Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure is a term used when a persons blood pressure has exceeded a healthy level. Chronic hypertension increases your risk for a stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and more. It is estimated that 41% of the people in the world aged 35-70 years have hypertension, and only 46.5% of those people are aware they have it. Like most conditions we treat, hypertension should be looked at from an individual perspective. The causes for hypertension are varied and in order to prescribe the proper treatment it’s important to know the unique reason a particular person has hypertension. Below I have recounted a hypertension success story to show how proper assessment leads to proper treatment.
GRADE 3 HYPERTENSION AND ANXIETY
I recently had a patient with grade 3 hypertension, with a systolic reading above 180mmHg (normal is ~120mmHg). She also complained of hot flashes and anxiety. The anxiety can be a problem, since it can be a cause for elevated blood pressure. What all these symptoms had in common were that they can all be affected by a chemical we produce during stress called catecholamines. The way catecholamines affect blood pressure is that they affect the part of the nervous system that causes your vessels to constrict. When vessels constrict this increases blood pressure. But this branch of the nervous system also contributes to anxiety, and both anxiety and high blood pressure can trigger hot flashes. Based on this observation, I prescribed an herbal formula, which decreases the amount of circulating catecholamines that produced in the body.
After a few days of taking this herbal formula the patient’s blood pressure returned to normal, anxiety went away, and she stopped experiencing hot flashes. While this patient was able to see normalization of her blood pressure with an herbal treatment, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the best treatment is pharmaceutical, lifestyle, or diet related treatments. Understanding a case helps us to choose the most effective long term approach to a particular condition.
This case shows a couple things; that finding the cause helps pick the right treatment and that herbs can have powerful effects. This means that if herbs are prescribed incorrectly, they can have serious side effects. If you have hypertension and you’re wondering if alternative treatments are indicated, please see a qualified medical professional.