Keeping well hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of water daily (even more if working in hot and humid conditions) is beneficial for the blood pressure.
High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is a condition caused by the persistent high pressure of blood against the walls of arteries. It is also called systolic pressure (constantly greater than 139 mmHg) or diastolic pressure (constantly more than 89 mmHg). High blood pressure occurs when the body’s smaller blood vessels (arterioles) become narrow, forcing the heart to work harder to push blood through arteries. It typically develops over several years and is often asymptomatic. The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk for a person to have other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Dehydration has the following effect on blood pressure:
- Dehydration causes the blood to become thicker or viscous due to the reduced water content in the blood.
- Dehydration causes the kidney to release renin. This results in sodium and water retention in the body to correct the low fluid volume. This response, if constant, can cause blood pressure to be high.
- Dehydration causes the release of vasopressin hormone in the brain. This causes the blood vessels to narrow and sodium retention in the body. This results in high blood pressure.
- If these effects remain constant in the body due to continuous dehydration, the brain trains itself to maintain a blood pressure higher than normal so that the organs receive blood supply. These changes over a longer period cause hypertension. Uncontrolled hypertension requires medical attention and treatment.
Different types of hypertension
In 95 percent of high blood pressure cases, the underlying cause cannot be found. This type of high blood pressure is called "essential hypertension." High blood pressure tends to run in families and is more likely to affect men than women. Essential hypertension is also greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle. Most people with high blood pressure are salt sensitive, and a slight increase in salt intake may increase their blood pressure.
When a direct cause for high blood pressure can be identified, the condition is described as secondary hypertension. Among the known causes of secondary hypertension, kidney disease ranks the highest. Hypertension can also be triggered by tumors or other abnormalities that cause the adrenal glands to secrete excess amounts of the hormones that elevate blood pressure. Birth control pills (specifically those containing estrogen) and pregnancy can boost blood pressure.
Natural remedies to lower blood pressure and preventive measures
Healthy lifestyle changes can help control the factors that cause hypertension. Some of the most common home remedies include
- Healthy diet: A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure. It’s also important for managing hypertension and reducing the risk of complications. The foods are
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins, such as fish
- Exercise: Increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best practices to lower high blood pressure. Regularly exercising makes the heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in the arteries.
- Managing stress: Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure. Being in stressful situations repeatedly makes the body to be in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, this causes a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels. Practicing yoga, deep breathing and meditation helps manage stress.
- Cleaner lifestyle: Smoking and alcohol consumption are considered strong risk factors for heart disease. The chemicals in tobacco are also known to damage blood vessels. Also, people who drink excessive alcohol have a higher risk of developing hypertension. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption have been proved to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure.
- Herbs: Parsley, basil, celery seeds, garlic, thyme and cinnamon are found useful in reducing the systolic and diastolic blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels, lowering cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDH). They are also enriched in antioxidants and vitamin C. Also, they act as calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
- Reducing dietary sodium: Increased sodium intake has been directly associated with the occurrence of high blood pressure. People with hypertension and those with an increased risk for heart disease may need to keep their daily sodium intake between 1,500-2,300 mg per day.
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Medscape. New Hypertension Guidelines: JNC 7. Journal Watch. 2003;2(5). https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/457298