What are the causes of high blood pressure? What are the affects on our body from this "silent killer?" And what can we do to reduce the chances of having to deal with the devastating results of this disease?
We'll go over those questions and add in some information on the relationship of various organs of the body and how a breakdown in one, triggers more trouble down the road.
This topic is particularly personal to me. This disease led to the death of my Dad and his Dad. So I'm really focused on empowering books dealing with the causes of high blood pressure.
A good metaphor to understand blood pressure in general and hypertension in particular, would be water flowing through a garden hose. It flows along normally until resistance is placed on the hose. If that resistance isn't cleared away, the hose will expand and finally burst at the weakest point. Remember that as we get further along.
Throughout this page we'll use hypertension and high blood pressure interchangeably as we discuss the causes of high blood pressure.
There are two types. Essential high blood pressure is the most common. Doctors still don't know exactly what causes this but are certain what makes it far worse and how it can damage the heart, kidneys, brain and eyes, to name just a few parts of the body. We'll go over those as we work down through the page.
The other type of high blood pressure is secondary hypertension. The causes of this type are very well known. Obstruction of the aorta, both hyper and hypothyroidism, and Cushing's syndrome are examples of causes. Some ethnic groups are affected at a higher rate than others.
If read the chapter on hypertension in Dr. Chauncey Crandall's book, "Fix It," you'll realize that the kidneys are heavily affected by high blood pressure. Kidneys regulate the level of important chemicals within the body. They are fed by very small capillaries that carry blood in and carry waste out.
Do you remember that discussion of the hose breaking at the weakest point? The aorta and other major arteries can withstand repeated expansion and contraction caused by high blood pressure. Capillaries cannot. They are the first to go, which leads to kidney disease or failure if that area has a small vessel rupture. Or if it is the tiny blood vessels in the brain or eyes, those parts of the body are stricken by the loss of blood flow.
When those small vessels start to break, the body tries to heal the leaks by in effect, forming a scab. This toughens up the arterial wall but also closes part of the opening which further increases the pressure. This causes the heart to beat faster to accommodate the restriction.
The snowball effect grows as more vessels add to the size of that scab-like formation, further reducing the size of the artery. The arteries continue to try to fix themselves and begin to harden up. This is called atherosclerosis, more commonly called arteriosclerosis.
So now you see that high blood pressure can lead to kidney disease, or brain disease and atherosclerosis. And we haven't even gotten to the big ones, although when you read our page on arteriosclerosis, you'll see a link to a devastating disease.
If an artery gets down to about 25 % flow capacity in the left artery of the heart, a person will feel that famous pain in the left arm or chest. This is angina. Stable angina might come along and then pass with extra exertion. Or it could be unstable angina which is the warning of a possible pending heart attack.
This is the one that got my Dad. It was over in less than 15 minutes. The paramedics never had a chance. It started with high blood pressure and ended in a heart attack. Maybe if we had a better understanding back then of the causes of high blood pressure, this could have been avoided.
You know the most common heart attack symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, indigestion or heartburn, and/or nausea and vomiting. There are some other heart attack symptoms in women.
In other cases, a person may not get the big heart attack. Instead the constant expansion and contraction of arteries causes the heart to work much harder. This pushes the blood faster. That can scrape away parts of those small arteries and wear away the lining. If an arterial wall in the brain bursts, blood flows directly into the brain. This results in a stroke.
Or some of that scab tissue could break away and finally lodge in a smaller vessel and clog off blood flow to that part of the body. Again, the eyes and kidneys are very vulnerable due to the vast numbers of tiny blood vessels.
And sometimes, this overload on the heart muscle just causes it to wear out. As the years go by, the heart just runs out of strength.
So now you know some causes of high blood pressure. What do you do to reverse it or avoid it?
One of the biggest causes of high blood pressure is excess salt in our diets. Salt causes the body to retain fluid. Too much fluid makes the heart work harder. Our bodies need salt, but the kidneys can regulate all we need.
Another cause of high blood pressure is a common villain. This one is a major focus point at books-empower.com. Processed foods feature excessive sugar, unhealthy fats in the form of trans fat or even worse, the hydrogenated type. These are all placed there to stimulate the pleasure centers of our brain.
Dr. David Kessler highlighted this food industry technique to override the decision making area of our brains in his new classic book, "The End Of Overeating." We've featured a three part series on this vital subject in the page directory.
Processed foods have far too much omega 6, which disrupts the important balance between that level and omega 3 fatty acids.
So like smoking, the answer is right in front of us. Don't smoke, cut way down on salt. Use herbs instead. Cut out processed foods. Pretty simple. Some causes of high blood pressure such as ethnicity or perhaps kidneys that may not be as efficient as others are beyond our control. But this one is for sure.
Please try the Mediterranean diet plan. This is the best eating program available for optimum health and I feel is the very best regimen to overcome the next big cause of high blood pressure.
Weight is the next big thing to control to help avoid high blood pressure. I know, you hear this all the time. It always comes back to weight. It has been proven that when someone with high blood pressure is able to get back down to their "high school senior" weight, (assuming that was correct for your height back then), the conditions often disappear. So go for that prom tux or dress weight. It will be worth it. And styles do come back around.
This topic so precisely fits the dual sub-themes at books-empower.com. Stress is another cause of high blood pressure. And a major driver of stress is finances. Our web site is focused on alleviating money concerns through better financial literacy and promoting improved health through better understanding of what leads to chronic disease.
Another cause would be an end result of that worry. Lack of sleep increases the chances of high blood pressure attacking our cardiovascular system.
There are some more ideas in "Fix It" to help you reverse or avoid high blood pressure. Plenty of sleep, make time for fun and be honest with your doctor are a few. The book is loaded with great information on high blood pressure.
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. And in many cases it can be avoided. The steps are simple. Better diet, better exercise pattern, better relaxation equals better life. High blood pressure is a cause of heart attack and stroke.
If A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C. Salt, processed foods and excessive weight are causes of high blood pressure. Reduce those and you reduce heart attack and stroke risk.