On the last blog that my cousin Charmain and I collaborated on, we talked about the 3 "highs"- high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. On this blog, we will specifically discuss high blood pressure.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a measurement that is taken at every doctor's visit. There are 2 numbers to the blood pressure reading, one over the other, normal is around 110/70. The upper number, also known as systolic pressure, is the pressure in the artery when the heart contracts or pumps blood. The lower number, diastolic pressure, is the pressure when the heart is relaxed. The measurement is usually taken with a cuff around the left arm while you are in a sitting position. Nowadays, most medical facilities use machine to measures blood pressure although some doctors may still listen for it with a stethoscope. Many external factors affect the reading such as how you sit, the size of the cuff, just being in the exam room and so on. As such, a single reading of high blood pressure in one setting may not be clinically significant.
What does it mean to have high blood pressure?
Abnormal blood pressure is an indicator that something is wrong with the the blood vessels in our body. When the numbers are consistently higher than normal, that suggests that the wall of the blood vessels are starting to change and stiffen. It may also be a sign that there is something wrong with the kidneys, and occasionally the adrenal glands. The doctor will order blood tests, urine tests, occasionally some heart tests depending on each individual’s case and conditions, and the diagnosis of hypertension will be given accordingly. Once you are diagnosed with hypertension, the blood vessels have started to stiffen and become narrow, eventually damaging the vital organs: brain, heart and kidneys.
What is hypertension?
- Heart - Heart attack, enlarged heart (cardiomegaly), weakened and enlarged blood vessel (aneurysm), heart failure
- Brain - Stroke, memory loss and even dementia
- Kidneys - Kidney damage and eventually kidney failure
- Eyes - Retinopathy from bleeding into the back of the eye causing blurred vision and sometimes loss of vision
- Eat less sodium or salt. Definitely, do not use table salt.
- Eat more fresh food, especially celery, cucumber, green apple, bitter melon.
- Eat less processed food.
- Walk at least 30 minutes daily, better if you can exercise more
- Drink less caffeine! This one is the hard one for me!
- Stop smoking.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Reduce your stress, which is easier said than done. Try meditation and remember to love yourself!
- Buy a blood pressure monitor, about US $30 at Costco, and monitor yourself.