Elevated blood pressure continues to be a major concern for health care practitioners. The American Heart Association reports that 1 out of every 3 adults has elevated blood pressure. If we estimated that Benicia alone has 18,000 people over the age of 18, that would mean that 6,000 people in Benicia have high blood pressure!
Why should we worry about high blood pressure?
Elevated blood pressure levels significantly increases your risk for a number of dangerous conditions.
High blood pressure has a major impact on the health of our arteries. As the pressure in our arteries increases, puts a huge amount of stress on these structures. The once healthy and elastic arteries become hardened and narrow which limits the blood flow through our bodies. A section of these weakened arteries can bludge outward. This is a serious, life-threatening condition called an aneurysm which is prone to rupture and cause internal bleeding.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can also lead to damage of the heart muscle, itself. The blood receives it's blood supply from arteries called coronary arteries. When these arteries are damaged and narrowed, this limits the blood supply to the heart muscle and can cause chest pain and heart attack. Increased blood pressure also cause the heart to work harder than it would under normal conditions. This leads to thickening and hardening of the left ventricle which reduces the hearts ability to move blood throughout the body. If left untreated, the heart muscle will simply begin to wear out which leads to heart failure.
As if damage to the arteries and heart weren't enough, high blood pressure also increases your risk for damage to the brain tissue. Common conditions include transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke. The later is a loss of oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells causing permanent, irreversible damage. High blood pressure can also lead to a special type of dementia called vascular dementia. This is when the arteries in the brain become narrowed reducing the blood supply to these cells. This reduction of blood means there is less oxygen and nutrients for these cells which leads to poor, altered function.
It is clear that high blood pressure predisposes us for a plethora of other unwanted, negative conditions. Another structure that is damaged due to poorly managed, chronic high blood pressure are the kidneys. In fact, high blood pressure is the leading cause of kidney failure. As the arteries that lead to the kidneys as well as the kidneys internal vascular structures become damaged they cannot effectively remove waste from our bodies. This condition often requires dialysis treatment and is irreversible.
It is clear to SEE that high blood pressure is an extremely negative health condition. That is of course assuming that you do not have high blood pressure because chronic high blood pressure can cause a massive amount of damage to the structure of the eye. retinopathy is a very common condition linked to high blood pressure. Retinopathy is a condition in which the delicate blood vessels supplying the retina are damaged which can lead to blurred or complete loss of vision. Fluid can also build up underneath the retina due to leaky blood vessels. This is called choroidopathy and is also linked to elevated blood pressure.
Common treatment for high blood pressure is the prescription of medication. While this medication can be effective for some, it generally comes with a number of unwanted side effects. In addition, this approach does not treat the CAUSE of the high blood pressure. It is safe to assume that high blood pressure is not caused by a lack of blood pressure medication in our diet.
Chiropractors have a different approach to helping a patient overcome high blood pressure. We often say, "The body needs no intervention, it just needs no interference." We look to the nervous system and assess any areas of interference that may be contributing to the elevation of blood pressure. Once corrected, the nervous system is able to function as it should and often times, the blood pressure is normalized without the use of any drugs or medications.
One of the most well known studies in chiropractic research is the blood pressure study. This study was lead by Dr. George Barkis, MD. This study look specifically at the alignment of the top bone in the neck, called the atlas. The conclusion of this study was that following 8 weeks of active, specific chiropractic care blood pressure was significantly reduced. In fact, Dr. Barkis was quoted saying, "This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination." He goes on to say that not only was this method of care effective, but it was "adverse-event free" meaning that they saw no side effects in any of the study participants.
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- Knutson, G. A. (2001). Significant changes in systolic blood pressure post vectored upper cervical adjustment vs resting control groups: A possible effect of the cervicosympathetic and/or pressor reflex. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 24(2), 101-109