If you live in Singapore, you might have seen the news on Straits Times about “Singapore to keep 140/90 threshold for hypertension”.
Why? It’s because the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that not only is the former value used in Europe and Australia, but the new guideline also does little to change the way hypertension is managed.
I think that Dr Chia Shi-Lu, head of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health has a point when he said that “a person does not suddenly tip over from being healthy to unhealthy at a particular (blood pressure) point”. It may cause a mini-panic attack in the Singapore and affect the insurance coverage too.
You can read the full article here.
While MOH is reviewing the guidelines, let’s talk about hypertension.
It’s always good to be a little hyper sometimes to add some hype & groove into the daily mundane life. But you definitely don’t want that in your arteries. The pressure in your arteries should not be all hyped up, well… definitely not for a prolonged period of time until it starts causing problems.
Before we move on the the cold-hard facts, let’s warm up with some cute-heart facts.
Isn’t it cute? It sure tugged my heartstrings!
(Heartstrings are medically know as the Chordae tendineae which looks like a shroud strings of a parachute).
Now, let’s define blood pressure first.
Blood pressure is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. Normal resting blood pressure in an adult is approximately 120/80 mmHg (as recommended by the American Heart Association). It’s read as “120 over 80 “and “mmHg” is read as millimeters of mercury. Why mercury? Mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges and is still used as the standard unit of measurement for pressure in medicine.
Blood pressure has 2 numbers: What does this number mean?
Systolic blood pressure (the top number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.
Which number is more important?
Typically, if you are over 50 years old, more attention is given to the top number as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term build-up of at plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.
Imagine you’re in a water tube slide. You are a blood cell trying to get through to the pool at the end of the slide. You’re happily sliding down and suddenly you can’t go further because there is a donut float stuck in the middle! That’s what’s happening when plaque (donut) builds up in your arteries (tube slide) and the blood (you) can’t go through.
However, elevated numbers (both top and bottom) may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease (not enough blood flow and oxygen to the heart) and stroke (when you brain doesn’t get enough blood supply and causes your brain cells to die) doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic (top number) or 10 mm Hg diastolic (bottom number) increase among people from age 40 to 89.
What it Hypertension ?
Hypertension is also known as High blood pressure (HBP). It is when your blood pressure, the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high. According to the most updated American Heart Association guidelines updated on 17 Nov 2017, if your blood pressure is above 130/80mm Hg, you are already classified in Stage 1 hypertension category.
If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone.
In Singapore, if they adopt the new 130/80 guideline (which they are not going to), 1 in 3 people will have high blood pressure. That’s about 1.8million people!
In the US, nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. (Many don’t even know they have it.)
5 Blood pressure categories
1) Normal blood pressure
Yay your blood pressure is perfect! Keep up the good work and stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise (150 mins per week).
That’s when the top number is consistently ranging from 120-129 and bottom number is less than 80 mm Hg.People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.
3) Hypertension Stage 1
That’s when the top number is consistently ranging from 130-139 or bottom number is 80-89 mm Hg. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication.
4) Hypertension Stage 2
That’s when the top number is consistently ranging at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications along with lifestyle changes.
5) Hypertensive crisis
Danger, danger! You need to seek medical attention.
If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately.
If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again.
If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call an ambulance.
What’s Hypertension according to TCM?
There is no ancient Chinese disease that is called “hypertension” because they did not have the technology to measure blood pressure 2000+ years ago. In Chinese medicine, it claims that the 3 organs – Liver,Kidney and Spleen are the most involved organs. Plus the Heart which controls the blood vessels (according to Giovanni Maciocia in “The Practice of Chinese Medicine”). In most other classic textbooks, hypertension is usually listed under “Headache” and “Dizziness” section.
Modern Chinese medicine have a generally agree that hypertension is caused by 5 factors:
Deficiency of Liver and Kidney Yin (seen in menopausal women, overworked people, old age)
Upsurge of Liver Yang/ Fire
Spleen deficiency (due to irregular diet)
Phelgm (think cholesterol)
Blood stasis (in advanced cases. Think of narrowed blood vessels)
How can I prevent Hypertension?
Lifestyle & Diet for Hypertension
TCM dietary suggestions: Soothe the hyperactive Liver, cool it and nourish it.
This typical type of blood pressure should focus on eating food with cooling property such as:
bitter gourd (or Goya) – see recipe below
green mung bean
TCM herbs for Hypertension
These are the commonly used formulas for the treatment.
Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin – For Liver Yang upsurge
Xiao Yao Jiang Ya Tang – For Liver Fire
Shu Gan Tiao Xue Tang – For liver Qi and blood stagnation
Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang – For phelgm
Qi Ju Di Huang Wan – For Liver & Kidney Yin deficiency
Acupuncture for Hypertension
These are the commonly used acupuncture points that you can press at home. However, these are basic ones and there are more points used in the treatment of the different types of hypertension. This is for educational purposes and not for treatment.
KI 3 Tai Xi
It is the source point of the Kidney channel. In Chinese medicine, the Kidney is the house of your “life source energy”. That’s the energy you were were born with that declines as you age. So to combat any ageing issues, KI 3 is the acupuncture point to target.
Find it: In the inside of you foot. Draw a imaginary line from the tip of the ankle bone and the outer end of the achilles tendon, it is right in the middle of that line. Press for 1-3 minutes everyday. Use your thumb and gradually increase the pressure. The point may feel a little sore.
LR 3 Tai Chong
It is one of the vital acupressure points for treating hypertension.Hypertension is closely linked to the blockage of liver meridian and stimulating this point every day can clear it. It’s name the “Bigger Rushing” so it’s like flushing out the water tube slide I mentioned earlier.
Find it: On the top of the foot, on the web margin of skin between the big toe and the second toe. Press for 1-3 minutes everyday. Use your thumb and gradually increase the pressure. This point usually will feel a little more sore than the previous KI 3 acupuncture point.
LI 11 Qu Chi
Another important point, also know as the “Crooked Pond”. It can help to lower high blood pressure, reduce heat and inflammation (works well for fever too).
Find it: At the outer side of the elbow. Bend your left elbow at right angle.You’ll see a crease line on the outer side of your elbow. The point is where the crease ends. Using your right thumb, apply steady and strong pressure on the point for 1 minute and then applying pressure on the other arm. Repeat 3-5 times.
Remember: Taxi Rush to the Crooked Pond
Taxi = KI 3, Rush =LR 3, Crooked Pond = LI 11
If you can read Chinese, here’s a nice little song.
It basically sings about the 3 acupuncture points mentioned above and
TCM formula -Qi Ju Di Huang Wan as the go-to treatments for high blood pressure.
After all the cold hard facts, now for some fun heart facts!
Did you know the heart makes LUB-DUB sounds?
They are the the 2 majors sounds of the heart. Listen to it here. I like to call it the love-dab.
LUB: The first heart tone, caused by the closure of the atrioventricular valves (mitral and tricuspid) at the beginning of ventricular contraction.
DUB: The second heart tone, caused by the closure of the aortic valve and pulmonary valve at the end of ventricular contraction.
If these valves don’t close or open properly, there will be back flow of blood through the valves causing the heart community will start whispering “whooshy”,”slosh”, hush-hush conversations, also know as the heart murmurs.
Now let’s close our eyes for 5 seconds and say thank you to your heart for working non-stop since you were conceived. #gratitude
Thank you for reading till the end, hope you know more about high blood pressure now.
And remember to share this with your loved ones to your heart’s content 🙂 Thank you!