Hypertension: The Silent Killer
Did you know you can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without a single apparent symptom? For this reason, hypertension is often known as the “silent killer.”
Millions of Canadians have this condition and have no idea until a cardiovascular episode actually happens. Consequences of elevated blood pressure can include stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and eye and kidney damage.
There are a number of factors that most experts agree are possible causes, such as lack of exercise; smoking; a high-fat, high-sodium diet with low fiber; excessive alcohol intake; poor stress management; and obesity. Because so many of these causes are lifestyle related, a natural approach can often work very well to help prevent and treat the underlying causes of hypertension.
Understanding Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Most physicians use 120/80 as a “normal” reference for blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure is two or more readings greater than 140 mmHg systolic (top number) or greater than 90 mmHg diastolic (bottom number).
Blood pressure medications are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world; however, many people with mild to moderate high blood pressure do very well with a combination of lifestyle changes and herbal and nutritional supplements. If you know you suffer from mild to moderate high blood pressure, be sure to talk to your doctor and try out some of these tips to help with reduction.
6 Tips for Reducing Blood Pressure
1. Minimize consumption of restaurant foods and packaged foods, including canned soups and frozen entrees, which may be high in sodium. Explore ways to enhance food with herbs and spices!
2. Moderate alcohol intake and absolutely NO SMOKING!
3. Reduce or eliminate caffeine – it can constrict the blood vessel walls and may increase blood pressure.
4. Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure and keep your weight under control. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
5. Manage your stress. Find calming ways to decrease your stress and blood pressure through deep breathing, regular massage therapy, acupuncture, counseling, yoga, and meditation.
6. Try Hawthorn Berry – it relaxes blood vessel walls and reduces blood pressure. It is commonly used by physicians in Europe for hypertension and as a cardiovascular tonic.