So, we’ll begin slow and introduce the essential material in as simple a manner as possible. Let’s start with some definitions.
What is Blood Pressure? Blood pressure is the balance in the circulatory system between the force of the fluid pushing out against the vessel wall and the force of the vessel wall pushing back. This balance has been determined to be best when the vessel wall pushing back (systolic) is maintained at approximately 120 mm Hg with the fluid pressure pushing out (diastolic) at 80 mm Hg, or a “normal” blood pressure of 120/80. This balance between the internal fluid pressure and the external vessel pressure is not unlike the same balance that exists in all closed fluid environments, such as your home plumbing, your automobile fuel line or your garden hose. Of course, there are differences in the materials in question…the plumbing using either PVC, copper or iron, the fuel line using copper and the garden hose some variety of polymer or stretchable fabric. The closest to the human body is most likely the garden hose because it has the characteristic of flexibility inherent in its properties; however, the fact remains if any one of these systems…whether plumbing, fuel line, garden hose or human blood vessel realizes a internal fluid pressure exceeding the external materials “push back”…rupture occurs. With all four, a rupture equals decrease pressure “in the line”. With plumbing you have a flood, fuel line you run out of gas, garden hose a trickle of water but with the human body, we refer to it as bleeding out. All represent trouble, but only the body rupture represents possible death.
What is the Purpose of Blood Pressure? The purpose of blood pressure is to carry the blood, which transports nourishment, to all the areas of the body including the distal parts: fingers of the upper extremity and toes of the lower extremity. Loss of blood to an area first results in loss of temperature but as the loss increases the risk of gangrene increases…death to the body part. Hence, it is essential that the blood pressure be maintained in an optimal range in order to maintain healthy tissue.
In what ways does Blood Pressure become out of balance? Most likely you are familiar with the two forms of Blood Pressure imbalances: the pressure either becomes too great, known as High Blood Pressure or Hypertension; or the pressure becomes too low, known as Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension. Hypotension is not normally a concern to most physicians especially in the young and fit unless an emergency event is occurring. Hypertension is the greater concern to healthcare professionals. There are two main types of Hypertension: primary and secondary. Primary Hypertension is hypertension unrelated to any other known or diagnosed disease process in the body; whereas, Secondary Hypertension is hypertension resulting from some other issue occurring , such as pregnancy which can lead to a condition known as gestational hypertension (normally occurring after 20 weeks, without other organ damage) which regrettably, in some women, leads to a more serious condition known as pre-eclampsia (which normally suggests other organ involvement and can become a fatal condition if left untreated).1
What causes the loss of proper Blood Pressure balance? This is an interesting question, primarily because we don’t always know what the causes are and because we don’t always know the causes, doctors in an effort to help the patient avoid a stroke or heart attack, deal with the problem from the symptom perspective, recommending treatments that effectively reduce the fluid status of the body. Some information as to the cause, in a general way, can be ascertained as a result of clinical trial and error as the doctor tries to bring a patient’s unbalanced pressure under control. This is a complicated process because there are hundreds of combinations of drugs. There are approximately eleven categories of anti-hypertensive drugs utilized today, including Diuretics, Beta-Blockers, ACE Inhibitors, Angiotension II Receptor Blockers, Calcium Channel Blockers, Alpha Blockers, Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist, Combined Alpha and Beta Blockers, Central Agonists, Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors and Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators).2
Is There Anything “New Under the Sun”? Funny you should ask. Recently I read an article presented byof the Functional Medicine University, in which Dr. Grisanti reports the following: “There is now a new natural weapon to combat against the growing population of high blood pressure sufferers. Now this new weapon is as close as your backyard. What I am talking about is good old sunlight. Blood pressure levels are commonly higher during winter months. The question you may ask is what is the mechanism that allows sunlight to lower blood pressure?3 British researchers have figured out why. The answer is nitric oxide (NO). “Nitric oxide is known to reduce blood pressure by evoking vasodilation either directly by causing relaxation of vascular smooth muscle or indirectly by acting in the rostral brainstem to reduce central sympathetic outflow, which decreases the release of norepinephrine from sympathetic nerve terminals. Basically, nitric oxide increases the elasticity of the artery walls and helps to normalize high blood pressure.”4
Well, there you have it…there is something “new” under the Sun (not really!)…the Sun itself is more healing then we might have thought previously. If you suffer from high blood pressure you might find that getting out in the sun more often may reduce your need for medications and assist your body in doing it’s job more effectively. To your health!
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1. Mayo Clinic: Healthy Lifestyle High blood pressure and pregnancy: Know the facts http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20046098 Checked on 20150523 @ 5:10 PM EDST.
2. American Heart Association, Types of Blood Pressure Medications: The Classes of Blood Pressure Medications http://bit.ly/1pyQu0I Checked on 20150523 @ 5:29 EDST.
4. Donald Liu, Bernadette O Fernandez, Alistair Hamilton, Ninian N Lang, Julie M C Gallagher, David E Newby, Martin Feelisch and Richard B Weller, UVA Irradiation of Human Skin Vasodilates Arterial Vasculature and Lowers Blood Pressure Independently of Nitric Oxide Synthase, Journal of Investigative Dermatology 20 February 2014 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/jid.2014.27