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Hypertension : Causes
   
Western Medicine Chinese Medicine

When there is no obvious cause for high blood pressure, it is called essential or primary hypertension, which makes up 95 per cent of all hypertension cases. The second kind of hypertension is known as secondary hypertension and makes up about 5 per cent of hypertension cases.

Symptoms of secondary hypertension may include elevated blood pressure due to disorders of the kidney, adrenal glands (glands that sit on top of the kidney and secrete hormones), aorta (the main artery of the body) or narrowing of certain arteries.

High blood pressure can occur in children or adults, but is more common in people over the age of 35. It is also more prevalent in elderly and in people who have a family history of hypertension. People with diabetes, gout or kidney disease also have a higher risk for hypertension. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol and obesity or eating too many sweets and foods high in fat may increase your risk for high blood pressure.

 

Click here to see how hypertension is formed from a TCM Perspective

From a TCM view, hypertension development is a complex and chronic process. It is due to a combined effect of emotional stimulations, internal injuries, improper diet and constitutional factor. The factors disturb qi (vital energy) and blood activities, and weaken the body’s regulatory functions. Internally, liver and kidney systems are usually affected, while formation of internal pathogens (evils) such as wind, fire, phlegm and blood stasis can give rise to a variety of disharmony patterns.

As mentioned in the definition section, hypertension is understood in TCM by its symptoms such as "dizziness" and "headache;" the pathology is interpreted as below:

1. Hyperactivity of liver-yang
The liver dominates the conducting and dispersing of qi movement; liver-yang has the property of upward motion and causes qi or body fluids to ascend, while liver-yin has the property of static motion and causes qi, blood and body fluids to descend. The two aspects mutually restrict and promote each other in order to maintain balance in the body. Hyperactivity of liver-yang triggers qi and blood to ascend, and the acceleration of qi movement produces wind evils, that can lead to symptoms of dizziness, tremors or sudden blackout. Hyperactivity of liver-yang happens when:

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The body develops a tendency to excess yang.

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Emotional disturbances such as depression, anger, tension and excessive thinking occur, which induce stagnation of liver-qi, and the stagnated qi will transform into fire evil to impair yin.

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Chronic deficiency of kidney-yin occurs. This means the element water (kidney organ) fails to nourish the wood element (liver organ), which results in hyperactivity of liver-yang.

 

2. Liver-wind and turbid phlegm attack upwards
When the body is in a state of liver-yang hyperactivity, internal wind and phlegm can easily be generated. The evils disturb the meridian activities and affect qi and blood flowing to the brain. This can result in unconsciousness or numbness of limbs that are serious symptoms of hypertension. Factors disturb body fluid redistribution and induce phlegm accumulation are:

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Over consumption of greasy food and drink that leads to spleen malfunction.

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A busy and stressful lifestyle damages spleen-yang that affects the body fluids transformation and transportation.

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Lung weakness that fails to promote fluids distributing throughout the body, and facilitates the accumulated body fluids to transform into phlegm.

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Kidney weakness that causes excessive fluid to build up in the body and transforms into phlegm.

   

 

3. Imbalance of yin and yang

 

In TCM, kidney is regarded as the center of the body's yin and yang, the "congenital foundation," or the origin of life. When people get older, essence stored in the kidney becomes depleted, and imbalance of yin and yang will result. Yin deficiency tends to occur in the lower body, yang hyperactivity tends to occurs in the upper body, and that result in health problems. For example, virtual fire flares up in the upper body and causes hypertensive symptoms.

   

 

Other related causes

 

Although other causes of hypertension are still under investigation, researchers have found the following factors do contribute to the causes:

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heredity

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high salt intake

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highly stressful and intensive occupations

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lack of physical activities

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obesity

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smoking

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heavy consumption of alcohol

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lack of some nutritional ingredients such as unsaturated fatty acid and vitamin C.

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Recent findings show that lots of hypertension sufferers are insulin resistant, meaning they are not sensitive to insulin inside the body or suffer from hyperinsulinemia (high blood level of insulin).