Managing High Blood Pressure

Managing High Blood Pressure
A recent study by the National Heart Foundation found 1 in 12 Australians under 30 have high blood pressure.
The most surprising part was up to 90 percent of people aren’t doing anything about it.

What is high blood pressure (Hypertension)?

There are two types:

  1. Primary hypertension is the most common, this has no known cause.
  2. Secondary hypertension is less common but it has a known cause, often related to Kidney function.

High blood pressure is defined as having a resting systolic pressure (top number) above 140mm Hg. This number represents the highest pressure reached when the heart contracts.

A high diastolic pressure (bottom number) is considered above 90 mm Hg. This is the lowest pressure the heart reaches as it relaxes between beats.

What Is The Cause?

Lifestyle factors such as diet, salt intake, processed foods, obesity and stress affect some people. Other common causes include:

  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s),
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cocaine

Secondary Hypertension is usually caused by kidney and renal disorders such as:

  • Chronic glomerulonephritis or pyelonephritis
  • Polycystic renal disease,
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Cushings syndrome,
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney Stones


Symptoms & Signs

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms until problems occur in vital organs, such as:

  • Severe cardiovascular problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Eye problems

How Is It Diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made by blood pressure readings. Blood pressure should be measured twice laying or seated and after standing for 2 minutes on 3 separate days.

The average of these results is used for a diagnosis.

Additional tests include urinalysis, blood tests and sometimes thyroid stimulating hormone tests.

Exercise level, the use of tobacco, alcohol and stimulant drugs are considered.

Dietary history focuses on salt intake, tea, coffee, caffeine containing sodas and energy drinks.

The Prognosis

The higher the blood pressure and the more evidence of target organ involvement, the worse the prognosis.

Systolic pressure (top number) predicts cardiovascular events better than diastolic pressure (bottom number).

Ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke is often due to poorly managed high blood pressure.

The Risks

The risks increase when it becomes high enough for long enough. Risks include:

  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Increased rate at which the arteries stiffen.
  • Stiffer Arteries can further raise blood pressure.
  • The stiffer the heart, the longer it takes to relax.
  • Shortness of breath, swollen legs, and fatigue are seen.

A blood pressure reading of 135 over 85 may be “normal” but someone with this reading is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75.

Severely high or long term BP without management damages other organs primarily the heart and lungs, brain and kidney’s increasing the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), MI, stroke and renal failure.

Western Medicine

Primary hypertension has no known cure, but sometimes secondary hypertension can be corrected.

Common drugs lowered blood pressure to the desired level in only 1 of 3 of patients in the US.

The goal often aims to reduce blood pressure to 140/90mm Hg.

Drugs are considered is BP if 160/100mm Hg or unresponsive to lifestyle changes.

Drugs may include:

Beta-blockers and sodium channel blockers which often are required for the rest of a patients life.

Pregnancy requires special consideration because some antihypertensive drugs can harm the foetus.

Chinese Medicine

Blood pressure is an important part of the physical exam in Chinese medicine.

Aside from pressure, the numbers provide even more information about the nature of a persons health concerns.

High readings above >140/90 indicate excess, heat and inflammatory conditions.

Low readings <105/65 indicate deficiency, cold and depletion conditions.

This information adds to the overall picture of a persons health.


The treatment of high and low blood pressure in Chinese medicine is done mechanically.

If blood pressure is too high, herbal medicine may be prescribed and expand the arteries, reduce tension in the vessels and clear inflammation.

When there is too much water in the chest, herbal medicine may be prescribed to clear excess water and fluid.

In the scenario where pressure is too low, herbal medicine may be used to strengthen the arteries and increase the tension to provide more normal pressure readings.

The additional benefit of Chinese medicine is the ability to help deal with stress and other imbalances not always considered in Western medicine.

Herbal medicine depends on the underlying cause of high blood pressure.

Commonly prescribed herbal medicine include:

  • Mao Dong Ching
  • Jue Ming Zi
  • Kun Bu
  • He Zi
  • Xia Ku Cao
  • Dang Gui
  • Chuan Xiong

Common acupuncture points include PC6, HT5, LR3 and KI7

5 Lifestyle Steps

Some types of blood pressure can be managed by lifestyle and diet choices such as:

  1. Aerobic exercise 30min per day
  2. Weight loss to BMI of 18.5-24.9
  3. Stop smoking
  4. Reduce animal products
  5. Eat fruit and vegetables
  6. Avoid alcohol
  7. Apply for an assessment here

David L. Edwards is an author, Chinese Medicine Physician and acupuncturist. He is the author of The Body Fat Formula and The Pocketbook guide to Chinese medicine and painless cures. David is the director of Barefoot Health and Wellness programs in Melbourne.

Book an new patient assessment here now.

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