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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Blood pressure is the amount of force required for the heart to circulate blood through the body. High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when the pressure is above normal levels.

Blood Pressure Terms
Blood Pressure Readings
How Common is Hypertension?
What Causes It?
What Are the Risk Factors?
Risks of Untreated Hypertension
Hypertension Symptoms
How Is It Diagnosed?
Conventional Treatment
Alternative Treatment
Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented?
What Should You Do Next?

Blood Pressure Terms

Primary or essential hypertension means that the cause is undetermined or unknown and accounts for 90-95% of all cases of high blood pressure.

Secondary hypertension means that the high blood pressure results from an underlying, identifiable, often correctable cause such as kidney disease, adrenal disorders, thyroid disorders, coarctation of aorta, oral contraceptives, alcohol, or others. Secondary hypertension accounts for about 5-10% of all high blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure is the upper of the two numbers. This indicates the pressure in the arteries of your arm when the heart muscle is contracting.

Diastolic blood pressure is the lower of the two numbers. This indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle is at rest between contractions.

Blood Pressure Readings

New blood pressure definitions, released in May 2003 by the National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:

  Systolic Diastolic
Normal blood pressure Less than 120 mm Hg Less than 80 mm Hg
Pre-hypertension 120 - 139 mm Hg 80 - 89 mm Hg
Stage 1 hypertension 140 - 159 mm Hg 90 - 99 mm Hg
Stage 2 hypertension 160 mm Hg or more 100 mm Hg or more

How Common Is High Blood Pressure?

More than 50 million American adults - 1 in 4 - have high blood pressure.

Hypertension is more common in black adults (32%) than in white (23%) or Mexican American (23%) adults.

Middle-aged Americans face a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure during their lives.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

The causes of high blood pressure vary. Often, the cause is not known. Possible causes are:

What Are the Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure?

Risks of Untreated High Blood Pressure

Untreated severe high blood pressure is a risk factor for many conditions such as:

Hypertension Symptoms

Depending on the cause, the symptoms of high blood pressure may vary, but include:

How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed?

It should be emphasized that a single reading of high blood pressure does not constitute a diagnosis of hypertension. At least two blood pressure measurements should be taken on each of 3 days before a person is diagnosed as hypertensive. When a person is in the lower ranges, follow-up blood pressure readings are recommended.

Further evaluation of hypertension and its causes includes:

Conventional Treatment for High Blood Pressure

Conventional treatment of hypertension may include one or more of the following:

Alternative Treatment for High Blood Pressure

Goals of diagnosis include identification and treatment of the possible causes:

Goals of treatment

The goal of treatment is to decrease blood pressure with little or no need for medication through:


Lifystyle plays an important role in the control of high blood pressure. Consider taking the following actions:

Foods that Lower Blood Pressure

Click here for self-help steps you can take for a healthier High Blood Pressure Diet.

Nutritional Supplements

Consult your physician for proper individualized selection of supplements that is right for you, as well as proper dosing. Potassium should not be taken with certain diuretics. Any nutrients which lower blood pressure will reduce your need for blood pressure medications. Anyone taking blood pressure medications should only undertake a supplement plan under the supervision of a nutritionally-oriented physician.

Botanical medicine

There are a variety of botanical medicines that are effective at lowering blood pressure.

Consult your physician for assistance in selecting the most effective herbs for you. Some herbs are toxic in higher doses and must be dosed very carefully. Also, it's essential to make sure that herbal medicines are safe with any pharmaceutical drugs you may be taking.

Garlic is an extremely safe herb that lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, and lowers clotting. Consult a physician before taking garlic if you are on blood-thinning medications such as coumadin.


Homeopathic medicines are effective in the treatment of high blood pressure. Homeopathic medicine is highly individualized to a specific patient. Consult a physician with training in homeopathy for assistance in selecting the homeopathic remedy that is right for you.

Supplement Quality Is Important

Our intention when we use nutritional and botanical supplements is for these treatments to have a physiological effect and clinical benefit, meaning that they are effective and your health improves.

The quality of nutritional supplements in the general marketplace is suspect. In order to get the maximum benefit to your health, be sure you purchase the highest quality nutritional supplements.

Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented?

Since the cause of most hypertension is not known, prevention is more difficult. However, addressing the modifiable risk factors will help to prevent the development of hypertension.

A healthier nutrient-rich high fiber diet, regular exercise, maintaining optimal body weight, and good nutrient status are effective prevention strategies.

What Should You Do Next?

The doctors at The Connecticut Center for Health are very experienced in the treatment of high blood pressure. If you have (or suspect you have) high blood pressure and want to learn more about natural treatments for this condition, we recommend that you contact one of our clinics for a free consultation about hypertension or an appointment.


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