High blood pressure (HBP) is a common problem in the United States. Recent studies show that approximately 67 million adults in the U.S. have HBP, according to CDC (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention).
Recent studies show that nineteen percent of young Americans between the ages of 24 and 32 suffer from HBP.
What happens with HBP?
When blood pressure is high, the blood exerts excessive force on the walls of the veins and arteries. It is normal for blood pressure to vary throughout the day and night. It is naturally lower when you are at rest and higher when you are active. If it stays elevated over an extended period of time, the heart must pump harder. This can cause a number of health complications such as blindness, malfunction of the kidneys, hemorrhage of the brain, hardening of the arteries and stroke.
These days we understand that it is important to try to prevent HBP rather than trying to medicate it away or manage it. For this reason, good doctors work to help patients develop healthy lifestyle habits, such as:
- Eating heart healthy meals
- Reducing sodium consumption
- Reducing consumption of alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Abstaining from smoking
People who consistently practice these sorts of healthy lifestyle habits are at far less risk of developing HBP than those who do not.
Who is at risk?
In the past, mostly older people developed high blood pressure and it is still a greater risk for people over the age of fifty. Today, it is a risk for many groups of people. African Americans tend to develop HBP at a younger age than other groups. Additionally, this group is more likely to die from complications of HBP such as kidney failure and stroke.
Studies prove time and again that eating right can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid HBP. There are many good dietary plans that can help people learn how to eat right. Foremose is the DASH plan. This is a comprehensive dietary approach to stopping hypertension (aka: high blood pressure). This is a simple plan that is based in:
- Generous consumption of fruits and veggies and whole grains
- Consumption of low fat dairy products
- Consumption of lean proteins such as, fish, poultry and nuts
Simultaneously, people following this plan should reduce or eliminate red meat, fats, sweets and beverages containing sugar.
There is also a DASH sodium study that looked into the importance of reducing salt consumption. The daily recommendation for salt consumption is a teaspoon or less daily, but most people in the US consume far more than that. This is not just table salt, but also other forms of sodium. The DASH sodium study found that people who have high blood pressure should consume less than three-quarters of a teaspoon of sodium daily.
HBP can also be effectively combated with daily exercise. Just half an hour of light to moderate exercise every day can make a big difference. People with HBP and those wishing to avoid it are well advised to take up walking, cycling, jogging, dancing, swimming or other enjoyable, active pursuits.
Drinking alcohol also raises blood pressure. Mayo Clinic said that drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Simultaneously, alcohol can damage your brain, heart and liver. Abstaining from alcohol can decrease the chances of getting HBP. If you do drink, limit it to one drink daily. It should be no more than a five ounce glass of wine or a twelve ounce glass of beer.
There is nothing good anyone can say about smoking, and when it comes to HBP that goes double. When you quit smoking your chances of having a heart attack drop by half within a year. Smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels and causes atherosclerosis to occur very quickly. It also causes cancer of all kinds, exposes those around you to risk and makes you a fire hazard. Shun it.
It's hard to spot a person with high blood pressure. The signs and symptoms are not obvious until the problem is quite advanced. That's why regular HBP screenings are advised. If one reading comes out high, have readings taken at different times of day to confirm the results.
Related article: Facts About Hypertension
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (OCtober 29, 2014) High Blood Pressure Facts. Retrieved on December 10, 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm
2. MD Sheps, S. (n.d.) High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). Retrieved on December 10, 2014 from Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure/faq-20058254
3. Photo by Gary Scott www.garyslens.ca
Disclaimer: All of the information stated in this article should not be used as a replacement for medical advice. Consult a physician immediately if you have questions about your health.