Everything You Need To Know About Your Pulse And Blood Pressure, And Natural Treatments Available
Do you have a pulse? Chances are, if you are reading this, then you do have one! Do you know what a normal pulse is and how to assess it?
Put two or three fingers from your dominant hand, just under the base of your thumb and wait. Be mindful of what you are doing and concentrate on what you feel. If you don’t feel anything, adjust your position.
Your pulse should beat under your fingers regularly, like a metronome. It should beat between 60 to 80 times per minute. Feel it and count it for the minute against a watch/clock with a second hand.
If it is slower than 60 beats per minute, it could be that you are very fit, or are on cardiac medications. If it is faster than 100 beats per minute, it could be that you have been rushing around or doing something strenuous.
If your pulse does not feel like a metronome, instead, it feels a little like a jazz band playing under your fingers, then you have an irregular pulse. Assessing it further, is it regularly irregular, ie. is there any regularity to the beats, like dropping a beat, or having two beats close together? Or does it feel irregularly irregular ie. all over the place with no regularity?
For a pulse that is anything other than regular, like a metronome, you should consult your Doctor for a check up, unless you are already aware or being treated for Atrial Fibrillation (AF).
As we age, the incidence of AF appears to increase, remaining undiagnosed for potentially long periods of time. The implications are life threatening.
What is normal blood pressure? Textbooks say 120/80 is “normal”. Anything between 120–140 on the top and 80–90 on the bottom, is considered pre-high blood pressure and should be checked out by the Doctor.
High blood pressure is classed as anything over 140 on the top and/or 90 on the bottom.
But how will you know what your blood pressure is if you don’t have a machine and haven’t had it taken in years? Well, you could buy your own machine. This will allow you to check your blood pressure at varying times of the day and as often as you wish, in the comfort of your own home.
You could go to a pharmacy or the Nurse at your Doctor’s surgery, both will check your blood pressure and some surgeries now have machines available for you to use.
High blood pressure directly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, which can be fatal. It is the most preventable cause of premature ill-health.
So what treatment options do you have?
Well, as I see it, there are two! You can opt for the medical route and get drugs from your Doctor, or choose the alternative route and assess your diet and lifestyle with a view to making some changes.
The drugs that will be prescribed fall into several categories, diuretics (water pills), Beta Blockers, Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARB’s), Calcium Channel Blockers, Alpha Blockers, Centrally Acting Drugs, Vasodilators and Renin Inhibitors.
All the drugs reduce blood pressure, however, the mechanisms are different. Some work by relaxing the blood vessel walls, others stop the vessels contracting and some make the body off-load excess fluid.
All medications come with side effects, some of which are:-
Diarrhoea or constipation
Dizziness or light-headedness
Nausea or vomiting
Weight loss or gain without trying
Frequently passing urine
Loss of Potassium (leg cramps and fatigue)
Dehydration / dry mouth
Increased sensitivity to cold
Increased sensitivity to sunlight
Swollen, tender, bleeding gums (gingivitis)
The alternative to drugs is lifestyle adjustment.
Exercise — walking, gym/studio/home based and lifting weights
Optimising your gut flora, taking pre and pro biotics (but not those milky drinks in small bottles)
Stop smoking, if you smoke
Take a supplement, grape seed extract, bilberry extract or olive leaf extract have all been shown to reduce blood pressure
Eat two cubes of dark chocolate a day, it contains flavanols which widen blood vessels
Eat good, wholesome foods with plenty of fruit and vegetables and stop eating junk and convenience food that are full of trans fats and sugars
Intermittently fast eg try the 5:2 diet or eat for 6 hours a day and fast for the other 18 hours, from dinner one day to lunch the next
Deal with your stressors
Optimise your Vitamin D3 intake — sunshine, salmon, shiitake mushrooms, eggs, cheese and butter, or take a supplement
Lose weight if you are overweight
Relax in an Epsom Salt bath, it contains Magnesium
Use Magnesium Oil as a supplement. Magnesium is not well absorbed through the stomach.
Take your own blood pressure — you might have “white coat syndrome”, where your blood pressure rises when you see a Doctor or Nurse
The choice of treatment for your high blood pressure is yours, make sure it is an informed choice.
NB If you feel unwell and/or have chest pain, please consult your Doctor.