High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is when the pressure of the blood against your artery walls is enough to cause short or long-term health problems including heart failure, heart attack, aneurism, cardiomyopathy and stroke. In most cases of high blood pressure there are no symptoms. Primary (unexplained) hypertension is by far the most common type of high blood pressure. Secondary hypertension has a known cause including kidney problems, medications, thyroid problems and congenital blood vessel defects.
A Major Contributor to Hypertension
Being overweight is a major contributor to high blood pressure. For every 1kg of extra fat you carry, your body has to build many extra kilometres of blood vessels to service that fat (some sources say up to 11kms/kg of fat). This means if you are 20 kilograms overweight your heart has to service another 222 kilometres of small blood vessels. Smaller blood vessels increase blood pressure (much like a smaller water hose will increase water pressure).
Also, as we get older our vessels become less elastic and more rigid. They have less ‘give’ and as a result are narrower and this increases blood pressure.
Western Medicine Treatment
High blood pressure is usually treated with drugs including:
- Beta blockers to slow the heart down – a common side effect is fatigue.
- Ace inhibitors, Channel Blockers and ARBs to relax and soften vessel walls – also have side effects.
- Vasodilators to increase the width of vessels – again have side effects.