Hypertension is a disorder characterized by high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of the flowing blood against the walls of the arteries. It is measured in two numbers. The first number is systolic pressure which represents the pressure generated when the heart contracts and pumps the blood through the artery. The lower number is diastolic pressure, which represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart is at rest. If your systolic pressure is equal or greater than 140 mmhg, and/or your diastolic pressure is equal or greater than 90 mmhg on three separate occasions while seated, a definite diagnosis can be made.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood pumped by the heart, the size and condition of the arteries. More than 90% of hypertension has no underlying disease. This is called “essential hypertension.” It may also be caused by other diseases or physical problems. This is called “secondary hypertension.” Common causes are kidney or thyroid disease. Many factors are associated with hypertension, including genetics, age, race, long term stress, obesity, smoking, high salt diet, alcohol abuse and a sedentary lifestyle. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is a different view of hypertension. Western medicines approach has major differences, which considers hypertension to be a disease of the cardiovascular system. Tradition Chinese Medicine takes into account the inharmonious condition of the whole system, which involves the improper function of the heart, liver, kidneys and digestive system.
High blood pressure can develop over many years without noticeable symptoms. Fifty-eight million Americans, or about 18% to 20% of the US adult population have hypertension, but nearly one-third of people do not even know they have it. This is why hypertension is often called the “silent killer.” Only when blood pressure is severe do warning signs appear, such as headaches, dizziness, nose bleeds, and racing or irregular heart beat.
High blood pressure is a serious physical disorder; it can cause many health problems, including heart attack, stroke, brain damage, kidney damage and blindness. If hypertension is severe, the patient may have the following symptoms:
• excessive perspiration
• muscle tremors
• chest pain
• heart failure
• ear ringing/buzzing
• blood in urine
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are playing a very important role in the management of hypertension.
Based on the theory of traditional Chinese Medicine, the elevated blood pressure and symptoms are regarded as the superficial aspect of a deeper underlying health condition, so the treatment is not just to eliminate or alleviate the symptoms, but rather treat the underlying cause, and to have a prevention -oriented, holistic approach for hypertension patients. We believe that the partnership between the patient and practitioner is extremely important. Self management should always be emphasized along with the treatment, which includes:
• Daily Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong exercises
• Daily Meditation
• Regular aerobic activity (55% to 70 % of maximal heart rate) for 30 minutes and light resistance training (20-30 repetition per set) at least 3-4 times a week.
• Eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber. Reduce fats and high cholesterol food (animal fats, fatty meats, full fat cheese, butter, egg yolk, oysters, offal).
• Avoid excessive salt intake
• Stop smoking
• Avoid alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods
• Stress management
• Weight control program