What is High BP?

by Steven Carney on July 30, 2012

High blood pressure (or high BP/hypertension), are names for abnormally high pressure that’s exerted on stiff, inflexible arteries when your heart beats. When your arteries lack flexibility, due to diet, lack of activity, etc., your heart has to push harder to move blood through them. BP is measured by systolic and diastolic pressure, such as 120/80. Systolic is when the heart beats (contracts) and diastolic is the measure between beats. Healthy BP should be at or below 120/80 while high BP usually exceeds 140/90. High BP often has few or no symptoms.

Why it matters?

According to the FDA, about 65 million U.S. adults have chronic high BP (including 20% ages 24-32)! If your blood pressure is chronically high (excluding exercise or nervousness, i.e. white coat hypertension at your doctor’s office), it means the heart and arteries are being strained. The lining of your arteries, called the endothelium, is only a single cell thick. When healthy, those cells help release NO (nitric oxide), a gas that helps arteries to relax and widen.

Once the endothelial layer is damaged from high BP or inflammation, it will be less able to expand and more susceptible to atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the artery due to the accumulation of fat and inflammatory cells. Atherosclerosis causes deadly heart attacks and strokes.

High BP is also hard on the heart muscle because it has to work harder. That might sound like exercise, but it’s not! Hypertension causes the unique heart muscle to thicken, making it less able to pump effectively. High BP can also damage the brain, kidneys and other organs, including your eyes! So it really can harm your health in significant ways.

Like other lifestyle-driven conditions, you don’t catch high BP, you create it with your lifestyle. And even if your parents had it, it’s a myth that you will get it too, unless you follow an unhealthy lifestyle. Your own lifestyle is the biggest determination for whether your BP is healthy!

How to lower BP naturally

It’s another myth that you need drugs to lower BP, even though most doctors prescribe drugs for it as their first approach (common choices are diuretics, ACE inhibitors, Channel Blockers, and Beta Blockers).

Unfortunately, most doctors don’t receive good nutrition/fitness education, or coaching/training skills, so they rarely offer great advice and support for effective, natural approaches to treat the underlying cause. They will say something basic, such as cutting salt intake, maybe quit smoking. But there are many dietary and lifestyle approaches that improve health and can lower BP naturally, without drugs!

For example:

  • Use less salt and more spices/herbs on your food (read labels, salt is everywhere)
  • Eat more potassium-rich foods (veggies, fruits, nuts, fish, chicken, turkey)
  • Take a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement
  • Lose weight, even 5 pounds will help (I teach easy weight loss)
  • If you smoke, it’s best to get help and quit!
  • Beware of fast food/restaurant food (lots of salt and unhealthy fats)
  • Eat more veggies and fruits for the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber
  • Lower stress/get help to manage it!
  • Lower chronic inflammation, an epidemic in U.S. and other Western cultures
  • Be more active (even walking 15-20 minutes 4 days per week can help)!

As a health and life coach, I can help you take the small steps to lower BP naturally, without drugs. If you are taking drugs now, you should realize that they will never cure you, just mask the symptom and give you side effects.

Together, we can make small lifestyle changes to cut or eliminate your need for drugs, starting by giving you more energy so you feel like being more active. There are also supplements that can help to lower BP naturally.

Important tips:

I recommend that you take your BP only after sitting/relaxing for 10 minutes! It’s supposed to be “resting” BP but many health practitioners shorten this time and don’t seem to realize that the BP and heart rate numbers can be unfairly high if you haven’t been quiet for 10 minutes! Also, the measured arm should be elevated close to heart level in height. Sometimes it’s good to check both arms as the readings can vary between them. I’d even suggest that you buy your own BP meter so you can check your BP and pulse in the comfort of your own home. They are relatively cheap, around $30.00, especially on sale.

Questions or comments? Drop me a line or comment after this or other posts. I also tweet daily and post on FB (see icons in upper right). 

Helpful links:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00062

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/what-is-the-mediterranean-diet

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/drugs-dont-cure

© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

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