It is said that every third adult in North America has high blood pressure. Unfortunately these people are three times more likely to have a heart attack, five times more likely to develop heart failure and eight times more likely to suffer a stroke than people with normal blood pressure.
Hypertension or “high blood pressure” is defined as a systolic blood pressure reading(top number) consistently over 140 and/or diastolic reading(bottom number) consistently at 90 or above. The ideal number is below 120/80.
One of the main things that causes an increase in blood pressure is too much sodium. Yes, sodium is essential for body metabolism but too much can cause trouble. Excess sodium can stay in body tissues and hold extra water. This causes swelling, which raises the blood pressure, which in turn increases stress on the heart.
In today’s life it’s hard to get away from salt. About 75 percent of our salt comes from processed foods and fast foods. Americans eat about 10 to 20 times more salt than we need.
There are a ton of hypertension medications out there that do not cure high blood pressure but simply control it. And most of them have side effects. So what are the alternatives to popping a bunch of pills?
Many studies have shown that simple dietary and lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure in a matter of weeks without drugs. Some of them include:
- Weight loss. When the weight is reduced the blood pressure levels fall.
- Cutting the fat. A diet low in fat and high in fiber lowers the blood pressure by about 10 percent.
- Eliminating alcohol helps lower the blood pressure.
- Reducing salt intake.
- Exercise. It lowers the blood pressure by reducing peripheral arterial resistance. It also promotes general health and well-being.
Note: Of course you should never play doctor on your own and always seek medical advice before changing medication doses or stopping medications.
Reference: Health Power: Health By Choice by Aileen Ludington, MD and Hans Diehl DRHSc, MPH
Does hypertension run in your family? Leave your comment below
Tasha Nelson is a busy mom, wife and registered nurse on a personal journey to get fit and live healthier while encouraging other women to do the same. She is also a total wellness advocate and enthusiast who firmly believes in the importance of taking care of yourself. A healthy mind, body, and spirit makes for a happy person. Isn’t that what we all want?