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Blood Pressure and Chiropractic
Chiropractic Examination and Blood Pressure
Before you have Chiropractic treatment we will examine you. We will do a, so-called, triage, which means that we will take your temperature, breathing rate and blood pressure.
Why do we take your blood pressure when you come in for back pain?
The Chiropractic examination includes taking your blood pressure as a way of checking your general health status, which in some circumstances can have a direct bearing on you pain.
High blood pressure can also be a contraindication to certain treatment methods.
It is therefore common practice for primary health care practitioners, such as, Chiropractors to do it.
Why is blood pressure important?
High blood pressure is the biggest know cause of disability and premature death in the UK through stroke, heart attacks and heart disease.
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood pumping around your arteries. 1 in 3 people in the UK have high blood pressure (hypertension) and just over 10% are unaware.
High blood pressure often has no symptoms and left undiagnosed can lead to more serious problems. If it is high over a prolonged period of time this can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A blood pressure reading is made up of two readings, the systolic pressure – the highest pressure reached as your blood is pumped around the body, and the diastolic pressure – the lowest pressure of the blood vessels.
The normal systolic pressure is around 120mmHg and diastolic is around 80mmHg. This gives a reading of 120/80 (120 over 80).
High blood pressure is suspected if this number regularly reaches 140/90 or above.
If you are diagnosed as having high blood pressure, your GP should monitor the condition and may prescribe medication to lower the blood pressure or suggest lifestyle changes.
Lowering blood pressure quickly is important to reduce the risk of further damage.
What are the causes of high blood pressure?
There are many causes of high blood pressure but the most common are listed below.
Lack of exercise
Poor diet and too much salt
Drinking too much alcohol
Being overweight or obese
Family history of heart disease
Ethnic origin – there is a higher incidence in people of African, Caribbean or South Asian descent.
How can I lower my blood pressure?
Taking steps to prevent high blood pressure can help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Eating a balanced nutritious diet, exercising for at least 2 ½ hours per week, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, losing weight and cutting down on salt intake can help to lower your blood pressure.
Healthy eating – In general, the healthier your diet is the lower your blood pressure. With high blood pressure, it is even more important to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
This can help to reduce your blood pressure and the need for medication.
Here are some key tips to help reduce blood pressure through diet
Reduce your salt intake. Check the levels of salt on food packaging as these can contain high levels. Anything above 0.3g of salt per 100g should be eaten in moderation. Processed foods or ready meals can be high in salt, as can popular breakfast cereals. Try adding herbs and spices rather than salt when cooking fresh food. Food without salt can taste bland at first, so persevere and let your taste buds adapt.
Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Variation is key, eating 5 apples is not the same as eating 5 different fruit or vegetables – each type has different health properties. Try other ways of cooking vegetables such as steaming or grilling to lock in more vitamins.
Limit your alcohol intake, if you drink regularly this can raise your blood pressure as well as raising your calorie count, which can lead to weight gain. The recommended levels for men are 21 units of alcohol per week and 14 units for women. (One unit = small glass of wine/half pint of beer/25ml of spirits)
Eat a low fat diet. Diets high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Avoid consuming too much butter, bakery products, and fatty red meat. However some fats are good for us in moderation, polyunsaturated/monounsaturated fats can be found in oils such as olive, rapeseed and sunflower. Check the packaging – foods with less than 3g fat (or 1g of saturated fat) are healthier options.
Exercise moderately for at least 2 ½ hours per week, this can be spread out into 5 lots of 30 minutes. The aim should be to exercise at an intensity that makes you warmer and increase your rate of breathing. Start gently and gradually increase the intensity. Exercise can vary from a brisk walk, tennis, a class at the gym or swimming. Increasing activity levels could be as easy as taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus one stop earlier or walking to work. If your blood pressure is high your GP may prefer to lower it with medication before starting any vigorous exercise. If in doubt, speak to your GP.
If you need to make changes to your lifestyle then take time to plan. We can help you put a plan together.
We have the facilities to help you with the exercise programme and diet. Also, get the help of friends and family. They might want to join you!
Rrather than thinking about what you’re giving up, think about what new things you can try, learn more about your food and lifestyle and take things at your own speed. Too much change all of a sudden can be hard to maintain.
For more information on blood pressure there are some resources below or visit your GP.