What do we know about High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major contributor to the epidemic of the chronic diseases. It is no longer commonly seen only in the Western World but has become a burden to individuals, families, and communities all over the world.
The force exerted on the walls of the arteries as the blood circulates throughout the body is what is measured when the blood pressure is taken. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80. Persons with co-morbidities (other illnesses) such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke need to have their blood pressure under control to prevent acute illnesses such as heart attacks, heart failure, renal (kidney) disease and even sudden death.
As we age, our blood vessels become stiffer. Hence, there is a large association between aging and high blood pressure. Other risks factors for high blood pressure include:
- Obesity (severe overweight)
- High salt diet
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Family history of hypertension
The Essentials of Diagnosis and Treatment
Three consecutive readings of high blood pressure readings during consultations with the doctor indicate that you have high blood pressure. A physical examination and diagnostic tests will help to determine whether there are further complications involving the heart, kidneys or eyes.
Treatment entails the use of anti-hypertensive medication to lower the blood pressure. Diuretics (water tablets) are often prescribed along with the normal blood pressure tablets. It is very important to control other co-existing illnesses.
Tips to Control High Blood Pressure
It is never too late to start controlling your blood pressure, whether it be low or high. There is much benefit to be gained from applying healthy lifestyle practices and modifying risky behavior. Never abandon your medical therapy or medication to pursue a strictly natural approach. Partner with your physician to adjust your treatment plan should this become necessary.
There are good benefits from adopting anti-inflammatory diets.
Healthy fats/omega fatty acids (3 & 6 in equal ratio).
- Avoid partially hydrogenated oils
- Do not use vegetable shortening
- Eliminate trans fats from your diet
- Do not eat margarine, use butter and olive oil
- Avoid fried foods in restaurants
- Stay away from rancid oils, nuts, seeds, whole-grain flour and cereals
- Minimize use of polyunsaturated vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame, and soy). Use olive and canola oil instead. Your best option is extra-virgin/cold compressed olive oil
- Never heat oils to the point of smoking & never reuse oil previously heated to high temperatures.
Select foods with a low glycemic index (GI):
- Less refined, less processed carbohydrates with low glycemic load
- Reduce consumption of whole wheat flour & sugar especially bread and packaged snacks
- Eat more whole grain, beans, winter squash and sweet potatoes
- Avoid products made with high-fructose corn syrup
- Eat less protein if you have liver or kidney problems, allergies or autoimmune disease
- Decrease consumption of animal protein except fish and reduced-fat dairy
- Eat more vegetable protein such as beans & soy
- 40 gram a day and can include fruits, vegetables and whole grain
- Ready-made cereals should contain at least 4 to 5 grams of bran per servings
Along with the healthy diet it is important to exercise to stay at a healthy body weight.
- Adults are now more sedentary and need to structure time for walking, jogging, high and low impact aerobics.
- The elderly have less options as there are other concerns with the degenerative diseases especially osteoporosis and arthritis. They are encouraged to do walking, stretching, gentle aerobics, yoga and tai chi.
Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. There is help to break the addiction.
A little wine is good for health especially red wine with anti-oxidant effects. A glass of wine a day is a safe guideline. Diabetics and persons with a family history of alcoholism have to be cautious as moderate intake can easily switch to excessive use.
Regular Medical Check-Ups and Risk Assessments
People with hypertension need to see the doctor every 2-3 months. Longer appointments may be given if the blood pressure is well controlled. There are now practices available to screen for the very early detection of pre-hypertension and an assessment of the risks for heart disease. This approach to early detection and treatment can result in better outcomes.
Those who commit to a healthy life-style and adhere to the guidance of the healthcare providers can indeed normalize their blood pressure once again.
If you have further concerns about high blood pressure or other medical conditions, you can ask any medical question on www.askthedoctor.com for free!