Blood is the fluid of life, nourishing the whole body and eliminating waste products. Blood circulates and reaches almost all parts of the body, in a cyclic way, pumped by the heart. Blood carries oxygen to the body tissues and carries back carbon dioxide to be removed. Blood also carries nutrition to the body tissues and carries back the metabolic waste products produced by them. In this way, health and life depend upon blood circulation each moment. The speed, volume, and quality of blood are very important. Blood starts its journey by a push or pumping from the heart, and flows through the big and small vessels owing to the nerves and vessel walls. Blood pressure is the pressure by the blood column on the blood walls.
Blood pressure is essential for the normal flow of blood. But it has to be maintained within a normal range, depending upon many factors like age, sex, physical activity, etc. Any imbalance or deviation in the value of blood pressure can cause serious discomforts and severe damages. It presents often as a medical emergency.
Blood pressure can be abnormal in two ways. High blood pressure and low blood pressure. In both conditions, some signs may be common like fatigue, dizziness, and loss of balance. The signs may be so severe that the person may not be able to express what he feels properly. Often it is not easy to recognise whether the value is lower or higher than normal by observing clinical presentation. It is mandatory to get a blood pressure reading before starting the treatment.
High blood pressure or hypertension
Clinical presentations are often absent or confusing in high blood pressure.
In many cases, high blood pressure shows no signs. It can be fatal and life-threatening. This is why high blood pressure is known as a silent killer among medical emergencies. Some people will have a pounding feeling in their chest or chest, light-headedness, dizziness, or a feeling of prone to falling. Other signs include severe headache, vision changes, and shortness of breath. In acute cases, high blood pressure is an emergency, especially in pregnant women.
Management of high blood pressure includes self-regulatory measures like regular physical exercise, active lifestyle, stress relief, low sodium diet, and avoiding smoking & alcohol. Medical interventions may be needed in severe conditions and cases with stubborn higher values of blood pressure (medicines for hypertension). Commonly used medicines are ACE inhibitors, Diuretics, Beta-blockers, Antihypertensive drugs, Calcium channel blockers, and vasodilators. The reason for high blood pressure is evaluated and appropriate medication is prescribed by the doctor.
Low blood pressure or hypotension
Comparatively more common and less scary, low blood pressure or hypotension is not considered a medical emergency. Low BP is generally considered as a sign of undernourishment or malnutrition while hypertension is thought to be associated with uncontrolled mental stress. People with low BP will have discomforts like dizziness or light-headedness. It can be associated with nausea, cold extremities, blurred vision, lack of concentration, and fainting. Some people sweat profusely during the time of low BP and falls. The most dangerous acute complication is the possibility of injuries due to a sudden and unexpected fall. In chronic pathogenesis, hypotension may cause insufficient nutrition and damage to the brain, causing fatal complications like shock. Low Bp is very common in conditions like pregnancy (hypertension in pregnancy), anaemia and fasting.
There is no single medicine to be used long-term in low BP. Symptomatic management is done in most acute cases. Medications or treatment plan is prepared according to the cause. Diet and lifestyle changes are advised. In some cases, medicines to increase blood volume and pressure like fludrocortisone or midodrine are used.
Ayurvedic management of blood pressure variations.
Ayurveda does not consider blood pressure variations as a single disease but as a sign of disharmony or an imbalanced state of metabolism. So, there is no name given to this condition other than bhrama(dizziness) or murccha(fainting). As the blood is a physical manifestation of nourishing Raktadhatu, Pitta dosha is associated with its functions as well as derangement. If only Pitta is involved, coolant and dry therapies are administered. But in most cases, there will be an associated Vaata dosha that controls the movement of blood. In such cases, management strategy includes balancing the Vaata and Pitta. If there is any obstruction in the channels or blood vessels, they should be removed with medicine, diet changes, and lifestyle modifications.
Ayurveda describes a condition Aama which represents the presence of toxic metabolic waste products in the body which leads to disease pathology. Aama can be present in the gastrointestinal tract or the deeper tissues. Blocked body channels cause defects in circulation and abnormal values in blood pressure. The metabolic waste products should be removed from the body regularly and further formation should be prevented. Ayurveda formulations help enhance the Agni (digestive and assimilative power), then prevent the chance for Aama accumulation. In needed cases, therapeutic emesis (Vamana) or therapeutic purgation (Virechana) is done with herbal formulations. Herbal enemas done in young and strong patients will help regulate Vaata dosha and bring blood pressure into the normal state. In short, Ayurveda addresses the condition by correcting the metabolism and removing the root cause. In such a way, the same medicine will work on both hypertension (hypertension treatment) and hypotension. The herbal medicine brings balance in the blood pressure value. The medicine should be decided after proper evaluation by an expert. There are strict notes on indications and contraindications for each formulation. For example, most Arishatm preparations are contraindicated in diabetic people.
Some common medicines used in blood pressure variation include:
- Dhanwantaram gulika
- Drakshadi kashayam
- Gandharvahastadi kashayam
Apart from these combinations that correct the system, medicines like Sarpagandha choorna is used to reduce high blood pressure in acute cases.