Blood pressure is given its two figures, which .measure the pressure in the arteries leading to and from the heart. The higher systolic figure is the pressure as the heart pumps blood away; the lower diastolic measurement is the pressure as blood goes into the heart.
General lifestyle and particularly stress levels and exercise affect our blood pressure continuously, so it can vary widely within a short time. It is difficult to define ‘Normal’ blood pressure, as everyone has their own range of variation. Medical opinion has changed over the past few decades. The normal range used to be 100/60; now it’s taken as l20-l25/80-85, which is the average reading of a large population of people who are presumed healthy. High blood pressure is a persistent reading of over 140/90, even at rest.
Low blood pressure (hypotension).is now considered to be 100/60 or less. It is often a temporary condition caused by short-term or acute external factors, which can include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, blood poisoning and anaesthesia. Once the factors are resolved, the blood pressure returns to normal. However, chronic low blood pressure is also common. Your dizziness on standing up quickly is a key symptom, known as postural or positional hypotension. Low energy is another symptom, also lethargy, weakness, fatigability, depression, a ‘sinking’ feeling in the heart, cold hands and feet, occasional dry skin, pale look, weak voice, sluggish movements and breathlessness on exertion. Complications include hair loss, dryness in the mouth and eyes, poor ability to sweat, low metabolic rate (usually leading to weight gain), poor bladder function and, body aches and pains.
Having said that, people with low blood pressure often live with few problems and medical treatment is seldom necessary. The only complication of postural hypotension is if blood pressure suddenly drops when sitting or standing from a lying position because it can lead to fainting. If your dizziness becomes more severe, consult your doctor.
Longer-term conditions that can affect blood pressure are severe burns, excessive use of diuretics, fluid retention, an overdose of recreational drugs or the side effect of some prescribed drugs, irregular heartbeat, blood clots, anaemia, ME, depression, low oestrogen, poor thyroid function or diabetes. An inadequate diet may be implicated, as can avoiding salt. Hypotension may also result from a low output of corticoid hormones from the adrenal glands. As well as triggering the fight-or-flight stress response, these control the mineral and salt balance in the body. A deficiency of either can cause hypotension.
Some people drink coffee to raise the blood Pressure, but this is not sensible as it gives only a temporary boost to the heart rate while the caffeine is active. However, salt can be helpful and I suggest adding a little extra sea salt to your food.
Here are some more suggestions:
- Eat a high-protein diet, with fish, eggs, meat, game, cottage cheese, tofu, Quorn, soya and nuts. You must eat protein twice a day. Portions of fish, chicken or meat should be 125g.
- Eat caviar (one teaspoon every other day), if you have the opportunity. It contains salt and protein.
- Eat toasted soda bread with honey (manuka is good).
- Make a body-toning drink by soaking ten almonds and ten pistachios (body shelled) for 24 hours in still water at room temperature. Blend with milk then add three to four saffron strands (no need to soak). Add a teaspoon of honey and stir to mix. Drink this daily for two months.
- Make marrowbone soup by boiling organic bones with garlic, ginger and a pinch of Asafoetida (from Indian grocers) for two hours or so. Skim, strain and refrigerate the stock. Drink one mug, warmed, an hour before your evening meal.
- To support energy levels, take BioEnergy (tablets) or Ashwagandha (capsules): one of either twice daily for three months.
- Take Gnseng (capsules): one daily for three months to help tone blood vessels.
- To promote energy, take Energy Plus: one scoop twice daily with milk or water for three months.