Hypertension and Heart Disease - The Link and Management with Homoeopathy
Hypertension is a common health problem. Overall, approximately 20% of the world’s adults are estimated to have hypertension. Hypertension is defined as BP being in excess of 120/80 mmHg. The prevalence dramatically increases in patients older than 60 years of age. In many countries, 50% of individuals in this age group have hypertension. Worldwide, approximately 1 billion people have hypertension, contributing to more than 7.1 million deaths per year.
Hypertensive heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death associated with high blood pressure. It refers to a group of disorders that includes heart failure, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and left ventricular hypertrophy (excessive thickening of the heart muscle).
What is the link between high blood pressure and heart attack?
High blood pressure increases the risk of coronary artery disease (also called atherosclerosis).
Coronary artery disease is the build-up of plaque or fatty matter in the walls of the coronary arteries; this build-up leads to narrowing of the arteries over time. The narrowed artery limits or blocks the flow of blood to the heart muscle. The hardened surface of the artery can also encourage the formation of small blood clots. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop coronary artery disease because high blood pressure puts added force against the artery walls. Over time, this extra pressure can damage the arteries. These injured arteries are more likely to become narrowed and hardened by fatty deposits.
Damaged arteries cannot deliver enough oxygen to other parts of the body. For this reason, high blood pressure can harm the brain and kidneys. High blood pressure also increases the risk for stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness.
High blood pressure brings on heart failure by causing left ventricular hypertophy, a thickening of the heart muscle that results in less effective muscle relaxation between heart beats. This makes it difficult for the heart to fill with enough blood to supply the body’s organs, especially during exercise, leading your body to hold onto fluids, and your heart rate to increase.
High blood pressure can also cause ischemic heart disease. This means that the heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood. Ischemic heart disease is usually the result of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries (coronary artery disease), which impedes blood flow to the heart.
What is high blood pressure?
The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is the force or pressure of blood inside the arteries when the heart beats. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means that the pressure in your arteries is above the normal range.
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is recorded as two measurements.
Systolic Blood Pressure. The pressure in the arteries when the heart is beating and fills the arteries with blood. Systolic blood pressure is the top or first number of the blood pressure reading.
Systolic Blood Pressure. The pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom or second number of the blood pressure reading.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Mild to moderate primary (essential) hypertension is largely asymptomatic for many years. The most frequent symptom, headache, is also very nonspecific. Suboccipital pulsating headaches, occurring early in the morning and subsiding during the day, are said to be characteristic, but any type of headache may occur. Accelerated hypertension is associated with somnolence, confusion, visual disturbances, and nausea and vomiting (hypertensive encephalopathy).
Conventional Medication and Side Effects
Many conventional medications can cause side effects, and high blood pressure (HBP) medications are no exception. However, many people do not have side effects from taking hypertension drugs, and often the side effects are mild. Still, it’s important to stay informed and work closely with your doctor to manage any side effects you may have. There’s no reason to “suffer in silence.” Today there are more medication options than ever for managing high blood pressure (hypertension).
Can a person taking medication for high blood pressure ever be taken off the medicines, or is it a lifelong prescription?
This is a commonly asked question of a patient who is on antihypertensive medication and more commonly, the homoeopathic physician faces this question. Many patients want to shift to homoeopathy from allopathy for the treatment of hypertension and want to clear their doubts on this.
Just because your physician prescribes blood pressure medication doesn’t mean you have to take it forever. Although most people find that taking antihypertensive medication helps to control their blood pressure with relatively few serious side effects, once your blood pressure is under control, you may be able to lower the dosage or stop taking the medication altogether by adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, many people do require lifelong medication therapy because despite a healthy lifestyle, they still may have high blood pressure due to other intrinsic factors.
The good news is that even if you require medications for blood pressure, you can keep the dose down by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. One word of warning: Often people stop taking their pills once their blood pressure reaches a healthy level, only to find it shoots right back up after a period of time. This fluctuation could be dangerous, so never stop taking your medication without first consulting your physician. And if you are concerned about taking medication for the long term, ask your doctor about alternative ways to control your blood pressure.
Homoeopathy for hypertension*
A positive response has been noticed in most cases of hypertension I have seen in my practice as per their response to homoeopathic medicines.
Most of the cases have responded to constitutional treatment with specific homoeopathic remedies prescribed in the form of mother tinctures. A constitutional remedy chosen by an experienced prescriber is the most appropriate way to treat deep-seated, serious, or chronic conditions. Some remedies may be useful as first-aid in intense situations, but medical care should also be sought immediately.
Word of Caution
- Never stop taking medication without first talking to your doctor. In some cases, this can be very dangerous, causing a big spike in blood pressure..
- If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about the safest medication to use ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) can cause harmful side effects for pregnant women and their developing babies.
- If you take insulin for diabetes, talk to your doctor Changes in blood sugar can occur in people with diabetes taking diuretics or beta blockers for high blood pressure.
- If you have problems with erections during sex, talk with your doctor Some high blood pressure medications can cause this problem. Reducing the dose or changing to another type of medication may help. But high blood pressure itself can also cause erectile dysfunction.
Managing high blood pressure
Follow your health care provider’s recommendations for changing your diet and lifestyle. These changes may include:
- Quitting smoking
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Exercising regularly
- Eating well-balanced, nutritious meals that are low in fat, cholesterol, and salt, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables
- Limiting alcoholic beverages to no more than one ounce of pure alcohol or two drinks per day