In my clinical practice, it is common for people to come to me with concerns of high blood pressure. It is a valid concern, but in order to correct the imbalance it is important to understand what defines “high” blood pressure and why it is elevated.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system, often measured for diagnosis since it is closely related to the force and rate of the heartbeat and the diameter and elasticity of the arterial walls. A blood pressure reading gives two numbers (for example, 140/90). The top number is called the systolic pressure. It is the amount of pressure inside the arteries when the heart contracts. The bottom number is called the diastolic pressure. It is the arterial pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.
What is normal?
Since 2003, 120/80 mmHg has been considered the traditional textbook definition of normal blood pressure. The recommendations stated:
-blood pressure of 120/80, considered normal
-blood pressure readings of 130–139, considered “pre-hypertension”
-blood pressure above 140/90, considered high blood pressure.
The definition of “normal” however, has changed over the years. At one time, it was believed that normal systolic blood pressure was 100 plus your age. In the 1970s, intervention wasn’t even recommended until pressures exceeded 165/95. Prior to 2003, 140/90 was considered normal.
The reason a higher blood pressure was and is acceptable in older people is because as we age, blood vessels become more rigid. As a result, it is not uncommon for the systolic pressure (the top number) to increase. Today, a reading of 120/80 is considered “textbook normal,” but according to earlier blood pressure standards, someone over age 40 can have a 140/90 reading and it can be considered perfectly acceptable. Depending on age and the state of one’s health, readings above 140/90 can also be considered ‘normal’. That said, the current thinking which suggests that a reading over 120/80 is considered ‘high’ and requires medication to lower blood pressure, simply isn’t true.
In fact, in 2013 new updated guidelines came out again. The new recommendations stated:
-adults age 60 and older, recommended target blood pressure under 150/90
-adults age 30 to 59 recommended target blood pressure under 140/90
-adults with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, recommend target blood pressure under 140/90.
To me the standards in the 1970’s and the current updated guidelines are more acceptable than the 120/80 ‘textbook normal’. One size does not fit all when it comes to health. Taking age and overall health into consideration is an important factor in deciding what is healthy or normal for the person in question.
What to do when my blood pressure is out of range?
While the recommend numbers are good guidelines, the bigger question is why is the blood pressure elevated. High blood pressure is a symptom that something else is going on. Stress is the number one reason that blood pressure can be elevated but it can also be connected to kidney disfunction, mineral imbalance, toxicity, poor diet, viruses and circulatory issues. As a naturopath, it is important for me to get to the root of the cause of why something is happening so the body can heal and balance itself naturally. The body doesn’t do anything randomly and in order to function properly, it is necessary to evaluate where a problem is coming from and not just handle the symptoms. Medication is a fine short-term choice for someone with extremely elevated numbers, but in my opinion, acts as a band-aid to cover up why something is out of balance. Often times medication will cover up bigger issues that could potentially become a problem down the road.
If you or someone you know are concerned about high blood pressure or have questions about how to handle it naturally, call the office today to schedule a new patient visit so you can get to the root of the cause. 517 574 4291
Source: Dr. David Williams