5 Musts to Lower High Blood Pressure

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Filed under Health & Wellness

As we mature, maintaining a healthy and physically fit body can decrease our risk for serious health problems. One serious health problem that so many adults face is high blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than normal. Both the heart and arteries are then more prone to injury. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, eye damage, congestive heart failure and fatty buildups in arteries called atherosclerotic plaques. If you have high blood pressure, are obese, smoke, or have high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, your risk of heart attack or stroke goes up several times!

If high blood pressure isn’t treated, your heart may have to work harder and harder to pump enough blood and oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues. So let’s look at some preventative measures to help lower high blood pressure:

1. Get Out And Move!

At any age, our weight has a direct correlation to the value of life. What’s the best way to maintain a healthy weight? Good old exercise! Exercise is a solid way to help prevent and lower high blood pressure. It is most beneficial when it is constant. Changing up routines and including a partner in your activities will help you both stay focused and motivated. A healthy 30 minutes a day will easily help lower your high blood pressure while releasing the feel good endorphins that energize us. Try focusing on these four areas of physical activity:

1. Muscle Building exercises
2. Cardiovascular exercises
3. Stretching exercises
4. Balance exercises

2. Eat Responsibly!

The food you eat can affect the way blood flows through your heart and arteries. A diet high in fat and cholesterol can gradually cause a buildup (called “plaque”) in your arteries. That buildup slows down the blood flow and blocks small arteries. If the blockage happens in an artery that carries blood to the heart muscle, a heart attack can occur. If the blockage happens in an artery that carries blood to the brain, a stroke can occur. The right diet helps keep your arteries clear and reduces the risk of heart problems and stroke. So, eat foods rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Avoid foods with a lot of salt, sugar and fat. We really only need about 1 teaspoon of salt each day. So beware! Read labels- most canned foods have a higher sodium content from preservatives.

3. Drink Alcohol In Moderation!

There is good evidence to show that if you drink alcohol in large amounts, it will cause your blood pressure to rise. However this does not seem to happen if you drink alcohol in small amounts. In fact, drinking small amounts of alcohol actually protects against heart disease and stroke. US guidelines recommend that men have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day while women are to have no more than one alcoholic drink per day to help lower high blood pressure.

4. Stop Smoking!

Research shows that smoking only increases your chances of developing a number of health complications such as: heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and a few other cancers. If you goal is a longer healthy life with lowered blood pressure, it would be best to start weaning yourself off your cigarettes and cigars. The nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products makes your body release adrenaline. Adrenaline causes your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to beat faster, which raises your blood pressure. If you quit smoking or using other tobacco products, you can significantly lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack, as well as help lower your blood pressure.

5. Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Measuring your blood pressure at home and keeping a record of the measurements will show you and your doctor how much your blood pressure changes during the day. Also, measuring your own blood pressure is a good way to take part in managing your health. To measure your blood pressure at home, you can use either an aneroid monitor or a digital monitor. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you have something called “prehypertension” (you are in the beginning stages and at risk of high blood pressure). Only your doctor can tell you whether you have high blood pressure. Most doctors will check your blood pressure several times on different days before deciding that you have high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or prehypertension, you need to check your blood pressure regularly and keep in touch with your family doctor.

Remember: Slow and steady wins the race. Remind yourself that life is not meant to be lived in one day so change will not occur overnight. Life is a beautiful process- we can only relax, take a deep breath and stay focused on our goals. Take personal responsibility for your health. Your future is your choice.

Article by Christine Abbate

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