When most people are told they have high blood pressure (or Hypertension) it comes as quite a shock. With many people being diagnosed between the ages of 25-45, it is fast becoming a great concern for both the individual and their young families.
The problem is, it has no early symptoms. You feel good, life’s great. Yes, you may be a little unfit and you could eat better, but generally you feel fine.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a warning. Some people will have dizzy spells whilst for others the early warning comes as a mild heart attack. If you are one of the lucky ones who get the warning, don’t take it lightly.
Hypertension is part of the collective term ‘Cardiovascular Disease’. Cardiovascular Disease encompasses high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart failure, and stroke. It is the biggest killer in the western world with 696,947 deaths in 2002 in the US alone.
When blood pressure is measured, you get two numbers: the Systolic (top number), and the Diastolic ( bottom number). Of most concern is the diastolic reading. A reading of 80-90 is now considered “pre-hypertension”. This means that you’re not in danger yet but it would be a good idea to start modifying your lifestyle. If your diastolic blood pressure is over 90, then you have high blood pressure and you should get medical advice immediately. Getting on top of it early can make all the difference.
The 10 Tips for Reducing Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure can be reduced significantly and quickly through making minor adjustments to your lifestyle. Until then, these guidelines should be followed:
1. Have regular medical checks, especially if you are over 40, overweight, smoke, or lead an inactive lifestyle.
2. Start an exercise program. Obtain a medical clearance prior to starting.
3. The exercise program must be gradual, regular and aerobic in nature (walking/cycling). Start by walking 5 days per week, for 10-20 minutes. Something as simple as walking 10 minutes per day can reduce blood pressure to the extent where medication is no longer required.
4. Give up smoking (or at least cut down!). Giving up smoking has been proven to be the greatest single factor in improving your health fast.
5. Eliminate salt from your diet. As salt travels through the body it draws fluid out of the blood vessels, which in turn increases blood pressure.
6. Avoid isometric exercises. These are exercises where you exert force against an immovable object (eg, trying to lift something really heavy). You generally hold your breath whilst doing this, and that will make your blood pressure skyrocket.
7. Avoid sudden changes in temperature as this too can increase blood pressure and put extra strain on a weak heart.
8. Never lift anything above the head. It doesn’t matter whether its weights, or a can of baked beans. In fact, I know a person who has to sit down to wash his hair because his blood pressure rises whenever he raises his arms up!
9. Focus on your breathing throughout any lifting or stretching as holding your breath will increase blood pressure.
10. Don’t use pulse rate as a direct measure of exercise intensity if blood pressure medications are being used, as these can decrease pulse rate significantly.
High blood pressure does not have to be a death sentence. Give it the respect it deserves and it just may turn out to be a positive turning point. The start of the new (fit and healthy) you!