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High Blood Pressure

Known as the “the silent killer,” hypertension plays a contributing role to more than 15% of all deaths in the United States alone. (1)

However, there is hope, as high blood pressure is one of the most preventable conditions. According to the American Heart Association, you may be part of the 28% of people who have elevated blood pressure and don’t know it. (2)

High blood pressure could cause no symptoms, however it could boost the risks of leading killers such as stroke and heart attack, as well as kidney failure, aneurysms, and cognitive decline.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

If you are a woman, and are between the ages of 35-55, then you have one in four chance of having high blood pressure and that risk increases if you are taking birth control pills.

However, if you are over 55, then nearly half all women your age or older have high blood pressure.

Don’t think you are out of the woods if you are not a woman or not 35 or older. If you are overweight, have diabetes or are African-American you carry the greatest risk.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood Pressure has two components: The systolic and diastolic numbers. Systolic pressure is the top number and diastolic pressure is the bottom number. The systolic pressure number represents the pressure the heart generates when it beats to pump blood to the rest of the body. The diastolic pressure number refers to the pressure in the blood vessels between heartbeats.

Blood pressure has four ranges:

  • Normal Range: Less than 120/80 mmHg
  • Prehypertension Range: 120/80 to 139/89 mmHg
  • Stage 1 hypertension Range: 140/90 to 159/99 mmHg
  • Stage 2 hypertension Range: 160/100 mmHg and above

Typically, systolic pressure increases as we age. However, there is good news. After age 60, you can look forward to your diastolic pressure beginning to decline. Prehypertension is not a disease yet, but it does mean you are at an increased risk for developing high blood pressure.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure could cause no symptoms at all, but it could cause symptoms such as pounding heartbeat and headache. The damage silent hypertension could have caused may not be recognizable until you are suddenly stricken with a major disease. When your blood pressure gets really high, it could cause the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears or
  • Dizziness

Healthy Blood Pressure

So what does this mean for you? If you are serious about battling hypertension, then with a few changes to your lifestyle, you could bring you blood pressure down.

Diet

– Drop those extra pounds: People who drop the extra weight, say 20 or 30 pounds, could be able to bring their blood pressure down.

– Eat a hearty breakfast: Eat a hearty breakfast. According to a recent Israeli study (3), compared to lighter breakfast eaters, people who polished off a 700-calorie breakfast (and lighter lunch and dinners) could had more success losing weight and could had lower blood pressure levels.

– Order like a vegetarian: Try swapping out that hamburger for a veggie burger. Plant foods are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium. Also, according to an analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine, sticking to a vegetarian diet could reduce your blood pressure (4). It’s about the same drop you would get if you lost eleven pounds and you didn’t even need to go to the gym.

– Consume no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of sugar daily: Sugar isn’t just an obesity risk, it is also a high blood sugar risk. Research is finding that it could raise your blood pressure and your triglycerides. Many people consume triple the daily recommended amount of sugar with just one 12 ounce soda (8 tsp. per 12 ounces of soda).

Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium

Take the sodium out of your diet and you’ll be that much healthier for it. Research now shows that it is more important that you choose foods naturally low in the blood-pressure raising sodium and high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Choose at least two of those three blood-pressure lowering power minerals.

– Get 4.7 grams of potassium daily: Don’t forget to take care of your kidneys. Only ten percent of men and one percent of women get the proper amount of potassium needed to help their kidneys excrete sodium. Some of the top sources of potassium-rich produce include tomatoes, cantaloupe, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, peas, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, honeydew melons and dried fruits such as prunes and raisins.

– Take in 1,200 mg of calcium daily: Calcium just isn’t for your bones. It could keep your blood pressure low. Salmon, broccoli, yogurt and milk are your best bets for getting calcium in your body naturally. However, stick with low or nonfat yogurt and milk.

Eat more whole grains

In recent studies (5), people who stayed away from refined carbohydrates and ate whole grain foods significantly lowered their risk.

Best Foods Linked to a Lower Blood Pressure

Top foods to eat (Click Here for the complete list)

  • Wild blueberries
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Purple potatoes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Decaf coffee
  • Hibiscus tea (Recipe)
  • Cinnamon
  • Beetroot juice (Recipe)
  • White beans
  • Fat-free plain yogurt
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Bananas
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pomegranates

Be Salt Smart

Be careful with the salt. In fact, just take it right off the table. For a lot of people, eating salt may not increase their risk of high blood pressure. However, it may affect others. Harvard Medical School authorities note that 75% of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods such as deli meats, soups, cheese and refined cereals. Try to stay away from these. Click Here to read more ideas to reduce your salt (sodium) intake.

References:
(1) McGinnis, J. Michael, and William H. Foege. “Actual causes of death in the United States.” Jama 270.18 (1993): 2207-2212.
(2) Calhoun, David A., et al. “Resistant hypertension: diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Professional Education Committee of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research.” Hypertension 51.6 (2008): 1403-1419.
(3) Jakubowicz, Daniela, et al. “High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women.” Obesity 21.12 (2013): 2504-2512.
(4) Appel, Lawrence J., et al. “Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial.” Jama 294.19 (2005): 2455-2464.
(5) Jonnalagadda, Satya S., et al. “Putting the whole grain puzzle together: Health benefits associated with whole grains—summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium.” The Journal of nutrition 141.5 (2011): 1011S-1022S.

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