Your heart is an organ that is mostly muscle tissue. It is a pump. In very simple terms its job is to receive incoming blood from the body that is low in oxygen and pump it to the lungs.
As it passes through the lungs the blood gets rid of carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen. Then the blood goes back to the heart and the heart pumps the oxygen rich blood out to the entire body.
Blood flows through arteries going out from the heart to various parts of the body, and through veins on the way back to the heart.
The heart pumps blood by the rhythmic contraction of the four chambers in the heart. It is the strong contractions of the lower two chambers (called ventricles) that pumps the blood out of and away from the heart to the various parts of the body.
There is a great deal of pressure created by the contraction of the ventricles. and it is this pressure that pushes the blood through the miles of arteries within the body.
It is the pressure, the force of the blood pushing against the inside walls of your arteries, that is being discussed when we talk about blood "pressure."
What do the numbers mean?
You've probably heard the sound of a heart beating at some time. It sounds sort of like: thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP.
The "thump" is the sound of the auricles beating and pumping the blood into the bigger, more powerful chambers, the ventricles. The "THUMP" is the sound of the ventricles beating, and pumping the blood away from the heart (see the above illustration).
When the powerful ventricles contract (the "THUMP"), that is the moment of greatest pressure called the "systolic pressure."
Between one "thump-THUMP" and the next "thump-THUMP" is a moment when the heart is not beating at all, that is the moment of lowest pressure called the "diastolic pressure."
When doctors or nurses measure your blood pressure, they usually give it to you as two numbers, the "systolic" over the "diastolic" or the high over the low measurements.
These numbers fall into certain ranges:
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is affected by small smooth muscles that line the inside walls of your blood vessels.
Under normal conditions when these muscles are relaxed, your arteries operate like soft rubber tubes that expand with each beat of your heart, and your blood pressure remains normal.
When these muscles tense up, the arteries become narrower, more rigid and less flexible.
Under these conditions the heart has to beat harder to keep the blood flowing through narrowed arteries which raises pressure.
If these muscles are tense all the time, the blood pressure will remain high. This is called hypertension!
Continuous high blood pressure puts extra strain, wear and tear on your heart and arteries, that often lead to heart attacks and strokes.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
What are the main causes of these smooth muscles inside your arteries tensing all the time that drive your blood pressure up?
It is the loss of vital minerals from your body that are essential to the natural and effective control of blood pressure. This loss of minerals can be caused by:
Alcohol and caffeine in excess
Emotional and physical stress
Not having enough magnesium is one of the primary causes of high blood pressure.
"Magnesium is essential for cells to maintain proper balances of other minerals such as potassium, sodium, and calcium.
"When cells are deficient in magnesium, this balance is disrupted.
"In the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels, this sets the stage for constriction [tensing] and elevation of blood pressure."
Excerpted from The Magnesium Solution
by Jay S. Cohen, M.D.
Why can't we get enough magnesium from the food we eat?
"As many as half of us in the United States are magnesium deficient.
"Our soils are becoming depleted of magnesium, which eliminates the natural opportunity to receive magnesium from fruits, vegetables, and water."
Excerpted from The Sinatra Solution
by Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D.
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