First Steps to Lowering Blood Pressure Through Functional Medicine
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the most common health conditions in the United States. In fact, over 116 million adults— more than 47% of the population– have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This common condition can have big impacts on an individual’s health, and if left untreated, can have serious implications. Here, the doctors at Personal Healthcare Providers give insight into the conditions as well as offer functional medicine-based suggestions to lower high blood pressure.
Overview of Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. As your heart pumps blood through your body, the blood puts pressure on the artery walls. While this pressure fluctuates throughout the day based on activity levels, there is a normal range that blood pressure should remain in.
When measuring your blood pressure, there are two metrics to look at. The first number is called systolic blood pressure and it measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number is diastolic blood pressure and it measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats. As a result, if a blood pressure measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, it would be read “120 over 80” and written “120/80 mmHg”. Blood pressure is measured in mmHg, which stands for millimeters of mercury. Because mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges, it is used in medicine today as the standard unit of measurement for pressure.
Normal vs High Blood Pressure
Because blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, it is important to check your blood pressure multiple times to accurately assess its level. Here is a breakdown of different blood pressure ranges, as defined by the American Heart Association:
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic mmHg (upper number)||and/or||Diastolic mmHg (lower number)|
|Normal||Less than 120||and||Less than 80|
|Elevated||120-129||and||Less than 80|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1||130-139||or||80-89|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2||140 or higher||or||90 or Higher|
|Hypertensive Crisis (Consult your doctor immediately)||Higher than 180||and/or||Higher than 120|
As an individual rises out of normal blood pressure levels, they face the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases or suffering from a heart attack or stroke. It is important that blood pressure be monitored regularly so that any fluctuations can be noted and managed appropriately.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Most people have no symptoms of high blood pressure, even if readings reach dangerously high levels. Few individuals may experience headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds, but those symptoms are often overlooked and may not present until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.
Functional Medicine Approach to Manage High Blood Pressure
A conventional approach to treating high blood pressure is prescribing medicines such as diuretics, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEI), and calcium channel blockers. However, some of these medications are known for having side effects including dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.
A functional medicine approach includes a more personalized view of the patient’s health. Because high blood pressure can often be linked to poor eating habits, smoking, or heavy drinking, a functional provider will take a close look at a patient’s lifestyle. Often making lifestyle changes can help to eliminate or reduce high blood pressure.
There are other underlying medical conditions that can lead to high blood pressure. If a patient is suffering from inflammation, they may have elevated blood pressure as a result. A functional provider will work to treat the inflammation and hopefully lower blood pressure levels as a result.
However, each patient is unique and will have unique underlying conditions. It is important that you consult with an experienced team of functional medical professionals to help determine the root cause of high blood pressure.
Tips from Functional Medical Professionals to Lower High Blood Pressure
Making adjustments to one’s lifestyle can be one of the most successful ways to help manage high blood pressure. Looking at diet and exercise and evaluating ways to improve these two areas will be something that a functional doctor can help you to do. Oftentimes, cutting out smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and foods high in sodium are all beneficial in lowering blood pressure.
In addition, mitigating or managing stress, making sure you’re getting enough sleep, and potentially losing weight are all things that a functional doctor may recommend to help lower blood pressure.
It is important to note that the nature of functional medicine is rooted in individualized approaches, so it is important to consult with a provider before making any major lifestyle changes.
Allow the Functional Medicine Team at Personal Healthcare Providers Help You Manage Your High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most common conditions today. Thankfully, there are effective ways to manage and even lower blood pressure without medication. Our team at Personal Healthcare Providers will develop an individualized approach to help you treat your high blood pressure. Contact us today for a consultation!