According to the CDC, approximately 75 million American adults suffer from high blood pressure. Recognized as a ‘silent killer’, it’s estimated that 1 in every 3 adults are suffering from this $46 billion healthcare problem. People who develop high blood pressure are at an increased risk for stroke and heart disease, which are both considered a part of the top 10 public health problems. Given its profound effect on millions, people are becoming increasingly interested on how to alleviate high blood pressure.
What is Blood Pressure?
- 1 What is Blood Pressure?
- 2 Understanding Blood Pressure Ranges
- 3 What is low blood pressure?
- 4 Causes of High Blood Pressure
- 5 Lowering Blood Pressure
- 6 Additional Methods for Managing Blood Pressure
- 7 In Conclusion
Every time our heart beats, it is pumping blood around our body to provide us with energy and oxygen. Blood pressure is the strength of the blood moving and pushing against blood vessels as it circulates through our body. Our blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day based on several factors, but it remaining elevated signifies a problem.
When blood pressure is measured, we receive two sets of numbers known as:
- Systolic blood pressure (top number) and,
- Diastolic blood pressure (bottom number)
The systolic blood pressure tells us how much pressure our blood is applying against the artery walls when our heart beats. This number is the one practitioners pay the most attention to as it suggests a risk of cardiovascular disease. The diastolic blood pressure tells us how much pressure our blood wields when resting between beats.
Understanding Blood Pressure Ranges
The American Heart Association recognizes five blood pressure ranges. Individuals should understand these ranges so they know when to contact a physician. The ranges are:
- Normal – Less than 120/80
- Elevated – Consistently 120-129/less than 80
- Hypertensive Stage 1 – Consistently 130-139/80-89
- Hypertensive Stage 2 – Consistently 140 and above/90 and above
- Hypertensive Crisis – Blood pressure that exceeds 180 and is higher than 120. This requires immediate medical attention.
What is low blood pressure?
High blood pressure does create a reason for concern, but low blood pressure should be monitored too. Individuals with a systolic blood pressure that is less than 90 and a diastolic blood pressure less than 60 should seek medical attention. Low blood pressure could be a sign of:
- Allergic reaction
- Heart conditions and more!
While low blood pressure may sound more admirable than high blood pressure, it is best to fall in the normal range.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
The exact cause of high blood pressure has not yet been determined, but researchers do believe the following has an affect:
- Lack of physical activity
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Salt in diet
While the above factors do play a part, most individuals who suffer from high blood pressure do not know the underlying cause. This phenomena is known as ‘essential hypertension’, and sex, age and race are said to be huge risk factors. Consider the following:
- African Americans are twice as likely to have high blood pressure than whites,
- Men suffer from it more than women and,
- Seniors are more likely to have high blood pressure than younger adults
Lowering Blood Pressure
Individuals with high blood pressure usually take medication to help manage their condition, but several have opted for a more natural approach. Many people do not know the cause of their high blood pressure, but the following lifestyle changes have proved helpful in controlling it:
Research has shown that losing just 5% of ones body mass can lower blood pressure incredulously. Weight loss can improve breathing and can assist the blood vessels in expanding and contracting more easily, which directly affects blood pressure.
One of the best methods for improving blood pressure is exercise. This activity can improve the strength of your heart and as a result, lower the pressure in your arteries. Great examples of blood pressure reducing exercise includes:
- Running and/or jogging
Research has shown that many individuals with high blood pressure also have a sensitivity to salt, which means minimizing its intake could make a huge difference. Slashing sodium by eating less processed foods and swapping salt for other herbs and spices could lower blood pressure and prevent a stroke.
Decreasing Alcohol Consumption
According to healthline.com, 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world stem from drinking alcohol. Those who take blood pressure medications may find them ineffective if they drink alcohol in excess. Alcohol consumption can also lower blood pressure by several points, but it should not be used as a form of treatment.
Stress can lead to certain behaviors such as eating poorly and drinking in excess, which both impact your blood pressure. Those who are often ‘stressed-out’ may find themselves constantly in fight-or-flight mode. This can constrict your blood vessels and accelerate your heart rate.
Proper stress management techniques can help decrease the risk of high blood pressure. Studies have suggested that the two best methods are working less and listening to music. Other stress reducing activities include meditation, deep breathing, and writing in a stress journal.
Additional Methods for Managing Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that reducing coffee consumption, smoking cessation, and adapting a healthier diet all help in managing blood pressure. The caffeine found in coffee creates a temporary spike in blood pressure, especially for those with a caffeine sensitivity. Like coffee, smoking cigarettes also causes a jump in blood pressure and significantly damages blood vessels. Those who quit smoking can reverse their high blood pressure and also prevent heart disease.
Dietary changes, such as reducing saturated fat and cholesterol, can lower blood pressure. Adding more fruits (especially berries), vegetables, and whole grains, can also make for a positive impact. The key is to shop smart and listen to your body. Reading labels and jotting down your blood pressure after eating certain foods will help pinpoint what works and what doesn’t.
People with high blood pressure may not need to take medication for the rest of their life to manage their condition. Being willing to make lifestyle changes could reverse the condition altogether, but the process requires discipline. Lowering blood pressure naturally is certainly attainable and your physician can assist in coming up with the best method for you.
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