The Human Brain and High Blood Pressure

We All Know That Problems in the Vascular System Can Generate High BP; But Few People Consider The Connection Between The Brain And High Blood Pressure

It's rare to hear the terms "brain" and "high blood pressure" used in the same sentence. If the brain is mentioned at all in the context of hypertension, it's usually in the sense that high BP can damage brain tissue if allowed to get out of hand.

But there's a more direct association between the brain and hypertension, according to some researchers, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on the possibility of brain involvement in your own case. Let's take a brief look at the issue.

The Control System

It makes sense that your body's central nervous system (especially the junction-box organ we call the brain) would play a significant role in regulating BP. It's so sensible, in fact, that we don't think about it much, often looking at the direct organs and tissues affected rather than the prime cause.

But here's the thing: if something goes wrong up there, the consequences can cascade through the entire body, despite built-in redundancies and fail-safes. And the brain, sensitive organ that it is, can suffer from two distinct types of malfunction that can affect BP: psychological stress, and organic disorder.

Stress Handling

We all know that overwork and worry may generate enough psychological pressures to raise one's BP considerably, sometimes to toxic levels. In such circumstances, lowering your blood pressure is as simple (and as difficult) as finding time to relax.

Take your breaks (including vacations), and ease your mind however you can regarding what's worrying you. In particular, stop agonizing over things you can't change. Play games, reconnect with friends and families, go fishing -- whatever it takes to stop worrying so much, so your BP can drop.

Organic Issues

According to the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons, misfiring of the nervous system can cause tightening of blood vessels that in turn generates high BP; they call these "sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve disorders."

Finding and treating these ailments requires careful medical diagnosis. The AANOS also suggests the consumption of copious amounts of fruits and vegetables to lower BP, including honeydew melon, Brussels sprouts, and eggplant.

JAM-1

A few years back, researchers identified a protein called JAM-1 that lives in the blood vessel of the brain. The research suggests that JAM-1 traps white blood cells, which inflame the blood vessel tissues and, ultimately, cause obstruction of blood flow--and, thus, higher BP.

This may explain why some people don't respond to traditional hypertension medications. Researchers are now looking for a medication that can rein in JAM-1.

Bottom line: if you're having trouble getting your BP under control, don't forget the potential connection between your brain and high blood pressure -- and talk to your doctor about it.

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