High blood pressure (140/90 and above) affects millions of people. It is a major risk factor for strokes, heart diseases and kidney failure and prompts millions of doctor's visits per year. It is called the “Silent killer“ because it usually has no symptoms; an estimated 35 percent of those with hypertension aren’t aware of it and go untreated.
High systolic pressure is the most commonly untreated form. This happens when there is immense pressure on the left ventricle of the heart, as it contracts. Some physicians cling to the old idea that systolic pressure rises naturally with age and doesn’t require therapy.
Although it can strike at any age, high systolic pressure becomes more common as people grow older, because arteries gradually calcify and stiffen. This increases resistance to blood flow, which in turn raises the blood pressure required to force blood through arteries. The result is that the left ventricle (the heart’s major pumping chamber) works overtime to get blood to the body.
Precautionary methods for preventing high blood pressure:
Exercise may not only bring about reduction in blood pressure but, started at a younger age, may prevent it from ever occurring. People don’t have to become Olympic gold medalists to achieve a lowering of blood pressure. In fact, walking or other low-intensity exercises may be more beneficial than jogging or running. Reaching about 50 percent of your maximum pulse rate may be ideal. (A person’s maximum pulse rate is 220 minus his or her age). Exercise doesn’t work for everyone.
No one is certain yet how exercise reduces blood pressure, but some researchers suspect it limbers and dilates the arteries, thereby facilitating blood flow . With regular exercise, the dilation (or decreased stiffness in the arterial walls) seems to remain indefinitely.
Based on the research, taking food that is high in potassium tends to decrease the blood pressure. Potassium is found in many foods, such as bananas, cantaloupes, tomatoes, oranges, potatoes and leafy green vegetables. Studies involving potassium supplements indicate they have a more modest effect on blood pressure than potassium from food. A high dietary potassium intake may protect against developing hypertension, and potassium deficiency may increase blood pressure.
Researchers have also investigated other dietary factors:
1. Fiber intake may decrease, or help prevent hypertension. Harvard School of Public Health found that vegetable, cereal and fruit fiber all had a similar impact on lowering diastolic blood pressure. But only fruit fiber and vegetable fiber seemed to affects systolic pressure.
2. Being overweight continues to be a major risk factor. Losing weight is the most effective non-drug method of lowering blood pressure.
Relaxation techniques have been considered as a potential weapon in the war on hypertension. But the latest studies show that while stress management may reduce blood pressure for some people, the benefit is usually temporary .
Other research continues to show that stress has a harmful impact on blood pressure. One study of 1, 123 people found that tense middle-aged men were more than twice as likely to develop hypertension as their calmer brethren.
Another study followed 265 men employed in stressful jobs. Researches learned that stress-induced hypertension did not end with the work day, but continued to home. Older men seemed more adversely affected than young ones, probably because the effects of stress build up over years.
But while stress management alone has minimal influence on blood pressure, experts say all may not be lost. Stress reduction in combination with drug therapy may reduce blood pressure more than drugs alone.
Our biggest frustration is to see people who’ve suffered needless, irreversible damage because they went for years without knowing they had high blood pressure. Only when we put an end to this scenario will we have won the war against “The silent killer”.
Be aware of your body so that you can live life with it to the fullest!