High blood pressure or hypertension is regarded by the medical community as the "silent killer." Many people are not aware of having high blood pressure because there are few symptoms that are noticeable. High blood pressure is a chronic medical condition defined as the force at which the blood moves through the arteries being higher than it should be. The arteries carry oxygenated blood throughout the rest of the body when the heart beats. Blood pressure is measured as two separate readings: systolic and diastolic. The systolic reading (the top number) measures the blood pressure as the heart contracts. The diastolic reading (the bottom number) measures the blood pressure as the heart relaxes. Normal blood pressure, when the body is at rest, is 120/80. High blood pressure is 130/80 or above.
Common Steps to Lowering Blood Pressure
There are many different things that some people may try to alter their high blood pressure. Some steps are easy, while others may require quite a change to a person’s lifestyle. High Blood Pressure can be lowered effectively by taking these simple but important steps:
1. Take Prescribed Medication
Physicians usually will prescribe medicine to lower blood pressure. Remember to follow the instructions for taking your medication. When medication is not taken properly, blood pressure will remain elevated, causing damage to the heart and blood vessels over time. Chronic conditions such as heart disease, renal disease and stroke are the direct result of this damage. The downside to medication is potential side effects caused by the medication.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
Eating a healthy diet is key to lowering your blood pressure. A low fat, low sodium diet is important to protecting heart health and the circulatory system. A diet rich in lean protein such as chicken and fish, legumes, whole grains and unsaturated fats such as olive oil and canola oil keeps cholesterol low and prevents the hardening of the arteries. Eating healthy isn’t always easy. It can be expensive. It’s also hard to give up many of the foods people live.
3. Ensure Your Diet is Supplemented to Avoid Missing Nutrients
Blood pressure can be lowered naturally by supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals. Research has shown that high blood pressure can be caused by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals that the body needs for daily metabolism processes. Minerals such as potassium have been proven to lower blood pressure. A daily vitamin supplement will help ensure that your body is receiving the minimum amount of nutrients it needs to function properly. It can be difficult to determine the right vitamins sometimes. Also, many vitamins or supplements might not provide exactly what is advertised. Consult your doctor to avoid these pitfalls.
4. Stay Active
Regular cardiovascular exercise is important in keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy. Regular exercise is instrumental in allowing the body to burn off calories and preventing the body in storing excess fat. A lower percentage of body fat keeps cholesterol levels in the blood low and prevents the arteries and the blood vessels from becoming clogged with excess fat and cholesterol. Exercise does contain an increased risk of injury, but otherwise is one of the most important aspects in health.
5. Watch the Salt
Lowering table salt intake lowers blood pressure. Sodium chloride reduces the ability of the kidneys to remove water from the bloodstream. Instead, the water is stored in order to dilute the concentration of sodium present in the blood. The direct result of this physiological process is higher blood pressure. Extra fluid in the blood puts extra strain on the walls of arteries and vessels within the body, weakening their structure and putting people at higher risk of stroke. Cooking meals at home helps control the amount of table salt that is used to season food. Switching to sea salt instead of regular table salt cuts down the amount of sodium added to food.
Facts About Hypertension
- More than 3 million cases of hypertension are diagnosed by physicians every year.
- According to the American Heart Association, this condition affects about half of all adults living in the United States.
- Complications can occur when hypertension is not properly controlled.
- Heart disease, renal disease (kidney damage) and stroke are major complications. Other common medical conditions that may occur include hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and damage to the eyes.
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