Physical Therapy in High Blood Pressure

Dr. Pooja Kumari Digra
High blood pressure (also known as ‘hypertension’) can lead to serious health problems, such as a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure or kidney disease.  One third of people in india are thought to have high blood pressure. There are often no symptoms or signs of high blood pressure – you can have high blood pressure and feel well. As the condition has no symptoms, it is commonly known as a “silent killer”. The tendency towards high blood pressure rises with age, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly as you grow older.
What is “normal” blood pressure?
There are two important components in blood pressure readings. These include the systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number).  The following levels have been issued by WHO for the information of people:
* Normal – Less than 120 over 80
* Pre-hypertension – 120-139 over 80-89
* Stage 1 (high blood pressure) – 140-159 over 90-99
* Stage 2 (high blood pressure) – 160 and above over 100 and above
Am I at Risk?
The following factors increase the risks of serious problems associated with high blood pressure:
* Smoking
* having high blood cholesterol
* being overweight
* having diabetes
* not enough physical activity
* too much salt in your diet
* Stress
* Certain Family History
How can reduce the Blood Pressure
To control your high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications like diuretics (“water pills”), beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers. But sometimes, your doctor may first recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercise and cutting down on salt. “Becoming more active is an important and effective way to help bring your blood pressure down to normal levels.
Blood pressure is affected by the resistance of the peripheral blood vessels (those vessels outside the heart): the higher the peripheral resistance, the higher the blood pressure. Long-term exercise has a positive effect on blood pressure because it reduces the resistance of the peripheral blood vessels via hormonal effects and structural adaptations.
Regular physical activity of at least 30 minutes on most days of the week can lower your blood pressure by five to 10 mmHg, a reduction similar to that achieved with some blood pressure drugs.
Importantly, working out can help you to maintain a healthy weight, which is also crucial in controlling your blood pressure. “Usually, greater the BMI, the greater the blood pressure. This is attributed to the greater output from the heart, as well as the reduced insulin sensitivity, which also affects the blood pressure,”
There are a number of Physical therapy techniques (exercises) that can help to lower blood pressure in conjunction with healthy, positive lifestyle changes Many hypertension patients struggle with weight-related issues or injuries  such as neck pain or back pain. Physical therapy can help patients with a wide range of medical conditions to begin an exercise regimen that is safe and effective.
Stress relief is another major factor in reducing hypertension . For hypertensive patients who are suffering from anxiety, massage can be a powerful weapon in lowering blood pressure readings. One reason massage is so helpful is that it works to reduce steroid hormones, a good indicator of stress levels.
Your physiotherapist can advise you about how to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and also about how to reduce your risk of health problems once you have been diagnosed.
In particular, they can tell you which exercise programmes are suitable for you, depending on how high your blood pressure is, how fit you are and how any other health condition or disability will affect your ability to exercise
(The author is a  Faculty of Jammu physiotherapy college, Nardani Jammu)