Tag Archives: Hypertension

Is Your Blood Pressure High Enough?

English: Blood pressure measurement.
English: Blood pressure measurement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For most of my life my blood pressure has been on the low side of normal.  Considering that fat people are told that this is desirable, I was never cautioned by a doctor that I might want my blood pressure at the higher end.  But several things caused me to wonder whether this conventional wisdom was valid.

When I was in college and stressed, I assumed that stress translated to hypertension and took a physical education class based on the ideas of Hans Selye using breathing to lower my blood pressure, which it did.  I realized that I always felt worse after class, dragging myself home and feeling sleepy for hours.

As a budding herbalist I learned that European doctors often diagnose and treat low blood pressure whereas US physicians rarely do.  I find no difference in official guidelines today where 90/60 is the accepted lower level except for trained athletes in both locales.  Unless one is in shock, fainting or frequently dizzy there is no official concern about low or borderline low blood pressure. Still American doctors are more concerned about hypertension than hypotension.

Wikipedia lists low blood pressure symptoms, many of which are related to causes rather than effects of hypotension:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • irregular heartbeat
  • fever higher than 38.3 °C (101 °F)
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • severe upper back pain
  • cough with phlegm
  • prolonged diarrhea or vomiting
  • dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • dysuria (painful urination)
  • adverse effect of medications
  • acute, life-threatening allergic reaction
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness
  • profound fatigue
  • temporary blurring or loss of vision
  • connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Black tarry stools

When I was doing my EMT training on oxygen therapy it occurred to me that many of the symptoms I felt were symptoms associated with oxygen hunger.  Was it possible that with my borderline low blood pressure, blood wasn’t delivering enough oxygen to my brain?  After all blood needed to get through the contracted muscles and  herniated discs in my neck. This was reinforced by my experience in acupuncture class where walking briskly around the block during break kept me more alert than going across the street for hot coffee.

I propose that borderline low blood pressure which is currently classified as “asymptomatic” often leads to low brain oxygen, brain fog, cold and tingling extremities, and what we call in Chinese medicine yang deficiency.  It probably interferes in the desire to exercise, the levels of possible exercise and the benefits of exercising.  Chances are that it is a factor in at least some patterns of obesity.

Look for low capillary refill when you press on a fingernail. pulse oxymeter readings below 95%, cold hands and feet, brain fog, and poor memory.

Then there is the common sense issue. Obesity adds miles of blood vessels. For every ten pounds of fat gained, your heart has to pump blood through an additional 35 miles of blood vessels, and ten pounds of muscle has about 65 miles.  So it makes sense that some degree of elevated blood pressure might be needed to push nutrient and oxygenated blood through them.  Shouldn’t a 250 pound person have more pressure than a 150 pound person to get through an extra 550 miles of blood vessels?

Note I am not suggesting that the extra burden of pumping through blood vessels isn’t hard on the heart or kidneys. The negative cardiovascular effects of hypertension are well known.  What is less understood is the adverse effects of low blood circulation on the brain with lowered delivery of oxygen and other blood-borne nutrients.  In the obese, elevated blood pressure may be the body’s way of compensating for oxygenating extra mileage.

There is currently a special standard based on age but very little addressing constitution.  According to JAMA’s 2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults: report from the panel members appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee:

There is strong evidence to support treating hypertensive persons aged 60 years or older to a BP goal of less than 150/90 mm Hg and hypertensive persons 30 through 59 years of age to a diastolic goal of less than 90 mm Hg; however, there is insufficient evidence in hypertensive persons younger than 60 years for a systolic goal, or in those younger than 30 years for a diastolic goal, so the panel recommends a BP of less than 140/90 mm Hg for those groups based on expert opinion.

Still two persons of the same age might have different optimal blood pressures. One who demonstrates what Chinese medicine calls Heat- inflammation, red skin, rapid pulse and a scarlet tongue probably needs blood pressure controlled more vigorously than one who demonstrates Cold signs like cold extremities, a slow pulse, a pale tongue and pale skin.

I also need to point out that too-small blood-pressure cuffs in an increasingly obese population will tend to overdiagnose hypertension and will engender treatment when not needed.  IOW ask for a large cuff if you are heavy or you may make things worse.

This doesn’t mean that anything goes.  You don’t want to stroke out.  I am talking about expanding the marginal limits of what is acceptable in blood pressure standards at both ends.  In other words blood pressure should be high enough to circulate blood trough the tissue, and when it gets higher, an individualized consideration of how high is acceptable should be undertaken.

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How Sunlight Lowers Blood Pressure

Sunshine Coast Sunrise
Sunshine Coast Sunrise (Photo credit: Jiaren Lau)

And this isn’t about Vitamin D.

Lower Blood Pressure: Surprising New Study

Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., D.A.C.B.N., M.S.
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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?

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.

An increasingly large body of literature suggests that alterations in the NO system may play an important role in the development or maintenance of clinical hypertension. 

What they found is that nitric oxide stored in the top layers of the skin reacts to sunlight and causes blood vessels to widen as the oxide moves into the bloodstream. That, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

According to researcher Martin Feelisch, a professor of experimental medicine and integrative biology at the University of Southampton, exposure to ultraviolet light might help reduce the risk for heart disease.

“This new study finds that UV light exposure to the skin induced nitric oxide release and modestly lowered blood pressure, suggesting that this may play a role in modulating blood pressure,” said Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

In 2009, a team led by the University of Edinburgh’s Richard Weller showed that human skin and the dermal vasculature contain significant stores of NO—much more than can be found circulating in the blood—and that these stores could be mobilized by UVA (long-wave UV) irradiation.

“This study provides suggestive evidence that skin-derived NO metabolites may have a role in modulation of blood pressure upon UV exposure,” Thomas Michel, a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Harvard Medical School.



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

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Grisanti and his functional medicine community. Dr. Grisanti encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Compliments from Functional Medicine University  www.FunctionalMedicineUniversity.com

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Herbs and Hypertension

crataegus_xgrignonensisHypertension is a silent disease which can be lethal.  An estimated 60 million Americans suffer from the disease.  It causes strokes, heart attacks,heart failure,  kidney disease, arterial aneurysm and varicosities, headaches, vision problems and has many secondary effects.

In 90-95% of high blood pressure, the American Heart Association says there is no one identifiable cause. This kind of high blood pressure is called primary hypertension or essential hypertension. It is usually a combination of factors, such as: Continue reading Herbs and Hypertension

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Hypertension “Epidemic” caused by Wrong Blood Pressure Cuff Size?

As a heavy person, I often find that places which measure blood pressure do not use the proper cuff size.  Using nurse taking blood pressuretoo small a cuff will show hypertension, where none exists.  Given the obesity epidemic, this can be a serious problem.  Many overweight people have hypotension, which may interfere with their exercise, it is important that they be measured carefully, especially when medication is involved.  And this is also very important during pregnancy when fluids can cause swelling but do not always raise blood pressure or cause pre-eclampsia.

Here is a piece written by a colleague who shall remain anonymous:

I can tell you that a frightening number of practitioners do not use protocol as stated.   It Continue reading Hypertension “Epidemic” caused by Wrong Blood Pressure Cuff Size?

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