP, but there may also be Damp from Spleen or Yang deficiency.
We can tap on symptoms, or simply the blood pressure, but results really come when we get to specific emotional issues causing stress. Most emotional issues are long-standing and will reflect experiences from the past, by clearing their emotional intensity your health and general happiness will return.
Effectiveness of treatment?
With regular weekly treatment, using kinesiology, acupuncture and EFT, I would expect you to notice that you feel calmer in yourself, and over time I would hope the blood pressure will reduce.
Research: effectiveness of acupuncture for high blood pressure
A single-blind randomised controlled clinical trial that investigated whether traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture is able to lower blood pressure in 160 patients with uncomplicated arterial hypertension.. In the active acupuncture group, mean 24-hour ambulatory systolic and diastolic blood pressures decreased significantly after treatment by 5.4 mm Hg (95% CI, 3.2 to 7.6) and 3.0 mm Hg (95% CI, 1.5 to 4.6), respectively. The sham acupuncture control group showed no significant response and at the end of the course it was 6.4 mm and 3.7 mm higher than the active group for systolic and diastolic readings. At 3 and 6 months, mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures returned to pre-treatment levels in the active treatment group. The researchers concluded that acupuncture according to traditional Chinese medicine, but not sham acupuncture, significantly lowered mean 24-hour ambulatory blood pressures after 6 weeks of treatment.
Brinkhaus B. Acupuntura en pacientes con hipertensión arterial. Revista Internacional de Acupuntura 2008; 2: 39-40.
A randomised controlled trial that compared the clinical effects of acupuncture and medication (valsartan) in the treatment of 80 patients with hypertension. A total of 18 (45.0%) of the patients on valsartan and 27 (67.5%) of those treated with acupuncture experienced marked improvement in the reduction of blood pressure; 14 (35.0%) and 11 (27.5%) were improved, 8 (20.0%) and 2 (5.0%) failed, with the effective rates being 80.0% and 95.0%, respectively. The therapeutic effect of the acupuncture group was significantly superior to that of the medication group in improving hypertension (p<0.05). The researchers concluded that acupuncture is superior to valsartan in relieving hypertension.
Chen NY et al. Observation on therapeutic effect of acupuncture in the treatment of German hypertension patients [Article in Chinese]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu 2010a; 35: 462-6.
A randomised controlled trial that compared acupuncture plus medication (felodipine) with medication alone in 60 patients with essential hypertension. Blood pressure declined in both groups. The total effective rate in the combined treatment group was 86.7% (26/30), which was superior to that of 73.3% (22/30) in the medication alone group. After treatment, the plasma e-selectin (an endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule associated with raised levels in hypertension patients) content in both groups decreased (both P < 0.01), although more in the combination group than the medication only group (p<0.01). Endothelial nitric oxide synthetase (eNOS, a vasodilator) increased in the combination group only (P<0.01).The researchers concluded that the mechanism of acupuncture on blood pressure probably relies on the improvements in vascular endothelial cellular function.
Chen J et al. Therapeutic effect on essential hypertension treated with combined therapy of acupuncture and medication [Article in Chinese]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu 2010b; 30: 896-8.
Each case is slightly different, so to discuss your symptoms further call 020 7370 4693 or email.
A case history for high blood pressure
Mark, 55: high blood pressure, first diagnosed 10 years ago
Mark was on medication for his blood pressureHis highest blood pressure had been 170/125 before he started medication. He had low energy, irritability and loose bowels when tired. During his first few visits his blood pressure measured around 150/100.
A key cause of the high blood pressure was a busy, stressful job and a long history of working very long hours - and often the weekends.
I boosted the Spleen and Kidney energy, cleared Damp-Heat and moved Liver energy. I also recommended the supplement Reduced Glutathione. Mark moderated his diet, cutting out caffeine and sugar, along with other "problem" foods for him (which varied over time). He got back to some gentle exercise and was more mindful of his work-life balance.
It took regular weekly treatment, but his blood pressure came down overtime to around 125/85. With his doctor's approval he started to reduce his medication, when initially the blood pressure went back up a little, then stabilised, then came back down. Very slowly his medication could be dropped again. It took adjustment each time the medication was dropped, but with time he had more energy and was generally well, with blood pressure down.
Lifestyle advice to avoid high blood pressure
Stress reducing tips:
In my experience stress is a big contributor to high blood pressure, so look at your lifestyle.
- Get good rest, at least 8 hours a night, the more before midnight the better
- Get fit, doing gentle exercise
- Take a walk in nature: the countryside or a park
- Try yoga, Qi Gong or Tai Chi
- Engage your creativity: painting, playing an instrument, taking pictures, creative writing (start with a journal)
- Avoid over obsessing about emails, texts and the internet
- Anything to provide balance to counteract a busy life
Ask yourself, what do I do to relax? I hope you have an answer! If so, make time for it. If not - play and find out.
- Avoid sugar
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid processed food
- Moderate or avoid alcohol
- Avoid normal salt, switch to Solo Salt (lower sodium but more advantageous potassium and magnesium)
- Eat oily fish, seeds and nuts
- Eat lots of fresh veg and fruit
- Drink 2 litres of water a day
- Get your homocysteine level tested (it should be below 6)
- Those with high homocysteine could investigate: Vit B6, B12 and Folic Acid levels, and if necessary supplement these
- Eat dark leafy veg (high folic acid content)
- Vitamin E and Omega 3 fish oil can be advantageous
This may be the catalyst to make changes - to your diet and your weight. Being over-weight is due to eating the wrong foods, and generally a desire to eat more than we need. It is no different to any addiction - eating helps quieten the underlying anxieties - it's calming and soothes - it's "me time".
Kinesiology, acupuncture and EFT are a powerful combination to combat excess weight. They identify foods causing bloating, they help the digestive system and calm the anxieties, and clear patterns which drive our eating.
As a primary recommendation, I suggest following a low GI (glycemic index) diet.
This is easier to say, than to do! However, acupuncture and EFT can help, by taking away the underlying anxiety that is compelling you to smoke.
Additionally, Alan Carr's book: How to Stop Smoking Now, is profoundly helpful to understand the nature of the addiction, and help rethink why we are so driven to smoke.