why hypertension is no joke!

It’s estimated that 29-31% of adults have hypertension. In the U.S. alone, that’s roughly 80 million people. With obesity on the rise, hypertension cases will only continue to surge. So, what is hypertension and what can it do?

Hypertension is consistently having either a systolic blood pressure greater than 140 millimeters of Mercury or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 90 millimeters of Mercury. Having high blood pressure increases the force exerted on your arteries, creating microscopic tears in the artery walls. Scar tissue eventually develops from the tears, creating crevices where particles of fat, cholesterol, and platelets will lodge into and cause plaque buildup.

The arteries will narrow, preventing adequate blood flow through the area. Ultimately, the minimized blood flow can lead to stroke, vision loss, heart attack, kidney disease, and, for you young rabbits, sexual dysfunction. It can also lead to heart failure. Narrow arteries mean your heart will have to work harder to get blood flowing. This leads to an enlarged heart that struggles to pump blood. You’ll end up running out of breath from doing even the simplest activities, such as walking down the street.

As for causes, there isn’t just one, but instead many risk factors that some might not expect. The clear ones are obesity, excessive alcohol, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive sodium. A not so obvious factor is your family history. In fact, you’re TWICE as likely to have hypertension if either your dad or brother had a heart disease before the age of 55, or your mom or sister before age 65.

Your personality can be a factor, too, with hostile, impatient, or depressed individuals having a higher risk. And with so many seemingly innocuous or asymptomatic risk factors, hypertension has been rightfully dubbed the “silent killer” disease. So, what can you do to deal with it? The first thing is… good of exercise. Low to moderate intensity activities for 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times per week is recommended. Brisk walks, gardening, or dancing the night away counts, too. If 30 minutes is too tough, then split the workout to 3 10-minute activities instead. And if you’re up for it, doing more wouldn’t hurt.

Exercise has shown to lower your systolic blood pressure by 4 to 6 millimeters of mercury and diastolic pressure by 3. Next up weight loss if you’re currently overweight. For every 1 kilogram of weight loss, you can expect a decline of roughly 0.5 to 2 millimeters of Mercury. And if you choose to lose weight, make sure to adjust your diet, too. Healthcare Professionals recommend the DASH diet, short for “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension.”

This diet will lower your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, and add more fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy. Some great food choices are good ol chicken, fish, and nuts. On the other end, try skipping red meats, sweets, and sugars. And DEFINITELY avoid too much salt. Salt increase water retention, which can increase blood volume, thus blood pressure.
You want to keep sodium to about a teaspoon of table salt per day. (2.4g) That means bye bye to frozen dinners, and hello to peppers, herbs, and constant food label scrutiny. And FINALLY, try limiting smoking and alcohol if they’re problematic now. So, start upping your mocktail and virgin pina coloda game!

We never want to ever deal with hypertension and probably subconsciously avoid knowing if we do have it. But it’s one of those things we need to stay on top of if we want to live a healthy and rewarding life. So, make sure you keep that blood pressure in check!

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