Hypertension

Introduction

 

High blood pressure is a condition in which blood forces the walls of the arterial blood vessels to produce health problems like heart diseases. It depends upon the quantity of blood pumped by the heart & the resistance offered by the blood vessels to the blood flow. If the heart pumps more blood & the vessels are not broad then the blood pressure increases. High blood pressure can persist without any symptoms for years. It can gradually damage your heart & blood vessels. Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause serious illnesses like stroke & heart attack. It is fortunate that high blood pressure can be easily detected & can be intervened timely.

As per the WHO, 40 % of the population aged more than 25 years have hypertension. 57 % of the stroke deaths are due to high blood pressure. 24% of coronary heart disease deaths are associated with hypertension. Hence this is a serious alarming health issue. Brain, kidney, nerves, etc. can be affected & damaged if hypertension is not effectively managed.

Types

Primary– This is most common in adults without an identifiable cause. It develops gradually.

Secondary– It occurs when there is an undiagnosed illness like renal problems, thyroid issues, adrenal tumors, certain medications like birth control pills, pain killers, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.

Risk factors

  • Age – 64 in men, 65 in women
  • Race– African descents are more prone than whites
  • Family history– if any family member has high blood pressure then there is a good chance
  • Sedentary life-lack of physical activity triggers weight gain & blood pressure
  • Obesity– The more weight you have more blood has to be pumped & the pressure also increases
  • Tobacco use– Chemicals in tobacco alters the lining, narrowing of blood vessels & pressure on the vessel walls
  • Salty & low potassium foods– high sodium diet cause fluid retention in the body which inturn causes high blood pressure. Potassium balances the sodium in the body.
  • Alcoholism– more than 2 drinks a day for men shoot the blood pressure. It is recommended to avoid any type of alcoholic drinks to be safe.
  • Stress– It affects the hormonal balance in the body & hence increases the blood pressure
  • Chronic diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, sleep disorders.

Ayurveda perspective

Rather than considering hypertension as a disease, it is better explained by the involvement of doshas, dhathus & the srothas (body channels). Due to the intake of excessively salty foods, spicy foods, tobacco, & alcoholism, there is vitiation of Vata, Pitta & Raktha. By the consumption of oily foods, there is vitiation of kapha dosa & medho dhathus. The doshas present in the blood get vitiated by the unwholesome diet & regimen. Also due to stress factors, Vata undergoes vitiation & increases the speed of blood flow. There is also increased expulsion of blood & resistance within the blood vessels. This in turn increases the blood pressure.

Symptoms

Headache, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, high body temperature & other symptoms depending upon the health of the patient.

Management & Treatment

Ayurveda management focuses more on preventing the precipitating factors like obesity, high cholesterol content, & lifestyle problems.  The line of treatment depends upon the constitution of the patient, intensity of the disease, or any systemic problems. Pacifying blood & pitta vitiation, therapies, herbal diet as well as medicine, purgation therapy, fasting & in extreme cases bloodletting are highlighted in the management of high blood pressure condition in Ayurveda. If there is Vata predominance, relaxation therapies can be a great help. If there is pitta predominance, Virechana therapy or purgation therapy is highly recommended. If there is Kapha predominance, therapies that reduce the fat should be followed. Medicated enema is very effective. Panchakarma therapies like Vasti-enema, Virechana– purgation therapy & emesis therapy-Vamana should be chosen depending upon the dosha involvement, constitution of the individual, the digestive capacity of the patient. Three are also effective herbal medicines, cardiotonic like Arjuna, haritaki, clear the channels-Guggulu, Kushta, ojasya – nourishment to dhathus Jeevaniya Varga, & mana prasadana herbs-Brahmi, Sarpagandha

  • Lifestyle management is also imperative in the management of hypertension
  • Metabolic errors correction- Triphala, rasna, sunthi
  • Mental support- socializing with friends, emotional support

Yoga & meditation

Asanas like Padmasana, Vajrasana, Sarvangasana & Surya namaskar improve circulation &helps to release toxins from the body. It also clears the channels of the body & enables the normal functioning of Prana Vayu. The asanas help to mobilize the deposited fat in the body. It helps to slash down your pounds. It removes stress & allied mental imbalances.

Management of increased blood pressure is an integrated approach. It involves a combination of therapies & lifestyle management. If this is been followed with good care, the condition can be reversed in no time. Avoiding the causes, following the wholesome diet, activities, herbal medicines, purificatory therapies, & Rasayana- immune-modulatory therapies can bring your body to the normal state. If proper prevent or prescribed guidelines are not followed it becomes difficult to cure.