What is Hypertension?

What Drugs Reduce Hypertension?

What Causes Hypertension? What Plants Reduce Hypertension?

How Can You Decrease Hypertension? Bibliography


By: Kim Benavidez, Jesse Cuaron, Rachael Cuellar

Medicinal Plants of the Southwest
Summer 2003

What is hypertension?

           Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure is a major health problem in the United States and about five million people suffer from it.  "Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries" (government document,2000).  Arteries are vessels that carry blood away from the heart.  Blood pressure is measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury).  

Blood pressure is measured by comparing systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.  Systolic pressure is "the point at which the heart contracts to push the blood out to the rest of the body" (Kurtzwei, june 2003).  Diastolic pressure is when the heart is relaxing.  Untreated hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which can lead to heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, and in some cases blindness (government document,2000).  There are two types of hypertension, the most common being primary hypertension.  Ninety to ninety five percent of people who suffer from hypertension have primary hypertension.  The second type of hypertension is called secondary hypertension, which is caused by other diseases. 
            

 

What causes hypertension?

          There are many factors that can increase a persons chances of getting primary hypertension.  Some of these factors include the following:

          *  Age (over 60)

          *  Sex (male)

          *  Race (African Americans)

          *  Salt intake

          *  Obesity

          *  Inactive lifestyles

          *  Heavy alcohol consumption

How can you decrease hypertension?

          People should get their blood pressure checked frequently because there are no symptoms for hypertension.  If someone is diagnosed with hypertension they can take steps to reduce their high blood pressure.  Some steps to take in order to prevent or reduce hypertension include the following:

          *  Reduce salt intake

          *  Reduce consumption of fats

          *  Lose excess weight

          *  Exercise regularly

          *  Don't smoke

          *  Reduce alcohol consumption

          *  Manage stress

What drugs reduce Hypertension?

Diuretics

- These drugs flush water and sodium out of the body which relieves some pressure in the arteries (government document,2000).

Beta-blockers

- These drugs reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels (government         document,2000).

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibitors

     - These drugs stop the formation of Angiotension II, which narrows vessels.

Calcium channel blockers

 - These keep calcium from entering the heart muscles and blood vessels, which       decreases blood pressure (government document,2000).

Alpha blockers

     -  These reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels (government document,2000).

Alpha-beta blockers

     -  These work the same as alpha blockers, but they also slow the heart beat (government

        document,2000).

Nervous system inhibitors

     -  These control nerve impulses to relax blood vessels (government document,2000).

Vasodilators

     -  These open blood vessels by relaxing muscle in the vessel wall.

Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium are also known to reduce blood pressure.

What plants reduce hypertension?

     There are many plants that have been studied that reduce hypertension.  The plants below were chosen because we are studying medicinal plants in the southwest United States.  It is recommended that the list of plants below should only be used as a guide to find out more about medicinal plants.  Although most of the plants have been well studied, they may still have some harmful side effects. If you do decide to try some of these plants as medicine, be careful and be sure to find out more about them before trying them.

   Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

   *  Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

   Juniper (Juniper communis)

   Osha (Ligusticum parteri)

          *  Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)

          Periwinkle (Vinca major)

          Plantain (Plantago major)

          Puncture Vine (Tribulus terrestris)

          Skullcap (Scultellaria spp.)

          Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala)

          Valerian (Valerian officinalis)

          *  Yucca (Yucca spp.)

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Last updated July 18, 2003
For more information contact Dr. Mary O'Connell at moconnel@nmsu.edu

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