There’s a silent killer among us, and every day we may go without knowing about it. While this killer might not directly be the main cause of death, it affects 1 in every 4 people in the United States. But what is this thing that is taking over many people lives, either knowingly or unknowingly? It’s high blood pressure, better known as hypertension.
What is High Blood Pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is the force in the arteries when the heart beats and when the heart is at rest. Blood pressure is measured in millimeter of Mercury. To obtain a reading of having high blood pressure, the American Heart Association states that a reading of 140/90 is considered high.
How is High Blood Pressure Measured?
Blood pressure is measured by using a sphygmomanometer, or in common terms, a blood pressure cuff. The cuff is usually wrapped around the arm of a person, right above the bend of the arm and is lined up with the brachial artery. If the blood pressure is being taken manually, then a stethoscope is places on the artery and the blood pressure cuff is pumped up. The person who is taking the blood pressure will listen through their stethoscope, the first time that they hear a whooshing or thumping sound it will be considered the top number, or the systolic pressure. This will continue on until the person taking the blood pressure cannot hear the thumping sound any longer. The last time that they hear the thumping sound will be considered the bottom number, or the diastolic blood pressure.
What are the Stages of High Blood Pressure?
The American Heart Association has laid out the following guidelines in regards to blood pressure.
Normal Blood Pressure is considered: 120/80
Prehypertension is considered: 120-139 / 80-89
Stage 1 Hypertension is considered: 140-159 / 90-99
Stage 2 Hypertension is considered: 160 & higher / 100 & higher
Who is at Risk of High Blood Pressure?
Anybody of any age can be affected by high blood pressure. However, certain people are more at risk of having high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is more common in people who are over 35 years of age, obese people, heavy drinkers, and women who are taking certain medications, such as birth control pills. Individuals who have a family history of high blood pressure are also more inclined to have high blood pressure as well.
I Have Been Diagnosed with High Blood Pressure, What Can I Do?
First and foremost, if you have been diagnosed by your doctor or physician as someone with high blood pressure, it would be in your best interest to invest in a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff), so that you can monitor your blood pressure. You can purchase an electronic one that has an automatic inflating cuff at most drug stores, such as Walgreens and CVS. At the same time each day, take your blood pressure, this way you will be able to gauge how your blood pressure is.
If your doctor or physician puts you on medications to lower your blood pressure, make sure that you take them regularly and as directed. This is very important in maintaining your blood pressure to normal and acceptable levels.
And lastly, the most drastic change that you should make after being diagnosed with high blood pressure is a lifestyle change. It’s very hard to do, however, a change in diet and physical activity can help you in lowering your blood pressure.
Foods that Can Help in Lowering Blood Pressure
Diet affects several things in our body. While consuming things in moderation usually isn’t too harmful, it remains true that too much of a good thing isn’t always the best thing either. Here are some foods tips when making a diet change to help high blood pressure:
1. Cut out the salt. It’s going to be hard to do, but you would be amazed in the amount of salt that is found in foods. Foods especially rich in sodium include canned foods, processed foods, olives, pickles, saltine-like crackers, and buttermilk.
2, Look into the DASH diet. I work in a hospital setting, and when we have people come into who have a history of hypertension, the doctor usually orders a DASH diet, which allows for only 3 grams of sodium. People who are also on this diet use Mrs. Dash as seasoning for the food instead of salt. It doesn’t taste quite the same, but after time you will get used to the taste and you should notice a drop in your blood pressure.
3. Eat meat, but make sure that you opt for lean cuts. You can also eat turkey and chicken, as long as it is skinless.
4. Eat fresh fruit. It’s a great alternative to sodium-laced snacks, such as chips and crackers. If fresh fruit isn’t in season, you can also opt for some frozen fruit, but be sure to checking the packaging to make sure that it does not have high amounts of sodium in it.
5. Plain rice and breads can be your new best friend. Of course, remember to eat these in moderation as well.
6. Use spices to spice up your food. Use them instead of salt. Just be sure to avoid Garlic Salt and Onion Salt. Explore new flavors, your taste buds will love you for it later (and so will your blood pressure).
7. As bad as it sounds, stay away from things such as ketchup, soy sauce, steak sauce, and bouillon cubes. They might make the food taste better but they are loaded with sodium and can put a serious damper on your blood pressure.
8. Watch the amount of cheese that you take in. While it would be best to cut it out completely, eating cheese in strict moderation can help your blood pressure significantly.
In addition to eating healthy, exercise should also be a part of your quest to lower high blood pressure. Just a 30-minute walk could do wonders in lowering your blood pressure by helping you to lose weight. If you decide to take control of your blood pressure, you will be greatly lowering your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure. Having high blood pressure can greatly affect your body in several ways, contributing to other medical illnesses and emergencies. Take the steps right now to help lower your blood pressure and live a longer and fuller life.
The American Heart Association What is High Blood Pressure?
Tracee Cornforth High Blood Pressure