Chiropractic and Hypertensionby Jonathan Jewett | Feb 20, 2016
According to the CDC over 70 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, also known as “hypertension”. 70 million Americans equals about 1 in 3 adults that have high blood pressure. We hear about it in the news, we hear about it from our doctor, we all know it’s bad, but where does it come from and how do I get rid of it? And most importantly, are there any treatments that don’t include taking medication for the rest of my life? Those are good questions, and I plan on answering them all!
First off, for a moment, let me quickly explain what high blood pressure is so we know what we’re up against. Blood pressure is the force that blood pushes out against the walls of your arteries and veins. Think of it this way. If we have water running through a garden hose and you stepped on it, it’s pretty easy to stop the flow of water coming out the other end of the hose because the water pressure isn’t all that high. If you were to step on a fire hose hooked up to a fire hydrant, you may not be able to reduce the flow at all, because the pressure is a LOT higher.
Blood pressure is measured with a device called a sphygmomanometer, but it is more commonly referred to as a “blood pressure cuff” (which is a lot easier to say). The way it works, is it squeezes your arm to stop the flow of blood through the arteries in your arm, but don’t worry, only for a second. The doctor then measures at what pressure the blood starts to flow again through your arm. The goal of this test is not only to measure how much general pressure is in your arteries but also what the pressure is during the contractions of your heart muscle. This is why blood pressure readings often have two numbers to them.
Ok, so my doctor says my blood pressure is high, but why is that so bad? Well, mainly it is because our blood vessels were made to only withstand so much pressure, and when you exert too much force on them you can damage them, as well as damage certain organs that these blood vessels are in. High blood pressure can lead to heart and coronary artery damage, stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, erectile dysfunction, memory loss, and fluid in the lungs to only name a few.
So, now I know why hypertension is bad, but where did it come from? Rarely does high blood pressure have a single cause. More often it is a number of different factors that lead to having high blood pressure. These include, high stress level or anxiety, eating an unhealthy diet, being obese, drinking alcohol regularly, smoking, not getting enough exercise, and in many cases a family history of hypertension (genetics). There are many more causes be these are several of the most common causes. If you have any of the above listed causes, and you haven’t had your blood pressure checked, it may be wise have it checked sometime soon.
It’s worth noting that some people live a relatively healthy life and still have high blood pressure. These people are often viewed as having a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure, but if any of the risk factors listed in the previous paragraph sounded familiar, there may be a few things you could change in your lifestyle to reduce your blood pressure. These include: eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol use, exercise more, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, relaxing with a good book, and getting your blood pressure checked regularly. Now if all that sounds too difficult there are easier methods of lowering your blood pressure. One is to take medication to reduce your blood pressure, but this may not be the most healthy way to treat hypertension. Taking medication often only removes the symptom of high blood pressure, but doesn’t remove the cause. If your hypertension is due to being obese or abusing alcohol, then resolving those issues is the best course of treatment before resorting to medication.
It also may come as a surprise, but treatments like chiropractic have also been shown to reduce high blood pressure. But I don’t want you to take my word for it, let’s look at a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension back in March of 2007. It explains that correcting alignment issues of your atlas or C1 vertebrae have been associated with reduced arterial pressure. In layman’s terms this translates to, “If the top vertebrae in your neck is out of alignment, correcting it with a chiropractic adjustment can reduce your high blood pressure.” You can read more about the actual study HERE.
I hope I cleared up any questions you may have had about hypertension and its treatment, as well as show you that there are many ways of treating high blood pressure naturally by removing the cause of your high blood pressure.