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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious condition that requires medical attention immediately. High blood pressure is when the force of your blood pushing against your blood vessel walls is too high for a prolonged period.
The reason why high blood pressure is so dangerous is that it causes your heart and blood vessels to work overtime and much harder. Eventually, this excess pressure damages the tissue inside your arteries.
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to arrhythmia, heart attacks, and strokes. This is all to say that if you have any concerns regarding high blood pressure, speak to a medical professional immediately.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.
Source: Erik Richardson D.O./YouTube
When you go to the doctors and get your blood pressure taken, they will often quote two numbers to you- ‘something over something’. But, what do these numbers mean?
The first number, or the top number, you are given is called the systolic, and the second number, or bottom number, is the diastolic.
Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries when your heart is at rest between beats.
According to The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults (2017 Guideline), blood pressure levels are read as-
Normal– systolic less than 120 and diastolic less than 80.
Elevated– systolic between 120–129 and diastolic less than 80.
High blood pressure– systolic: 130 or higher and diastolic 80 or higher
Source: Mayo Clinic/YouTube
There are several lifestyle choices that you can make that can help to keep your heart healthy.
1. Regular exercise helps to keep your heart strong. The CDC recommends about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week.
2. Quit smoking. Smoking causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate and is directly linked to hypertension.
3. Keep your stress levels down. Stress can add spikes to your blood pressure. Do some yoga, meditate, and breathe.
4. Get good quality sleep. Some research suggests that lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure.
5. Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol has a direct effect on your heart rate and blood pressure.
How you manage your diet can also have a huge effect on your heart and blood pressure. There are lots of tips from The American Heart Association (AHA), the CDC, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institution regarding diet and how it can help you to manage your blood pressure.
Here are some general dietary habits you can adopt that can help keep your heart healthy and your blood pressure normal.
The AHA recommends limiting sodium, sweets, saturated fats, sugar-sweetened drinks, defined carbohydrates, and red meats. Limiting processed foods is also a good idea.
Try to have a diet rich in
1. Fruits and Vegetables- Bananas, leafy greens, beets, berries, garlic, pomegranates, citrus, lentils, pulses, tomatoes, kiwis, and watermelon are thought to be particularly effective. In particular, fruits and veggies high in potassium can be especially helpful in lowering blood pressure.
2. Whole Grains- Barley (not pearled), dark rye bread, millet, oats, popcorn, quinoa, whole-grain cereals and crackers, whole-grain cornmeal, whole-wheat bread, and wild rice are recommended by the Mayo Clinic. It is thought that eating a diet rich in whole grains can help to manage weight, increase your potassium levels, reduce damage to blood vessels, and decrease the risk of insulin resistance.
3. Fermented Foods- Vegan kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, miso, apple cider vinegar, and sauerkraut are all great fermented foods that may have a positive effect on reducing blood pressure. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, and this healthy bacteria is thought to help reduce high blood pressure in some people.
4. Nuts- Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans are thought to be particularly hearth healthy snacks according to Mayo Clinic. Eating nuts can help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, improve the health of arteries, reduce inflammation that can lead to heart disease, and lower cholesterol.
5. Cinnamon- Some research shows that cinnamon may help to reduce high blood pressure in people with certain types of hypertension.
This article is for informational purposes only. You must speak to a medical professional before using lifestyle adjustments or diet to treat high blood pressure. This is particularly important if you are already taking medication for high blood pressure.
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10 Foods and Lifestyle Tips That May Help to Lower Blood Pressure – One Green Planet