Hypertension – Atlanta Acupuncture
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects more than a full third of Americans, but many are unaware that they have it. Since hypertension can lead to heart attacks, stroke and other life-threatening health problems, it’s important to learn what you can and take actions to lower your risk naturally.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
What More than 90% of cases of high blood pressure are known as “essential hypertension” and have no identifiable cause. “Secondary hypertension,” on the other hand, is caused by underlying conditions such as kidney disease or certain medications.
The risk factors for essential hypertension include age (the risk is higher after age 35), race (African Americans are at higher risk), and a family history of the condition. While you can’t control these factors, there are many hypertension risks you can control, including:
- Being overweight
- Being over-stressed
- Consuming too much salt
- Drinking heavily
- Not getting enough exercise
- Using tobacco
What exactly is hypertension?
Blood pressure is the actual force of blood flowing against your artery walls. Testing your blood pressure is a relatively simple process. It’s measured in two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is considered high if your systolic pressure is at or above 140mm Hg, and/or your diastolic pressure is at or above 90mm Hg. Essentially, hypertension is a condition in which the arteries have persistently elevated blood pressure. The higher the pressure the harder the heart has to work to pump your blood.
Often called “the silent killer,” hypertension doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it gets severe enough to lead to major health problems such as heart disease and heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and metabolic disorders. It has also been linked to dementia and other cognitive impairments.
A blood pressure reading below 120/80 is considered normal. In general, lower is better. However, very low blood pressures can sometimes be a cause for concern and should be checked out by a doctor here in Atlanta.
Doctors classify blood pressures under 140/90 as either “normal,” or “prehypertension,” which is a blood pressure between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number. For example, blood pressure readings of 138/82, 128/89, or 130/86 are all in the “prehypertension” range. If your blood pressure is in the prehypertension range, it is more likely that you will end up with high blood pressure unless you take action to prevent it.
A blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is considered high blood pressure. Both numbers are important. If one or both numbers are usually high, you have high blood pressure. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, you still have high blood pressure even if you have repeated readings in the normal range.
Stage 1 high blood pressure is anything that is 140-159 over 90-99.
Stage 2 high blood pressure is anything that is 160 and above over 100 and above.
How does Western Medicine treat hypertension?
Typical Western treatments for hypertension in Atlanta include controlling your risk factors and often times receiving pharmaceutical medications to take. Medicines will control your blood pressure but they cannot cure it. Doctors will often say that you will need to take high blood pressure medicine for a long time.
Some people can control high blood pressure by changing to healthier habits, such as:
- Eating healthy foods that include fruits, vegetables and low-fat animal products
- Cutting down on superfluous salt and sodium in the diet
- Losing excess weight and staying at a healthy weight
- Staying physically active
- Limiting alcohol intake
However, Western doctors will often put patients with hypertension on a drug in order to maintain their blood pressure once they get their numbers down. Blood pressure medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Often, two or more drugs are said to work better than one, so multiple prescriptions are given. Some drugs lower blood pressure by removing extra fluid and salt from your body. Others affect blood pressure by slowing down the heartbeat, or by relaxing and widening blood vessels. Some of the most common types of medicines used to treat high blood pressure include:
- Diuretics (often called “water pills”): These work by helping your kidneys flush excess water and salt from your body.
- Beta blockers make your heart beat slower and with less force. Your heart pumps less blood through the blood vessels, and your blood pressure goes down.
- Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors keep your body from making a hormone called angiotensin II, which normally causes blood vessels to narrow. ACE inhibitors prevents this narrowing so your blood pressure goes down.
There are many other different kinds of medications prescribed for blood pressure. Unfortunately, these drugs manage your blood pressure at best, and should you choose to use these as your sole treatment of your hypertension, you will have to remain on them for long periods of time. Many of the drugs have known side effects that simply add more bothersome symptoms to worry about — and more stress is the last thing you need if you already have high blood pressure!
By incorporating Atlanta acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) into your hypertension treatment plan, you can treat your hypertension and improve your overall health and well-being in ways that are natural, non-invasive, affordable and effective, all the while avoiding unnecessary side effects.
How Can Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Help?
Acupuncture and TCM offer a safe, natural, and pain-free way to keep your blood pressure in check when undergoing hypertension treatment in Atlanta and lower your blood pressure if you have already been diagnosed with hypertension.
TCM practitioners such as those here at Buckhead Acupuncture and Herbal Center take a holistic or “whole body,” approach for the treatment of hypertension, and take into account the harmonious conditions, or lack thereof, of the individual’s whole system than can involve the functioning of the liver, kidneys, digestive system, heart and mind.
Treatment is based upon the idea of Qi (pronounced “chee”) — the vital energy that flows through pathways in the body called meridians — and blood providing nourishment for all of the body’s organs and protecting it from illness. When the flow of Qi becomes diminished or blocked, disease and illness result.
The goal of treatment is to find and address the underlying imbalance(s) affecting the flow of Qi and blood which is/are leading to the elevated blood pressure and various symptoms. By addressing the root cause of your high blood pressure, TCM can help your body regain and maintain its natural balance. In doing so, you’ll also be strengthening your overall well-being and reducing the risk of future detrimental health conditions including ongoing struggles with blood pressure.
Acupuncture and TCM have proven effective by countless studies for a wide variety of health concerns, including hypertension. Here at our Atlanta Acupuncture clinic, we have seen many clients being treated for hypertension experience vast improvements in their blood pressure numbers after only a few treatments. Studies have found that a special form of acupuncture called electro-acupuncture, or E-stim, which uses electrical stimulation, may be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure.
By working together with our Atlanta clinic practitioners, you’ll be on your way to successfully treating the root cause of your hypertension, not just managing it, all the while improving your health for today and the days ahead. Similar to healthy eating and regular exercise, consistent acupuncture treatments should be considered for the greatest long-term results. Our practitioners will help you formulate a specialized, custom treatment plan that involves self-care for lowering blood pressure. Some of these self-care techniques will likely also be discussed for consideration:
- Getting daily aerobic exercise.
- Adding Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong to your workout.
- Meditating or spending time alone to reduce stress.
- Practicing slow, deep breathing.
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Reducing the amount of fat and salt in your diet and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoiding smoking, alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods.
Buckhead Acupuncture and Herbal Center is your go-to place for natural and affordable hypertension treatments in Atlanta. Check out our clinic today and find out for yourself!