What is blood pressure?
Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into your arteries. Blood pressure is the force of your blood pressing against your artery walls. When the heart beats and pumps the blood, this is when pressure is at its highest. It is measured in millimeters of mercury and described with two numbers, such as 120 over 80 – which is considered a normal reading.
Systolic pressure is the bigger number, governed by the heart contracting and forcing the blood through your arteries.
Diastolic pressure is the smaller number and is the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.
There are no symptoms of high blood pressure. A Dr can measure your blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer, which is an inflatable cuff wrapped around your upper arm. The Dr inflates the cuff, then slowly deflates the cuff. During this process, the machine will take the two measurements.
You can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease if you have consistent high blood pressure. Luckily high blood pressure can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes.
The first significant change you must make is to lose weight. As your weight increases, so too will your blood pressure. Your heart requires extra work to pump blood through your body and all that effort puts an almighty strain on your arteries. When you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. But all that extra effort puts strain on your arteries. Your arteries, in turn, resist this blood flow, causing your blood pressure to rise. Additional pressure on the arterial walls causes higher blood pressure. Even a modest weight reduction can be beneficial.
Regular exercise or physical activity can lower your blood pressure. The importance is placed on consistent exercise, with aerobic exercise highly recommended. Activities like walking, cycling, swimming, gardening, Tai Chi or dancing. Regular exercise trains your heart to pump with less effort, thereby putting less strain on your arteries.
A diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables encompasses an eating plan called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Changing your eating habits is no easy task. Boost your potassium levels through consuming fruit and vegetables. Get rid of saturated fat and sugar from your diet. Eat plenty of protein and fibre for a risk reduction.
Even a small reduction in salt can improve your health. Salt contains sodium which is linked to high blood pressure. Read the food labels and eat fewer processed foods. Eliminate anything in a packet. Foods labelled as ‘low fat’ usually have a high salt and sugar content.
Potassium is a double champion. Not only does it lessen the effects of salt in your body, but it also eases tension in the blood vessels. Low fat dairy foods, fish, fruits and vegetables are all winners.
Magnesium is involved in necessary cellular reactions and a magnesium deficiency has been linked to higher blood pressure. Magnesium supplementation is recommended. Turmeric Australia sell a great product that combines magnesium with Aswagandha.
By drinking alcohol in moderation, usually one drink per day, you can possibly lower your blood pressure. Drink too much though and this will raise your blood pressure.
Each cigarette you smoke raises your blood pressure for a few minutes after you have put it out. So you need to quit smoking. Of course it is difficult to do. Just remember that smoking causes an immediate, albeit temporary, blood pressure increase. But it also increases your heart rate. Tobacco chemicals damage your blood vessel walls, causing inflammation and narrowing of the arteries.
Reduce your caffeine intake as it can raise your blood pressure. However, people who regularly drink coffee may experience no definable difference. Some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of caffeine. Research may indicate that if you already have high blood pressure, then caffeine may exacerbate the issue.
More research is required but chronic stress may be a contributory factor towards high blood pressure. There is no doubt we live in stressful times. There are numerous ways to relieve stress and you need to work out what suits you best.
Blood pressure monitors and readily available, so invest in one and start home monitoring to keep tabs on your health. Recommendations are to get tested every two years and more often for diabetics.
Sometimes lifestyle changes are just not enough, and blood pressure medication is required. Typically, these are taken every day. Your medical professional will give you the best advice.
Herbal medicines have been used by many ancient cultures for centuries. Some herbs may lower blood pressure. Your naturopath will be able to guide you towards the right supplements. They may include some of the following:- ginger root, celery juice, black bean, maritime pine bark, sesame oil or green tea.
Consistent sleep patterns are important. Your blood pressure dips when you are sleeping, so if you are tossing and turning through the night, it can affect your blood pressure.