Editor’s Note: Considerable controversy exists about whether fat or cholesterol are, per se, drivers of atherosclerosis. They are implicated in some studies, while others indicate that quality of fat, and placement in a wider dietary pattern, may be more significant to ultimate impact. What seems clear, however, is that a diet high in animal products, sugar, and processed foods is often a recipe for high blood pressure and heart disease.
When you get a high blood pressure reading at the doctor's office, it might be tough for you to understand exactly what impact those numbers can make on your overall health, since high blood pressure has no unusual day-to-day symptoms. But the truth is, having high blood pressure is a serious health risk—it boosts the risks of leading killers such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. What's more, high blood pressure is a primary or contributing cause of death in more than 1,000 deaths a day in the United States.
How do you check your own blood pressure? It is common to have your blood pressure checked at the doctor's office, but there are many cases where it is important to monitor it at home. It is easy to check blood pressure with an automated machine, but it can also be done manually at home. Learn how to check your own blood pressure and what the results mean. Read now
Reduce sodium in your diet. One easy way to reduce your sodium intake is to limit or avoid processed foods, such lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, frozen dinners, canned vegetables with added salt, and that sort of thing. Most packaged convenience foods, like macaroni and cheese, soups, side dishes, pizzas, and other multi-ingredient foods have a lot of added sodium. Start reading labels and pay attention to the sodium content. You should aim for 1500mg or less every day.
Americans eat too much salt in large part because restaurants add so much of it to their cooking, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can be confusing even to customers who try to make smart choices, since high-sodium foods don’t always taste salty. In order to see a big impact on American salt consumption, restaurants will have to commit to using less, the CDC’s report stated. Until then, says Dr. Goldberg, try to cook more of your own food so you’re aware of how much salt goes into it. When you do eat out, she suggests, skip salty toppings like cheese, and order dressings and sauces on the side.
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“Weight is one of the most important determiners of blood pressure,” says John Bisognano, MD, director of the Hypertension Clinic at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York. “Once someone’s BMI is over 25 to 28, taking off a few pounds will make a big difference in treating high blood pressure.” (A body mass index of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, while 30 and higher is obese.)
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Damage to your blood vessels occurs every time your pressure is elevated, and the new guidelines are meant to help people become more aware earlier. And through earlier awareness, it may help prevent the damage that would occur if you waited for a later diagnosis.
In most cases where high blood pressure is diagnosed, the cause remains unclear. One review paper in the International Journal of Hypertension explains that this accounts for around 90% of all hypertension diagnosis and is usually referred to as essential hypertension. Secondary hypertension is diagnosed when a cause can be identified. Potential causes of secondary hypertension may include:
Alternative therapies are increasingly receiving more attention for treatment of everything from heart disease to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and now high blood pressure (or hypertension). The overarching principle to always keep in mind, though, is that while it might be "cool and fashionable" to treat your maladies with alternative therapies, not all such treatments are backed by hard science. Some interventions work, some don't. And yes, they could have harmful side effects as well. The best and brightest of us have fallen gullible victims to mumbo-jumbo alternative therapies for various illnesses; Steve Jobs tryst with pancreatic cancer being a case in point. Long story short, approach every treatment (including conventional medicine) as a level-headed, scientific skeptic.
When was the last time you thought about your blood pressure? If you're like most people, it probably hasn't been since your doctor mentioned it during your last checkup. But high blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening problems, like heart attack and stroke. The good news is that you can lower your risk of hypertension with lifestyle changes.
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These exercises work on several levels. Firstly, the blood becomes more aerated with an increased intake of oxygen. Secondly, deep rhythmic breathing (that is, approximately ten breaths per minute) activates the relaxation response, which has been shown to decrease blood pressure. The practice need not be long - even five to ten minutes a day will bring down your blood pressure. Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere, even while sitting at a desk.
With magnesium, my understanding is that the actual rate of absorption varies enormously between types. Further, any oral form significantly reduces absorption to about 20%. So 1000 mg of a good chelated form is internalised as 200 mg. I have seen an Epsom salts bath three times weekly proposed as a cheaper and better alternative due to it being absorbed through the skin. Another alternative is liquid magnesium but in that case dosage is not controlled.
Dairy or soy—it’s your choice. Replacing some of the refined carbohydrates in your diet with foods high in soy or milk protein (like tofu or low-fat dairy) can bring down systolic blood pressure if you have hypertension or prehypertension, findings suggest. "Some patients get inflammation from refined carbohydrates, which will increase blood pressure," says Matthew J. Budoff, MD, FACC, Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac CT at the Division of Cardiology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Basil is a delicious herb that goes well in a variety of foods. It also might help lower your blood pressure. In rodents, basil extract has been shown to lower blood pressure, although only briefly. The chemical eugenol, which is found in basil, may block certain substances that tighten blood vessels. This may lead to a drop in blood pressure. More studies are needed.
Providing at least 5 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruits daily, which help ensure that you eat plenty of foods that are full of stomach-filling volume yet are low in calories, enhancing weight-loss efforts. Losing excess weight is one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure in the short term. Eating plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables also means you’ll be eating excellent sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Many studies have found that foods rich in these minerals help blunt some of the toxic effects of sodium.
Keep in mind that sea salt and kosher salt contain the same amount of sodium as table salt. Salt substitutes contain potassium chloride, which is not safe for some people, so you may want to avoid it. Instead, look into sodium-free alternatives to replace salt in your diet, such as lemon juice, flavored vinegar, fresh herbs, and salt-free herb and spice blends.
Beyond changing your diet to minimize exposure to foods that increase blood pressure and emphasizing foods that reduce blood pressure, a number of nutritional supplements have been confidently demonstrated to reduce blood pressure. Several supplements, including vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, and anthocyanins, correct inadequate intakes of these nutrients that commonly occur with modern lifestyles.
Monitor your blood pressure and talk with your doctor. A medical professional can check your blood pressure by using a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope, or you can check it yourself using an automatic blood pressure monitoring device. If you have concerns about your blood pressure, talk to your doctor to determine what treatment options may work best for you. Blood pressure is usually divided into categories, which include: