Professor Kazem Fathie, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S., Ph.D.
Chairman, American Academy of Neuological and Orthopaedic Surgeons
Some people feel that high blood pressure is caused by vascular disease, cardiac (heart) or kidney problems. We feel it is due to all the above, plus the central nervous system; sympathetic and parasympathetic channel disorders. Firing of the sympathetic nervous system causes tightening and narrowing of the vessels which results in high blood pressure.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
These vary with different people of different ages. Some can present with headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, etc., but the majority have practically no symptoms and no complaints. That is why we call it the “silent killer”. The person feels okay, yet his/her blood pressure is not properly managed and it can harm the patient.
WHAT CAUSES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
It is not only a problem of the heart, kidneys, or blood vessels but also of the central nervous system. Overall, in 90% of cases, the cause is not known. We have observed high blood pressure among blacks, the obese, alcoholics, and women who are taking contraceptive medication. It can be hereditary and you should be aware whether or not your parents were afflicted with high blood pressure. When the blood pressure increases, cholesterol can also be deposited on the walls of the vessels. Hardening of the arteries can result. This in turn increases the blood pressure more.
WHEN AND HOW MANY BLOOD PRESSURE MEASUREMENTS IS ADEQUATE?
During the day, the blood pressure usually fluctuates; at different times of the day, it is different. Therefore, the proper procedure is to check the blood pressure often and not just once a day. A person can check their own blood pressure with a variety of machines available at the present time in any drug store. It can also be checked at your doctors’ office, Health Clinics, Health Departments, or even pharmacies.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IS USUALLY SEEN IN WHAT GROUP OF PEOPLE?
High blood pressure is more common in overweight people and people with high cholesterol, as well as in diabetics and people who have a high intake of salt.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT UNTREATED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Untreated high blood pressure can be fatal. It can lead to heart trouble, stroke, and other complications. WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE? There are many varieties of medications available to treat high blood pressure. Your physician should recognize the type of high blood pressure and only a physician should advise the proper medication.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS IN A BLOOD PRESSURE READING MEAN?
The blood pressure has two components; one is systolic pressure, which is the upper number and this informs you of the pressure of the blood vessel during the heartbeat. The second number is the diastolic pressure, which shows the pressure of the blood vessel in the resting period.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR KEEPING BLOOD PRESSURE AT THE OPTIMUM ARE:
Properly checking the blood pressure at different times of the day. Taking the proper medication advised by your physician. Stop smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages or high sodium colas. If you are a woman, birth control pills have been found to create hypertension (high blood pressure). Therefore, physicians advise you not to take them if you have high blood pressure. Consuming coffee and tea and excessive intake of carbonated drinks and salt are not advisable..
FOODS THAT ARE RECOMMENDED TO KEEP THE BLOOD PRESSURE DOWN:
All fruits and all vegetables; specifically brussel sprouts, eggplant, honeydew melon, broccoli, bananas, apples, orange, raisins, squash, unsaturated oils, watermelon and any kind of juice with low sugar and low sodium. Foods high in potassium would be advisable. FOODS WHICH WILL INCREASE THE BLOOD PRESSURE AND YOU ARE ADVISED AGAINST EATING ARE: All canned foods, bacon, diet soda, fast foods, ham, hot dogs, marinated foods, pickled foods, high fat food, butter, cheese, eggs, fatty meats and ice cream. Replace the salt in your food with other spices such as basil, thyme, tarragon, pepper and lemon juice. In addition to the above advice, it is recommend that you become physically active, with brisk walking, dancing, tennis, skiing, basketball, water skiing, hiking, skating, etc. Remember, this has to be done for at least 20 minutes, three or four times a week. For further information regarding control of your blood pressure, contact your physician, as well as other written literature in the library and on the web.