Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could deliver a pre-heart-attack message to you at the dinner table one evening, letting you know “the big one” was imminent? It would give you time to take care of your affairs, say goodbye to loved ones, and meditate on the meaning of your life. Better yet, it might give you enough time to improve your health and make that messenger a liar. You might not realize it, but if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), that diagnosis is your message, and you CAN do something about it.
High blood pressure causes pressure from the inside of your arteries
High blood pressure is a health condition that involves the amount of force your blood applies outward on the walls of your arteries. This pressure can cause arteries to become overstretched and even torn. Tears and scars catch debris, such as cholesterol, plaque and blood cells traveling through the bloodstream. High blood pressure can cause blood clots, plaque buildup, and, tissue and organ damage. It makes your circulatory system work harder and is one of the causes of heart disease.
The most important blood pressure preventions
As with any health condition, when you research high blood pressure on the Internet, you’ll find a great deal of information. However, it’s not always easy to determine what the most important treatments and preventions are. We decided to visit 20 different websites with high blood pressure advice and tally up the most common high blood pressure recommendations.
Our survey of blood pressure websites resulted in three clear blood pressure preventions recommended by most sources, including Mayo Clinic, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and WebMD.com. In addition, many sites recommended a fourth prevention that can make a huge difference.
High blood pressure prevention #1: healthy weight
Without a doubt, the biggest high blood pressure biggie is maintaining a healthy weight. WebMD says being overweight can make people as much as six times more likely to develop high blood pressure. Even small amounts of weight loss can make a difference, but it’s also important to keep an eye on your waistline. Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches. For women, it’s 35 inches.
You can determine healthy weight by calculating body mass index or by measuring your waist circumference. Not surprisingly, maintaining a healthy weight has a lot to do with the next two high blood pressure biggies: staying active and eating healthy.
High blood pressure prevention #2: regular exercise
In general, exercise is important for staying healthy because it keeps things moving and makes your body function better. If you have hypertension, exercise can help you reduce the pressure within your arteries. If you have pre-hypertension, exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. WebMD cites studies that say physically active people have 20% to 50% lower blood pressure.
Mayo Clinic recommends 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week to lower blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Some sources say it’s just as effective to complete three 10-minute sessions per day, which might be easier to fit into a busy schedule.
High blood pressure prevention #3: healthy diet (including reduced salt/sodium)
In most cases, a heart-healthy diet is also a blood-pressure-healthy diet. However, a specific diet was developed for patients with high blood pressure. It’s called the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is built around whole grains, fruits, and, vegetables, as well as low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and, nuts.
Although the DASH diet seems to show results even without reducing salt, many doctors still recommend lowering sodium intake to help lower blood pressure. This can be accomplished by using more herbs and spices, avoiding prepared foods, rinsing canned foods, and if necessary cutting back on salty foods gradually.
Changing eating habits is difficult for many people, so come up with your own strategy — a strategy you can live with that increases the odds you’ll stick with it. Your strategy might include keeping a food diary, making a shopping list before you go to the grocery store, and even changing the way you shop. Try walking through the store in a different direction as you train your brain to bypass foods that could raise your blood pressure. Make sure your diet includes opportunities to “cheat”. Eating the foods you love will help you stick with the diet overall.
High blood pressure prevention +1: natural supplements
Because high blood pressure or hypertension involves increased pressure on the walls of blood vessels, it makes sense to look for natural ways to improve vascular function. The medical community is still learning which natural supplements can be most effective for improving vascular function and reducing blood pressure. However, studies are showing support for certain substances. You’ve probably heard about natural treatments such as calcium, cocoa, fish oil, garlic, potassium, and, vitamin C.
A 2007 study showed aronia berry (chokeberry) extract (a primary Ingredient in BioVi’s Probiotic Blend) significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Aronia berry flavonoids have also shown to reduce the severity of inflammation.
To learn more you can read about the study here.
Little helps for blood pressure biggies
Our survey of blood pressure prevention websites uncovered a number of minor recommendations that can help reduce blood pressure in conjunction with the 3+1 blood pressure biggies above. Combine the preventions into a personal plan that fits your life, so you never get that message saying “the big one” is on the way!
Secondary blood pressure preventions
- Understand your risk factors
- Increase potassium, dark chocolate and maybe garlic
- Reduce alcohol consumption, stress, and, caffeine
- Quit smoking
- Seek help for snoring and sleep apnea
- Control blood sugar
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