Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the risk factors for heart disease. Out of control blood pressure, along with other risk factors, can set you up for a heart attack. Here are five ways that you can keep your blood pressure in check.
What is High Blood Pressure?
First of all, it has nothing to do with your personality. You don’t have to be under stress to have high blood pressure although living a high stress life can affect it.
Your heart pumps blood through a series of vessels that extend throughout the body. It takes a certain pressure to push that blood throughout those vessels. The muscular walls of the blood vessels stretch to accommodate the blood more easily. Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: the systolic and diastolic. They represent your heart at work and at rest, respectively.
When blood pressure is high, it takes more force by the heart to push it through the vessels. The vessels stretch but the increased pressure on their muscular walls can cause tears in the walls, loss of elasticity (resulting in weakness) and plaque buildup from bad cholesterol.
Heart attacks and strokes occur when the force of the blood knocks these plaques or blood clots loose. They can lodge and block blood flow in the brain and the heart or even smaller vessels in the extremities.
Lowering Your Risk
There is good news. It is never too early to lower this risk factor. Alone it can be damaging, but in conjunction with other risk factors for heart disease, you could be shortening your life. The best thing is that lowering blood pressure is within your control.
- Know your numbers– You can’t work on a solution unless you know where you stand. Normal blood pressure is in the range of 110/70. Even at 120/80, you will want to think about ways to lower the pressure. Being proactive can prevent you from having to use medication to bring it down.
- Watch what you eat – Eating too much fat can increase your levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol forms plaques in blood vessels. This alone can increase your blood pressure. Sodium is a big factor. Eating too much can raise your blood pressure. Choose foods that are low in fat and sodium and high in fiber.
- Get moving – Exercise increases your lung capacity and lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. As you become fitter, it will take more vigorous exercise to raise your heart rate.
- Take your medications – Diet and exercise may not lower your blood pressure enough to lower your risk of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about what medication is best. Once your blood pressure is under control you may be able to discontinue the meds.
- Stop smoking – Smoking constricts blood vessels when they should contract. The heart has to pump harder to pass blood through them, raising your blood pressure.
Do you have high blood pressure? It is a risk factor for heart disease. Use these five methods to lower yours.
Hope you are enjoying the Healthy Heart Series.
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