One-third of the adult population, around 70 million Americans, have high blood pressure (hypertension). In addition, 1 in 3 Americans have pre-hypertension, which means higher than normal blood pressure numbers. Even more alarming: 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure do not know they have it, because typically there are no associated symptoms.
Thankfully, chiropractic offers a drug-free approach to treating high blood pressure.
Understanding Blood Pressure and Hypertension
Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries of the body. Blood pressure is the force of the blood as it pushes against the walls of the arteries. The two numbers in a blood pressure reading are systolic, the top number that measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats, and diastolic, which is the bottom number measuring the pressure in the arteries between beats.
Normal levels are 120/80 and lower, pre-hypertension levels are 120-139/80-89, hypertension stage 1 is 140-159/90-99, hypertension stage 2 is 160/100 or higher, and hypertension crisis (emergency care needed) is 180/110 or higher.
The Risks of Hypertension
This common condition is more dangerous and fatal than many people realize. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists high blood pressure as the primary or contributing cause of more than 360,000 American deaths in 2013. That’s nearly 1,000 deaths each day.
The CDC also states that with high blood pressure, there’s a great risk of other dangerous conditions:
• First heart attack: 70 percent of adults who have a first heart attack have high blood pressure
• First stroke: 80 percent of adults who have their first stroke have high blood pressure
• Chronic heart failure: 70 percent of adults with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure
• Kidney failure: High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure
Treatment of High Blood Pressure
Fortunately, high blood pressure is simple to diagnosis and there are many methods of treatment. Regularly, doctors prescribe medication to control hypertension, but blood pressure often can be lowered using natural, non-pharmaceutical methods. Lifestyle changes play a big role in blood pressure; losing weight, exercising regularly, eating well, reducing excess sodium, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, cutting back on caffeine and reducing stress can all positively contribute to healthy blood pressure levels.
Chiropractic Adjustments and Lowered Blood Pressure
In March of 2007, the Journal of Human Hypertension published a study that demonstrated a significant decrease in blood pressure following a chiropractic adjustment to the Atlas vertebra (located at the base of the skull). This study involved 50 individuals with high blood pressure; the improvement in blood pressure levels continued into the eighth week following the adjustment—potentially longer, as the study only assessed the patients following the adjustment and at a follow-up visit eight weeks later.