All about Hypertension
Hypertension is a term for high blood pressure. It is a severe medical condition that increases the risk of heart, kidney, and lung diseases.
Arteries are tubes that carry blood from your heart to other parts of the body. Blood pressure, or BP, is the force with which your blood hits the walls of your arteries.
You will have high blood pressure if your heart is pumping more blood and narrowing your arteries. If your BP level is above 140/90, then you have hypertension.
Hypertension is a common disease. Some people have it for a long time without having any real signs.
Hypertension generally develops over many years. It is vital to have it detected at an early stage. If it is not under control, it can lead to severe issues like a heart attack or a stroke.
What causes hypertension?
There are two types of hypertension
Primary hypertension - This type is gradual and develops over many years. We do not know the reason for this. But, some factors could play a role. These include
- Family history
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical activity
Secondary hypertension - It starts all of a sudden. People with this type will have higher BP. There are a few conditions that lead to secondary hypertension. These are:
- Adrenal gland tumors
- Thyroid problems
- Kidney problems
- Sleep apnea
- Birth control pills and cold remedies
- Issues in your blood vessels from birth
- Use of drugs such as cocaine
Risk Factors of hypertension
There are some risk factors such as
- Race - Hypertension is widespread within people of African heritage.
- Family history - You have a higher risk if your parents have high blood pressure
- Age - The risk of high blood pressure increases with your age. Women are more likely to develop this after the age of 65.
- Smoking - Chemicals in tobacco can damage your artery walls. It increases your blood pressure.
- Overweight - Being obese or overweight will increase the risk
- Not enough exercise - If you are not physically active, you will have a higher heart rate. It can increase your risk of blood pressure.
- Excess alcohol - It can damage your heart and liver.
- Stress - High levels of stress can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
- Diet - If you have too much salt in your diet, your body will have to retain fluid. It will cause an increase in your blood pressure.
Symptoms of hypertension
The common signs include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Blood in the urine
- Visual changes
Diagnosis of hypertension
Your doctor will first take a blood pressure reading. Your BP is at its highest when your heart is beating and pumping blood. It is systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between the beats, your BP falls. It is the diastolic pressure.
You have hypertension if your readings show:
- Your systolic is 140 or higher or
- Your diastolic is 90 or higher.
Your doctor will do more tests to rule out any other condition. These tests include:
- Urine test
- Cholesterol screening and other blood tests
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) test which will measure your heart’s activity
- Ultrasound of your heart and kidneys
Stages of hypertension
There are three stages.
- Stage 1 - The systolic number is between 130 and 139, or the diastolic number is between 80 and 89.
- Stage 2 - The systolic number is 140 or higher, or the diastolic number is 90 or higher.
- Stage 3 - The systolic number is over 180, or the diastolic number is over 120. This stage requires immediate medical attention.
Ayurveda and Hypertension
Ayurveda is an old medical system which is in practice for more than 3000 years in India. You will find mentions about this in the ancient Vedic texts.
It is a holistic system that considers the mind, body, and soul as a whole. Your doctor will have questions about your lifestyle, family history, work habits, etc. It helps the doctor to know your system better.
As per Ayurveda, there are three primary forces Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which are present in all of us.
Vata controls all the circulation and air movement within the body. Pitta manages the digestion and metabolism. Kapha is the force behind lubrication and provides structure to our bodies.
Some factors, external and internal, can cause changes to the basic nature of these doshas. When that happens, you will become sick.
Along with the doshas, we also have seven dhatus or tissues - blood, plasma, muscle, fat, marrow, bone, and reproductive tissue.
Vata dosha, being the one that drives circulation, is responsible for the proper functioning of your heart.
Unhealthy lifestyles, poor food choices, etc. leads to disturbance of Vata dosha and also digestive issues. This indigestion causes toxins or Ama in the body.
The disturbed Vata affects blood (rakta dhatu), and the toxins clog the blood vessels. It causes the blood to exert more pressure for it to flow.
Ayurvedic treatment for hypertension
Your doctor will decide on the treatment as per your dosha type, health, and the severity of the disease.
The main treatment methods will include
- Virechana- This is a purging process to remove toxins from your body, including those blocks in the blood vessels. It also improves the digestion
- Vasti - It is a medicated enema procedure to clear the issues of Vayu(air) in the body.
- Dhara- There are different Dharas useful in hypertension. They help in calming your nerves, relieving stress, and also improves the circulation. Some of them are
- Takradhara (pouring of medicated buttermilk over your forehead)
- Ksheeradhara (pouring of medicated milk over your forehead)
- Tailadhara (pouring of medicated oil over your forehead)
Your doctor will decide on the actual methods as per your condition. In usual cases, you will need to be in the hospital for 14-21 days for the treatment.
You may have to continue the medication even after the Panchakarma detoxification procedures. In some cases, the patient could stop the anti-hypertensives permanently. In other cases, they could reduce the dosage or could opt for only Ayurvedic drugs.
Other treatments for hypertension
It includes lifestyle changes and medications.
Some of the lifestyle changes that you will have to make are:
- Eating a healthy diet with less salt.
- Physical exercises
- Limiting alcohol
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
The medicines include Diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and Alpha-beta blockers. Some of these can lead to severe side effects. So, discuss with your doctor in detail before taking these drugs.
Complications due to hypertension
It can lead to issues such as:
- Heart attack or a stroke
- Heart failure
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys
- Vision loss
- Having problems with memory
Frequently asked questions
Hypertension is elevated blood pressure. If your BP systolic level is above 140 OR if your BP diastolic level is above 90, then you have hypertension
There is no cure for hypertension in any medicine. However, Ayurvedic treatment can manage the condition better and also control further progression
The main treatment options for hypertension in India are
- Medicines - diuretics, ACE inhibitors, Alpha-beta blockers
- Lifestyle changes - diet changes and physical activities
- Ayurvedic treatment for hypertension
The cost of Ayurvedic treatment for hypertension varies between 1,300 to 3,800 USD. The cost includes the following
- Your stay in the hospital
- Treatment and doctor fees
- Medicines used during the treatment
This cost does not cover the charges of any attendant/bystander. Medicines to be used after treatment will cost extra