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High blood pressure

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High blood pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition with ageing

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High blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high.

High blood pressure is a “silent killer”

You may not feel that anything is wrong, but high blood pressure could be quietly causing damage that can threaten your health. The best prevention is knowing your numbers and making changes that matter in order to prevent and manage high blood pressure.

Blood pressure facts and figures

The higher is the systolic pressure—the pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping. The lower the diastolic pressure—the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest, in between pumping. 

Blood Pressure
Category
Systolic
mm Hg (upper #)
  Diastolic
mm Hg (lower #)
Normalless than 120
andless than 80
Prehypertension120 – 139
or80 – 89
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
140 – 159
or 
 
90 – 99
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher
 
or
 
100 or higher
 
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180
or
Higher than 1

* source American Heart Association

High Blood Pressure symptoms

High blood pressure often has no signs or symptoms

  • Nearly one out of every six people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it.
  • High blood pressure develops slowly over time and can be related to many causes. 
  • High blood pressure cannot be cured. However, it can be managed very effectively through lifestyle changes and, when needed, medication.

What to eat for High Blood Pressure

  • Eat plenty of potassium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains, sunflower and sesame seeds, bananas, apricots, figs, raisins, soy and lima beans, chickpeas, Brazil nuts, walnuts, avocados and blackcurrants.
  • Drink at least 1.5 litres of unflavoured, non-carbonated water daily and choose herb teas such as fennel, nettle and dandelion for their beneficial effect on fluid retention; avoid ordinary teas and coffees, which cause you to retain water.
  • Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your vitamin C levels up; this vitamin helps safeguard the integrity of capillaries, the smallest of your blood vessels.
  • Sweeten with dried fruit instead of refined sugar, as dried fruit provides you with sustained energy, as well as helpful nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin B (see below). Best of all, it won’t clog up your arteries or make you fat.

What to avoid for High Blood Pressure

  • Salt – Cut down and then cut it out. Read labels, look at ingredients, don’t have it on the table, and try alternatives such as Herbamare.
  • Caffeine – Limit it to special occasions and holidays rather than having it every few hours; caffeine’s effects on the adrenal gland lead to increased blood pressure. Try Bambu coffee substitute.
  • Alcohol – Although acceptable in moderation, alcohol is bad news if you’re a daily drinker or need it to relax, as it too has an adverse effect on blood pressure.
  • Sugar – In the body, refined sugar turns to fat, and you really don’t need fatty deposits clogging up your arteries and making it harder for blood to get through to the heart.
  • Saturated fats – They’re not worth the clogged arteries they cause, so oven-bake your French fries and while you’re at it, throw out your deep-fryer!

Lifestyle changes for High Blood Pressure

Exercise – Daily doses of gentle exercise is the best way to go, rather than sweating it out during a monster session once a week, which just puts a strain on your heart.

Rest sufficiently, especially after exercising, and practice breathing exercises or meditation techniques to help you relax properly every day. This will greatly benefit overall heart health and reduce many of the damaging effects stress has on your life.

Smoking – Just don’t do it.

Exercise for High Blood Pressure

Walking is the best exercise to start with. Begin by walking daily for 10–20 minutes, and increase the length of you walks once you feel ready for more. Start on flat terrain and kill two birds with one stone by walking to the store or post office if they’re within a reasonable distance.

Yoga is gentle and very beneficial, and can be adapted to all fitness levels. If you find you’re doing well, you can try the slightly more demanding Pilates.

Swimming is great for people whose knees don’t tolerate weight-bearing exercises—start out slow and work up your speed gradually.

Supplements

Magnesium is the best mineral for your heart. It has stress-reducing effects and feeds your heart tissue, helping to keep your heart rhythm steady. Low magnesium levels can contribute to palpitations, high blood pressure, sleeping problems and increased pain perception, so it’s worth keeping it topped up.

Vitamin B is important in reducing stress symptoms and in breaking down an amino acid called homocysteine, which is associated with heart disease and strokes.

If you are already taking blood pressure medication

When it comes to heart conditions, never attempt to self-diagnose or self-medicate. Always consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

You can take certain steps to improve your overall heart health and reduce the likelihood of heart disease; however, when heart disease is diagnosed, these steps do not constitute an alternative to proper medical care.

If you experience swelling of the legs, pain in the chest, arms, upper abdomen or neck area, or if your breathing becomes laboured or distressed, seek medical help immediately.

What do you think?

Have you found what you read useful? If so, I would love if you would leave your comment below. Thanks Sonia Chartier

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