High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition affecting more than 67 million American adults. This disease occurs when the blood circulating through the body puts too much pressure on the artery walls.
When the pressure remains elevated for long periods of time, it can cause vascular scarring, weakened blood vessels, and plaque build-up within the arteries. Ultimately, these conditions put pressure on the circulatory system and increase the risk for severe health complications, such as heart attack or stroke.
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers – the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. Systolic is the first number in a blood pressure reading and measures the pressure of the blood when the heart is beating. Diastolic is the second number in a blood pressure reading, which measures the pressure on the artery walls when the heart is resting between beats.
A normal adult blood pressure reading is a systolic number below 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic number below 80 mmHg, or 120/80. Doctors may diagnose a person as pre-hypertensive with systolic blood pressure readings of 120-139 or diastolic readings of 80-89. High blood pressure occurs in a patient with a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or higher.
Unlike most other chronic diseases, high blood pressure often presents few or no symptoms. In fact, blood pressure levels can rise dangerously high without causing noticeable symptoms. Even the highest blood pressure – that which is considered life-threatening or severe – may only cause a few symptoms, such as:
Because hypertension can be a silent disease, everyone, including children, should have their blood pressure monitored on a periodic basis. The screening is fast and painless, and it can reveal underlying health problems that may require treatment.
Anyone can get high blood pressure – including children. Some people develop hypertension because of uncontrollable risk factors, such as age, race or genetic predisposition.
Others facilitate high blood pressure by their lifestyle choices. For example, people who smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol increase their risk of hypertension. Others may develop high blood pressure because of weight gain, an inactive lifestyle, or an unhealthy diet filled with high amounts of sodium. Stress and chronic health conditions, like sleep apnea, can also contribute to heightened blood pressure levels.
Often, a person can take steps to lower blood pressure naturally. This may include:
At Upper Cervical Chiropractic of Spartanburg, we have experience in helping people with high blood pressure using upper cervical chiropractic adjustments. Studies have shown that periodically adjusting just the top two vertebrae – the Atlas and the Axis – can reduce blood pressure levels over time.
For more information about chiropractic care for high blood pressure, contact our office to schedule a consultation today.