Controlling Hypertension Throughout Your Life Cycle
Today my Doctor said “My pressure is up and I seem to be fine”…….That is a recurring theme that I hear often when people are talking about their blood pressure after leaving a doctor's office.
But what is blood pressure? Its something everyone has and it’s something that we can’t do without. As blood is pumped through your body's arteries, it creates force against the inside walls of your blood vessels. The amount of blood the heart pumps and the resistance of the arteries determines your blood pressure.
A "silent killer," ………..High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but yet it can lead to serious and even life-threatening problems if left untreated. The good news is that there are ways to manage hypertension.
Why me, why now?
There are a number of reasons why people have hypertension. In the majority of cases, hypertension is caused by a combination of inherited and environmental factors. Certainly, a family history of hypertension predisposes you to the disease. Other risk factors are chosen, such as smoking, eating too many fat-laden foods, and not getting enough exercise.
But there is good news and some bad news! There are factors you can control and others you can't. Look at the list below to find out what you can do about lowering your blood pressure.
Factors You Can Control
Cigarette smokers are at least twice as likely as non-smokers to develop heart disease. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about breaking the habit. Give up the habit, it will help reduce your chances of getting heart disease and help keep your blood pressure under control
Reduce alcohol consumption
Excessive alcohol can raise your blood pressure and reduces your heart's ability to pump blood. Limiting yourself to no more than two drinks per day is definitely a good idea.
Let’s work that body more! Doing just 30 to 45 minutes of mild to moderate exercise such as brisk walking or biking three times a week can bump your blood pressure down a few points, especially if you are losing weight as well. For those of you who want to lower your risk of hypertension further, try some vigorous exercise, such as riding a stationary bike for 40 minutes, running for 30 minutes or doing laps in the pool. Vigorous exercise can lower blood pressure by more than 10 points. Note: Please check with your doctor before you undertake vigorous exercise.
Eating a lower fat, balanced diet
It is well documented that many people who have high blood pressure are also overweight. Try controlling your weight with both exercise and diet to maintain a healthy weight. Seek help from a registered dietitian in your area to gain more insight to better eating habits.
Reduce salt intake
This is a must do! We salt our food before we even taste it! Many people consume far more salt than their bodies actually need. Eating too much salt can be dangerous to those with a history of high blood pressure because sodium intake can increase blood pressure. While not everyone must cut down on salty chips, pickles and popcorn, African Americans and people of African descent and women older than 65 seem to benefit when they lower their daily salt intake to no more than 2,400 milligrams a day - or about one teaspoon. The best thing that we can do for ourselves is to take the salt shakers and high sodium seasonings off of the dinner table and control the salt intake with better cooking practices.
Below are a few hints and suggestions on what you can do to help reduce your salt intake during the day:
Moderate your sodium intake gradually if you are accustomed to eating salty foods
Enjoy plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of consuming salty snacks
Choose other foods within a food group that don’t have as much sodium i.e. meats , fish , poultry
Season with herbs and spices, herbed vinegar, and fruit juices instead of salt
Learn to prepare food with less salt or high-sodium ingredients
Go easy on high sodium foods (canned soups, processed foods)
Read the Nutrition facts information on your food label and understand where the sodium is coming from
If cutting back on sodium, look for reduced sodium products in the store
Be “salt “ conscious when eating out
Purchase lightly salted snacks, and nuts
When eating out move the salt shaker off the table, When at home do the same thing
Recognize terms that describe salty foods: Pickled, smoked, au jus, soy bases
Go easy on condiments, they tend to be salty
Reduced the consumption of processed and luncheon meats
Above all, remember that these changes must be gradual. Setting a goal too high will set you up for great disappointments. You can take control of your health by taking one step at a time.