There are many things which contribute to the development of heart disease and problems such as a heart attack. Some factors that have been implicated include:
- cholesterol and other blood fats (although this appears to have been over emphasized),
- coronary inflammation (homocysteine and C-reactive protein),
- blood clotting,
- blood pressure,
- syndrome X (believed to be a product of insulin resistance),
- aerobic capacity,
- smoking and
As well as these there are genetic factors. This is a variable over which we have no control. If you do have a family history of heart disease this does not necessarily mean that you will develop heart disease yourself. There are many factors, besides genetics, that go into the development of heart disease. It is these factors that can be changed and thereby reduce your risk of developing heart disease. One area where you are able to bring about change is your blood pressure.
Blood pressure (hypertension) is the force that blood exerts on your arterial walls. It is needed to pump the blood through your arteries and veins. All vessels, including the arteries provide resistance to the pressure of the blood. If the arteries are narrow or thickened or have lost their elasticity then they provide more resistance to the force of the blood. Resistance creates pressure – causing the heart to work harder to keep the blood moving. A high blood pressure can lead to many problems including: strokes, heart attacks, it can affect the arteries lining the lungs and rupture the arteries (an aneurysm).
It is estimated that high blood pressure affects about 63 million Americans. One study done by Boston University estimated that 9 out of 10 middle aged Americans will, at some point, develop high blood pressure.
The following are symptoms that are associated with the early stages of high blood pressure:
- chest pains,
- swelling in ankles and feet,
- changes in vision,
- leg cramps and
- loss of concentration.
Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The top measure is the systolic pressure which is taken when the heart contracts – when the blood is pumped out of the heart – and placing the greatest force on the walls of the arteries. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure and is reflects the pressure when the heart is at rest – between the beats of the heart. This is when the pressure of the blood on the arteries is at its lowest.
In simple terms, the commonly accepted normal systolic pressure is 120 mm Hg and the normal diastolic is 80 mm Hg (120/80 mm Hg).
Blood pressure varies naturally with weight, age, activity, body position, time of day and emotions being felt (including being anxious about having your blood pressure taken).
The following are regarded as the standard for assessing blood pressure.
systolic less than 120 and diastolic less than 80 – optimal
systolic less than 130 and diastolic less than 85 – normal
systolic 130 to 139 and diastolic 85 to 89 – high normal
systolic 140 to 159 and diastolic 90 to 99 – stage 1 hypertension
systolic 160 to 179 and diastolic 100 to 109 – stage 2 hypertension
systolic 180 and above and diastolic 110 and above – stage 3 hypertension
It is important to remember that high blood pressure and heart disease don’t just suddenly occur – the risk of developing heart disease rises along a continuum as blood pressure increases.
What can you do to reduce your blood pressure?
- High blood pressure may be caused by a number of nutritional deficiencies including omega fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium. You need to supplement with high quality non-contaminated vitamin and mineral supplement.
- You need to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid fatty foods, dairy products and reduce your intake of animal protein. Reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates and sugars that you consume and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
- Coenzyme Q10 has now been shown to reduce blood pressure and has a beneficial effect on the walls of the blood vessels.
- You need to cleanse your body, including your arteries, of toxic material so that everything, including your circulatory system, is able to work effectively.
- If you smoke one of the best things that you can do is to quit. Join a quit smoking program for the support and assist you need and go through the process of becoming smoke free.
- Get plenty of exercise and if you are overweight take steps to lose it. Excessive body weight is associated with high blood pressure.
There are several herbs that will dilate the blood vessels, thereby increasing the total volume of the system. Similarly there are several herbs that will help the kidneys pass more water thus reducing the amount of fluid in the system. The most important herbal remedies are:
- cramp bark,
- hawthorn berries,
- lime (linden) blossom,
- mistletoe and
If you are at risk of developing heart disease because of high blood pressure (and any other factors) don’t leave it until it is too late – take action now and enjoy an improvement in your overall health as well as the health of your heart and circulatory system.
Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.
Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.
Pistcatella, J.C. and Frankin, B.A. 2003, Take a Load off Your Heart. Workman.
Saxelby, C. 2001, Nutrition for the Healthy Heart. Hardie Grant.