Elevated blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is due a number of factors that can disrupt arterial pressure and fluid volume (i.e. vascular, blood vessels, hormonal, renal or neurologic).
The table below shows the American Heart Association’s blood pressure categorization thresholds:
Essentially hypertension exists because of narrowing of the arteries, resulting in an increased blood pressured. High blood pressure is no laughing matter!!
According to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk doubles for each increment of 20 mm Hg systolic and 10 mm Hg diastolic above 115/75 mm Hg!!! These findings are even more concerning when almost 50% of adults worldwide have higher than normal blood pressure (prehypertension). That is a large portion of the population under risk of heart attack or stroke.
Although genetic factors have a role to play, DIET and LIFESTYLE are often the major underlying causes of high blood pressure! This is good news!
80% of patients with hypertension can be brought under control with diet and lifestyle modifications!!
Listed below are ways that you can help control and lower your blood pressure to keep your heart healthy!
Stress can be a major factor in high blood pressure. Stress causes stimulation of the nervous system, releasing hormones can cause blood pressure to tighten, and in turn, raising blood pressure. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation have been shown to have value in blood pressure lowering.
Clinical trials in hypertensive patients that do regular exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment! Even Mild to Moderate aerobic exercise such as power walking, moderate biking or jogging, three times a week for 20 minutes or more produces an anti-hypotensive effect.
When addressing both diet and lifestyle it is so important to achieve and maintain normal body weight! OBESITY IS A MAJOR CAUSE OF HYPERTENSION. The New Year is always a good time to re-set and create a new health plan. Maintaining a healthy body weight not only reduces blood pressure, but also reduces the chance of other diseases such as cancer.
Interestingly enough, vegetarians generally have much lower blood pressure, a lower incidence of hypertension AND a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases compared to non-vegetarians. This is not to say that I am suggesting everyone adopt a vegetarian diet. But, it is important to look at WHY vegetarians have such healthy hearts….they do not consume conventional fatty animal products! AND, they may have higher consumption of vegetables (containing antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients) compared to the rest of the population. Food for thought… J
3 vegetables in particular have been shown to benefit blood pressure:
Celery contains 3-n-butyl phthalide, a compound that has been shown to lower blood pressure. In one study, 4 stalks of celery a day was shown to reduce blood pressure. Garlic and Onions have also shown to be of benefit due to their allicin content.
The DASH Diet: Is a well-known diet to help lower blood pressure. The diet is most effective when combined with sodium (salt) restriction and an increased potassium intake. For more information about the DASH Diet, please visit: http://www.dashforhealth.com/
There are numerous evidence based herbs and supplements that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and may also decrease CVD risk. It is important to work with a health care professional when using supplements as some may interact with your medications.
Do you need help with planning a healthy diet or making positive healthy lifestyle changes? Visiting a Naturopathic Doctor is a great place to start! Naturopathic Doctors are specialists in nutrition, diet, supplementation and lifestyle!
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- American Heart Association. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp Accessed 11/18/2015.
3.Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. Dec 2003;42(6):1206-1252
4..Prousky, Jonathan, ND. “Hypercholesteremia” In: Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition.
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