Everything You Need To Know About Your Pulse And Blood Pressure, And Natural Treatments Available

Pulse

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.

Checking your pulse

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.

Blood Pressure

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.

Blood Pressure Values

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.

Medical route

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:-

Cough

Diarrhoea or constipation

Dizziness or light-headedness

Erectile dysfunction

Feeling nervous

Fatigue

Headache

Nausea or vomiting

Skin rash

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)

Upset stomach

The alternative to drugs is lifestyle adjustment.

Lifestyle adjustment

This includes:

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.