The ABCs of Blood Pressure!
Did you know the number one reason people visit doctors in the U.S. is to manage their high blood pressure (HBP)? Over 100 million, or half of all Americans have hypertension aka HBP. Worldwide, one-third of the adult population is affected; it is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease-related death and disability in Westernized societies.
Revised standards define borderline hypertension as 130/80 from the previous 140/90. Awareness, treatment, and control of HBP are highest with adults over 60 years old while only 10 percent of adults aged 20 to 39 years old take this ailment seriously. Due to increased life expectancy and aging, the issue of HBP will continue to grow along with incidences of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
Blood pressure is the force of blood moving through our circulatory system. Each heartbeat creates blood pressure while arteries serve as de facto pipes for blood flow delivering oxygen, nutrients, clotting platelets, hormones, and immunity antibodies while removing toxins and other waste products. If arteries are narrowed, stiff, or damaged, blockages can lead to heart attack, stroke, and even death.
Blood pressure readings are expressed as systolic pressure followed by diastolic pressure. The higher number, systolic, reflects heart contraction followed by diastolic, the momentary resting pressure of arteries between beats. Both measurements are essential as they indicate how well the circulatory system is working.
Blood pressure drugs are the number one prescription medication in America. Certain HBP risk factors like advancing age, being a male, having a family history of cardiovascular issues, and being African American can’t be changed. One can, however, modify dietary choices and make lifestyle changes to improve blood pressure function:
- Lose weight. Even dropping just five percent of body weight can significantly reduce pressure on the heart muscle.
- Eat a plant-based diet. Consume fruits, vegetables, grains, and low-fat dairy products and minimize processed foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
- Reduce salt intake and increase potassium. Keep sodium intake under 1500 mg per day; salt dominates in processed and prepared foods. Eat more potassium like leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, melons, bananas, avocados, and oranges. Other good sources include tuna and salmon, nuts and seeds, and beans.
- Moderate or eliminate alcohol use. Alcohol raises blood pressure for 16 percent of people. If you drink, consume no more than a glass a day.
- Exercise most days of the week. Regular exercise like walking makes the heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood to lower blood pressure.
- Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine can cause an instant blood pressure boost, especially for those who don’t drink it regularly.
- Eat other beneficial foods. Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and berries contain useful plant compounds that relax blood vessels. Dairy, tofu and dark leafy greens are calcium-rich; chicken, legumes, whole grains, and vegetables contain essential magnesium.
- Manage stress. Chronic stress contributes to HBP. Work less and listen to calming music to relieve anxiety.
- Get sleep, meditate, and practice deep breathing. Go to bed at a regular time. Practice relaxation techniques to help the body recharge.
- Take natural supplements. Some supplements support blood pressure levels already within a healthy range. Consider the benefits of adding QOL’s Ameal BP® with AmealPeptide®, CardioChol® or Resveratrol-SR™ to your health regimen.
Your health is our priority, so go out and start watching your blood pressure!