by Christopher Morgan-Locke D.Hyp (Distinction), BAC
Hypertension, common in those working in stressful jobs, is a serious condition that can lead to a stroke or heart disease.
Christopher Morgan-Locke explains what can be done to prevent or treat it.
Abnormally high blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious condition effecting between 10 and 20% of adults in the UK. It is more common in men and although it can affect all age groups it is more prevalent in the middle-aged and elderly. About 90% of those diagnosed with hypertension have no obvious underlying cause and this is called 'essential hypertension.' The remaining 10% have 'secondary hypertension', which often is caused by other conditions such as heart and kidney disorders and the use of certain drugs. The contraceptive pill and HRT are just two widely used drugs that can cause high blood pressure that could lead to hypertension.
High-risk categories for hypertension, other than age and gender, include those who have a high degree of occupational or social stress, those who get little exercise, have poor diets, smoke or indulge in excesses of alcohol. Those who are over weight are also high risk as are those who have a family history of high blood pressure.
It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall as a result of many normal everyday factors such a exertion, shock, eating, sleeping etc. however a hypertensive's blood pressure will remain high even when they are in a relaxed state. What makes it hard to detect is that there are no obvious symptoms and many may have the condition without being aware of it. It is for this reason that it is important to have your blood pressure taken from time to time especially if you are in one of the high-risk groups.
A diagnosis of hypertension will not normally be made on the basis of just one high blood pressure reading but usually on three taken at different times. The definition of a normal reading can not be defined precisely, however normal blood pressure is thought to be under 130mm (systolic) and under 85mm (diastolic). The World Health Organisation defines hypertension being when the systolic reading is consistently above 160mm and the diastolic consistently exceeds 95mm. However it is quite normal for the elderly to have readings above these levels and for children to have readings well below.
Hypertension is often linked with being overweight and in some people high intakes of salt appears to be a significant factor. Smoking aggravates the effects of hypertension as nicotine causes artery constriction, which makes the heart work harder and raises blood pressure. Stress also leads to constriction and, although as yet unproven, some believe frequent exposure to stress leads to hypertension.
Hypertension strains the heart and blood vessels which apart from increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease can lead to kidney failure and damage to the retina in the eye. Severe hypertension can lead to seizures and disorientation and in severe cases immediate admission to hospital may be needed. However, on most cases the treatment will require the patient to make some major changes in their lifestyle. Smokers will have to stop smoking, those overweight will have to reduce weight and doctors will often prescribe more exercise. You may also be advised to reduce your intake of animal fats (cheese, milk, fatty meats, eggs etc.) and often a reduction in salt is recommended. Training in meditation, self-hypnosis and other anti-stress methods are now are included in hypertension care programmes. If these type of measures prove to be ineffective or in more serious cases of hypertension drugs may be prescribed. Such drugs may include diuretics, beta-blockers, vasodilators, calcium antagonists, ACE inhibitors and others.
In addition to dietary and exercise advice and drug therapy, the use of clinical hypnosis has now been added to the list of treatments now available through some hospital hypertension health initiatives. It is a long proven method of counteracting stress and enhancing deep relaxation but it is now being used in other ways. It can help patients come to terms with the diagnosis and most importantly help motivate them to make the necessary lifestyle changes prescribed by the doctor. Furthermore, it is one of the most successful methods in helping smokers quit and can help those overweight shed a few pounds by sticking to the healthy eating and exercise regimes prescribed by the doctors.
Hypertension has become a serious problem in the UK effecting one in every five adults. If left untreated it can lead to strokes and heart disease, which are major killers in the UK. Whilst drug therapy is very important in treating hypertension the psychological aspects and life style changes are equally important if you wish to extend your life expectancy.
If you are seeking clinical hypnosis and stress management help it is important that the hypnotherapist has a proper training in medical hypnosis and has a full understanding of hypertension contact Christopher Morgan-Locke at The Peel Clinic London, Surrey and Hampshire on 0207 223 9200 or go to www.thepeelclinic.org.uk .