Do you know the symptoms and some simple ways to keep high blood pressure (HBP) from affecting the quality of your life?
Unless you are living under a rock, you have undoubtedly had some interaction with the concept of blood pressure and how it is measured. The buzz these days is that 1 in 3 Americans are affected by it, and many have no symptoms.
So, why is that a problem?--you might ask. The ‘blood pressure’ itself is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps the blood around the body. The blood pressure isn’t static; it changes when your life condition changes. For instance, if you are running or excited the pressure will rise. When you rest, go about normal activities, or sleep the pressure returns to a more normal range. The problem happens when the pressure doesn’t go down when the activity causing it is stopped.
Long term effects of a consistently high blood pressure—hypertension--begins to affect other organs in the body like the blood vessels, heart, lungs, brain and kidneys. If your blood pressure is consistently under 120/80, it is considered normal. If it is up to 139/90 and does not go down, you are at twice the risk for disease issues. If it is 140/90 you still may have no symptoms but your risk is much greater. At 180/110 and higher, you may be in crisis and need medical attention.
Symptoms of hypertensive crisis could include severe headaches, anxiety, nosebleeds, and feeling short of breath. At this level it can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, or unconsciousness. About 60 percent of people with diabetes also have HBP.
If you are salt sensitive—you retain water if you eat too much salt—then additional stress is put on the heart. Although stress itself does not seem to have a long lasting affect, the indirect results of stress may do damage, ie: smoking, drinking and poor diet.
Treating HBP naturally will require a few changes in lifestyle and habits, but the effect will be widespread and all encompassing, worth the time and effort. Try the DASH diet—Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension— ranked as the best diet and healthiest diet by US News & World Reports for the last two years. Online version available www.dashdiet.org. The diet involves eating more fruit, vegetables, whole grain foods, low fat dairy, fish, poultry, less red meat, less saturated fat and fewer sweets.
One more aspect of self care for lowering blood pressure is exercise. Adults should get about 150 minutes of moderate activity per week and a session or two of strength training as well.
Meditation, yoga, tai chi and deep breathing exercises exemplify other kinds of care we can do for our bodies.
If in doubt, check it out. If you’re at risk it’s best to know about it while you can do something about it. Get your blood pressure checked regularly.
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- Wednesday, 09 May 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Ask Madalyn