Hypertension: Western and Traditional Chinese Medicinal Perspectives

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Hypertension, high blood pressure that remains elevated over time, is a very common disease. Uncontrolled hypertension can cause severe problems, but the early stages of hypertension may not have severe symptoms. Some patients, who already have hypertension, even feel nothing unusual; however, after a long time of suffering from hypertension, severe consequences may follow such as stroke, congestive heart failure, or heart attack. Today, a lot of people have hypertension. A recent medical report(1) shows that as many as 50 million Americans either have high blood pressure or are taking high blood pressure medication and that hypertension is one of several factors associated with cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of both males and females in America. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives annually than all cancers combined, killing approximately one million people in the U.S. each year and disabling countless others. Therefore, how to control blood pressure in healthy people and how to control hypertension for those who already suffer from this disease is a very important topic. Both western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is also called TCM, have their points of view to analysis, diagnosis, treat, and prevent hypertension. Western medicine believes hypertension can be controlled by taking daily prescription drugs and by making lifestyle choices for good health. Western medicinal treatments operate on the belief that as long as blood pressure can be controlled and remain in a normal range, hypertension won’t threaten the patient’s life. TCM believes that taking prescription drugs everyday to help control blood pressure may cause many side effects that will not cure hypertension; however, other treatments, such as acupuncture, Qi-Gong, or massage, do not require patients to take medication and have succeeded in curing hypertension in many cases.

Blood pressure is responsible for delivering oxygen to the organs in our body. Blood pressure cannot be increased or decreased as a response when our body receive signal from the environment. For example, when we are angry, our blood pressure may increase. Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries. For an adult, the normal blood pressure should be lower than 140/90mmHg. When the blood pressure reading is higher than it, you may be considered to be in the high range. From the view of western medicine, there are many causes of high blood pressure. According to a medical report, (1) in about 90% of hypertension cases, the causes are unknown, and when the causes are unknown, it is called essential hypertension. If hypertension has physical problems behind it, it is called as secondary hypertension. The most common factors that can cause hypertension are kidney disease or thyroid disease. Western doctors also believe that other factors are associated with hypertension, including inheritance, obesity, and excessive consumption of alcohol, diet and life style (1). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are two important theories in explaining the human body. One is called Yin-Yang theory, which means Yin and Yang are on either opposite ends of a cycle, like the seasons of the year. This opposition is relative. Yin and Yang are never static but in a constantly changing balance. The other is the five elements theory and the five elements are metal, wood, water, fire and earth, which function as the five main organs, lung, liver, kidney, heart and spleen respectively. Each element is controlled and generated by another. TCM believes that hypertension is primarily related to the imbalanced Yin and Yang in heart, liver, and kidney, and therefore, keeping yin-and-yang balance is the most effective way keep disease away.

In western medicine (7), in order to have appropriate diagnosis for hypertension, the western practitioners usually require blood pressure tests, at least two measurements at two different times after the fist initial...
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