High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined by the American Heart Association as a systolic pressure of 140 or higher and/or a diastolic pressure of 90 or higher (140/90, or “140 over 90”). Nearly 80 million Americans suffer from hypertension, that’s a little over one in every three adults! Hypertension is a risk factor for other issues in cardiovascular health, including heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.
Although cardiovascular disease is still the biggest killer in the U.S., deaths fell by nearly a third from 2001 to 2011—a drop scientists say reflects improvements in preventing and treating heart disease and stroke. This is great news, except deaths attributed to high blood pressure are on the rise. As of the most recent published data in 2011, more Americans were dying from high blood pressure related deaths than they were 10 years prior; from 46,765 deaths in 2001 to 65,123 deaths in 2011.
The death rate going up for one while the other is going down may seem contradictory, however, one reason this can happen is that hypertension can directly lead to other deadly conditions (besides heart disease and strokes) such as heart failure or kidney failure if it is not controlled. Other issues that may lead to death are patients with hypertension not taking their medication correctly, or in some cases, the amount of medication is not enough to manage the individual’s hypertension levels. Of the 80 million Americans with high blood pressure, only about half have it under control.
For most people, the American Heart Association recommends treatment if blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and research shows that lowering blood pressure by just 5 points reduces the overall risk of death from any cause by 7 percent.
So, what can you do to supplement your high blood pressure medication and reduce your risk for heart disease, kidney disease, or other issues?
One of the largest factors plaguing Americans that leads to high blood pressure is obesity and overall lack of physical activity. Even a simple exercise like walking for 30 minutes during the day can provide numerous health benefits. Join a gym, work out at home, or opt for the stairs over the elevator or park in the back of the lot to get in a few extra steps. Exercise provides numerous physical and mental health benefits.
Another major contributing factor to high blood pressure is a high intake of sodium (salt) in your diet. Check labels before purchasing your food and don’t add salt (or reduce how much you do add) to your food. In addition to reducing salt from your diet, reduce sugar and increase your intake of foods high in protein, fiber, nutrients, or minerals. A well-balanced diet is a big step towards heart health.
- Stress Management
Blood pressure can rise when you are under a lot of stress and although you can’t always avoid it, you can find ways to better manage how you handle stress. There are numerous techniques for stress management: breathing exercises, physical exercise, playing a sport, yoga, crafts, reading, meditation, etc. Find what works for you and implement the stress management when you feel that your stress level is rising. Properly managing you stress is a big way to help supplement your care of your hypertension.
- Upper Cervical Care
Your brain and the brain stem play a vital role in the regulation of blood pressure. Proper communication between the brain and the body help maintain a healthy blood pressure level. When a misalignment occurs at the top of the neck near the level of the brain stem, the brain to body communication is disrupted. This disruption can lead to many issues, one of which is high blood pressure.
The top vertebra in your neck, or the Atlas vertebra, is not anchored like the other bones in the spine. It relies solely on the surrounding muscles and ligaments to stay in place, which makes it vulnerable to misalignment.
Upper cervical treatments are a pain-free, drug-free, and non-invasive way of correcting this misalignment. When an upper cervical correction is made, and the Atlas is properly repositioned, the brain to body communication is restored. Upper cervical treatments have even been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension, according to a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.