Pressure of blood within circulatory system depends on elasticity of artery walls and also on volume of blood in circulation, which in turn depends on how well kidneys regulate salt and water content of blood. Since both arteries and kidneys slowly deteriorate with age, blood pressure steadily increases with age. The greater the pressure of blood within the system, the harder the heart has to work, the greater the strain on the arteries, and the greater the risk of Atherosclerosis, Heart Failure, Angina and Heart Attack, Stroke, and Kidney Failure. Even mild hypertension can decrease life expectancy.
Current medical opinion is that diastolic pressure of 90-100 or over, recorded on three separate occasions, or systolic pressure of more than 160 in a young person, requires treatment. Blood pressure is given as two figures e.g. 130/80. The top figure is the systolic, the lower the diastolic. (Diastolic pressure represents the reflux or recoil pressure due to the elasticity of the aorta, systolic pressure the pumping force exerted by the left side of the heart). Often condition goes unnoticed because there are no symptoms; symptoms only set in when high blood pressure has taken its toll of heart and kidneys.
Most cases of high blood pressure are described as essential hypertension, which means that there is no underlying ailment, unlike cases of secondary hypertension, which arise because of kidney problems, or renal artery narrowing (which is the most treatable surgically), because person is suffering from alderostonism or Cushing's syndrome, or because oral contraceptives or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are being taken; secondary hypertension can also develop during pregnancy.
There is a hereditary element in essential hypertension, but staying slim, not adding salt to food, not eating too much saturated fat or drinking too much alcohol, and walking for at least half an hour a day seem to have protective effect; so does breast-feeding. High blood pressure which develops very suddenly, is described as malignant hypertension; it is most common in heavy smokers, quickly damages kidneys, and can be fatal within 6 months if left untreated.
Drugs used to treat high blood pressure include beta blockers, which reduce force of heartbeat, diuretics, which encourage kidneys to excrete more water, calcium antagonists, which regulate the amount of calcium going into the cells, and ACE inhibitors which block the conversion of a substance which causes narrowing of arteries. The latter two lead to lowering of arterial resistance and therefore of blood pressure. However, once you are put on these drugs, you may have to take them for the rest of your life; if your blood pressure is raised but not dangerously so, see what the self-help measures below will achieve first, and seek constitutional treatment from an experienced homeopath.
Self-help: Have your blood pressure checked every 3 to 5 years, especially if you are on the pill, take moderate and regular exercise, keep your weight within the limits appropriate for your height and build, stick to the 'twice a week rule' for alcohol and for the animal products and cut down on salt. If you often feel angry, resentful, depressed, or helpless, some form of meditation or relaxation would be a good insurance policy.
If your medical doctor has already diagnosed high blood pressure, both your blood pressure and your general health would be improved by changing to a diet low in animal protein and high in raw vegetables and fruit, a mainly lacto-vegetarian diet in fact. The occasional short fast would also be beneficial, but if you have any doubts on this score consult your medical doctor first. Other measures you might like to consider, because of their detoxifying, vitality-boosting effects, are dry skin brushing, sunbathing, warm baths, gradually increasing exercise periods but not weight-lifting, and deep breathing - Prevention is better than cure. Above all, be happy and perhaps think about getting a relaxing pet. Vitamin supplements may be helpful.