4 Ways to Control Your High Blood Pressure
posted by The Live Better Team | August 19, 2016
More people die of hypertension-related cardiovascular disease than from the next three deadliest diseases combined.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men.
About 7.9 percent of African-American men, 8.5 percent of Caucasian men, and 6.3 percent of Mexican-American men suffer from some form of coronary heart disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only about half of all adults with hypertension have the condition under control.
High blood pressure costs the U.S. about $46 billion a year in health care services, medications and absence from work.
Men are more prone to hypertension at a younger age, and women have a higher rate of hypertension at older ages.
Prevalence of hypertension is higher in people over 60 years of age.
The systolic reading measures the pressure as the heart pumps blood around the body
The diastolic reading reflects the pressure as the heart relaxes and refills with blood<
Factors such as acute stress, excitement, intense exercise or sitting in a hot tub can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, even in people whose blood pressure is normal. It’s typically lower in the morning and rises as you go about your day. To diagnose hypertension, your doctor will take several readings to assess your blood pressure over time. If it’s determined that the force of the blood flow against your artery walls is consistently high, the tissue in the walls may become stretched beyond healthy limits, causing multiple types of damage.
The American Heart Association defines the following ranges of blood pressure (in mmHg):
Normal blood pressure is below 120 systolic and below 80 diastolic
Prehypertension is 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
Stage 1 hypertension is 140-159 systolic or 90-99 diastolic
Stage 2 hypertension is 160 or higher systolic or 100 or higher diastolic
Hypertensive crisis is when blood pressure is above 180 systolic or above 110 diastolic. This is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
Heart failure due to an enlarged or weakened heart
Aneurysm – an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery, which can burst, causing severe bleeding or death
Blood vessel narrowing in the kidneys that can lead to possible kidney failure; in the heart, brain and legs, this can lead to heart attack or stroke
Blood vessels in the eyes may rupture or bleed, leading to vision problems or blindness
Being overweight or obese is a key risk factor for hypertension. If you need to reduce your weight, adopting a heart-healthy eating plan will help you lose and maintain weight while also lowering your blood pressure. Reducing your consumption of red meat, salt, alcohol and foods and beverages containing sugar is vital to your success.
The D.A.S.H. diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), is a flexible, balanced and easy-to-follow eating plan based on studies that show it:
Lowers high blood pressure
Improves fat levels in the bloodstream
Reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease
Fruits and vegetables
Fat-free and low-fat dairy products
Beans and legumes
Skinless poultry and lean meats
Omega-3-rich fish such as salmon, trout and herring
Download a PDF of the complete D.A.S.H. eating plan.
Physical activity pays off in multiple health-enhancing ways. It lowers blood pressure, helps you manage your weight, strengthens your heart and lowers your stress levels. It’s easy to be inactive in our convenience-based culture, but taking charge of your fitness is one of the most important and empowering things you can do.
Guidelines advise that hypertensive patients should participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity, dynamic aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming on five to seven days a week. The AHA recommends that you:
Include flexibility and stretching exercises
Include muscle-strengthening activity at least two days each week
Many people try to cope with stress by overeating, drinking or smoking, but all of these activities further increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Finding healthy ways to lower your existing stress levels and cope with unavoidable stressors makes a big difference in managing blood pressure.
Quiet your mental thoughts with relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery are powerful stress-busters. Find one or two that work for you.
Practice laugh therapy to decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol.
Nurture yourself with treats like massage, an afternoon nap or a warm bath.
Ask for help if stress and anxiety are overwhelming you. Confide in loved ones, and talk to your family doctor about beneficial strategies.
You and your doctor will probably explore lifestyle changes as a first course of treatment for hypertension, but it’s possible you may take low-dose medication simultaneously if your blood pressure is above 140 over 90.
Depending on your specific condition, your doctor might prescribe one or more of the following:
• Beta-blockers and alpha-blockers
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
Once you implement your heart-healthy treatment program, it will become a natural, self-reinforcing habit that helps you maintain lower blood pressure and achieve an overall higher quality of life. You will lower your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, peripheral artery disease and kidney disease. “Death rates from these diseases have decreased significantly, thanks in part to earlier and better treatment of high blood pressure,” reports the AHA.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.