Hypertension and Diet: Steps for Better Heart Health
High blood pressure doesn’t seem like much to worry about. When most people are diagnosed, few understand the concern that their physician has regarding side effects and complications because in the beginning, you feel few to no symptoms of the condition. And that’s what makes hypertension so dangerous.
There are a number of contributing factors that increase your risk for developing hypertension (high blood pressure), but lifestyle is by far the strongest influence. What you eat, how often you exercise and your habits either support healthy blood pressure or contribute to elevated hypertension. We’ll talk about some of the causes and what you (with the supervision of your family doctor) can do to manage it.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Essential hypertension can be an inherited problem where mostly men experience non-lifestyle related high blood pressure. Individuals who are black have twice the risk of essential hypertension than white peers in similar age groups. Black women over the age of 65 develop a higher incidence of hypertension than men. Lifestyle or chronic hypertension is related to diet, fitness, weight and age as well as ethnic background. Two numbers are provided to measure hypertension; the first being the systolic and the second the diastolic. The universal ranges for blood pressure are:
- Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
- Prehypertension is measured at 120-139/80-89
- Stage 1 of hypertension is: 140-159/90-99
- Stage 2 of hypertension is: 160/100+
- High blood pressure for seniors over 60 years of age is: 150+/90+
Regular blood pressure tests are recommended for individuals over the age of forty, but many physicians recommend an annual check for all adults over the age of twenty-five years. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to a thickening of the arteries, cardiac distress, and other medical conditions.
Changes that Support Healthy Blood Pressure
It should be noted that hypertension is a serious health concern that requires the ongoing medical supervision of a trained physician. In addition to supervision by a medical doctor, there are some known lifestyle changes proven to support the regulation of healthy blood pressure.
- Reduce Sodium Intake
- Reduce Caffeine
- Manage Stress Levels
- Exercise More Often
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
- Check Blood Pressure Regularly
- Reduce High Fat Foods
A consultation with a wellness practitioner can help identify individual lifestyle habits and routines that may be contributing to hypertension. Working in conjunction with a family doctor and medication, most individuals can restore their body to a healthy blood pressure. Remember that healthy changes maintained over time result in better health and wellness. Persistence is the key (making the changes stick for the long term) and a positive outlook that makes your personal health and wellness a priority.