Cardiology · Beaumont and St. Joseph Mercy
What Controls Blood Pressure - Dr. James Heinsimer

What controls blood pressure?

Heart to Heart conversation: The Basics of Blood Pressure

Most high blood pressure is what we call "essential hypertension" which means that we really don't know what causes it. Despite years and years of research there is still significant argument about why some people get high blood pressure and others do not.

We know that the kidneys are involved and that salt and water are important. Some people can control her blood pressure and keep it down simply by avoiding salt but which we mean table salt also known as sodium chloride. We use drugs that cause the excretion of salt and water ("diuretics") in many patients to lower the salt and water and lower blood pressure in patients. Losing excess weight can also help get rid of salt and water in some patients without drugs.

Also, the brain and nervous system are important in blood pressure control and, as noted above, with anxiety and stress, the body puts out more of a hormone called adrenaline which makes the heart pump harder and blood pressure goes up. With exercise the heart rate and blood pressure both go up to meet the increased needs of the body during exercise. Many of the drugs we use to control high blood pressure work on the brain or nervous system including such drugs as "beta blockers" or "ACE inhibitors". Also, we know that relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga can help to lower blood pressure in some people presumably by effects on the brain and nervous system.