Preventing Primary Hypertension ~ Are You Under Pressure?

Are you on a journey to primary hypertension? What is primary hypertension and is there a secondary one? What is a normal blood pressure? What is high blood pressure?

'One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.' ~ Earl Wilson

Over the course of the more than 35 years I have been a nurse, I reflect on what I was first taught about high blood pressure and what it has morphed into since then. As more and more people become obese, sedentary and under pressure, more and more sequela from high blood pressure is evidenced in dis-eases such as all types of cardiovascular dis-ease, stroke, etc.

Therefore, in order to combat this modern disease, medical science has lowered its guidelines for what is normal blood pressure to lower and lower levels.

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Unless you are under 120, most of us have what is now defined as 'Stage I Hypertension.' For normal blood pressure, the systolic reading (upper number) needs to be below 120 mm Hg, and the diastolic (lower number) below 80 mm Hg. So if your blood pressure reading is 120/80 you are now considered to have 'Stage I Hypertension!'

The flowing is now the accepted standard for blood pressure readings:

  • 120-139/80-89 - Stage I Hypertension or Prehypertension
  • 140-159/90-99 - Stage II Hypertension or Mild Hypertension
  • 160-179/100-109 - Stage III Hypertension or Moderate Hypertension
  • Over 180/110 - Stage IV or Severe Hypertension, which is a medical emergency.

Primary Hypertension Defined

Primary hypertension is the term given to high blood pressure with no underlying cause. It is also known as essential hypertension.

In contrast, secondary hypertension has a known cause such as kidney problems, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

95% of all cases of high blood pressure are defined as primary hypertension, with no known cause.

So how is it that if there is no known cause for primary hypertension, that we all believe in the current recommendations for lowering high blood pressure? It is of course, because medical double blind studies have shown potential causality with the association of behavioral factors such as a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and high stress.

If we were to dig deeper, beyond the traditional, associated physical causes of primary hypertension, would we gain some insight?? If I define blood pressure for you, it may at first blush appear to be a physical phenomenon: According to Wikipedia, it is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of the blood vessels.

If you went deeper than the physical definition to the metaphorical, which word in this definition jumps out at you? Hmmm…. PRESSURE.

When I went to look up the word 'pressure,' the most interesting physical definition I found to illustrate my point was Webster's: The action of a force against an opposing force or the application of force to something by something else in direct contact with it.

Yet, for the very same word, pressure, another definition is found: a: the burden of physical or mental distress b: the constraint of circumstance; the weight of social or economic imposition.

My, my, isn’t our language just loaded with metaphors? The very physical meaning of two objects butting against one another now is translated to the emotional or mental distress that accompanies the physical phenomenon!

To be 'under pressure' now garners new meaning. And indeed, the reverse is true - the emotional phenomenon of being under pressure is transformed into our physical reality of high blood pressure. (This is why metaphors are so important and why we should learn what is a metaphor.)

In fact, Webster’s uses 'stress' as a synonym for pressure, in the emotional sense. In fact, when one looks up the meaning of stress, you are given a physical definition and an emotional one. No surprise here, is there?

In fact, an almost body-mind-soul definition of stress is given: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.

Have I made a point yet?

Indeed! If you have opposing physical forces in your life, requiring intense effort and exertion or if you are 'under pressure' all the time or you 'have too much pressure' in your life, your physical blood pressure will reflect it. It’s that simple.

You can be of ideal body weight and go for power walks (most likely they ARE power walks, because this type of individual almost never slows down), yet you can still suffer from primary hypertension. See my discussion on aerobic exercise for suggestions on how to do meditative walks, for the most benefit for lowering high blood pressure.

Sunlight at water's edgeSunlight at water's edge

Lowering High Blood Pressure Naturally

If you are already diagnosed with primary hypertension, there is still hope. Understanding your emotional and mental patterns of feeling like you are always under pressure is the perfect start.

Prayer and meditation, a time to reflect, emptying yourself and your thoughts is the only path to health. It is the only way for lowering high blood pressure naturally. De-stressing is so important in our world where we are always under pressure.

When you take time for yourself, use prayer, meditation, breath work, yoga, meditative walks and affirmations. There are so many ways to reconnect with what is real, true and meaningful. My web site is loaded with information to help you.

Say positive affirmations of peace and hope and abundant time. Say it like you mean it. Tell your arteries and veins that you give them permission to relax. In your meditations, visualize the relaxation and opening of your vessels to the life-giving, blood-carrying oxygen that you are subconsciously restricting from yourself. High blood pressure is the added force required to push your blood through tense and constricted arteries.

Constricted arteries are the result of a continued stress response of your body: the well-known fight or flight phenomenon when the cortisol being pumped through your body leaves you in a continual state of alert. This continued pressure from your tense and constricted blood vessels will eventually wear out your heart and cardiovascular system.

You can take antihypertensive medications, called 'beta-blockers' that open constricted blood vessels. Indeed, most do, but drugs should be your last resort. Lifestyle changes should always be first in the fight against primary hypertension.

If you have Stage I or Stage II hypertension, always ask your doctor to try behavioral measures first. These would include losing weight, maintaining a healthy diet, reducing salt intake, non-stressful aerobic exercise, limiting your alcohol intake, quitting smoking and practicing all the body-mind techniques that I teach on this website.

'All pressure is self-inflicted. It's what you make of it or how you let it rub off on you.' ~ Sebastian Coe

Keep your 'pressure' under control. Learn to manage your time and commitments. On a daily basis, carve out AT LEAST 10 minutes a day to sit quietly, and reflect on what matters. Silently, breathe deeply and repeat the following affirmations for lowering high blood pressure:

  • I am at peace with the world.
  • I am at peace with myself.
  • My future is open and full.
  • I release tension and pressure.
  • I have all the time in the world.
  • I breathe in and out fully for all my oxygen needs.
  • My blood vessels are open and relaxed.
  • All is well in my world!

The importance of the breath should be learned, so that in your relaxed state, you always remember to breathe slowly and deeply!  Learning yogic breathing exercises can really help you.  It is the deep and slow breathing that tells your body to relax by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system, instead of that fight or flight sympathetic nervous system. 

May you always be open and un-constricted in your ways instead of always under pressure. May you stop and take time for yourself and your family. May you learn to tell your heart and blood vessels that they deserve to relax and take care that your journey does not lead you down the road to primary hypertension!

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