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Posted on 11-30-2016

Traditional Chinese Medicine and High Blood Pressure

by Jo Nell Norcini 

A blood pressure reading is one of the most basic diagnostic tools used in health care today.  Every health care provider that you visit will use this screening tool.  Your blood pressure (BP) readings are so important that you will even find these measuring devises, called sphygmomanometers, in drug stores and at pharmaceutical counters. But what exactly is blood pressure and what do these numbers represent?

Blood pressure is the amount of pressure exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries.  The top number, called systolic, measures the amount of pressure against the arteries when the heart is contracted.  The bottom number, called diastolic, measures the amount of pressure against the arteries when the heart is at rest.

The following table reflects the different ranges of blood pressure:

Category

Systolic (Top #)

Diastolic (Bottom #)

Normal

Less than 120

and

Less than 80

Prehypertension

120-139

or

80-89

High Blood Pressure

  Stage 1

140-159

or

90-99

  Stage 2

160 or higher

or

100 or higher

Ninety percent of people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) have what is referred to as primary (or essential) hypertension.  This means that there is no known cause or reason for this individual to have this condition.  There are associated risk factors involved which include age, obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, having too much salt in the diet, stress, ethnicity and family history.

Hypertension does not have any associated symptoms and many people are completely unaware that they have this condition.  That is why it is referred to as “the silent killer.”

Those people who have BP readings outside of the normal range have increased risks for heart disease, stroke and kidney damage.

If you find that your BP is elevated, there are steps you can take to help get your pressure back within the normal range.  These steps include losing weight, exercising, reducing your salt intake, changing your eating habits, quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, meditating and - you guessed it - getting acupuncture!

Acupuncture has been proven to lower blood pressure.  Studies show that acupuncture works by increasing the levels of nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels to relax thereby increasing blood flow and reducing the pressure in the arteries.  Acupuncture also helps to reset the autonomic nervous system to stop the vicious cycle that is caused by stress.

If you are currently on medications to help control your blood pressure, acupuncture can help you to reduce your dosage and thereby help to reduce some of the side effects caused by taking these drugs.  Please note that this process includes monitoring by your physician.  You are not to reduce your dosage on your own! 

So if you are currently pre-hypertensive, think about acupuncture before getting on the pharmaceutical train.  If you are already at stage 1 or stage 2, acupuncture treatments may help reduce your dependence on medication.

Jo Nell Norcini is an acupuncturist at Cypress Area Acupuntuce located at 9834 Spring Cypress Road 77070. CypressAreaAcupuncture.com

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